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Dr. Octagon

Foucault + Capitalism

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I was reading history of sexuality and came across the section when foucault talks about biopolitics and capitalism and have a few questions to all those out there that are more knowledgable in foucault's theories than me.

 

1. Without biopolitics could capitalism exist?

 

 

2. Is biopolitics the main force that holds up the market economy?

 

 

3. Finally, do you think in round that someone could run a critcism, critiquing biopower, with an impact of capitalism could not exist without biopower, and then claim that cap = root cause of poverty, with specfic intellect alt. and frame the debate round as a point of resistance against biopower.

 

4. I know the problem i had was with the fact that is biopower inevitable? I know that power relations are inevitable but, does foucault ever explicitly say biopower inevitable or just power relations inevitable?

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>>>2. Is biopolitics the main force that holds up the market economy?

 

It seems to me that materialism drive the market economy to a great extent.

 

Otherwise, the fear of starving or not having control over one's life is another driver.

 

If you are familiar with Santos...he makes the capitalism(neolib)/biopower link without the necessity of defending theories like Hardt and Negri style Empire.

 

Boaventura de Sousa Santos

 

Issue #63, April 2003

 

According to Franz Hinkelammert, the West has repeatedly been under the illusion that it should try to save humanity by destroying part of it. This is a salvific and sacrificial destruction, committed in the name of the need to radically materialize all the possibilities opened up by a given social and political reality over which it is supposed to have total power. This is how it was in colonialism, with the genocide of indigenous peoples, and the African slaves. This is how it was in the period of imperialist struggles, which caused millions of deaths in two world wars and many other colonial wars. This is how it was under Stalinism, with the Gulag, and under Nazism, with the Holocaust. And now today, this is how it is in neoliberalism, with the collective sacrifice of the periphery and even the semiperiphery of the world system. With the war against Iraq, it is fitting to ask whether what is in progress is a new genocidal and sacrificial illusion, and what its scope might be. It is above all appropriate to ask if the new illusion will not herald the radicalization and the ultimate perversion of the Western illusion: destroying all of humanity in the illusion of saving it.

 

Sacrificial genocide arises from a totalitarian illusion manifested in the belief that there are no alternatives to the present-day reality, and that the problems and difficulties confronting it arise from failing to take its logic of development to ultimate consequences. If there is unemployment, hunger and death in the Third World, this is not the result of market failures; instead, it is the outcome of market laws not having been fully applied. If there is terrorism, this is not due to the violence of the conditions that generate it; it is due, rather, to the fact that total violence has not been employed to physically eradicate all terrorists and potential terrorists.

 

This political logic is based on the supposition of total power and knowledge, and on the radical rejection of alternatives; it is ultra-conservative in that it aims to reproduce infinitely the status quo. Inherent to it is the notion of the end of history. During the last hundred years, the West has experienced three versions of this logic, and, therefore, seen three versions of the end of history: Stalinism, with its logic of insuperable efficiency of the plan; Nazism, with its logic of racial superiority; and neoliberalism, with its logic of insuperable efficiency of the market. The first two periods involved the destruction of democracy. The last one trivializes democracy, disarming it in the face of social actors sufficiently powerful to be able to privatize the state and international institutions in their favor. I have described this situation as a combination of political democracy and social fascism. One current manifestation of this combination resides in the fact that intensely strong public opinion, worldwide, against the war is found to be incapable of halting the war machine set in motion by supposedly democratic rulers.

Edited by nathan_debate

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Santos doesn't talk about biopolitics at all, all that card is saying is that killing to save is bad and is the logic of neoliberalism.

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1. To the biopolitcs and capitalism deal, they are two different things. You do not want to get the two mixed up, because I am sure you know this, but biopolitics is simply using politics to reinforce control of the masses. Capitalism is just the idea of work=success, we have to do the best we can, and we always seek to gain money. I would say that biopolitics is sort of a bi-product of capitalism, but I think one could exist without the other

 

2. Biopolitics is not the main force, but it definately gets its share among the market economy. I would say that it helps.

 

3. Ask someone else

 

4. Foucault says that only power relations are inevitable. It is just the way that those power relations are used that justify biopolitics. He is very explicit in saying that by molding discourses and by rejecting governmental policy, we can solve, and these policies are a form of power relations.

 

As for Santos, he is the one that makes claims against neoliberalism. I think he makes the impact stories.

Edited by DebateScholar

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The neo liberal system he describes as "killing to save"--thats bio-power--thats power over life. He's describing neoliberalism as bio-political. Capitalism/neo-liberalsim is complicit in the worst kinds of bio politics.

 

When he referenced that system---you don't think he was drawing on the influence of Foucault's concept of bio power??? Really...what theorist or philosopher is he likely drawing upon???

 

>>If genocide is indeed the dream of modern powers, this is not because of a recent return of the ancient right to kill: it is because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population" (1979a: 137). Foucault completes this same passage with an expression that deserves more notice: "massacres become vital."

 

If this isn't bio-political, why was Santos run along side so many Foucault links on the peacekeeping assistance topic in camp files...I believe including UNTIF, Northwestern, and Dartmouth.

 

The distinction you are making is like the difference between losing dignity and dehumanization.

 

IMHO, you're flipant dismissals miss the larger picture.

Edited by nathan_debate

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To the biopolitcs and capitalism deal, they are two different things..

 

1. I wouldnt say that biopower and capitalism are mutually exclusive from each

for one read this Picket '05 ev it gives pretty good warrants to why capitalism couldnt exist without biopower

 

Capitalism could not exist without the emergence of biopolitics –disciplinary techniques were necessary perquisites to the rise of the market economy.

Pickett Associate professor of Political Science at Chaldron State College 2005 [On the Use and Abuse of Foucault For Politics pp. 18-19]

 

Throughout the seventeenth century, according to Foucault, this new art of government was frustrated in its operations. Ruinous wars, rebellions, famines, urban uprisings, and the cumbersome aspects of mercantilism all contributed to this initial disruption. Still, we see in this period the rise of statistical studies which would form the basis for demographics and support large-scale public health projects.40 It is in the eighteenth century that the various tactics and techniques which formed the basis for bio-power began to expand rapidly. This further served as the basis for two phenomena: a rising population and the development of capitalism. Yet these in turn, especially the latter, helped intensify the growth of bio-power. The new statistical studies which were made at this time revealed that population and its various elements, such as longevity, birth rates, and such, had their own cycles and progressions. Since the strength of the government rests upon the population it governs, it is necessary (under the new political rationality) to administer the population itself. Pro-natal policies, the control of migrations, and other governmental policies become possible. With the support of the new human sciences and statistical studies, a new range of techniques and sites of intervention into the citizenry are opened up 41

Even though bio-power was still early in its development, it was advanced enough to serve as the basis (in conjunction with the disciplines) for the rise of capitalism: "[Capitalism] would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production and the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic processes."42 It is only upon the basis of the application of bio-power at all levels of the social body, and in various institutions, that it is possible to adjust human life to the needs of capital. A regulated, docile workforce, which is healthy and reproductive, is essential to in-creasing economic productivity. Bio-power is nothing less than "methods of power capable of optimizing forces, aptitudes, and life in general."43 Yet capitalism, in turn, was able to serve as a support for the intensification and further diffusion of bio-power.

The conjunction of bio-power and capitalism in the eighteenth century marked a turning point in human history, according to Foucault. Life itself was to be administered and controlled. Methods of power and knowledge took hold of man's biological existence, made it an object of study, and subjected it to continually increasing levels of intervention. It is on this basis that medicine assumed its heightened importance in the eighteenth century and was eventually consolidated in the nineteenth.44 A number of specific tactics supported this extension of bio-power. The family itself was medicalized, especially the parent-child relation. The traditional kinship relation was invested with a new, and highly precise, set of rules concerning the correct care for children. The space the family lives in must be sanitary and well-ventilated, for example.

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The neo liberal system he describes as "killing to save"--thats bio-power--thats power over life. He's describing neoliberalism as bio-political. Capitalism/neo-liberalsim is complicit in the worst kinds of bio politics.

 

When he referenced that system---you don't think he was drawing on the influence of Foucault's concept of bio power??? Really...what theorist or philosopher is he likely drawing upon???

 

>>If genocide is indeed the dream of modern powers, this is not because of a recent return of the ancient right to kill: it is because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population" (1979a: 137). Foucault completes this same passage with an expression that deserves more notice: "massacres become vital."

 

If this isn't bio-political, why was Santos run along side so many Foucault links on the peacekeeping assistance topic in camp files...I believe including UNTIF, Northwestern, and Dartmouth.

 

The distinction you are making is like the difference between losing dignity and dehumanization.

 

IMHO, you're flipant dismissals miss the larger picture.

 

1st, there's a distinction between the biopolitics that Fuko critisizes and the biopolitics of neoliebralism. Killing to save would obviously be a form of biopower, but the way it emerges whithin the sphere of neoliberalism is different than the form of biopower that Fuko is talking about.

 

That famous Fuko 79 impact you're quoting is talking about the control and manipulation of mass populations gives the state the power to annihalate them under the grounds of killing to save or whatever. Santos is just saying that neoliberal globalization is using a kill to save mentality to justify its actions. Nowhere in his article is he referencing the type of biopower Fuko is talking about.

 

Both neoliberalism and biopolitics might have the same internal link to the impact, but that doesn't mean you can argue the reverse that being a form of control would mean that you are the logic of neoliberal globalization, or that being a form of neolibrealism means that you are a form of biopolitical control.

Edited by DA MACHINE

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1. To the biopolitcs and capitalism deal, they are two different things. You do not want to get the two mixed up, because I am sure you know this, but biopolitics is simply using politics to reinforce control of the masses. Capitalism is just the idea of work=success, we have to do the best we can, and we always seek to gain money. I would say that biopolitics is sort of a bi-product of capitalism, but I think one could exist without the other

 

From a marxist prespective, capitalism is a system geared towards the accumulation of capital through the exploitation of its workers, in order to do so it needs to regulate and control their lives. If there was no such thing as biopolitics, it would have no way of sustaining itself.

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The very idea of a normalized subject is the idea of a productive subject. That is, eccentric subjects are not beneficial to productivity, nor beneficial to the population. So yes, biopower can be linked to the ideals of productivity behind capitalism.

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bio-power was without question an indispensable element in the development of capitalism; the latter would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production and the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic processes.

 

- pages 140-1, 'history of sexuality - volume 1: an introduction'.

 

the two processes - the accumulation of men and the accumulation of capital - cannot be separated; it would not have been possible to solve the problem of the accumulation of men without the growth of an apparatus of production capable of both sustaining them and using them; conversely, the techniques that made the cumulative multiplicity of men useful accelerated the accumulation of capital.

 

- page 221, 'discipline and punish'.

 

i hope that settles the above question.

 

...but if the historical study of disciplinary techniques (at the level of the individual) and biopolitical controls (at the level of the population) {the two poles of bio-power proper} are indispensable to and inseparable from the capitalist mode of production, would we not expect to find some proto-foucaultian premises in marxist arguments against worker exploitation?

 

in fact, we do. all over the place. let's take marx's 'capital: volume one' and hardt & negri's 'empire' as examples...

 

The technical subordination of the worker to the uniform motion of the instruments of labor ... gives rise to a barrack-like discipline, which is elaborated into a complete system in the factory, ... thereby dividing the workers into manual laborers and overseers, ...an industrial reserve army.

 

page 549, 'capital'. this division between those supervised and those doing the supervising (within the work-force itself) is also discussed in foucault. and indeed the previous page can supplement foucault kritiks with a good impact magnifier, as marx says that even lightening factory work is "an instrument of torture". this mirrors foucault's claim that supposed 'leniency' is calculated to only further embed disciplinary mechanisms in society (ergo, so-called 'solvency' only makes things worse). what appears "historically as an advance" becomes, therefore, only "a more refined and civilized means of exploitation" writes marx on page 486. the mutilation (marx's impact - page 482) and the coercion (foucault's impact - page 138) of our bodies goes on undeterred.

 

both marx and foucault ask us to look closely at the details of discipline (in the factory, for marx, and in the factory as well as elsewhere, for foucault) - specifically how it alters the way we relate to time: "everything is regulated by the clock" (foucault cites an encyclopedia from the time on page 174), "Moments are the elements of profit" (marx cites a report by factory-inspectors from 1856 on page 352)...

 

To this end, and for 'extirpating idleness, debauchery and excess', promoting a spirit of industry, 'lowering the price of labor in our manufacturies, and easing the lands of the heavy burden of poor's rates', [Malachy Postlethwayt, an English economist] proposes the well-tried method of locking up workers who become dependent on public support (in one word paupers) in 'an ideal workhouse'. Such an ideal workhouse must be made a 'House of Terror', and not an asylum for the poor 'where they are to plentifully fed, warmly and decently clothed, and where do but little work'. In this 'House of Terror', this 'ideal workhouse, the poor shall work 14 hours a day, allowing proper time for meals, in such a manner that there shall remain 12 hours of neat labor'. ... The 'House of Terror' for paupers, only dreamed of by the capitalist mind in 1770, was brought into being a few years later in the shape of a gigantic 'workhouse' for the industrial worker himself. It was called the factory.

 

pages 388-9, 'capital'. notice that marx draws a comparison between what malachy postlethwayt proposed in 1770 (for impoverished dependents) and what would latter become the factory model in the industrial revolution. this is strikingly similar to foucault's comparative analysis in 'discipline and punish' between what jeremy bentham proposed in 1787 and what would later become the panoptic schema in the disciplinary society: "Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?" what both marx and foucault are targeting is 'an ideal diagram of power' - arguably, the same ideal diagram of power, though certainly overlapping ones. on hardt & negri's reading, the identity is simple: "A disciplinary society is thus a factory-society" (page 243 of 'empire').

 

ok, but that's discipline (at the level of the individual). when looking at the factory system in britain at the time, marx would've had to have been blind to miss that. what about biopolitics (at the level of the population)?...

 

well, one of the more urgent concerns of european nation-states in the 19th century was that the factory system was having such a debilitating effect on the health of their populations it was crippling their supply of able-bodied soldiers. the english factory acts were enacted in part to check this; marx writes that such laws "curb[ed] capital's drive towards limitless draining away of labor-power by forcibly limiting the working day on the authority of the state" on page 348. footnote 13 on that same page marx cites an article from a well-respected scientific journal...

 

In general and within certain limits, evidence of the prosperity of organic beings is provided by their exceeding the medium size of their kind. As for man, his bodily height diminishes if his due growth is interfered with, either by physical or by social conditions. In all European countries in which there is conscription, the medium height of adult men, and in general their fitness for military service, has diminished since it was introduced. Before the revolution of 1789 the minimum for the infantry in France was 165 cm.; in 1818 (law of 10 March), 157 cm.; by the law of 21 March 1832, 156 cm.; on an average in France more than half of all conscripts are rejected on account of deficient height or bodily weakness. The military standard of height in Saxony in 1780 was 178 cm. It is now 155. In Prussia it is 157. According to Dr. Meyer's statement of 9 May 1862 in the Bayrische Zeitung, taking an average over nine years, in Prussia 716 out of every 1,000 conscripts were unfit for military service, 317 because of deficiency in height, and 399 because of bodily defects . . . Berlin in 1858 could not provide its contingent of recruits; it was 156 men short.

 

if the part i underlined isn't an instance of biopolitical discourse, i've never seen one. (it's a case-in-point of what brent pickett refers to above as "the rise of statistical studies which would form the basis for demographics" - in the card cited by dr. octagon.) and when 71% of your conscripts aren't fit for military service, a figure that's increasing as industrialization proceeds, then you've got a big problem - one which compelled the states of the time to take the health of their populations into their own hands. "Capital therefore takes no account of the health and length of life of the worker, unless society forces it to do so," writes marx on page 381, supplementing this with the following footnote...

 

81. 'But though the health of a population is so important a fact of the national capital, we are afraid it must be said that the class of employers of labor have not been the most forward to guard and cherish this treasure . . . The consideration of the health of the operatives was forced upon the mill-owners' (The Times, 5 November 1861). 'The mean of the West Riding became the clothiers of mankind . . . the health of the workpeople was sacrificed, and the race in a few generations must have been degenerated. But a reaction set it. Lord Shaftesbury's Bill limited the hours of children's labor, etc' (Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Registrar-General, 1861).

 

you have to supervise the worker and manage the health of the population if you want a capitalist economy to function. you have to supervise the worker because once the working day is limited the amount of profit you get is equal to the productivity of the workers. any unproductive moments are a double waste. you have to limit the working day because if you don't then individual capitalists will work their employees to near-death. this inhibits your ability to conscript a standing army. if you can only work someone 8 hours, then the only way you're going to make more money this year than you did last year is if you intensify those 8 hours of work. that means working the worker harder as well as investing in technology that will make their work more productive. (the reliance on new technologies is thus also an inevitable feature of industrial capitalism, marx concludes.) since individual capitalists can't be counted on to act in the best interests of capitalists as a class, the bourgeois needs an executive committee (called the state) to maintain the productive powers of the lives of the population. bio-power! (only today the mechanisms have become so diffuse, on down to the way we manage our own lives, that to focus only on the state would be to miss the governmentality at work throughout the social body.)

 

Foucault argued in several works in the mid-1970s that one cannot understand the passage from the "sovereign" state of the ancien regime to the modern "disciplinary" state without taking into account how the biopolitical context was progressively put at the service of capitalist accumulation: "The control of society over individuals is not conducted only through consciousness or ideology, but also in the body and with the body. For capitalist society biopolitics is what is most important, the biological, the somatic, the corporeal."

 

page 27, 'empire', chapter 1.2: biopolitical production.

_

 

http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2009-June/079067.html

http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2009-June/079071.html

Edited by Lazzarone

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I know this is governmentality and capitalism/globalization, but I thought folks would be interested.

Globalization as governmentality.

 

Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

 

| November 01, 2004 | Larner, Wendy; Walters, William

 

 

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-18785321_ITM

 

(PS. Access my library should be free--you just have to give them your email and zip)

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felt i should've done a better job of answering the preliminary questions more specifically,

"1. Without biopolitics could capitalism exist?"

first we have to distinguish between bio-power and biopolitics: the former includes both disciplinary and biopolitical elements. with this in hand, when foucault writes on pages 140-1 in 'the history of sexuality' that
 

 

the development of capitalism ... would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production and the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic processes.


he's saying capitalism couldn't have existed without disciplinary power (i.e., "the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production"; e.g., the factory) and biopolitical control (i.e., "the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic processes"; e.g., demographics).

"2. Is biopolitics the main force that holds up the market economy?"

hardt & negri quote foucault as saying almost exactly that on page 27 of 'empire',
 

 

For capitalist society biopolitics is what is most important[.]


"3. Finally, do you think in round that someone could run a critcism, critiquing biopower, with an impact of capitalism could not exist without biopower, and then claim that cap = root cause of poverty, with specfic intellect alt. and frame the debate round as a point of resistance against biopower."

if "bio-power was without question an indispensable element in the development of capitalism" and if "the techniques that made the cumulative multiplicity of men useful accelerated the accumulation of capital", then, ceteris paribus, reasons capitalism is bad are reasons bio-power is bad too. so you can generally read 'capitalism bad'-impacts; you only need two steps: 'biopower key to capitalism' (foucault) and 'capitalism = torture, mutilation, oppression, exploitation, enslavement, misery, fate worse than death, impoverishment, etc.' (marx). and your alternative can be proletarian anti-capitalist struggle on your "own terrain":



 

[A]s soon as we struggle against exploitation, the proletariat not only leads the struggle but also defines its targets, its methods, and the places and instruments for confrontation... if the fight is directed against power, then all those on whom power is exercised to their detriment, all who find it intolerable, can begin the struggle on their own terrain and on the basis of their proper activity (or passivity). In engaging in a struggle that concerns their own interests, whose objectives they clearly understand and whose methods only they can determine, they enter into a revolutionary process. They naturally enter as allies of the proletariat, because power is exercised the way it is in order to maintain capitalist exploitation. They genuinely serve the cause of the proletariat by fighting in those places where they find themselves oppressed. Women, prisoners, conscripted soldiers, hospital patients, and homosexuals have now begun a specific struggle against the particularized power, the constraints and controls, that are exerted over them. Such struggles are actually involved in the revolutionary movement to the degree that they are radical, uncompromising and nonreformist, and refuse any attempt at arriving at a new disposition of the same power with, at best, a change of masters. And these movements are linked to the revolutionary movement of the proletariat to the extent that they fight against the controls and constraints which serve the same system of power.


that's foucault in conversation with deleuze on page 216 of 'language, counter-memory, practice'.

what are you resisting?... the disciplinary and biopolitical discourses uncritically endorsed by your opponents, specifically the notion that legal reformism solves (see underlined portion of above card). and if they say, 'that's just words, not action, and therefore not resistance', you can again quote from foucault - 'the archeology of knowledge', page 209: "... to speak is to do something...".

"4. I know the problem i had was with the fact that is biopower inevitable? I know that power relations are inevitable but, does foucault ever explicitly say biopower inevitable or just power relations inevitable?"

foucault will say there's no escaping power - it's as constitutive of the shape of our societies as topography is of the surface of the planet. and even when we think we've escaped it, like when we're merely conveying some fact, we're also enacting a certain way of relating to our world and ourselves and others, and thus can be said to be making a move within a game of power. {one could perhaps imagine different realities which would entirely eliminate what we call power (say, if we evolved into a gigantic hive-mind or suddenly became trans-dimensional beings or, more apocalyptically, if we were ever turned into mere automatons), but these are outlandish enough to put aside given present circumstances.} this argues for a 'working hypothesis' that's best encapsulated in the foucauldian slogan: 'power is neither good nor bad, but always dangerous'.

bio-power, on the other hand, is a specific kind of power that has recently come to dominate our societies - "the increasing ordering in all realms under the guise of improving the welfare of the individual and the population" (as dreyfus and rabinow define it in their book on foucault). for foucault then, this is the main danger. and just as heidegger doesn't have to reject all technology to oppose a technological enframing of being, foucault doesn't have to reject all power to oppose bio-power's dominance. what's more, heidegger quotes holderlin as saying: "...where the danger is, the saving power grows also". well, where the danger of bio-power is, the power that could save us from it grows also. foucault insists again and again on the 'strategic reversibility' of power relations. the use of d.n.a. evidence can justify executing a murderer (and thereby legitimate the practice of state executions) or it can exonerate an innocent person (and thereby discredit state executions) - "...statistics regarding DNA exoneration represent a profound challenge to the legitimacy of our entire criminal justice system". on pages 144-5 of 'the history of sexuality', he briefly describes the counter-bio-power which popped up alongside bio-power proper at the end of the 19th century,
 

 

life as a political object was in a sense taken at face value and turned back against the system that was bent on controlling it.


on page 151 of 'language, counter-memory, practice', in his famous essay on nietzschean genealogy, he declares that the
 

 

successes of history belong to those who are capable of seizing these [empty, impersonal] rules... and redirect[ing] them against those who had initially imposed them... so as to overcome the rulers through their own rules.


any power creates the potential of its own resistance; this shouldn't lead us to conclude that all resistance is futile (or inevitable), but rather to conclude that resistance is always possible. foucault said in an interview in 1975,
 

 

As in judo, the best answer to the opponent's maneuver never is to step back, but to re-use it to your own advantage as a base for the next phase.


this argues for a "hyper- and pessimistic activism" as foucault described it in his last interview. so to the question, 'is bio-power inevitable?', we can give a resounding 'No!'.

{but if we change your question to 'was bio-power inevitable?', a complete answer would be a little more complicated. when foucault conceived of his project as archaeology, he thought of one of his tasks as showing why history had to happen the way it did - that is, why it could not have happened any other way. there's ample discussion in the secondary literature over whether it's legitimate to read foucault this way, and a related discussion is whether he ever claimed that the discourses he was studying were causally determinative. to cut a long story short, after reading nietzsche, he appears to have changed his tune a bit: he backs off his predictive claim to capture historical necessity and appears to suggest that the radical contingency of our present was also present in the past - that is, history could indeed have happened another way. by 1981, he'd say this in an interview,
 

 

There's an optimism that consists in saying that things couldn't be better. My optimism would consist rather in saying that so many things can be changed, fragile as they are, bound up more with circumstances than necessities, more arbitrary than self-evident, more a matter of complex, but temporary, historical circumstances than with inevitable anthropological constants . . .


'politics, philosophy, culture', page 156.}

Edited by Lazzarone

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Why do you need to answer questions? Can't some questions just be left alone? The learning comes from the sincerity - waiting to receive the response. What if two contradictory perspectives are true? Debate does not make any sense. We all have where we're standing from, then there's the center. All philosophies, religions, traditions, and ways agree at a certain point. We're all more the same than different. Put the sword down.

 

felt i should've done a better job of answering the preliminary questions more specifically,

 

"1. Without biopolitics could capitalism exist?"

 

first we have to distinguish between bio-power and biopolitics: the former includes both disciplinary and biopolitical elements. with this in hand, when foucault writes on pages 140-1 in 'the history of sexuality' that

 

 

 

he's saying capitalism couldn't have existed without disciplinary power (i.e., "the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production"; e.g., the factory) and biopolitical control (i.e., "the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic processes"; e.g., demographics).

 

"2. Is biopolitics the main force that holds up the market economy?"

 

hardt & negri quote foucault as saying almost exactly that on page 27 of 'empire',

 

 

 

"3. Finally, do you think in round that someone could run a critcism, critiquing biopower, with an impact of capitalism could not exist without biopower, and then claim that cap = root cause of poverty, with specfic intellect alt. and frame the debate round as a point of resistance against biopower."

 

if "bio-power was without question an indispensable element in the development of capitalism" and if "the techniques that made the cumulative multiplicity of men useful accelerated the accumulation of capital", then, ceteris paribus, reasons capitalism is bad are reasons bio-power is bad too. so you can generally read 'capitalism bad'-impacts; you only need two steps: 'biopower key to capitalism' (foucault) and 'capitalism = torture, mutilation, oppression, exploitation, enslavement, misery, fate worse than death, impoverishment, etc.' (marx). and your alternative can be proletarian anti-capitalist struggle on your "our terrain":

 

 

 

that's foucault in conversation with deleuze on page 216 of 'language, counter-memory, practice'.

 

what are you resisting?... the disciplinary and biopolitical discourses uncritically endorsed by your opponents, specifically the notion that legal reformism solves (see underlined portion of above card). and if they say, 'that's just words, not action, and therefore not resistance', you can again quote from foucault - 'the archeology of knowledge', page 209: "... to speak is to do something...".

 

"4. I know the problem i had was with the fact that is biopower inevitable? I know that power relations are inevitable but, does foucault ever explicitly say biopower inevitable or just power relations inevitable?"

 

foucault will say there's no escaping power - it's a social energy, a creative and productive force that appears inevitable in human societies. even when we think we've escaped it, as when we're neutrally describing a phenomena, we're also affirming a certain way of relating to our world and ourselves and others, and thus can be said to be making a move within a game of power. one could perhaps imagine different realities which would entirely eliminate what we call power (say, if we evolved into a gigantic hive-mind or suddenly became trans-dimensional beings or, more apocalyptically, if we were ever turned into mere automatons), but these are outlandish enough to put aside given present circumstances. all of this argues for a 'working hypothesis' that's best encapsulated in the foucauldian slogan: 'power is neither good nor bad, but always dangerous'.

 

bio-power, on the other hand, is a specific kind of power that has recently come to dominate our societies - "the increasing ordering in all realms under the guise of improving the welfare of the individual and the population" (as dreyfus and rabinow define it in their book on foucault). for foucault then, this is the main danger. and just as heidegger doesn't have to reject all technology to oppose a technological enframing of being, foucault doesn't have to reject all power to oppose bio-power's dominance. what's more, heidegger quotes holderlin as saying: "...where the danger is, the saving power grows also". well, where the danger of bio-power is, the power that could save us from it grows also. foucault insists again and again on the 'strategic reversibility' of power relations. the use of d.n.a. evidence can justify executing a murderer (and thereby legitimate the practice of state executions) or it can exonerate an innocent person (and thereby discredit state executions) - "...statistics regarding DNA exoneration represent a profound challenge to the legitimacy of our entire criminal justice system". on pages 144-5 of 'the history of sexuality', he briefly describes the counter-bio-power which popped up alongside bio-power proper at the end of the 19th century,

 

 

 

on page 151 of 'language, counter-memory, practice', in his famous essay on nietzschean genealogy, he declares that the

 

 

 

any power creates the potential of its own resistance; this shouldn't lead us to conclude that all resistance is futile (or inevitable), but rather to conclude that resistance is always possible. foucault said in an interview in 1975,

 

 

 

this argues for a "hyper- and pessimistic activism" as foucault described it in his last interview. so to the question, 'is bio-power inevitable?', we can give a resounding 'No!'.

 

{but if we change your question to 'was bio-power inevitable?', a complete answer would be a little more complicated. when foucault conceived of his project as archaeology, he thought of one of his tasks as showing why history had to happen the way it did - that is, why it could not have happened any other way. there's ample discussion in the secondary literature over whether it's legitimate to read foucault this way, and a related discussion is whether he ever claimed that the discourses he was studying were causally determinative. to cut a long story short, after reading nietzsche, he appears to have changed his tune a bit: he backs off his predictive claim to capture historical necessity and appears to suggest that the radical contingency of our present was also present in the past - that is, history could indeed have happened another way. by 1981, he'd say this in an interview,

 

 

 

'politics, philosophy, culture', page 156.}

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when questions are asked, i tend to think the person who asked them wanted answers. in any case, nothing about those questions at the top of this thread sounded rhetorical - though i agree that some questions can be left alone (will brad and angelina ever get back together?, for instance, or what's humanity's deep underlying essence?).

 

but no, learning doesn't come from sincerity, or the empty air of waiting for a response. sincerity is a fine thing of course, but insincere people learn all the time, which is often why they're better informed when the showdown comes. debate does make sense - a lot of them, in fact - as it's a site for the reproduction of power-knowledge relations.

 

"All philosophies, religions, traditions, and ways agree at a certain point."

 

what point is that?

 

"What if two contradictory perspectives are true?"

 

that's a good question, and if you asked it seeking an answer, you might like this thread: http://www.cross-x.com/vb/showthread.php?t=984417 - and especially this article:

 

Graham Priest. 'What is so Bad about Contradictions?', The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 95, No. 8 (Aug., 1998), pp. 410-426.

 

"Put the sword down."

 

you're confusing the sword with the light of reason. ;)

 

"this is all as true as we want it to be"

 

some things are true even if we don't want them to be, no?

Edited by Lazzarone
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