Anonymous. 1937. Ho Kommounismos sten Hellada (Communism in Greece). Athens: Ekdoseis “Ethnikēs Hetaireias.”.
The annihilation of the “Communist” takes place in the same space as the annihilation of the “Jew” in the camp. But whereas the latter has already been constituted as the “radical other,” as that which can never be read as the self (and is, hence, metaphorized as something that belongs to a different form of life, something that comes from without, from the outside, hence can potentially be identified and exterminated, just as its metaphor, louse, allows), the former becomes the tragic self, the one who will never be an “other” but can never be selfsame, either, and for whom metaphors of interiority are deployed, such as cancer, internal danger, disease, miasma. In the words of Maniadákis, “Communism is a psychic and intellectual affliction that seizes each person who lacks the force of resistance and self-determination against this [agent] that upsets and destabilizes the social, political, and intellectual cohesiveness of our life” Anonymous 1937: 3). Where the extermination of the Jew, the Gypsy, the non-Aryan constitutes annihilation, the extermination of the Communist (German, Greek, Italian, Slav) constitutes a self-annihilation that refuses to be recognized as such.
Of course, the place where all this once happened and still has retained these tensions, oppositions, and distinctions is Greece, both in language and in practice, a place to which Agamben does not turn in his genealogy of the concept of life. The linguistic distinction between zoē and bios is still vibrant in Greece, though it has never existed outside the Greek context. Therefore it becomes increasingly difficult to understand exactly what this invented lack/lapse/absence, this voiding of meaning might mean (other than the fact that the modern Greek paradigm has nothing to present or offer to Agamben.) The one space/place/location where the distinction exists as an organic part of its lexicon is elided in the paradigm of Agambenian modernity (if it is, indeed, modernity that one attempts to index through the elucidation of this distinction).
The first camps were established for the Communists and Socialists. Only after 1938 were these camps were used to intern “Jews” as a distinct legal category, over and above the existing category of race (if the racial can ever be distinct from the legal; I am using the distinction here catachrestically, as a heuristic tool).
Two modern Greek expressions are indicative: (a) den einai zoē aftē (“this is not life,” indicating that life is so hard and abject that it has become a burden); (b) bios abiotos (“my life has been made unliveable”). I would argue, furthermore, that the very term used in modern Greek for the camps, stratopeda peitharhemenes diavioseos (“camps of disciplined existence/life”) ruptures Agamben's claims that there is a deep distinction between zoē and bios and that bios is annihilated in the context of the camp. In modern Greek the word zese has been coined as a neologism to denote what the word bios does (life in its length and depth).