This lecture, presented by Friedrich Kittler in 2002 as part of the Mosse Lecture Series at Humboldt University (Berlin), explores in a sequence of short historical vignettes the thesis that power systems such as the old British and the new American empires produce their own, system-specific enemies. In each case the technological environment provides the basis for the struggle between “states” and their “terrorists,” and the success of either party will depend on the degree to which they are able to adapt to and/or mobilize that environment. In addition, Kittler offers a philosophically informed genealogy of the “nomadic” state enemy, arguing that a basic dynamic of the escalating showdown is the increasingly invasive securing of natural resources.

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