Concentration Camps Reveal the Nature of the Modern State

July 14th, 2017

Via: Aeon:

In the history of concentration camps, there is one thing that everyone knows: they were invented by the British. The idea of isolating unwanted population groups in purpose-built camps was implemented in South Africa in the context of the Anglo-Boer War, with horrific consequences for the Boer population. Although it would be left to the Nazis to perfect the institution, making it into one of the most recognisable in the modern world, concentration camps are the link between the Boer War and the Holocaust.

This simple narrative hides a far more complex history. Concentration camps are an institution that has changed over time, with techniques of incarceration shared and spread across the world, and of brutal ‘population management’ through terror. Above all, this is not simply a history of colonial atrocity and mad dictators; rather, it is a history that takes us to the heart of the modern state. Concentration camps reveal something about the nature of states that, in an age of heightened uncertainty and rising nationalism, should give us pause for thought.

One Response to “Concentration Camps Reveal the Nature of the Modern State”

  1. pookie Says:

    “The worship of the state is the worship of force. There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men. The worst evils which mankind ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments. The state can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster.”

    Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, 1944

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