The nurses on an intensive care ward for new-borns feed babies with food and doctors with information. Showing that this is so is one of the ways in which scholars working in humanist traditions of social analysis, such as symbolic interactionism, reveal the politics of hospital relations. However, semiotics, along with similar 'non-humanist' theoretical traditions, is no less political; neither, as is sometimes suggested, does it necessarily side with the strong. Here we demonstrate that semiotics implies another style of political theory — one in which the relevant axes of difference are not primarily between groups of people, but between ways of ordering the world. Thus the differences between two modes of feeding or of calculating the contents of a bottle can be understood as both 'political' and 'technical' matters.