Homo Sacer in Afghanistan

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Articles by Slavoj Žižek

The lesson to be learned from Carl Schmitt is that the divide friend/enemy is never just the verification of a factual difference: the enemy is by definition always — up to a point, at least — invisible, it looks like one of us, it cannot be directly recognized, which is why the big problem and task of the political struggle is that of providing/constructing the recognizable IMAGE of the enemy. (This also makes it clear why Jews are the enemy par excellence: it is not only that they conceal their true image or contours — it is that there is ultimately NOTHING beneath their deceiving appearances. Jews lack the "inner form" that pertains to any proper national identity: they are a non-nation among nations, their national substance resides precisely in a lack of substance, in a formless infinite plasticity). In short, the "enemy recognition" is always a performative procedure which, in contrast to the deceiving appearances, brings to light / constructs the enemy's "true face." Schmitt refers here directly to the Kantian category of Einbildungskraft, the transcendental power of imagination: in order to recognize the enemy, the conceptual subsumption under preexisting categories is not enough; one has "to schematize" the logical figure of the Enemy, providing it with concrete sensible features which make it into an appropriate target of hatred and struggle.