Archive for March, 2012

Griogio Agamben “Remnants of Auschwitz”

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Agamben, Giorgio 1999. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive (Homo Sacer III). New York: Zone Books

4 – The Archive and the Testimony

If enunciation, as we know, does not refer to the text of what is uttered but to its taking place, if it is nothing other than language’s pure reference to itself as actual discourse, in what sense is it possible to speak of a „semantics“ of enunciation? (137-138)

Like the philosophers’ concept of Being, enunciation is what is most unique and concrete, since it refers to the absolutely singular and unrepresentable event of discourse in act; but at the same time, it is what is most vacuous and generic, since it is always repeated without its ever being possible to assign it any lexical reality. (138)

In other words: enunciation is not a thing determined by real, definite properties; it is, rather, pure existence, the fact that a certain being – language – takes place. Given the system of the sciences and the many knowledges that, inside language, define meaningful sentences and more or less well formed discourses, archaeology claims as its territory the pure taking place of these propositions and discourses, that is, the outside of language, the brute fact of its existence. (139)

What gives his [Foucault’s] inquiry its incomparable efficiency is its refusal to grasp the taking place of language through an „I“, a transcendental consciousness or, worse, and equally mythological psychosomatic „I“. (140)

In truth, to take seriously the statement „I speak“ is no longer to consider language as the communication of a meaning or a truth that originates in a responsible Subject. It is, rather, to conceive of discourse in its pure taking place and of the subject as „a nonexistence in whose emptiness the unending outpouring of language uninterruptedly continues“ (Foucault 1998: 148). In language, enunciation marks a threshold between an inside and outside, its taking place as pure exteriority; and once the principal referent of study becomes statements, the subject is stripped of all substance, becoming a pure function or pure position. (140-141)

The subject of enunciation, whose dispersion founds the possibility of a metasemantics of knowledges and constitutes statements in a positive system, maintains itself not in a content of meaning but in an event of language; this is why it cannot take itself as an object, stating itself. There can thus be no archaeology of the subject in the sense in which there is an archaology of knowledges. (142)

Foucault gives the name „archive“ to the positive dimension that corresponds to the plane of enunciation, „the general system of the formation and transformation of statements“ (Foucault 1972: 130). (143)

As the set of rules that define events of discourse, the archive is situated between langue, as the system of construction of possible sentences – that is, possibilities of speaking – and the corpus that unifies the set of what has been said, the things actually uttered or written. The archive is thus the mass of the non-semantic inscribed in every meaningful discourse as a function of its enunciation; it is the dark margin encircling and limiting every concrete act of speech. (143-144)

[…] the archive is the unsaid or sayable inscribed in everything said by virtue of being enunciated; it is the fragment of memory that is always forgotten in the act of saying „I“. (144)

In opposition to the archive, which designates the system of relations between the unsaid and the said, we give the name testimony to the system of relations between the inside and the outside of langue, between the sayable and the usayable in every language – that is, between a potentiality of speech and its existence, between a possibility and an impossibility of speech. (145)

Precisely because testimony is the relation between a possibility of speech and its taking place, it can exist only through a relation to an impossibility of speech – that is, only as contingency, as a capacity not to be. (145)

The subject is thus the possibility that language does not exist, does not take place – or, better, that it takes place only through its possibility of not being there, its contingency. (146)

But the relation between language and its existence, between langue and the archive, demands subjectivity as that which, in its very possibility of speech, bears witness to an impossibility of speech. This is why subjectivity appears as witness; this is why it can speak for those who cannot speak. Testimony is a potentiality that becomes actual through an impotentiality of speech; it is, moreover, an impossibility that gives itself existence through a possibility of speaking. These two movements cannot be identified either with a subject or with a consciousness; yet they cannot be divided into two incommunicable substances. Their inseparable intimacy is testimony. (146)

The subject, rather, is a field of forces always already traversed by the incandescent and historically determined currents of potentiality and impotentiality, of being able not to be and not being able not to be. (147-148)

An author’s act that claims to be valid on its own is nonsense, just as the survivor’s testimony has truth and a reason for being only if it is completed by the one who cannot bear witness. The survivor and the Muselmann, like the tutor and the incapable person and the creator and his material, are inseparable; their unity-difference alone constitutes testimony. (150)

Bichat could not have foretold that the time would come when medical resuscitation technology and, in addition, biopolitics would operate on precisely this disjunction between the organic and the animal, realizing the nightmare of a vegetative life that indefinitely survives the life of relation, a non-human life infinitely separable from human existence. (154)

[…] a formula that defines the most specific trait of twentieth-century biopolitics: no longer either to make die or to make live, but to make survive. The decisive activity of biopower in our time consists in the production not of life or death, but rather of a mutable and virtually infinite survival. (155)

With its every word, testimony refutes precisely this isolation of survival from life. (157)

The authority of the witness consists in his capacity to speak solely in the name of an incapacity to speak – that is, in his or her being a subject. Testimony thus guarantees not the factual truth of the statement safeguarded in the archive, but rather its unarchivability, its exteriority with respect to the archive – that is, the necessity by which, as the existence of language, it escapes both memory and forgetting. (158)

If we now return to testimony, we may say that to bear witness is to place oneself in one’s own language in the position of those who have lost it, to establish oneself in a living language as if it were dead, or in a dead language as if it were living – in any case, outside both the archive and the corpus of what has already been said. […] Poets – witnesses – found language as what remains, as what actually survives the possibility, or impossibility, of speaking. (161)

Brian Massumi “Requiem for Our Prospective Dead”

March 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Massumi, Brian 1998. Requiem for Our Prospective Dead (Toward a Participatory Critique of Capitalism). – Kaufman, Eleanor; Heller, Kevin Jon (eds). Deleuze and Guattari: New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy, and Culture. Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press: 40-64

The object of capitalist power does not preexist the exercise of that power. Productive power is exercised on points of indeterminacy: on molecules of genericness fusing singular atoms of sociality in an unstable primal soup of power. (54)

Every socially recognized class is a potential market. Productive capitalist power is directly a market-expansion tool; and conversely, every market-expansion tool is directly a form of capitalist power. The creation of a niche market through advertising is the creation of niche power-object that is also a potential political constituency. Social emergence, the irruption of new forces of existence, are precapitalized. In other words, the power to exist has been transformed into an internal variable of the capitalist supersystem. (55)

Life and death are fused in the generic figure of „humanity“ in crisis, then are reparticularized, reimplanted, proceduralized, and valorized in a variety of ways. (55)

It is as artificial to separate command from control as it is to separate death from life. Command (power over life, power of death) and control (power to enliven), though really distinct, cofunction. They are intervowen into the fabric of everyday life, and their uneasy ground-level mixes can be seen to lie along the same continuum of power. On that continuum, the quality of their respective effects converge. On the one hand, the command subtraction of a potential provokes a reflexive evasion or adaptive alteration: command is also productive of life; control is its by-product. On the other hand, the field of noncoercive, incitative, power-of-control channelings is punctuated and porously delimited by command attacks, to which it regularly appeals in self-defense. Command and control are reciprocal by-products, as are life and death. (56)

Foucault’s disciplinary institutions can be seen as normative command centers radiating control, productive less of sovereignty than of eddies of social order. (56)

„Control“ is best taken in a sense close to its cybernetic sense: systems’ control of input, output, and the transformative operations effected in the autonomous machine – applied to bodies (defined as broadly as possible, to include images) rather than to information. (57)

Control involves the assimilation of powers of existence, at the moment of their emergence (their phased passing), into a classificatory schema determining normative orbits around which procedural parameters for negotiation and advocacy are set. It has to do with the production of socially valorized normative entities. (57)

The meaning of normative has changed. Normativity becomes synonymous with collective visibility and social operativity – with living itself (and with illness and death „with dignity“, in other words actively transformed int an affirmation of life). (57)

The principle of modulation states that the capitalist supersystem must be characterized, globally, as a modulatory social control system conditioned by and conditioning command (the „political“ defined narrowly as autocratic decision backed by effective force). (58)

Deviance, decoding, and structural escape are also, in effect, determined (as channeled transformative passage, captive social fluidity productive of new norms, codes, symbolic structures). (59)

In the deregulatroy environment of contemporary capitalism, every apparatus of government power is under intense pressure to reinvent itself as a self-reflective, self-producing system subordinated less to the will of a „people“ than to measurable output criteria defined in directly capitalist terms („productivity“ and „profitability“). (59)

Resistance, if it is possible (and again, I think it is), needs to be reinscribed in the generic. As it is usually conceived, resistance starts from a particularity and either defends or deepens that particularity. But particularity is an effect of the very system of determination that resistance is meant to resist. It is a reductive embodiment of the singular-generic in a serially determinate, normatively specifiable entity. Resistance must be reconceptualized as an operation on the generic: its direct embodiment as multply singular. The tactical embodiment of the groundless ground of capitalist power would short-circuit its channelings. It would dephase controlled emergence: in other words, envelop locally the globality of its phasings (this is the technical definition of „singularity“ in chaos theory). Resistance would be the condensation of vital powers of emergence – and multiple deaths. In other words, it would define itself less as an oppositional pracitce than as a pragmatics of intensified ontogenesis: at life’s ledge. This is the countercapitalist principle of vitalist metaconstructivism. This principle can only be fully theorized through its own pragmatic application. In other words, experimentation. (60)

Katia Genel “The Question of Biopower”

March 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Genel, Katia 2006. The Question of Biopower: Foucault and Agamben. Rethinking Marxism Vol. 18 No. 1: 43-62

In short, the object of biopolitics is the population, conceived as a scientific and political problem; biopolitics therefore focuses on collective phenom-ena that have long-term political effects and strives to regulate them. It is a question of ‘‘security mechanisms’’ which ‘‘have to be installed around the random element inherent in a population of living beings’’ (Foucault 2003, 246). (45)

The new technologies of power are situated in effect below the power of sovereignty: power is increasingly less the power to put to death, and increasingly more the right to intervene in order to make live. (47)

The normalizing mechanisms are not, however, the ‘‘enlarged forms’’ of discipline. It is a question rather, as Foucault writes, of covering a larger surface of the body of the population by means of the bilateral interplay of normalizing and disciplinary mechanisms. (47)

It is a question, therefore, of Foucault’s departure from a juridical-discursive interrogation of power, which preserves power in its negative form as repression or prohibition. Instead, power is in fact a positive mechanism aiming at the multiplicity, the intensification, and the increase of life. (48)

Through the emergence of biopower, racism is inscribed within mechanisms of the state according to a double logic. On the one hand, racism introduces caesuras between what must live and what must die within the life of which power has taken control. […]On the other hand, racism establishes a positive relation between the life of some and the death of others which is no longer bellicose or militaristic, but biological. Not merely the security of one race, the death of the other is the death of a pernicious race that will make the life of the race healthier and more pure. Enemies are not political adversaries but biological threats. (49)

In order to understand how Agamben intends ‘‘to correct, or at least, to complete’’ Foucault’s analysis, it is necessary to separate out the content that Agamben adds to the notion of biopower. The resulting displacement of this concept*/the apparent corrective*/is essentially a result of the notion of power that is implied: Agamben extracts a biopolitical structure from sovereign power. (50)

Sovereignty does not emerge from a contract or a general will nor is it derived from interests. It not concerned with legal subjects but, in a hidden manner, with bare life which it detaches from the forms of life to which this life is habitually attached. (50-51)

As a result, the relation between power and life is called a ‘‘relation of exception,’’ designating a relation in which something is included by its exclusion; the sphere of bare life is produced by this very exclusion. Production of bare life, therefore, is the originary activity of power. The notion of bare life is thereby distinguished from natural life: it is life inasmuch as it is exposed to power and its force, inasmuch therefore as it is exposed to death. (51)

It is the exception that makes the juridical order possible. […]sovereign power functions according to a logic of exception or a logic of the exposure of bare life. It is a power which is established beginning from this violence. (52)

The state of exception is not therefore the chaos that precedes order, but rather the situation that results from its suspension. It can be considered a principle immanent to sovereignty which structures the political state without ever appearing within it. (53)

Starting from the biopolitical structure of sovereignty, a history of biopower takes shape the aim of which is to elucidate both contemporary politics and its continuity with the enigmas of the twentieth century. The crucial moment of this history is not, as it is for Foucault, the intensification of the diverse processes that ‘‘make live,’’ but the moment in which bare life ‘‘frees itself.’’ (53)

The fiction of sovereignty is the fictional bond between nativity and nation, etymologically related. Life, the actual sovereign subject, is the ultimate and opaque bearer of sovereignty. […] But this is an ambivalent inscription: men inscribe their demands for rights and liberties in the very place of their subjection to power. (54)

Two traits characterize totalitarianism: on the one hand, power becomes the immediate decision on life, which is to say the decision on its value or nonvalue. […]On the other hand, a second trait characterizes totalitarianism: biological facts become political objectives, and politics is then understood in terms of the police. (55)

Power is above all a decision on life in the form of a qualification of life, a decision on its value and therefore also its nonvalue. (56)

The transforma-tion of the analysis of the camp into a figure of political space appears to result in a rather reductive paradigm. Political space, normalized by the camp, is reduced to a specific mode of the exercise of power: the decision on the value of life. (57)

Sovereign power functions according to a logic of thresholds and caesuras, which are concerned not only with biological processes of populations, but with mere survival. Agamben’s inquiry is therefore an inquiry into the originary fiction of sovereignty, one that can be expressed in Foucauldian terms: his inquiry concerns the manner in which power presents itself within the legal code and the way in which it ‘‘prescribes that we conceive of it,’’ bringing to light the complex procedures*/behind their reductive assimilation*/of thresholds and divisions. (57)

Sovereignty is exercised through the sovereign decision in the paradoxical gesture of the exception. Constructed through a relation of the ban, it establishes and maintains itself through a gesture which is reproduced by each citizen in relation to his or her own life, by which each individual ‘‘becomes subject and object .. . of the political order.’’ The logic of power is a logic of exclusion and inclusion which designates the thresholds which continually redefine life, its value, and, as a result, the human. (57-58)

In Agamben’s conception of the term, biopower is nothing other than the deployment of the structure of sovereignty in the form of the crisis. Agamben constitutes it as a paradigm rather than locating, as Foucault has done, the discontinuities and historical transformations of the way in which power is exercised. (58)

It is Agamben’s intention to think possibility outside any ban, outside any actuality, and even outside any relation with political organization, thereby entering into an irremediable disjunction with it. […]In The Open, Agamben designates ‘‘the taking on of biological life itself as the supreme political (or rather impolitical) task’’ (2004, 76). (59)

The definition given by Foucault is intended to be comparatively more localized, while Agamben carries out an extension of the field of biopower which calls into question its relevance. Agamben’s analysis of the mode of exercising power is coherent to the extent that it successfully updates both the facade behind which power makes its advances within the juridico-institutional code and on the plane of sovereignty, as well as the manner in which sovereignty includes bare life in its calculations. In this minimal way, it is possible to understand the analysis of Agamben as a complement to Foucault’s project: both below and above the processes of normalization and control which manage the individual and collective bodies, a separation is operative at the level of bare life, which is the very survival of individuals. It takes the form of an exclusion, discriminating between the living subjects and others who are considered destined to die with utter impunity, the life of which has not been made an object of protection. Bare life itself, rather than existence or the bodies of men, is a juridico-political construction, not something given or a ‘‘natural, extrapolitical fact.’’ (60)

In fact, a slippage in the sense of the term [life] becomes apparent to the extent that it functions both within the mechanisms of the problem and in the positive resolution. (61)

Derek Hook “Foucault, Psychology and the Analytics of Power”

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Hook, Derek 2010. Foucault, Psychology and the Analytics of Power. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan


The aim of this book is thus to introduce both of these methodological and politico-historical preoccupations together, to put Foucault’s genealogical writings to work as a means of critically re-conceptualizing aspects of psychological knowledge and practice, first and, correspondingly, as a means of grounding a set of radical research methods, second. (2)

Foucault’s analytics of power, that is to say, does not follow the route of ‘grand theory’; his is not the project of writing power’s ontology, of outlining its overall struc-ture. In many ways, Foucault’s is precisely a de-theorizing project that aims to resist final formularizations of power in favour of the attempt to generate solid analytic grounds from which we may fix aspects of its operational force and logic. (3)

[…] Foucault’s conception of discourse is situated far more closely to the analysis of knowledge, materiality and power than it is to language. (5)

1 – Disciplinarity and the Production of Psychological Individuality

Firstly, although the relationship of sovereignty does connect political power with the body, such an attempt at co-ordination is marred by continuous disjunc-tion – bodies and power are not coterminous entities in this era of power. Secondly, we are as such confronting a form of power without a broadly individualizing function, a political mode which outlines individuality only in the figure of the sovereign, and even then at the cost of paradoxical multiplication of the body. (11)

Returning though to a focus on the era of humanist reform, it is no longer primarily the body, but souls or minds that increasingly come to be seen as the primary targets of correction, targets treated not through the means of pain, but through signs and representations. (13)

Moreover, claims Foucault, we see in such ‘prime values’ of humanism the promise of a kind of agency, be it that of human rights, the power of truth, or the prerogatives of liberty, despite that such relations of authority and control are centred elsewhere, in systems of power beyond the level of the subject. We have thus a series of ‘pseudo-sovereignties’ – in which psychological formulations, along the lines of notions of consciousness, play a key role – a series of apparent inviolable human prerogatives which appear to be centred upon the human subject but which generally operate at a different level of benefit and efficacy: that of modern disciplinary systems of power. (14)

The examination is a mode of disciplinary scrutiny that Foucault studies in consid-erable  detail. As Davidson (2003) remarks, ‘The examination is that form of knowledge and power that gives rise to the “human sciences” ’(p. xxiii). Why the examination represents such a crucial advance in the technology of power is that it functions as a measure of potentiality. The examination is not limited to the past, to the single deviant or criminal act that has already taken place, it is a measure of the subject’s future capability, their prospective dangerousness to society. While legal punishment, strictly speaking, bears on an act, the broader array of punitive techniques needs to bring into focus the details of an entire life: the subject must be linked to their offence in a variety of ways, by reference to questions of instincts, drives, tendencies, their character and so on (Foucault, 2003b). (16)

We may thus understand ‘human technologies’ as discrete sets of practicable knowledge and expertise, as disciplinary arrays of technical skills and analytical procedures. Such technologies necessarily entail their own professional vocabularies – discrete languages of codi-fication and control – along with their own regimes of treatment and analysis. They remain in the hands of select experts; they maintain a particular form of change or betterment as their stated objective; their implementation, as Foucault frequently emphasizes, brings about an increase in the productivity, the efficiency and the effectiveness of given relations of power. (21)

The physicality of the disciplinable body so neglected by humanist reformers returns in disciplinarity as power’s first point of purchase, as the surface upon which discipline would focus its powers, at least, as Miller (1994) notes, in the earliest stages of its deployment. (21)

The disciplinary body is the body fixed in regimes of time, space and prac-tice, the body as it is trained, educated, rehabilitated and healed. This is a surface of power that needs be viewed in conjunction with the correlate soul-effects that are thus established, a ‘body-function’ that must be grasped in the terms of the self-regulations, the norms, the expanding set of personalized lessons and self-knowledge – the psychology-effects in short – that it subsequently comes to emit, to recreate, to maintain and implement over itself – this is the body in discipline. (22)

As intimated above, the reflexive (or, as we might put it, psychologized) subject, brought about through a disciplinary mode of subjectification, might be taken to be discipline’s most impressive product. (27)

In other words, disciplinary interventions are, ideally, pre-emptive, occurring prior to the translation of intention into act. The soul is the explanatory vehicle that can best enable the necessary order of predictions; the soul moreover, and the chain of associated psycho-logical terms through which it must now be understood, is precisely the point at which the virtual in the subject can be apprehended before it is realized. (29)

Disciplinary mechanisms are able, in other words, via extractions, productions of knowledge, to produce a kind of singularity of the individual. This individualizing capacity, crucially, works differentially; rather than bending its subjects into a single uniform mass, disciplinarity cultivates differences, it separates and distinguishes, it makes unique. (30)

[…] an important distinction – one deserving of more attention in Foucault – between subjectification and subjectivization. In terms of the former, I have in mind – as discussed above – the promotion and elaboration of a thoroughly individualizing set of knowledges about the singular subject who is effectively normalized and psychologized as a result. The knock-on effect of such practices, the feeding back of such knowledges to a subject who comes to apply such notions, to under-stand and experience themselves in the terms of subjectification, is what I understand as subjectivization. This, in short, is the difference between being accorded a subject-position, and what it might mean to take on, to assume or personalize, such a subject-position. (31)

Individualization, in all of the capacities discussed above – as a func-tion of subjectification and subjectivization alike – remains for Foucault a contingent phenomenon, an after-effect of the functioning of modern disciplinary power. (31)

Import-antly, what is illustrated by the example of the Panopticon is not just a relation of self- consciousness, or a relation of continuous self-awareness, what is also implied is a complex relation of virtuality to action, of the present to the future, a relation, in other words, of self to potentiality. (33)

(The ambiguities of this term serves us well here: the speaking subject is both subject to their own speaking and the subject of what is spoken about, in addition to being that subject that is speaking – a reflexive looping of self into discourse that epitomizes the subjectivization discussed above.) (36)

Foucault (1978a) insists, it is increasingly only through the mediation of expert interpreters – doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and coun-sellors – that the individual can properly know the truth of their own internal nature. (37)

What also needs to be considered here is the possibility that disciplinary power involves a number of psychological prerequisites for the achievement of disciplinary effects; such preconditions may stand as absolute precon-ditions that need to be attained if this particular power of ‘mind over mind’ is to be at all possible. (45)

Higher mental functioning is what ensures that human subjects can be disciplined in a symbolic and self-automating manner; indeed, this is what ensures that humans can be disciplined at a qualitatively different level (entailing developed properties of self-reflexivity and mediation) than animals. The psychological apparatus constituted by this set of higher mental functions presumably thus counts as something of a condition of possib-ility for panopticism to function. (46)

does Foucault’s argument about the diverse and differential production of psychological individualism not oblige him to presume that subjects were undifferentiated and unindividualized before its effects, and not simply conceptually, but practically also? (49)

If this is the case, if there is a minimal degree of psychological functioning in place, then Foucault leaves open the possibility for a type of individual difference that disciplinarity builds upon, animates and extends, rather than producing from the ground up in a total or originating manner. (51)

Or, differently put, we need to discern between psychology as the means through which the subjectivity of modern individuals is formed (the higher mental functions of basic cognitive operations, the awareness of self relative to the ideals of normalizing disciplinarity, types of learning that internalize effects of power and so on), and the formidable cultural and historical apparatus of ‘the psychological’ through which a whole series of related concepts, modes of practice and formations of experience unfold. (53)

On the one hand the psyche is understood as simply produced by disciplinary discourses and institutions. On the other hand, Foucault requires a forerunner of sorts – a ‘proto-psychological’ reference point – which we might equally understand as the psyche – upon which power can be applied. (54)

(Individual psychological functioning may indeed be inseparably linked to power, may never in fact be free of its influence and conditioning without being in effect reducible to it.) (57)

2 – Desubstantializing Power: Methodological Injuctions for Analysis

Differing from those broader-based approaches which view power within the rubrics of signification or economic production and which have instruments of analysis already available to them – as in the case of semiotics and the discipline of economics – the study of the micro-political can rely on no pre-existing tools of analysis. (63)

If the project is to try and escape from insidious modes of subjectivity through which we produce and police ourselves in line with moral orthopaedic norms, then a programme of political awareness like Black Consciousness is less than appro-priate. If, on the other hand, we are concerned with combating a different order of power, such as that of the insidious effects of an institutionalized racism, then a strategy like Black Consciousness does seem a well-suited form of resistance, certainly inasmuch as it offers the tactical possibility for alternative positionings, imaginings, modes of reflection, re-contextualization and contestation that may not otherwise have been possible. (72)

The point is not to dismiss all possibilities of contestation and argumentation, but to question the degree to which we prioritize subjectivity and human individualism as a means of doing so. Subjectivity for Foucault, as discussed in the previous chapter, is something like a reflexive loop – a fold, in Deleuze’s (1988) useful formulation – in which certain principles and values of power are re-inscribed, redistributed at an ostensibly ‘internal’ level. Gordon (1980) puts this well in his rejection of the subject–object polarization that often takes precedence in the analysis of power: such a polariza-tion comes to privilege subjectivity as the form of moral autonomy. We should suspend the assumption that domination falsifies the essence of human subjectivity, asserting instead an awareness that ‘power regu-larly promotes and utilizes a “true” knowledge of subjects[1][1][1][that it] constitutes the very field of that truth’ (p. 239). (73)

In other words, there is an aware-ness of action, a rudimentary sense of effect, a limited appreciation even of rationale and motive that can, in many instances, be located in an agent of sorts – although there is not an awareness of the overarching rationality, the broader consequences of power of which their actions are part. (83)

A question arises at this point: if no dissent emerges as a result of a given arrangement of social ordering, do we even register the presence of a relation of power? We can develop this question in two ways. The first is to speculate whether, in the absence of resistance, prevailing relations of power come to be so naturalized, so thoroughly integrated into the normal order of things that they remain totally undetected, mutely accepted as necessary constituent features of society. If this is the case then one imperative for a project of critique is precisely to bring into critical visibility that which seems beyond reasonable scrutiny, to draw the seemingly apolitical factors of human existence increasingly into the frame of political examination. Here one might suggest that Foucault’s inventive de-substantializing of power is already a mode of resistance inasmuch as it brings into critical visibility a series of relations of power – of human science knowledge, of the truths of humanism – which may not otherwise have been identified as modes of power.

There is also another more critical way of responding to the above question. Granted it may well be the case that in the absence of resist-ance, no relation of power is registered. Might it not also be the case that in the absence of any resistance no relation of power exists at all? A dangerous implication can thus be read out of Foucault’s formula-tions on the interdependence of power and resistance: unless there is some relation of resistance – a relation which presumably also means some stake of interest – the relation thus constituted is not one of power, but of agreement. The obvious rejoinder here is that power may be present despite a lack of any apparent resistance or of an imme-diately identifiable stake of interest. To put it another way, although instances of resistance virtually characterize all interventions of power, we should not necessarily accept that the absence of resistance signals a relationship of agreement or equality. A slight addition then to Foucault’s thoughts on power and resistance: the factor of resistance which is seen as power’s precondition may not always be obvious, overtly present; in such cases it may benefit us to consider what previous relations of resist-ance have existed or what future relations of resistance are imaginable, conceivable. (84-85)

[…] might it not be preferable to understand resistance as that which impedes the flow of power? Resistance then might best be grasped at those points where power stumbles, at those moments of inefficacy where its conductions break down into disarray, at those lapses and gaps in its regime of control. Not simply another form of power then, resistance is power’s failure to assert its complete jurisdiction. (89)

3 – Discourse, Knowledge, Materiality, History: Foucault and Discourse Analysis

Indeed, to realize that truth is a function of discourse is to realize that the conditions of truth are precisely rather than relatively contingent on current forms of discourse. It is in this way ludicrous to read Foucault as suggesting that truth is ‘relative’, in the open sense of the term, where all possible truth-conditions are equal, depending merely on context or interpretative perspective. Foucault views truth-conditions as extremely stable and secure, as situated in a highly specific and idiosyncratic matrix of historical and socio-political circumstances, which give rise to, and are part of, the order of discourse. A skepticism of truth here defers not to a ‘baseless’ relativism, but instead to a carefully delineated set of conditions of possibility under which statements come to be meaningful and true. By ‘conditions of possibility’ Foucault here is referring to materialist conditions that are historically specific and contingent in themselves, rather than in any way ‘transcendental’. (105)

So why they do well to focus on the subject as positioned, commensurate with a Foucauldian view, they also imply the possibility of ‘making self’ through discourse, a situation in which one’s ‘subject–position’ effectively becomes one’s ‘individuality’. We should as such be wary of this application of ‘positioned subjects’ as potentially recuperating a sense of singular agency of discourse. The risk, moreover, is that such a level of analysis returns us to a focus on individuals – or subjects – where it is perhaps more appropriately focussed at a more trans-individual level. (114)

[…] one should approach discourse not so much as a language, or as textuality, but as an active ‘occurring’, as something that implements power and action, and that also is power and action. (120)

Given then that discourse is able to work in discontinuous ways, that discursive practices are able to cross and juxtapose one another with ‘mutual unawareness’ (Foucault, 1981a), we cannot simply speak against discourse, or attempt to liberate a network of repressed discourse lying beneath it. To attempt to ‘give voice’ to a great unspoken risks simply reproducing the criticized discourse in another way. (123)

In other words, the risk we take in engaging discourse chiefly at the textual level is in assuming that this itself is power, and assuming this at the expense of attending to how this textuality – like our own textual interventions – can be differentially utilized by different political interests. (129)

The factor of activity as separable from social thought – as happening ‘prior to’, or in opposition to the formalization of discursive intelligibility – provides our first point of consideration. The possibility that seems to have been missed in Foucault’s theorization of discourse is that physical actions – the doing of practical activity – might challenge, or refute, a particular set of discursive representations. This is by no means to suggest that the realm of activity exists in some ideal sphere beyond the ‘jurisdiction’ of the discursive. It is rather to open up the possibility that the doing of activity might work as a condition of contradiction of various forms of accepted social knowledge, indeed, that it might provide a critical dimension of reformulation or resistance. (136)

4 – Foucault’s Philosophy of the Event: Genealogical Method and the Deployment of the Abnormal

The rival (or counter-) knowledges that genealogy produces are not thus more truthful – something that attacks on Foucaul-dian genealogy frequently misunderstand. In genealogy – developing here a theme introduced in the previous chapter – it is more of a ques-tion of increasing the combative power of potentially subversive forms of knowledge than of simply attempting to amplify their ‘truth-value’, more a tactics of sabotage and disruption than a straightforward head-to-head measuring up of ‘supposed truth’ with a ‘truer’ counter-example. Genealogy thus involves the showing up of certain formations of know-ledge which it in part unforms; genealogy, for Dean (1994), is a form of analysis that ‘suspends contemporary norms of validity and meaning as it reveals their multiple conditions of formation’ (p. 33). (142)

The ‘object’ that genealogy studies is never more than a catalogue of the set of historical vicissitudes against which it gains coherence; this field of events is the ‘ontology’ of the object in question. We are focussed thus on the particular networks of interwoven forces and occur-rences that give such entities a viable ‘objectivity’, a minimal ‘knowab-ility’. Importantly, this implies not only a commitment to history but also a focus on the materiality of practice, the role of subjugation. (153)

[…] the effect of Foucauldian genealogy is to destroy the individual psycholo-gical subject as a primary vehicle of explanation. Genealogy opposes exactly the notion of a necessarily individualized internal psychological universe, exactly that object which is psychology’s privileged subject, the object of analysis it cannot dispense with if it is to maintain its viability as a discrete discipline of knowledge. (171)

We cannot simply forego the question of the psychic life or psychic economy of power, the issue of the ontology of the subject, or, in the terms of my own argument, the fact of how certain psycho-logical/psychic capacities are instrumental factors in the workings of political control or influence. (173)

[…] genealogy works against ontology; indeed it offers us exactly a series of de-ontologizing procedures. It is anti-ontological in a dual sense. Not only does it contest the existence of the standard epistem-ological objects presupposed by the theories of the human sciences, it also opposes metaphysical speculation on the foundational nature of being. (175)

5 – Space, Discourse, Power – Heterotopia as Analytics

It is important thus to reiterate that space is itself an element of discourse. (178)

Quite clearly then, the discursive by no means precludes the spatial: the identities, materiality and practical functionality of places, so long as they are social phenomena that produce and contribute to the construction of social meaning, are amenable to discursive forms of analysis. (179)

Spatiality may thus be operationalized as socially-constructed and socially-practised space, space as intricately intertwined with socio-political and historical relations of power-knowledge, as itself discursive. (180)

A benefit of analyzing space as a discursive resource of subjectivity is that it brings into sharp relief the notion of the subject-position; subjectivity and space are tied together via discourse. Issues of ‘identity’ are as such strictly secondary to questions of subjectification, to issues of discursivity. (180)

Heterotopias are the potentially transformative spaces of society from which meaningful forms of resistance can be mounted. These are the places capable of a certain kind of social commentary, those sites where social commentary may, in a sense, be written into the arrangements and relations of space. (185)

[…]one should not automat-ically assume that the analytics of heterotopia refers exclusively to places. We should apply the notion of the heterotopia as an analytics rather than simply, or literally, as place; it is a particular way to look at space, place or text. (185-186)

Our analysis of hetero-topias then are never discrete to the spatial or textual site that they take as their immediate point of reference, but are rather readings exactly of the ‘thoroughfare’ of practice, meaning and value, engagements exactly of the discursive inter-course between this site and what surrounds and penetrates it. What makes the heterotopia – and what the analysis of the heterotopia yields – is as much its ‘constitutive outside’ as what is ostensibly bound by the boundaries of its space. (189)

[…] spatiality does not simply follow after, duplicating established asymmetries of power; the formation of social space is itself a ‘grounds’ for the estab-lishment of meanings and relations of control. (205)

6 – Governmentality, Racism, Affective Technologies of Subjectivity/Self

The vital distinction here, in ethical versus disciplinary uses of this notion, is a turn to self rather than institutionally operated systems of intelligibility and control. The notion of technologies of subjectivity – as I will go on to discuss in this chapter – refers to a broad set of self-regulative practices, a heterogeneous set of relays, in Rose’s (1991) terms, which bring the ‘varied ambitions of political, scientific, philanthropic and professional authorities into alignment with the ideals[1][1][1] of individuals’ (p. 213). Technologies of self, by contrast, result when such mobile and multivalent technologies of subjectivity came to be ‘enfolded into the person through a variety of schema of self-inspection, self-suspicion, self-disclosure, self-nurturance’ (Rose, 1996a, p. 32). What one is able to plot here is a ‘downward saturation’ of power where certain vocabularies and instrumentations of subjectivity enable ‘the operations of government to be articulated in the terms of the knowledgeable management of the human soul’ (p. 231). (216)

We have thus an analytical means for examining that ‘go-between’ area in which deeply private, individu-alized (and ostensibly ‘internal’) practices of self and subjectivity are already political operations, with broader political objectives and effects that may be dispositionally linked to macro forms of state power. (216)

I want to make the case that many contemporary modes of governmentality do involve a strong conduction of affect, a streaming, or encouragement of certain affective bonds which in many instances do retain powerfully racial-izing elements. (221)

Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982) speak of bio-power as the name Foucault gives to the increased ordering of all realms under the guise of improving the welfare of the individual; bio-politics, by contrast, is to be understood as the calculated life-management of human populations. (227)

At a basic level, one might understand bio-power as the generic category of which bio-politics is a variant. (227)

Bio-politics can thus be understood as that type of bio-power that targets collectivities, constituting its subjects as ‘a people’, ‘a nation’, ‘a race’ (Foucault, 2003a). Or, in Lazzarato’s (2002) terms of emphasis: whereas bio-power begins with the body and its potentials, and seizes life and ‘living being’ as its objects, bio-politics is always necessarily a form of government, it involves a government–population–political economy relationship (for more on this distinction, see Rabinow and Rose, 2003). (227)

[…] there is no question of the body, its health, its betterment, no question of biology, disease or well-being, which is not also a political issue; biology and power have hence become inseparable. More than this: life and power themselves have become inseparable – it is exactly through the regulation of life and life-processes that power exercises its influence, that it guarantees its hold upon us. It is power’s increased preoccupation with the process of life that has so massively widened its jurisdiction, which has resulted in its saturation of virtually all aspects of everyday existence. (228)

On the one hand, we have a mode of power that functions on the capillary level of individuals, optimizing their capabilities, and integrating them, via the route of a self-regulating subjectivity, into systems of economic control. On the other, we have an operation of power that comes from ‘the top down’, that focuses on regulating and predicting the ‘species body’. The latter is a technology of reassurance and security which looks to biological processes rather than to single bodies and that attempts to protect a whole social body from internal dangers, and does so by gathering a massive corpus of data on the resources, capacities and problems of the population. (229)

Hence the imperative to kill is today acceptable only on the basis of the elimination of a threat to a given population; the right to cause death is permissible only on the promise of life to a given populace. (232)

Apparatuses hence are kinds of joiners, diagonal lines of connec-tion cutting across, combining formal dissimilarities. They are hinges, one might say, between the knowledge of spoken and written discourse, and the materialization of this knowledge within the immanent sphere of everyday practice; hinges also, perhaps more accurately, crucially, between macro- (and structural) and micro- (individualized and inter-personal) modalities, between state and capillary forms, between form-alized and spontaneous events of power. (233)

This, incidentally, makes for a useful distinction between apparatuses and technologies. The latter, as a category of analysis, is strongly focused on exactly the minutia of the concrete instrumentation and mechaniz-ation of institutional applications of power; the former, by contrast, is far more concerned with broader political ‘logics’. Foucault’s intent is to evoke the breadth of the ‘implementational logic’ of governmental power; his objective is to emphasize the spread of this power, its exist-ence and ‘rootedness’ across social networks, to reiterate that a given type of power cannot be fixed by studying it in any one situation or context. (234)

The first general apparatus, or ‘rationality of state’, that Foucault discusses is that of the ‘police’.[…] He (1990) speaks about ‘police’ in the sense of a utopian governmental project – as present in the works of French and German political thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – as a set of administrative concerns over people and things, over the relationships between (in the broadest sense) men, property, produce, exchange, territory and the market.[…] At a slightly more general level, one might understand the job of the police as to do with the articulation and administration of tech-niques of bio-power in a way that increases the state’s control over its inhabitants. (235-236)

A second apparatus – or rationality – of power named by Foucault is the pastorate. The pastor, he comments (1990) is not a magistrate, nor prophet, nor educationalist, nor sovereign, nor benefactor, even though the influence she/he holds over their followers contains elements of all of these leadership roles.[…] Clearly, the objectives of these secular ‘pastorships’ are no longer that of leading people to their salvation in the next world; their secularized goals of salvation are now to be found in ensuring the promises of better health, well-being, wealth, security and protection. So pervasive and extensive is this rationality that Foucault (1982) refers to it as the predominant form of the individualizing power of modernity. (238-239)

It is precisely this connection of individualizing and totalizing qualities of power that best evokes what Foucault (1979a) means by ‘governmentality’. It is again important to reiterate – especially given the argument I will go on to develop – that governmentality works on the basis of the adoption of multifarious techniques of government not necessarily immanent within the state itself. (241)

The state, simply put, is never reducible to structural mechanisms of control; it should not be viewed as antagonistic to the cultivated partic-ularity of distinctive subjects; it requires the free-play of their personal freedoms, the bottom-up support of their independent ‘self-makings’. The analytical challenge at hand is that of grasping this interface between individualization techniques and totalization procedures. (243)

There is in government an undeniable aspect of ‘self power’, as one might put it, an acting of self upon self. My intention here is to play up the intrinsically psycholo-gical nature of this dimension of government. We return thus to the distinction posed in Chapter 1 between psychology as a produced set of concepts and reality-effects, and the psychological activation of power.Asis no doubt apparent, I am of the opinion that both are crucial factors in the operation of power; we need ask not only what psychological contents are produced by self-government, but what are structures and processes of the psychology of self-government. (243)

Clearly then, despite a reticence to reduce the power of these relationships to a model of sovereignty, there is a variety of sovereignty – in the sense of the exercising of kinds of practical authority, in relations of relative dominance or control – at work at specific and/or points of the social body. These points are not merely projections of facets of a sovereign’s power. Rather they are distrib-uted ‘points of attachment’ that allow the power of government to take hold: ‘micro-sovereignties’ of localized and specific authority and dominance, whose continued presence, far from expendable, makes the broader architecture of state control possible. (245)

What accounts for the extraordinary cultural sway, the deep personal significance of such technologies is that they deal with the apparently essential qualities of an inner, defining psycho-logy of substance; anchored in the profundity of interiority, they bring with them the trump-card of inner truth, and hold out the promise not only of actualizing our selves, but of attaining the better selves we can be.

We may understand technologies of self as the subjectivization of tech-nologies of  ubjectivity, indeed, as the personal integration of such frames of knowledge and practice within the private ethical systems of singular subjects. (246)

Hence the (ideal) difference between moral and ethical systems: whereas the care of the self permits for variation across rigid moral parameters – an ethical care of the self is precisely creatively rather than formulaically exercised – modern normalizing society offers us more codified, formalized, categorically set templates for the practicing of self. The care of the self thus by no means represents an uncomplic-ated zone of liberation. At each point of its practice – assuming such a creative ethics of self is even thinkable within normalizing disciplin-arity – the care of the self runs the risk of being superseded, domesticated by more homogenous systems of disciplinary bio-power. (248)

The ‘sovereignty-discipline-government complex’ might be represented diagrammatically as a ‘triangulation’ of modalities of power. By ‘sovereignty’ I refer to prohibitory, law-based forms of power modelled on the relation between a sovereign – a figure of vested authority and practical power – and their subjects. Although such a notion of sovereignty could not be understood to fully encom-pass the working of apparatuses – which are too diverse in form and articulation to be reduced in this way – it is clear that this logic of power does inform the ‘micro-sovereignty’ discussed above, that is, the role of everyday ‘officers’/officials who exercise limited relations of control and authority over ordinary citizens in specific contexts. By ‘disciplinary bio-power’ I refer to the ‘micro-physics’ of an individualizing power rooted in the body and productive of psychologies, whose impetus is to care for, correct and better the life, health and humanity of problematic subjects. This is a crucial part of the ’instrumentality’ of govern-mental power; we are concerned here with the technical means which come to be implemented through the various moral orthopaedics of discrete human technologies. In speaking of ‘government’, following Dean (1999), I have in mind a range of calculated and rational activities that employ a variety of techniques so as to influence the conduct of individuals. These activities maintain definite but shifting ends and endeavour to shape conduct principally by working on the desires, aspirations, interests and, I would add, affects of subjects. This category of control is hence inclusive of the notions of technologies of subjectivity and of self. (249-250)

If it is to be possible to bring a Foucauldian analytics together with a type of critique which takes seriously the role of psychological functions in the conduction of power – something I treat as a critical imperative – then our aim is not to isolate a series of natural psychologies, but rather to identify a variety of instrumentalizable psychological technologies that play their part in the life of power. Psychological technologies – rather than natural psycholo-gies – should be our critical presumption and our analytical focus. (254)

So while, ideally, it is conceivable that one may set oneself to the task of listing the tacit, subliminal, performative rules in question, it remains nevertheless true that these orderings of conduct never need to be codified, recorded or even consciously learnt – certainly not at the level of explicit discursive formulation. It is at this level of bodily response and habituated action, in subliminal, apparently ‘pre-discursive’ demeanours and dispositions that I would suggest we need to locate the protocol factor, the rules of particular technologies of self. (257)

First, should such technologies only be oriented towards aimed-for ideals, toward objectives of truth and betterment; might they not equally be arranged around images of dread and aversion, around points of denigration and disgust? What is the negative end of the scale of such subliminal regimes of being; can we not – must we not – factor hate and fear into their schedules of motivation? This is a possibility I have discussed elsewhere (Hook, 2006), that racism, as affective technology, may be read, along the lines of Krisetva’s notion of abjection, as an ‘operation of repulsion’ (Butler’s (1997) phrase). Secondly, might the ideals of technologies of subjectivity and self be understood not merely at the level of basic life objectives, but also at the less rational, even sublime level of passionate attachments and investments that typically accompany notions of ideal-ization? (258)

My argument, as such, is that canny forms of governmentality are able to utilize particular kinds of affective capital – say for example sublim-inal forms of white identification and white racism, what I guardedly refer to as ‘whiteness’ – which can be played out, deployed for polit-ical gain despite remaining unowned by the parties (or the govern-ments) who would thus profit. (265)

One is tempted to adapt this formulation: above and beyond the possibility for feeling something in a purely idiosyncratic or individualized manner there is a regularizing collectivity, a motivated channelling of emotions – the interposition of an Other horizon of intelligibility and appeal. In the case of the calculated conduction of certain sentimentalities for polit-ical gain such an interposition can be understood within the terms of an affective technology, be it one of nationalism or of ‘Englishness’, or, as in our case, of an insidious mode of racism which is typically underpinned by both these concomitant forms of attachment. (268)

What, we should thus ask, is the constructive role of the deployment of certain ‘affect–positions’, what are the characteristic object-relations that they entail and that they generate (where to belong, what to love, who to hate, with whom to identify)? (271)

My suggestion would be that there are certain regularized ‘operating systems’ of affect, coherent processing forms, formations of affect that attain a level of durability. Such processing forms do not maintain a fixed or ahistorical set of contents, but are rather supplied by a variety of political and discursive systems. This is crucial because it is the differ-ence between assuming the inevitability of racism as a form of psychic defence common to all humans, and the injunction to examine the particular way that hate comes to be socially organized. (273)

Michel Foucault “Security, Territory, Population”

March 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Foucault, Michel 2009. Security, Territory, Population: lectures at the Collège de France 1977-1978. New York: Picador

11 January 1978

[…] bio-power. By this I mean a number of phenomena that seem to me to be quite significant, namely, the set of mechanisms through which the basic biological features of the human species became the object of a political strategy, of a general strategy of power, or, in other words, how, starting from the eighteenth century, modern western societies took on board the fundamental biological fact that human beings are a species. (1)

Power is not founded on itself or generated by itself. […] Mechanisms of power are an intrinsic part of all these relations and, in a circular way, are both their effect and cause. (2)

1)       […] laying down a law and fixing a punishment for the person who breaks it, which is the system of the legal code with a binary division between the permitted and the prohibited, and a coupling, comprising the code, between a type of prohibited action and a type of punishment. This, then, is the legal or juridical mechanism. (5)

2)       The disciplinary mechanism is characterized by the fact that a third personage, the culprit, appears within the binary system of the code, and at the same time, outside the code, and outside the legislative act that establishes the law and the judicial act that punishes the culprit, a series of adjacent, detective, medical, and psychological techniques appear which fall within the domain of surveillance, diagnosis, and the possible transformation of individuals. (5)

3)       The third form is not typical of the legal code or the disciplinary mechanism, but of the apparatus (dispositif) of security […] the apparatus of security inserts the phenomenon in question, namely theft, within a series of probable events. Second, the reactions of power to this phenomenon are inserted in a calculation of cost. Finally, third, instead of a binary division between the permitted and the prohibited, one establishes an average considered as optimal on the one hand, and, on the other, a bandwidth of the acceptable that must not be exceeded. (6)

[…] security is a way of making the old armatures of law and discipline function in addition to the specific mechanisms of security. (10)

[…] the individual is not the primary datum on which discipline is exercised. Discipline only exists insofar as there is a multiplicity and an end, or an objective or result to be obtained on the basis of this multiplicity. […] The individual is much more a particular way of dividing up the multiplicity for a discipline than the raw material from which it is constructed. Discipline is a mode of individualization of multiplicities rather than something that constructs an edifice of multiple elements on the basis of individuals who are worked on as, first of all, individuals. So sovereignty and discipline, as well as security, can only be concerned with multiplicities. (12)

1)      Discipline works in an empty, artificial space that is to be completely constructed. Security will rely on a number of material givens. (19)

2)      [Second], this given will not be reconstructed to arrive at a point of perfection, as in a disciplinary town. It is simply a matter of maximizing the positive elements […] One will therefore work not only on natural givens, but also on quantities that can be relatively, but never wholly reduced, and, since they can never be nullified, one works on probabilities. (19)

3)      Third, these town developments try to organize elements that are justified by their polyfunctionality. (19)

4)      Finally, the fourth important point, is that one works on the future, that is to say, the town will not be conceived or planned according to a static perception that would ensure the perfection of the function there and then, but will open onto a future that is not exactly controllable, not precisely measured or measurable, and a good town plan takes into account precisely what might happen. (20)

To summarize all this, let’s say then that sovereignty capitalizes a territory, raising the major problem of the seat of government, whereas discipline structures a space and addresses the essential problem of a hierarchical and functional distribution of elements, and security will try to plan a milieu in terms of events or series of events or possible elements, of series that will have to be regulated within a multivalent and transformable framework. The specific space of security refers then to a series of possible events; it refers to the temporal and the uncertain, which have to be inserted within a given space. The space in which a series of uncertain elements unfold is, I think, roughly what one can call the milieu. (20)

The milieu is a set of natural givens – rivers, marshes, hills – and a set of artificial givens – an agglomeration of individuals, of houses, etcetera. The milieu is a certain number of combined, overall effects bearing on all who live in it. It is an element in which a circular link is produced between effects and causes, since an effect from one point of view will be a cause from another. (21)

Finally, the milieu appears as a field of intervention in which, instead of affecting individuals as a set of legal subjects capable of voluntary actions – which would be the case of sovereignty – and instead of affecting them as a multiplicity of organisms, of bodies capable of performances, and of required performances – as in discipline – one tries to affect, precisely, a population. I mean a multiplicity of individuals who are and fundamentally and essentially only exist biologically bound to the materiality within which they live. What one tries to reach through this milieu, is precisely the conjunction of a series of events produced by these individuals, populations, and groups, and quasi natural events which occur around them. (21)

[…] we see the sudden emergence of the problem of the “naturalness”* of the human species within an artificial milieu. (21-22)

18 january 1978

All  of  this,  that  is  to  say  that  completely  concrete element  of  the  behavior  of  homo  œconomicus,  must  also  be  taken  into account.    In  other  words,  it  is  an  economics,  or  a  political-economic analysis that integrates the  moment of production, the world market, and, finally,  the  economic  behavior  of  the  population,  of  producers  and consumers. (41)

The  people comprises  those  who  conduct  themselves in  relation  to the  management of the population, at the level of the population, as if they were not part of the  population  as  a  collective  subject-object,  as  if  they  put  themselves outside of it, and consequently the people is those who, refusing to be the population, disrupt the system. (43-44)

In any case, and to end  with this, I would like to  show you that, if we  want  a  better  grasp  of  the  characteristics  of  the  kind  of  apparatus (dispositif)  that  the  physiocrats  and  eighteenth  century  economists conceived with regard to scarcity, then I think we should compare it to the disciplinary mechanisms found not only in earlier periods, but in the same period  that  apparatuses  of  security  were  being  deployed:

1) Discipline  is essentially centripetal.    I mean that discipline functions to the extent that it isolates a space, that it determines a  segment.    Discipline  concentrates,  focuses,  and  encloses.    The  first action  of discipline  is in fact to  circumscribe a space  in which its power and  the  mechanisms  of  its  power  will  function  fully  and  without  limit. […]In contrast, you can see that the apparatuses of security, as I have tried to reconstruct  them,  have  the  constant  tendency  to  expand;  they  are centrifugal.    New elements are  constantly  being integrated:    production, psychology,  behavior,  the  ways  of  doing  things  of  producers,  buyers, consumers,  importers,  and  exporters,  and  the  world  market.    Security therefore  involves  organizing,  or  anyway  allowing  the  development  of ever-wider circuits. (44-45)

2) By  definition,  discipline regulates everything.  Discipline allows nothing to escape.  Not only does it  not  allow  things  to  run  their  course,  its  principle  is  that  things,  the smallest  things,  must  not  be  abandoned  to  themselves. […]The  apparatus  of  security,  by  contrast, as you  have  seen, “lets things happen.” […]The  basic  function  of  discipline  is  to  prevent everything, even  and  above  all  the detail.   The  function  of security is to rely on  details that are  not valued  as good or evil  in themselves, that are taken  to  be  necessary,  inevitable  processes,  as  natural  processes  in  the broad  sense,  and  it  relies  on  these  details, which  are  what  they  are, but which are not considered to be pertinent in themselves, in order to obtain something   that is considered  to be  pertinent in  itself because  situated at the level of the population. (45)

3) A good discipline  tells you what you must do at every moment. […]In  the  system  of  the  law,  what  is  undetermined  is what  is  permitted;  in  the  system  of  disciplinary regulation,  what  is determined is what one must do, and consequently everything else, being undetermined, is prohibited. […]The mechanism of security works on the basis of this reality, by trying to use it  as  a  support  and  make  it  function,  make  its  components  function  in relation  to  each  other.    In  other words, the  law prohibits and  discipline prescribes, and  the  essential  function  of  security,  without  prohibiting  or prescribing, but possibly making use of some  instruments of prescription and prohibition, is to respond to a reality in such a way that this response cancels out the reality to which it responds – nullifies it, or limits, checks, or  regulates  it.    I  think  this  regulation  within  the  element  of  reality  is fundamental in apparatuses of security. (46-47)

We  could  even say  that  the  law works in  the  imaginary,  since  the law imagines  and  can only formulate  all  the  things that could  and  must not  be  done  by  imagining  them.    It  imagines  the  negative.    Discipline works in  a  sphere  that  is,  as it were, complementary  to  reality.    Man  is wicked, bad, and has evil  thoughts and  inclinations, etcetera.   So, within the  disciplinary  space  a  complementary  sphere  of  prescriptions  and obligations is constituted that is all  the more artificial  and constraining as the  nature  of  reality  is  tenacious  and  difficult  to  overcome.    Finally security,  unlike  the  law  that  works  in  the  imaginary  and  discipline  that works in  a  sphere  complementary  to  reality, tries to  work  within  reality, by  getting  the  components  of  reality  to  work  in  relation  to  each  other, thanks to and through a series of analyses and specific arrangements. (47)

The  game  of  liberalism  –  not interfering,  allowing  free  movement,  letting  things  follow  their  course; laisser  faire, passer  et aller  – basically  and  fundamentally means acting so  that  reality  develops,  goes  its  way,  and  follows  its  own  course according  to  the  laws,  principles,  and  mechanisms  of  reality  itself. (48)

25 january 1978

1) Discipline,  of  course,  analyzes  and  breaks  down;  it breaks  down  individuals,  places,  time,  movements,  actions,  and operations.   It breaks them down  into components such  that they  can  be seen,  on  the  one  hand,  and  modified  on  the  other.    It  is  this  famous

disciplinary,  analytical-practical  grid  that  tries  to  establish  the  minimal elements  of  perception  and  the  elements  sufficient  for  modification. (56-57)

2) Second, discipline classifies the  components thus identified according to definite objectives.    What  are  the  best actions for achieving a particular result:   What is the best movement for loading one’s rifle, what is the best position  to  take?    What  workers  are  best  suited  for  a  particular  task?  What  children  are  capable  of  obtaining  a  particular  result? (57)

3) Third, discipline  establishes  optimal  sequences  or  co-ordinations:    How  can actions  be  linked  together?    How  can  soldiers  be  deployed  for  a maneuver?    How can  schoolchildren be  distributed  hierarchically within classifications? (57)

4) Fourth,  discipline  fixes  the  processes  of  progressive training  (dressage)  and  permanent  control,  and  finally,  on  the  basis  of this,  it  establishes  the  division  between  those  considered  unsuitable  or incapable and the others.  That is to say, on this basis it divides the normal from  the  abnormal. (57)

Disciplinary  normalization  consists  first  of  all  in positing  a  model,  an  optimal  model  that  is  constructed  in  terms  of  a certain  result, and  the operation  of disciplinary  normalization consists in trying  to  get  people,  movements, and  actions to  conform  to  this  model, the normal  being precisely that which can conform to this norm, and the abnormal  that  which  is  incapable  of  conforming  to  the  norm.    In  other words,  it  is  not  the  normal  and  the  abnormal  that  is  fundamental  and primary in disciplinary normalization, it is the  norm. (57)

We have then a system that is, I believe, exactly the opposite of the one we have seen with the disciplines.  In the disciplines one started from a norm, and it was in relation to the training carried out with reference to the  norm  that  the  normal  could  be  distinguished  from  the  abnormal.  Here,  instead,  we  have  a  plotting  of  the  normal  and  the  abnormal,  of different curves of normality, and the  operation of normalization consists in  establishing  an  interplay  between  these  different  distributions  of normality  and  [in]  acting  to  bring  the  most  unfavorable  in  line  with  the more favorable.    So we  have  here  something that starts from the normal and makes use of certain distributions considered to be, if you like, more normal  than  the  others,  or  at  any  rate  more  favorable  than  the  others.  These  distributions will  serve  as the  norm.    The norm  is an  interplay of differential normalities.*  The normal comes first and the norm is deduced from it, or the  norm is fixed and plays its operational  role on the basis of this study of normalities.  So, I would say that what is involved here is no longer normation, but rather normalization in the strict sense. (63)

No  longer  the  safety  (sûreté)  of  the  prince  and  his territory, but  the  security  (sécurité) of  the  population  and,  consequently, of those who govern it.  I think this is another very important change. (65)

They do  not attempt, at least not primarily or in a fundamental  way, to make use of a relationship of obedience between a higher will, of the sovereign, and the wills of those subjected to his will.  In other  words, the  mechanism of security  does not  function on  the  axis of  the  sovereign-subjects relationship,  ensuring  the  total  and  as  it  were passive  obedience  of individuals to their sovereign. (65)

So mechanisms of security are not put  to work on the sovereign-subjects axis or in the form of the prohibition. (66)

It  is  a  matter  rather  of revealing  a  level  of  the  necessary  and  sufficient  action  of  those  who govern.    This  pertinent  level  of  government  action  is  not  the  actual totality of the  subjects in  every  single  detail,  but the  population  with  its specific  phenomena  and  processes. (66)

Through these examples  we  can  see  that  what  is  involved  is,  on  the  one  hand,  a completely  different  economy  of power  and,  on  the  other  hand  –  and  I would  now  like  to  say  a  few  words  about  this  –  an  absolutely  new political  personage  that  I  do  not  think  existed  previously,  that  had  not been  perceived  or  recognized,  as  it  were,  or  singled  out,  and  this  new personage  that  makes  a  remarkable  entrance  and,  what’s  more,  is  very quickly noted in the eighteenth century, is the population. (67)

The population as the source  of  wealth, as a  productive  force, and  disciplinary  supervision  are all  of  a  piece  within  the  thought,  project,  and  political  practice  of  the mercantilists. (69)

But what does this “naturalness”† of the population signify?   What is it that means that the  population will  henceforth be seen, not from the standpoint  of  the  juridical-political  notion  of  subject,  but  as  a  sort  of technical-political  object  of management and government?

1)      First, as  problematised  in  thought,  but  [also]  in  eighteenth  century governmental  practice,  the  population  is  not  the  simple  sum  of individuals inhabiting a territory. […]So you can see that a completely different technique is emerging that is not getting subjects to obey the sovereign’s will, but having a hold on things that seem far removed from the population, but which, through calculation, analysis, and reflection, one knows can really have  an  effect on  it. (70/72)

2)      We could also say that the naturalness of the  population appears in a  second  way  in  the  fact  that  this  population  is  of  course  made  up  of individuals who are  quite  different from each  other and  whose behavior, within  a  certain  limit  at  least,  cannot  be  accurately  predicted. […]The  production of the collective interest through  the play of desire  is  what  distinguishes  both  the  naturalness  of  population  and  the possible artificiality of the means one adopts to manage it. (73)

3)      Finally,  the  naturalness  of  the  population,  which  appears  in  this universal  benefit  of  desire,  and  also  in  the  fact  that  the  population  is always dependent upon complex and modifiable variables, appears again in a third way.  It appears in the  constancy of phenomena  that one might expect to  be  variable  since  they  depend on  accidents, chance, individual conduct,  and  conjunctural  causes. […]With the emergence of mankind as a species, within a field of the definition of all  living species, we  can say that man appears in the first  form  of  his  integration  within  biology.    From  one  direction,  then, population  is  the  human  species,  and  from  another  it  is  what  will  be called the public.  Here again, the word is not new, but its usage is.†   The public,  which  is  a  crucial  notion  in  the  eighteenth  century,  is  the population  seen  under  the  aspect  of  its  opinions,  ways  of  doing  things, forms of behavior, customs, fears, prejudices, and requirements; it is what one  gets a  hold on through education, campaigns, and  convictions.   The population is therefore everything that extends from biological rootedness through the species up to the surface that gives one a hold provided by the public.  From the species to the public; we have here a whole field of new realities in the sense that they are the  pertinent elements for mechanisms of power, the pertinent space within which and regarding which one must act. (74-75)

Hence the theme of man, and  the  “human  sciences”*   that analyze him  as a  living  being, working  individual, and  speaking  subject,  should be understood on the basis of the emergence of population as the correlate of power and the  object of knowledge.   After  all, man,  as he  is thought and  defined  by  the  so-called  human  sciences  of  the  nineteenth  century, and  as he  is reflected  in  nineteenth  century  humanism,  is nothing  other than a figure of population. (79)

1 february 1978

The  word  “economy” designated  a  form  of  government in  the sixteenth  century;  in  the  eighteenth  century, through a series of complex  processes that are absolutely  crucial for our history, it will designate  a  level  of reality and  a  field of intervention  for government.   So, there  you have what is governing and being governed. (95)

The essential, the main element, then, is this complex of men and things, the territory and property being only variables. (97)

This  word “disposer”  is  important  because,  what  enabled  sovereignty   to  achieve  its  aim  of obedience to the laws, was the law itself; law and sovereignty  were absolutely  united. Here,  on  the  contrary,  it  is  not   a  matter  of  imposing  a  law  on  men,  but  of  the disposition of things, that is to say, of employing tactics rather than laws, or, of as far as possible  employing  laws as tactics; arranging things so that this or that  end may  be achieved through a certain number of means. (99)

1) The  perspective  of  population,  the  reality  of phenomena  specific to population, makes it possible  to eliminate the  model of the  family  and to re-focus the notion  of  economy   on  something  else. […]It is therefore no longer a model; it is a segment whose  privilege  is  simply  that  when  one  wants  to  obtain  something  from  the population  concerning  sexual  behavior,  demography,  the  birth  rate,  or  consumption, then  one  has  to  utilize  the  family.    The  family will  change  from  being  a  model  to being  an instrument; it will become a privileged instrument for the government  of the population  rather  than  a  chimerical  model  for  good  government. […] What enables population to unblock the art of government is that it eliminates the model of the family. (104-105)

2) Second,  population  will  appear  above  all  as  the  final  end  of  government.  What  can the end of government be?  Certainly  not just to govern, but to improve the condition  of  the population,  to  increase  its wealth, its  longevity, and its health.   And the instruments that government  will  use to obtain these ends are, in a way, immanent to the field of population; it will be by acting  directly on the population itself through campaigns,  or,  indirectly,  by,  for  example,  techniques  that,  without  people  being aware  of  it,  stimulate  the  birth rate,  or  direct  the  flows  of  population  to  this or  that region or activity.  Population, then, appears as the end and instrument of government rather than  as the  sovereign’s strength:   it is the  subject of  needs and  aspirations, but also  the  object  of  government  manipulation;  vis-à-vis  government,  [population]  is both  aware  of  what it wants and unaware of what is being  done  to  it. (105

3) Finally,  population  will be the  point around  which what the  sixteenth  century texts called the  “sovereign’s  patience”  is  organized    This means that the  population will  be  the  object that government will have  to  take  into  account in  its observations and  knowledge,  in order  to  govern effectively in  a  rationally reflected  manner.   The constitution of a knowledge (savoir) of government is absolutely inseparable from the constitution  of  a  knowledge  of  all  the  processes revolving  around  population  in  the wider  sense  of  what  we  now  call  “the  economy.” (106)

the  idea  of  a  government  as government  of  population  makes the  problem  of  the  foundation  of  sovereignty   even  more  acute  (and  we  have Rousseau) and it makes the need to develop the  disciplines even more  acute  (and we have  the  history  of  the  disciplines  that  I  have  tried  to  analyze  elsewhere). So  we should  not see  things as  the  replacement of  a  society  of  sovereignty by a  society of discipline, and then of a  society of discipline by a society, say, of government.  In fact we  have  a  triangle:    sovereignty,  discipline,  and  governmental  management,  which has  population  as  its  main  target   and  apparatuses  of  security   as  its  essential mechanism. (107-108)

This state of government, which  essentially   bears  on  the  population  and  calls  upon  and  employs  economic knowledge  as an instrument, would correspond to a  society controlled by  apparatuses of security. (110)

8 february 1978

But, generally  speaking, I think we can say  that the origin  of  the  idea  of  a  government  of  men  should  be  sought  in  the  East,  in  a  pre-Christian East first of all, and then in the Christian East, and in two forms:  first, in the idea  and  organization  of  a  pastoral  type  of  power,  and  second,  in  the  practice  of spiritual direction, the direction of souls. (123)

The shepherd’s power is not exercised over a territory  but, by definition, over a flock, and more exactly, over the flock in its movement from one place to another.  The shepherd’s power is essentially exercised over a multiplicity in movement. (125)

The  shepherd’s (pasteur) power manifests itself, therefore, in a duty, a  task to be undertaken, so that – and I think this is also an important  characteristic of pastoral power  –  the  form  it   takes  is  not  first  of  all  the  striking  display   of  strength  and superiority.   Pastoral  power  initially manifests itself in its zeal, devotion, and endless application. (127)

The  shepherd  (pasteur)  serves  the  flock  and  must  be  an  intermediary between the flock and pasture, food, and salvation, which implies that pastoral  power is  always  a  good  in  itself. (128)

Finally, the  last feature, which confirms some of things I have  been saying, is the  idea that pastoral  power is an individualizing  power.  That is to say, it  is true  that the  shepherd directs the  whole flock, but  he  can only really direct it insofar as not  a single  sheep escapes  him. (128)

To sum up, we  can say that the  idea of a pastoral  power is the idea of a power exercised on a multiplicity rather than on a territory.  It is a power that guides towards an end and functions as an intermediary towards this end.  It is therefore a power with a  purpose  for  those  on  whom  it  is  exercised,  and  not  a  purpose  for  some  kind  of superior  unit like  the  city,  territory,  state,  or  sovereign [  … † ].   Finally, it is a  power directed at all  and  each  in their paradoxical  equivalence,  and not at  the  higher unity formed  by the  whole. (129)

22 february 1978

It is an art of “governing  men,”* and I think this is where we should look  for  the  origin, the  point of  formation, of crystallization, the  embryonic  point of the  governmentality  whose  entry into  politics,  at  the  end  of the  sixteenth  and  in  the seventeenth and  eighteenth  centuries,  marks the  threshold  of  the  modern  state.   The modern state is born, I think, when governmentality  became a calculated and reflected practice.  The Christian pastorate seems to me  to be the background of this process, it being  understood  that,  on  the  one  hand,  there  was  a  huge  gap between  the  Hebraic theme of the shepherd and the Christian pastorate  and, on the  other, that  there  will  of course  be  a  no  less  important  and  wide  gap  between  the  government  or  pastoral direction of individuals and communities, and the development of arts of government, the specification of a field of political intervention, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (165)

Now  I  think  Christianity  added  four  more  absolutely  specific  and unprecedented  principles to  that of  the  full  and  paradoxical  distributive  character  of pastoral power.

1) First there is the principle of what I will call analytical responsibility.  […]So  it  is  not  just  a  responsibility   defined  by   a  numerical  and individual  distribution,  but also  a  responsibility  defined  by  a  qualitative  and  factual distribution.    The  pastor  will  be  questioned  and  examined,  and,  Saint  Benedict says, he  will  have  to  account  for  everything  that   every  single  sheep  has  done. (169-170)

2) The  second principle, which is also  completely specific  to  Christianity, I will call  the  principle  of exhaustive  and  instantaneous transfer. […]The  pastor  will  also  have  to  consider an  evil  that happens to a sheep, or which occurs through or because of a sheep, as an evil that  is happening  to him or that he has done himself.  He must  take delight in the good of the sheep with a particular and personal  joy, and grieve  or repent  for the evil  due to his sheep. (170)

3) The  third  principle  is  that   of  sacrificial  reversal,  which  is  once  again completely specific to the Christian pastorate. […]the pastor must be prepared to die a biological death if  his sheep are  at  risk,  he  must defend  them  against their temporal  enemies,  but he must also be  prepared to die  in the  spiritual  sense,  that is to  say the pastor  must risk his  soul  for  the  souls of others. (170-171)

4) The fourth principle, the fourth mechanism that we find in the definition of the Christian pastor is what  could be called, again in a completely schematic and arbitrary way,  the  principle  of  alternate  correspondence. […]just as  on  one  side  the  pastor’s merit and salvation are  due  to the weaknesses of his sheep, so  too the pastor’s faults and  weaknesses  contribute  to  the  edification  of  his  sheep   and  are  part  of  the movement, the process of guiding them towards salvation. (171-172)

Complete subordination:

1) First,  it  is  a  relationship  of submission,  but not submission  to  a  law  or  a  principle  of  order,  and  not  even  to  a reasonable  injunction,  or  to  some  reasoned  principles  or  conclusions. […]Christian  obedience  is  not  obedience  to  a  law,  a principle, or any  rational  element whatsoever,  but subordination to someone  because he is someone. […]Christian obedience, the sheep’s obedience to his pastor, is therefore a complete obedience  of  [one]  individual  to  another  individual.    What’s  more,  the  person  who obeys, the person who is subject to the order, is called the subditus, literally, he who is dedicated, given  to  someone else,  and  who is entirely  at their disposition  and subject to their will.  It is a relationship of complete servitude. (175/177)

2) Second, it is a relationship that is not finalized, in the sense that when a Greek entrusted himself to a  doctor or  a  philosopher, it was in order to arrive  at a  particular result. […]Now in Christian obedience, there is no end, for what does Christian obedience  lead to?    It leads quite  simply to  obedience.   One  obeys in order to be obedient, in order to arrive at  a state§  of obedience. […]Greek apatheia guarantees mastery  of oneself.  In  a  way, it is the  other side  of  self-mastery. (177-178) That is to say, in pastoral power […] we have a mode of individualization that not only does not take place by way of affirmation of the self, but one that entails destruction of the self. (180)

3) Finally, third, there is the problem of truth, […]First, there is the fact that  this teaching must be a direction of daily  conduct.  It is not just a matter of teaching  what one must know and what one  must do.   It is not just a  matter of teaching  by general  principles, but rather by  a  daily  modulation, and this  teaching  must   also  pass  through  an  observation,  a  supervision,  a  direction exercised  at  every moment and with the  least discontinuity possible  over the sheep’s whole,  total  conduct. (180-181) The  second  aspect,  which  is  also  very  important,  is  spiritual  direction (direction de  conscience).‡   That is to say, the  pastor must not simply  teach the truth.  He must direct the conscience. (180)

1 march 1978

The  Western  and  Eastern  Christian  pastorate  developed  against everything  that,  retrospectively,  might be  called  disorder.    So  we  can  say  that  there was an immediate and founding correlation between conduct and counter-conduct. (196)

Could  we  not  try   to  find  a  word  to  designate  what  I  have  called resistance, refusal, or revolt?   How can we designate the type of revolts, or rather the sort of specific  web of resistance  to  forms of  power  that do not exercise  sovereignty and  do  not  exploit,  but   “conduct”†? (200)

1) First asceticism. You will say that it is a bit paradoxical to present asceticism as  counter-conduct  when  we  are  accustomed  to  linking  asceticism  with  the  very essence  of Christianity, contrasting  it with ancient religions by  making  it a religion of ascesis. […]What  was there, in fact, in asceticism that was incompatible  with obedience, or what was there  in  obedience that was essentially  anti-ascetic?   In the  first place, I think  that  ascesis  is  an  exercise  of  self  on  self;  it  is  a  sort  of  close  combat  of  the individual  with himself in which the authority, presence, and gaze of someone else is, if not impossible, at least  unnecessary.  Second, asceticism is a progression according to a scale of increasing  difficulty.  It is, in the strict sense of the term, an exercise,‡  an exercise  going  from  the  easier  to  the  more  difficult,  and  from  the  more  difficult to what is  even  more  difficult. (204-205) Insofar  as  the  pastorate  characterizes  its  structures  of  power,  Christianity   is fundamentally  anti-ascetic,  and  asceticism  is  rather  a  sort  of  tactical  element,  an element   of  reversal  by   which  certain  themes  of  Christian  theology   or  religious experience  are  utilized  against  these  structures  of  power.    Asceticism  is  a  sort  of exasperated and reversed obedience  that has become egoistic self-mastery.   Let’s say that in asceticism there is a specific excess that denies access to an external power. (207-8)

2) The  second  element  is communities.    There  is  in  fact another,  to  a  certain extent opposite  way of refusing  submission to pastoral  power, which is the formation of  communities.    Asceticism  has  an  individualizing  tendency.    The  community  is something  completely  different. (208) Somewhat  as  asceticism  had  this  aspect of  almost ironic  exaggeration  in relation to the  pure  and  simple  rule  of  obedience,  we  could  say  that  in  some  of  these communities there  was a  counter-society  aspect, a  carnival aspect, overturning  social relations and hierarchy. (211-212)

3) The  third element, a  third form of counter-conduct is mysticism,*  that is to say,  the  privileged status of  an experience  that by definition  escapes pastoral power.  (212)

4) [The fourth element], my penultimate point – and here I can go very quickly – is the problem of Scripture.   That is to  say,  it is not that the  privileges of Scripture did  not  exist  in  the  system  of  pastoral  power,  but  it is  quite  clear  that  it  was  as if Scripture  was  relegated  to  the  background  of  the  essential  presence,  teaching, intervention, and speech of the pastor himself.   In the  movements of counter-conduct that  develop  throughout  the  Middle  Ages,  it  is  precisely  the  return  to  the  texts,  to Scripture, that is used against and to short-circuit , as it were, the pastorate. (213)

5) Finally,  [the  fifth  element],  and  I  will  stop  here,  is  eschatological  beliefs.  After all, the  other way of disqualifying  the pastor’s role is to claim that  the times are fulfilled or in the  process of being  fulfilled, and that God will return or is returning to gather  his flock. (214)

Rather,  the  point of  view  of  power  is a way  of  identifying  intelligible  relations  between  elements  that are  external  to  each other. (215)

8 march 1978

With  principia  naturae  and  ratio  status,  principles  of nature and raison d’État, nature and state, the  two great references of the knowledge  (savoirs)  and  techniques  given  to  modern  Western  man  are finally constituted, or finally separated. (238)

15 march 1978

Well, “reason” is a  word used in two senses:   Reason is the entire essence  of a thing, which  constitutes the  union,  the combination of all  its  parts;  it is the  necessary bond between the different  elements that constitute a  thing.‡   That is reason.  But “reason” is also employed in another sense.  Subjectively, reason is a  certain power of the soul that  enables  it  to  know  the  truth  of  things,  that  is  to  say,  precisely  that  bond,  that integrity  of the different parts that constitutes a thing.  Reason is therefore a means of knowledge,  but  it  is  also  something  that  allows  the  will  to  adjust  itself  to  what  it knows, that  is to say  to adjust itself to the  very  essence of things. (256)

The  art of  government and raison d’État no longer pose a problem of origin:  we are always already in a world of government, raison d’État, and the state. (259)

There  was no state or kingdom destined  to indefinite repetition in time.  Instead, we now find ourselves in a  perspective  in which historical time is indefinite, in  a  perspective  of  indefinite  governmentality with  no foreseeable  term  or  final  aim.  We are in open historicity due to the indefinite character of the political art. (260)

At  the  start  of  the  seventeenth  century  I  think  we  see  the  appearance  of  a completely different description of the knowledge required by  someone who governs. […]That is  to say,  the  sovereign’s necessary knowledge  (savoir)  will  be  a  knowledge  (connaissance)  of  things  rather  than knowledge  of the law, and this knowledge of the  things that comprise the very reality of  the  state  is  precisely  what  at the  time  was  called  “statistics.” (274)

And with regard to truth, when theorists of raison d’État lay stress on the  public and the  need for a public opinion,  the  analysis is conducted, as it were, in purely passive terms.    It  is  a  question  of  giving  individuals  a  certain  representation,  an  idea,  of imposing  something  on  them,  and  not  in  the  least  of  actively  making  use  of  their attitudes, opinions,  and ways of doing  things.    In  other  words,  I think  raison  d’État really did define  an art of government in which there was an implicit reference to the population,  but  precisely  population  had  not  yet  entered  into  the  reflexive  prism. From the beginning  of the seventeenth to the middle of the eighteenth century  there is a  series  of  transformations  thanks  to  which  and  through  which  this  notion  of population,  which  will  be  a  kind  of  central  element  in  all  political  life,  political reflection,  and  political  science  from  the  eighteenth  century,  is  elaborated.    It  is elaborated through an apparatus (appareil) that was installed in order to make raison d’État  function.    This  apparatus  is  police.    It  is  the  intervention  of  this  field  of practices called police  that brings to light this new subject  in this, if you like, general absolutist theory of raison d’État. (278)

22 march 1978

The plurality  of states is not a transitional phase imposed on men for a  time  and as a punishment.   In  fact,  the  plurality of  states is the  very necessity of a history that is now completely open and not temporally oriented towards a final unity.  The  theory   of  raison  d’État  I  talked  about   last  week  entails  an  open  time  and  a multiple spatiality. (290)

To use somewhat anachronistic words for this reality,  a  state can  only assert itself in a space of political and economic competition, which is what gives meaning to the problem of the state’s expansion as the principle, the main theme of raison d’État. (292)

At  any  rate,  in  passing  from  the  rivalry  of princes  to  competition  between  states,  to  thinking  of  confrontation  in  terms  of competition  between  states,  it  is  clear  that  we  expose  and  lay  bare  an  absolutely essential  and  fundamental  notion  that  previously   did  not  appear  and  was  not formulated in any of  the  theoretical  texts of raison  d’État  I  have been  talking  about, and  this  notion  is,  of  course,  that  of  force.    No  longer  territorial  expansion, but the development   of  the  state’s  forces;  no  longer  the  extension  of  possessions  or matrimonial  alliances, [but]  increase  of  the  state’s  forces; no longer the  combination of legacies through  dynastic alliances, but the  composition of  state forces in political and provisional alliances:  all this will be the raw material, the object, and, at  the same time,  the  principle of intelligibility of political reason. […]We  enter  a  politics  whose  principal  object  will  be  the  employment   and calculation of forces.  Politics, political science, encounters the problem of dynamics. (295)

The  third  instrument  of  this  military-diplomatic  system  for  maintaining European balance – the first was a new form, a new conception of war, [second] was a diplomatic  instrument  –  the  third  instrument  will  be  the  constitution  of  another fundamental  and  new  element,  which  is  the  deployment   of  a  permanent  military apparatus (dispositif) that comprises:  [first] professionalization of the soldier, setting-up  a  military  career; second,  a  permanent  armed  structure  that  can  serve  as  the framework  for  exceptional  wartime  recruitment;  third,  an  infrastructure  of  back-up facilities  of  strongholds  and  transport;  and  finally,  fourth,  a  form  of  knowledge,  a tactical  reflection  on  types  of  maneuver, schemas of  defense  and attack, in  short an entire  specific  and autonomous reflection  on  military matters and possible  wars. (305)

War is no longer a different aspect of human activity.   At a  given moment, war will mean bringing  into play  politically  defined resources, of which the military is one of the fundamental and constitutive dimensions.  We have then a political-military complex  that  is absolutely necessary to the  constitution of this European balance as a mechanism  of  security;  this  political-military   complex  will  be  continually  brought into play and war will be only  one of its functions.  [Thus we can understand]* that the relation between war and peace, between the military  and the civil, will be redeployed around this complex. (306)

29 march 1978

1) Police  will  also  be,  but  in  an  opposite direction,  as  it  were,  a  way  of  increasing  the  state’s  forces  to  the  maximum  while preserving  the state’s good order.   In one case,  the problem  of European  equilibrium has as its main objective  the  maintenance  of a  balance despite the growth of the state, as it were; in the  other,  the  problem  of police  is how to ensure  the maximum  growth of  the  state’s  forces  while  maintaining  good  internal  order.    So,  the  first  relation  is between police and European equilibrium. (314)

2) Second,  there  is  a  relation  of  conditioning,  for  at  the  end  of  the  sixteenth century  the  space  of  inter-state  competition  has  opened  out  considerably  and  taken over from dynastic rivalries, and it is quite clearly  understood that in this space of, not generalized  competition,  but  European  competition  between  states,  the  maintenance of equilibrium  is only gained insofar as each state  is able to increase  its own force to an  extent  such  that it is never  overtaken by  another  state. […]Each state must have  a  good police so as  to  prevent the  relation  of  forces  being  turned  to  its  disadvantage.    One  quickly arrives  at  the,  in  a  way,  paradoxical  and  opposite  consequence,  which  consists  in saying:  In the end, there will be imbalance if within the European equilibrium there is a  state,  not my state,  with bad  police. (314-315)

3) Finally,  third,  there  is  a  relationship   of  instrumentation  between  European equilibrium  and  police,  in  the  sense  that  there  is  at  least  one  common  instrument. This instrument common  to  European  equilibrium  and  the  organization  of  police  is statistics.  The effective preservation of European equilibrium  requires that each state is  in a  position,  first,  to  know its own  forces, and  second,  to  know  and  evaluate  the forces of the others, thus permitting a comparison that makes it possible to uphold and maintain  the  equilibrium. (315)

I  think  one  of  the  most  fundamental  and  typical  elements  of  what   will henceforth be understood by  “police” is this having  “man as the  true subject,”  and as the  true  subject of “something  to  which he  devotes himself,”  inasmuch  as he  has an activity  that must characterize  his perfection and thus make possible  the  perfection of the  state.   Police  is directed  towards men’s activity,  but insofar as this  activity  has a relationship  to  the  state. (322)

What is characteristic of a police state is its interest in  what  men  do;  it is interested  in  their  activity,  their  “occupation.”*     The objective of police is therefore  control of and responsibility for men’s activity insofar as  this  activity   constitutes  a  differential  element   in  the  development  of  the  state’s forces. (322)

Tasks of police:

1) The first concern of police will be the number of men, since, for men’s activity as  much  as  for  their  integration  within  a  state  utility,  it  is  important  to  know  how many  there are  and to ensure  that there are as many as possible.  The state’s strength depends on  the number of its inhabitants.    This thesis was already  formulated  in the Middle Ages and  was repeated throughout the sixteenth century, but it begins to take on a  precise  meaning  in the  seventeenth century  insofar  as  the  question  immediately arises  of  how  many   men  are  really   needed  and  what  the  relationship   should  be between  the  number  of  men  and the  size  of  the  territory,  and its  wealth,  for  the best and most  certain development of the state’s strength. (323)

2) The  second  object  of  police  is  the  necessities  of  life.    For  people  are  not enough,  they  must also  be  able  to live.   Consequently  police will  be  concerned with these  immediate  necessities.   First and  foremost, of course,  is the provision  of  food, the so-called basic needs. (324)

3) Here we touch on a  third objective of police.  After the number of people and the necessities of life  we come to the  problem of health.  Health becomes an object of police  inasmuch  as  health  is  also  a  necessary  condition  for  the  many  who  subsist thanks to  the  provision  of  foodstuffs  and bare  necessities,  so  that they can  work, be busy, and occupied.  So  health  is not just a problem  for  police  in  cases of epidemics, when  plague  is declared,  or  when  it is  simply  a  matter  of  avoiding  the  contagious, such  as  those  suffering  from  leprosy;  henceforth  the  everyday   health  of  everyone becomes a permanent object of police  concern and intervention. (324-325)

4) Finally, the  last object of police is circulation, the circulation of goods, of the products of  men’s  activity.    This circulation  should  be  understood  first  of  all  in  the sense of the material instruments with which it  must be provided.  Thus police will be concerned  with  the condition and  development  of roads, and with the  navigability of rivers and  canals, etcetera.   In his Traité de droit  public,  Donat devotes a chapter [to this question] which is called “Of  police,”  the full  title  being:   “Of police  for the  use of seas, rivers, bridges, roads, public squares, major routes and other public places.”*   So the space of circulation is a privileged object for police.†   But by  “circulation” we should understand not only this material network that  allows the circulation of goods and possibly  of men, but also the circulation itself, that is to say the set of regulations, constraints,  and  limits,  or  the  facilities  and  encouragements  that  will  allow  the circulation of men and things in the kingdom  and  possibly beyond its borders. (325)

Generally speaking,  what police  has to  govern,  its fundamental  object, is  all the  forms of, let’s say, men’s coexistence with each other.   It is the fact  that they  live together, reproduce, and that  each of them  needs a certain amount of  food  and  air to live, to subsist; it  is the fact that they  work alongside each other at different or similar professions,  and  also  that  they exist in  a  space  of  circulation;  to  use  a  word  that  is anachronistic  in  relation  to  the  speculations  of  the  time,  police  must  take responsibility  for  all  of  this  kind  of  sociality  (socialité).    The  eighteenth  century theorists will  say  this:   Police  is  basically  concerned  with  society.‡ (326)

So,  it  seems  to  me  that  the objective  of  police  is  everything  from  being  to  well-being,  everything  that  may produce  this  well-being  beyond  being,  and  in  such  a  way  that  the  well-being  of individuals is the state’s strength.(328)

5 april 1978

These  are the  institutions prior to police.  The  town  and  the road, the  market, and  the  road network feeding  the market.   Hence  the fact that in the seventeenth and eighteenth century police was thought  essentially  in terms of what could be called the urbanization of the territory.   Basically, this involved making  the  kingdom, the entire territory, into a sort of big  town; arranging things so that the territory  is organized like a town, on the model  of a town, and as perfectly  as a  town. (336)

that   you  can  also  see  that  police,  the establishment   of  police,  is  absolutely  inseparable  from  a  governmental  theory  and practice  that   is  generally  labeled  mercantilism,  that  is  to  say,  a  technique  and calculation  for  strengthening  the  power  of  competing  European  states  through  the development   of  commerce  and  the  new  vigor  given  to  commercial  relations. (337)

Police  and  commerce,  police  and  urban  development,  and  police  and  the development   of  all  the  activities  of  the  market  in  the  broad  sense,  constitute  an essential  unity  in  the  seventeenth  century  and  until  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth century.   Apparently, the development  of the market  economy, the multiplication and intensification of  exchanges  in the  sixteenth  century, and  the  activation of monetary circulation, all  introduced human existence  into the abstract and purely  representative world of the commodity and exchange value. )338)

However,  I  think  something  completely different  emerges  in  the  seventeenth  century  that  is  much  more  than  this  entry  of human  existence  into  the  abstract  world  of  the  commodity.    It  is  a  cluster  of intelligible  and  analyzable  relations  that allow  a  number  of  fundamental  elements to be  linked together  like  the  faces of a  single  polyhedron:    the  formation  of an  art of government  organized  by   reference  to  the  principle  of  raison  d’État;  a  policy   of competition  in  the  form  of the  European  equilibrium;  the  search  for a  technique  for the  growth of the  state’s forces†   by a  police  whose  basic  aim  is the  organization  of relations  between  a  population  and  the  production  of  commodities;  and  finally,  the emergence  of the  market town, with  all  the  problems of  cohabitation and circulation as problems falling  under the vigilance  of a good government according  to principles of raison d’État.  I don’t  mean that the market town was born at this time, but that the market town became  the  model of state intervention in men’s lives.  I think this is the

fundamental  fact  of  the  seventeenth  century,  at  any  rate  the  fundamental  fact characterizing  the  birth of police  in the seventeenth century. (338)

We are in the world of the regulation, the  world  of  discipline.**   That  is to say, the  great proliferation of local and regional disciplines we  have  observed in workshops, schools and the army  from the end of the sixteenth  to  the  eighteenth  century,††   should  be  seen  against  the  background  of  an attempt   at  a  general  disciplinarization,  a  general  regulation  of  individuals  and  the territory  of  the  realm  in  the  form  of  a  police  based  on  an  essentially  urban  model. Making  the  town  into a  sort of quasi-convent and the  realm  into a sort of quasi-town is  the  kind  of great disciplinary  dream  behind police.    Commerce,  town,  regulation, and  discipline  are, I think, the  most characteristic  elements of  police  practice as this was understood in the seventeenth century and the first  half of the eighteenth century.  This is what  I would like to have said last week had I had the full time to describe this great project of police. (340-341)

There  is a dis-urbanization  to  the  advantage  of  an  agrocentrism,  a  substitution,  or  emergence anyway,  of  the  problem  of  production  as  distinct   from  the  problem  of  marketing, which  is,  I  think, the  first major breach  in the  system  of  police  in the  sense  this was understood in the seventeenth century and at the start of the eighteenth century. (343)

Police  regulation  is pointless precisely because, as the analysis I have just been talking  about  shows, there is  a  spontaneous regulation  of  the  course  of  things.   Regulation is not  only harmful, even  worse  it  is pointless.    So  a  regulation  based  upon  and  in  accordance  with  the course of things themselves must replace a regulation by  police authority.  This is the second major breach opened up in the system of Polizei, of police. (344)

Within a certain time scale, the number of a population in a given  place  will  adjust  itself  according  to  the  situation  without  any  need  of intervention  through  regulations.    Population  is  not   therefore  an  indefinitely modifiable datum.  This is the third thesis. (345)

The good of all will be assured by  the behavior of each when the state,  the  government,  allows  private  interest  to  operate,  which,  through  the phenomena  of accumulation and regulation, will  serve  all.  The  state  is not therefore the  source of the good of each.  It is not a  case, as it was for police – as I was saying last week – of ensuring  that the better than just living  is utilized by  the state and then passed on as the happiness or well-being  of the totality.  It is now a matter of ensuring that  the state only  intervenes to regulate, or rather to allow the well-being, the interest of  each  to  adjust  itself  in  such  a  way  that  it  can  actually   serve  all.    The  state  is envisioned as the regulator of interests and no longer as the transcendent and synthetic principle  of the  transformation  of the  happiness  of  each  into  the  happiness of all. (346) – last four on the économistes

Economic  reason  does  not  replace  raison  d’État,  but  it  gives  it  a  new content and  so gives new forms to  state  rationality.   A new  governmentality  is  born with  the  économistes  more  than  a  century   after  the  appearance  of  that  other governmentality  in  the  seventeenth  century.    The  governmentality of  the  politiques gives us police, and the governmentality  of the  économistes introduces us, I think, to some of the fundamental lines of modern and contemporary governmentality. (348)

But  now,  naturalness  re-appears  with  the  économistes,  but  it  is  a  different naturalness.    It is the  naturalness of those  mechanisms that  ensure  that,  when prices rise,  if one allows this to happen, then  they  will  stop  rising  by  themselves.    It is the naturalness that ensures that  the population is attracted by  high wages, until a certain point at  which wages stabilize and as a  result  the population no longer increases.  As you can see, this is not at all  the  same  type  of  naturalness as  that of the  cosmos that framed and supported the governmental reason of the Middle Ages or of the sixteenth century.   It  is a  naturalness that is opposed precisely  to the  artificiality  of  politics, of raison d’État and police.  It is opposed to it, but in quite  specific and particular ways.  It is not the  naturalness  of  processes of nature  itself,  as the  nature  of the  world, but processes  of  a  naturalness  specific  to  relations  between  men,  to  what  happens spontaneously  when they cohabit, come  together, exchange, work, and produce [ … ]. That  is to say, it is a naturalness that  basically  did not exist until then and which, if not named  as  such,  at  least  begins  to  be  thought  of  and  analyzed  as  the  naturalness  of society. (349)

1) Civil  society  is what governmental  thought,  the  new form  of  governmentality   born  in  the  eighteenth  century,  reveals  as  the  necessary correlate  of  the  state.   (350)

2) The  second  point  is  that  in  this new  governmentality,  and  correlative  to  this horizon  of  social  naturalness,  you  see  the  appearance  of  the  theme  of  a  form  of knowledge  that is – I was going  to say, specific  to government, but this would not be entirely  exact.    What  are  we  actually  dealing  with  in  these  natural  phenomena  the économistes were talking about?  We are dealing  with processes that  can be known by methods  of  the  same  type  as  any  scientific  knowledge.    The  claim  to  scientific rationality,  which  was  absolutely   not  advanced  by   the  mercantilists,  is  assumed however  by the  eighteenth  century économistes,  who mean that  the  rule  of evidence must be  applied  in  these domains.†    Consequently,  these  methods are  not in any  way the sorts of calculations of forces, or diplomatic calculations, that raison d’État called upon  in  the  seventeenth  century.    The  knowledge  involved  must be  scientific  in  its procedures. (350)

3) The third important point in this new governmentality  is, of course, the sudden appearance of the  problem  of population in new forms.  Previously,  the  question was basically   not  so  much  one  of  population  as  of  populating  or,  on  the  contrary,  of depopulation; it was number, work, and docility,  all  that I have  already  talked about.  Now, however, population appears as a both specific and relative reality:  it is relative to  wages,  to  the  possibilities  of  work,  and  to  prices,  but  it  is  also  specific  in  two senses.  First, population has its own laws of transformation and movement,  and it is just as much  subject to  natural  processes  as wealth itself. […]In the  second half of the eighteenth century, taking  responsibility  for the population will involve  the  development  of,  if  not  sciences,  then  at  least  practices  and  types  of intervention.   These  will  include,  for  example,  social  medicine,  or  what at the  time was  called  public  hygiene,  and  it  will  involve  problems  of  demography,  in  short, everything  that  brings  to  light   the  state’s  new  function  of  responsibility   for  the population  in  its naturalness;  the  population as a  collection of subjects is replaced by the population as a set of natural phenomena. (351-2)

4) The  fourth major modification of governmentality is this:  What  does it  mean to  say   that  the  facts  of  population  and  economic  processes  are  subject  to  natural processes? […]It will be necessary  to arouse, to facilitate, and to laisser faire, in other words to manage and no longer  to  control  through  rules  and  regulations.    The  essential  objective  of  this

management will be not so much to prevent things as to ensure that the  necessary  and natural  regulations work, or even to create  regulations that enable natural regulations to  work.   Natural phenomena  will  have  to be framed in  such  a  way that they do not veer off course,  or  in  such  a  way that clumsy, arbitrary,  and  blind  intervention  does not  make  them  veer  off  course.    That  is  to  say,  it  will  be  necessary  to  set  up mechanisms  of  security.    The  fundamental  objective  of  governmentality   will  be mechanisms  of  security,  or,  let’s  say,  it will  be  state  intervention  with  the  essential function of ensuring  the  security of the  natural  phenomena  of  economic  processes or processes intrinsic to population. (352-353)

This  explains,  finally,  the  insertion  of  freedom  within  governmentality,  not only as  the  right of  individuals legitimately opposed  to  the  power,  usurpations,  and abuses  of  the  sovereign  or  the  government,  but  as  an  element  that  has  become indispensable to governmentality itself.  Henceforth, a  condition of governing  well  is that  freedom,  or  certain  forms  of  freedom,  are  really  respected.    Failing  to  respect freedom is not  only  an abuse of rights with regard to the law, it is above all ignorance of how to govern properly.  The integration of freedom, and the specific limits to this freedom within the field of governmental practice has now become an imperative. (353)

Gabriella Catchi-Novati “Biopolitics on Screen”

March 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Calchi-Novati, Gabriella 2011. „Biopolitics on Screen“: Aernout Mik’s Moving-Image Installations. – Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image 2: 116-140

Bio art, considered as a macro example, is able to show that the means through which biopolitics manifests itself in art and the means through which art manifests itself in biopolitics are always under the cipher of indistinction. Indistinction, thus, is on the one hand what biopolitics employs to perform power, and on the other the powerful result of the implicit performances that happen within and through biopolitical art. (117)

The production of something real from its artificial copy is, in fact, another mechanism of contemporary biopolitics. Think of biometric systems of identification in which it is paradoxically the copy (i.e., my iris scan or my digital finger prints) that identifies (me as) the original, and not vice versa. Think of the fact that nowadays the dynamics of power have substituted human life for the human subject. (118)

By displaying a terminological fusion and (con)fusion of the concepts of bios and politics, biopolitics attempts to eliminate — in a theoretical sense at least — the gap that is always-already present between bios and politics. Bios,11 which is first of all a term that refers to life, is a generic, indeterminable, and indeed vague concept. But as soon as bios appears to be framed by power, a decisive semantic shift from concept to content happens. As if to say that bios becomes life only, and only when, power frames it and so defines it. It is only within the frame of power, then, that life metamorphoses, and from a neutral, cold and somehow impalpable concept becomes something else, namely, a warm and palpable content; something much more specific, much more present, much more subjective, and so much more subjectable. This something so much more is what we call body. (119)

Nuda vita — bare life — is a life that, stripped of its ethical values and meaning, is the prime object of governmental power’s performances. (120)

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this paper, for Groys “art becomes biopolitical’ when it attempts ‘to produce and document life as a pure activity,”27 that is to say, when it attempts to contract life into an event that happens in a time frame that can be controlled and manipulated. (126)

Roberto Esposito “Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy”

Esposito, Roberto 2008. Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Without expanding here on its overall meaning […], the element that quickly needs to be established is the peculiar knot that immunization posits between biopolitics and modernity. I say quickly because it restores the missing link of Foucault’s argumentation. What I want to say is that only when biopolitics is linked conceptually to the immunitary dynamic of the negative protection of life does biopolitics reveal its specifically modern genesis. This is not because its roots are missing in other preceding epochs (they aren’t), but becuase only modernity makes of individual self-preservation the presupposition of all other political categories, from sovereignty to liberty. Naturally, the fact that modern biopolitics is  also embedded through the mediation of categories that are still ascribable to the idea of order (understood as the transcendental of the relation between power and subjects) means that the politicity of bios is still not affirmed absolutely. (9)

It is at this level that discourse today is to be conducted: the body that experiences ever more intensely the indistinction between power and life is no longer that of the individual, nor is it that sovereign body of nations, but that body of the world that is both torn and unified. (11)

1 – The Enigma of Biopolitics

Therefore, if we take up any perspective, we see that something that goes beyond the customary language appears to involve directly law and politics, dragging them into a dimension that is outside their conceptual apparatuses. This „something“ – this element and this substance and this upheaval – is precisely the object of biopolitics. (14)

[…] of „biopolitics“ and „biopower“. By the first is meant a politics in the name of life and by the second a life subjected to the command of politics. But here too in this mode the paradigm that seeks a conceptual linking between the terms emerges a split, as if it had been cut in two by the very same movement. Compressed (and at the same time destabilized) by competing readings and subject to continuous rotations of meaning around its own axis, the concept of biopolitics risks losing its identity and becoming an enigma. (15)

Without retracing the steps that articulate this process of the governmentalization of life in Foucauldian genealogy – from „pastoral power“ to the reason of state to the expertise of the „police“ – let’s keep our attention on the outcome: on the one side, all political practices that governments put into action (or even those practices that oppose them) turn to life, to its process, to its needs, and to its fractures. On the other side, life enters into power relations not only on the side of its critical thresholds or its pathological exceptions, but in all its extension, articulation, and duration. (28)

It is the same premise of the biopolitical regime. More than a removal of life from the pressure that is exercised upon it by law, it is presented rather as delivering their relation to a dimension that both determines and exceeds them both. (28)

What is in question is no longer the distribution of power or its subordination to the law, nor the kind of regime nor the consensus that is obtained, but something that precedes it because it pertains to its „primary material“. (29)

Biopolitics doesn’t refer only or most prevalently to the way in which politics is captured – limited, compressed, and determinded – by life, but also and above all by the way in which politics grasps, challenges, and penetrates life. (30)

Life as such doesn’t belong either to the order of nature or to that of history. It cannot be simply ontologized, nor completely historicized, but is inscrubed in the moving margin of their intersection and their tension. The meaning of biopolitics is sought „in this dual position of life that placed it at the same time outside history, in its biological environment, and inside human historicity, penetrated by the latter’s techniques of knowledge and power“ (31)

„[…] a power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death.“ The opposition couldn’t be any plainer: whereas in the sovereign regime life is nothing but the residue or the remainder left over, saved from the right of taking life, in biopolitics life encamps at the center of a scenario of which death constitutes the external limit or the necessary contour. (34)

2 – The Paradigm of Immunization

Where the term „immunity“ for the biomedical sphere refers to a condition of natural or induced refractoriness on the part of a living organism when faced with a given disease, immunity in political-juridical language alludes to a temporary or definitive exemption on the part of subject with regard to concrete obligations or responsibilities that under normal circumstances would bind one to others. (45)

Rather than being superimposed or juxtaposed in an external form that subjects one to the domination of the other, in the immunitary paradigm, bios and nomos, life and politics, emerge as the two constituent elements of a single, indivisible whole that assumes meaning from their interrelation. (45)

Not simply the relation that joins life to power, immunity is the power to preserve life. Contrary to what is presupposed in the concept of biopolitics – understood as the result of an encounter that arises at a certain moment between the two components – in this perspective no power exists external to life, just as life is never given outside of the relations of power. From this angle, politics is nothing other than the possibility or the instrument for keeping life alive [in vita la vita]. (46)

[…] the negation doesn’t take the form of the violent subordination that power imposes on life from the outside, but rather is the intrinsically antinomic mode by which ife preserves itself through power. (46)

Just as in the medical practice of vaccinating the individual body, so the immunization of the political body functions similarly, introducing within it a fragment of the same pathogen from which it wants to protect itself, by blocking and contradicting natural development. (46)

The new element that I have proposed in this debate concerns what appears to me to be the first systematic elaboration of the immunitary paradigm held on one side by the contrastive symmetry with the concept of community – itself reread in the light of its original meaning – and on the other by its specifically modern characterization. The two questions quickly show themselves to be intertwined. Tracing it back to its etymological roots, immunitas is revealed as the negative or lacking [privativa] form of communitas. If communitas is that relation, which in binding its members to an obligation of reciprocal donation, jeopardizes individual identity, immunitas is the condition of dispensation from such an obligation and therefore the defense against the expropriating features of communitas. Dispensatio is precisely that which relieves the pensum of a weighty obligation, just as it frees the exemption [l’esonero] of that onus, which from its origin is traceable to the semantics of a reciprocal munus. Now the point of impact becomes clear between this etymological and theoretical vector and the historical or more properly genealogical one. One can say that generally immunitas, to the degree it protects the one who bears it from risky contact with those who lack it, restores its own borders that were jeopardized by the common. (50)

We have already seen how the most incisive meaning of immunitas is inscribed in the reverse logic of communitas: immune is the „nonbeing“ or the „not-having“ anything in common. Yet it is precisely such a negative implication with its contrary that indicates that the concept of immunization presupposes that which it also negates. (51)

What is immunized, in brief, is the same community in a form that both preserves and negates it, or better, preserves it through the negation of its original horizon of sense. From this point of view, one might say that more than the defensive apparatus superimposed on the community, immunization is its internal mechanism [ingranaggio]: the fold that in some way separates community from itself, sheltering it from an unbearable excess. The differential margin that prevents the community from coinciding with itself takes on the deep semantic intensity of its own concept. To survive, the community, every community, is forced to introject the negative modality of its opposite, even if the opposite remains precisely a lacking and contrastive mode of being of the community itself. (52)

So that life can be preserved and also develop, therefore, it needs to be ordered by artificial procedures that are capavle of saving it from natural risks. Here passes the double line that distinguishes modern politics; on one side, from that which precedes it, and, on the other, from the condition that follows it. (55)

Yet to link the modern subject to such a horizon of immunitary guarantees also means recognizing the aporia in which the same experience remains captured: that of looking to shelter life in the same powers [potenze] that interdict its development. (56)

Here we can begin to make out the constitutively negative character of sovereign immunization. It can be defined as an immanent transcendence situated outside the control of those that also produced it as the expression of their own will. (60)

Presented as the discovery and the implementation of the subject’s autonomy, individualism in reality functions as the immunitary ideologemme through which modern sovereignty implements the protection of life. (60-61)

Sovereignty is the not being [il non essere] in common of individuals, the political form of their desocialization. (61)

Indeed, one can say that property’s constitutive relevance to the process of modern immunization is ever more accentuated with respect to the concept of sovereignty. And this for two reasons. First, thanks to the originary antithesis that juxtaposes „common“ to „one’s own“ [proprio], which by definition signifies „not common“, „one’s own“ is as such always immune. And second, because the idea of property marks a qualitative intensification of the entire immunitary logic. (63)

Already here the immunitary logic seizes and occupies the entire Lockean argumentative framework: the potential risk of a world given in common – and for this reason exposed to an unlimited indistinction – is neutralized by an element that is presupposed by its same originary manifestation because it is expressive of the relation that precedes and determines all the others: the relation of everyone with himself or herself in the form of personal identity. This is both the kernel and the shell, the content and the wrapping, the object and the subject of the immunitary protection. (66)

In the most general terms, modern liberty is that which insures the individual against the interference of others through the voluntary subordination to a more powerful order that guarantees it. It is here that the antinomical relation with the sphere of necessity originates that ends by reversing the idea of libery into its opposites of law, obligation, and causality. […] necessity is nothing other than the modality that the modern subject assumes in the contrapuntal dialectic of its own liberty, or better, of liberty as the free appropriation of „one’s own“. (72)

3 – Biopower and Biopotentiality

[…] this is the manner in which Nietzsche thinks the political dimension of bios: not as character, law, or destination of something that lives previously, but as the power that informs life from the beginning in all its extension, constitution, and intensity. That life as well as the will to power […] doesn’t mean that life desires power nor that power captures, directs, or develops a purely biological life. On the contrary, they signify that life does not know modes of being apart from those of its continual strengthening. (81)

Still, the absolute originality of the Nitezschean text resides in the transferral of the relation between state and body from the classical level of analogy or metaphor, in which the ancient and modern tradition positions it, to that of an effectual reality: no politics exists other than that of bodies, conducted on bodies, through bodies. (84)

Before being in itself [in-sé], the body is always against, even with respect to itself. In this sense, Nietzsche can say that „every philosophy that ranks peace above war“ is „a misunderstanding of the body.“ This is because in its continual instability the body is nothing but the always provisional result of the conflict of forces that constitute it. (84)

What condemns modern political concepts to ineffectuality is exactly this split between life and conflict – the idea of preserving life through the abolition of conflict. One could say that the heart of Nietzsche’s philosophy will be found in his rebuttal of such a conception, which is to say in the extreme attempt to bring again to the surface that harsh and profound relation that holds together politics and life in the unending form of struggle. (85)

Its [life’s] full realization coincides with a process of extroversion or exteriorization that is destined to carry it into contact with its own „not“; to make of it something that isn’t simply life – neither only life nor life only – but something that is both more than life and other than life: preciselt not life, if for „life“ we understand something that is stable, as what remains essentially identical to itself. […] Here one already begins to glimpse the most troubling aspects of Nietzschean discourse: entrusted to itself, freed from its restraints, life tends to destroy and to destroy itself. (88)

Against this possible semantic declension, against the vacuum of sense that opens at the heart of life that is ecstatically full of itself, the general process of immunization is triggered, which coincides in the final analysis with all of Wester civilization, but which finds in modernity its most representative space. (89)

Yet it is precisely because of this that immunity continues to speak the language of the negative, which it would like to annul: in order to avoid a potential evil, it produces a real one; it substitutes excess with a defect, a fullness with a emptiness, a plus with a minus, negating what it affirms and so doing affirming nothing other than its negation. It is what Nietzsche means by the key concept of „resentment“, which he identifies with all forms of resistance or of vengeance, and which is contrasted with the originary affirmative forces of life. (92)

And yet precisely such a negation of immunization situates Nietzsche […] within its recharging mechanism. Negating the immunitary negation, Nietzsche undoubtedly remains the prisoner of the same negative lexicon. Rather than affirming his own perspective, Niezsche limits himself to negating the opposite, remaining, so to speak, subaltern to it. (96)

It isn’t by coincidende that the more Nietzsche is determined to fight the immunitary syndrome, the more he falls into the semantics of infection and contamination. All the themes of purity, integrity, or perfection that obsessively return […] have this unmistakably reactive tonality, which is to say doubly negative toward a rampant impurity that constitutes the discourse’s true primum. (96)

The epicenter of such a contradiction can be singled out in the point of intersection between a tendence to biologize existence and another, contrary and speculative, one, which is based on the existentialization or the purification of what also refers to the dimension of life. Or better: functionlizing the former so as to fulfill the latter. (99)

We have seen how Nietzsche contests modernity’s immunitary dispositifs not through negation, but instead by moving immunizarion from the institutional level to that of actual [effetiva] life; needing to be protected from the excess or the dispersion of life, no longer in the sense of a formal political order, but in the survival of the species as a whole. (104)

Nonetheless, we have seen how this prescription constitutes nothing other than the first hyperimmunitary or thanatopolitical stratum of the Nietzschean lexicon.

A second categorical vector draws alongside and is joined with it, one that moves in a direction that diverges from the first, or perhaps better, one that allows for a different reading. […] this vector moves through a semantic deferral of the preceding categories, beginning with that of „health“ and „illness“, bursting their nominal identity and placing them in direct contact with their own contrary logic. From this perspective […] the danger is also biological; it is no longer the enemy that makes an attempt on life from the outside, but the enemy is now life’s own propulsive force. (104)

The result is a reversal that occurs by an intensification of the defensive and offensive logic that governs the eugenic strategy: if health is no longer separable from sickness; if sickness is part of health – then it will no longer be possible to separate the individual and social body according to insurmountable lines of prophylaxis and hierarchy. (104)

The greatest danger that the community faces is therefore its own preventice withdrawal from danger. (105)

From this perspective, the negative not only is in turn detained, repressed, or rejected, but it is affirmed as such: as what forms an essential part of life, even if, indeed precisely because, it continually endangers it, pushing it on to a problematic fault line [faglia] to which it is both reduced and strengthened. (106)

With regard to the „retarding elements“ of every species that is intent on constructing ever new means of preservation (who are determined to last as long as possible), the Übermensch (or however we may want to translate the expression) is characterized by an inexhaustible power of transformation. He literally is situated outside of himself, in a space that is no longer (nor was it ever) that of man as such. (107-108)

In this sense, Nietzsche, the hyperindividualist, can say that the individual, the one undivided [l’indiviso], doesn’t exist – that it is contradicted from its coming into the world by the genetic principle according to which „two are born from one and one from two“. (108)

4 – Thanatopolitics (the Cycle of Genos)

[…] Nazism does not, nor can it, carry out a philosophy because it is an actualized [realizzata] biology. (112)

In short, and although it may seem paradoxical, it was in order to perform their therapeutic mission that they [the German doctor’s] turned themselve into the executioners of those they considered either nonessential or harmful to improving public health. From this point of view, one can justifiably maintain that genocide was the result not of an absence, but of a presence, of a medical ethics perverted into its opposite. (115)

Hippocratic oath that they had taken, namely, not to harm in any way the patient [malato]. It’s only that they identified the patient as the German people as a whole, rather than as a single individual. (115-116)

[…] Nazi politics wasn’t even a proper biopolitics, but more literally a zoopolitics, one expressly directed to human animals. Consequently, the correct term for their massacre – anything but the sacred „holocaust“ – is „extermination“: exactly the term used for insects, rats, and lice. Soziale Desinfektion it was called. (117)

[…] Nazism itself never renounced the category of humanitas, on which it awarded the maximum normative importance. More than „bestializing“ man, as is commonly thought, it „anthropologized“ the animal, enlarging the definition of anthropos to the point where it also comprised animals of inferior species. (130)

The latter [sterilization] is the most radical modality of immunization because it intervenes at the root, at the originary point in which life is spread [si comunica]. It blocks life not in any moment of its development as its killer but in its own rising up – impending its genesis, prohibiting life from giving life, devitalizing life in advance. It might seem paradoxical wanting to stop degeneration (whose final relust was sterility) through sterilization, if such and antinomy, the negative doubling of the negative, wasn’t an essential part, indeed the very basis of the immunitary logic itself. (132)

If the first immunitary procedure of eugenics is sterilization, euthanasia constitutes the last (in the ultimate meaning of the expression). (132)

While the first [individual] preserves the right/obligation to receive death, only the second [state] possesses the right to give it. Where the health of the political body as a whole is at stake, a life that doesn’t conform to those interests must be available for termination. (133)

[…] the life unworthy of life is existence deprived of life – a life reduced to bare [nuda] existence. (134)

Dispositifs of Nazism:

1)      Absolute normativization of life constitutes the first. In it we can say that the two semantic vectors of immunity, the biological and the juridical, for the first time are completely superimposed according to the double register of the biologization of the nomos and simultaneously that of the juridicalization of bios. (138)

2)      Nazism’s second immunitary dispositif is the double enclosure of the vody, that is, the enclosing of its own enclosure. It is what Emmanuel Leivinas defined as the absolute identity between our body and ourselves. With respect to the Christian conception (but also differently from Cartesian tradition), all dualism between ego [io] and body collapses. They coincide in a form that doesn’t allow for any distinction: the body is no longer only the place but the essence of the ego. (141) In this sense, more than a reduction of bios to zoe or to „bare life“ […] we need to speak of the spiritualization of zoe and the biologization of the spirit. (142)

3)      The third Nazi immunitary dispositif is represented by the anticipatory suppression of birth, which is to say not only of life but of its genesis. It is in this extreme sense that one ought to understand the declaration according to which „sterilization was the medical fulcrum of the Nazi biocracy.“ (143) in the biopolitical regime, sovereign law isn’t so much the capacity to put to death as it is to nullify life in advance. (145)

5 – The Philosophy of Bios

That the obsessive search for security in relation to the threat of terrorism has become the pivot around which all the current governmental strategies turn gives an idea of the transformation currently taking place. From the politicizarion of the biological, which began in late modernity, we now have a similarly intense biologization of the political that makes the preservation of life through reproduction the only project that enjoys universal legitimacy. (147)

What opens the possibility of thinking bios and politics within the same conceptual piece is that [first] at no point does authentic being [poter-essere] exceed the effective possibility of being there [dell’esserei], and second that the self-decision of this being is absolutely immanent to itself. It is from this side, precisely because it is entirely impolitical, which is to say irreducible to any form of political philosophy, that Heidegger’s thought emerges in the first half of the twentieth century as the only one able to support the philosophical confrontation with biopolitics. (152)

[…] Heidegger reverses the prevalent situation instituted by the latter: it isn’t existence that emerges as deficient or lacking in relation to a life that has been exalted in its biological fullness, but life that appears defective with respect to an existence understood as the only modality of being in the openness of the world. (154)

While in Nazi thanatopolitics death represents the presupposition of life even before its destiny, a life emptied of its biological potentiality [potenza] (and therefore reduced to bare existence), for Heidegger death is the authentic [proprio] mode of being of an existence distinct from bare life. (154)

The attempt we want to make is that of assuming the same categories of „life“, „body“, and „birth“, and then of converting their immunitary (which is to say their self-negating) declension in a direction that is open to a more originary and intense sense of communitas. Only in this way – at the point of intersection and tension among contemporary reflections that have moved in such a direction – will it be possible to trace the initial features of a biopolitics that is finally affirmative. No longer over life nut of life, one that doesn’t superimpose already constituted (and by now destitute) categories of modern politics on life, but rather inscribes the innovative power of life rethought in all its complexity and articulation in the same politics. From this point of view, the expression „form-of-life“ […] is to be understood more in the sense of a vitalization of politics, even if in the end, the two movements tend to superimpose themselves over one another in a single semantic grouping. (157)

[…] each time the body is thought in political terms, or politics in terms of the body, an immunitary short-circuit is always produced, one destined to close „the political body“ on itself and within itself in opposition to its own outside. (158)

Existence without life is flesh that does not coincide with the body; it is that part or zone of the body, the body’s membrane, that isn’t one with the body, that exceeds its boundaries or is subtracted from the body’s enclosing. (159)

[…] the question of flesh is inscribed in a threshold in which thought is freed from every self-referential modality in favor of directly gazing on contemporaneity, understood as the sole subject and object of philosophical interrogation. (159-160)

For us as well as for Merleau-Ponty, the flesh of the world represents the end and the reversal of that doubling [enclosing the body upon itself]. It is the doubling up [sdoppiamento] of the body of all and of each one according to leaves that are irreducible to the identity of a unitary figure. (161)

There is nothing more than that body (in the individual and collective sense) that restitutes and favors the dynamic of reciprocal implication between politics and life, and this for a number of reasons. First, because of the somatic representation of legitimate citizenship prior to the growing role that demographic, hygienic, and sanitary questions began to assume for public administration. And second, because it is precisely the idea of an organic body that implicates, as necessary complement, the presence of a transparent principle that is capable of unifying the members according to a determined functional design: a body always has a soul, or at least a head, without which it would be reduced to a simple agglomerate of flesh. (165)

What recedes, however (either because of explosion or implosion), is instead the body as the dispositif of political identification. […] If everything is the body, nothing will rigidly define it, which is to say no precise immunitary borders will mark and circumscribe it. (166)

To „rise again“, today, cannot be the body inhabited by the spirit, but the fles as such: a being that is both singular and communal, generic and specific, and undifferentiated and different, not only devoid of spirit, but a fles that doesn’t even have a body. (167)

[…] while incorporation tends to unify a plurality, or at least a duality, incarnation, on the contrary, separates and multiplies in two what was originally one. In the first case, we are dealing with a doubling that doesn’t keep aggregated elements distinct; in the second, a splitting that modifies and subdivides an initial identity. (167)

Just as the body constitutes the site of the presupposed unification of the anomalous multiplicity of flesh, so the nation defines the domain in which all births are connected to each other in a sort of parental identity that extends to the boundaries of the state. (171)

If the state is really the body of its inhabitants, who are in turn reunified in that of the head, politics is nothing other than the modality through which birth is affirmed as the only living force of history. (171)

The norm is no longer what assigns rights and obligations from the outside to the subject, as in modern transcendentalism – permitting it to do that which is allowed and prohibiting that which is not – but rather the intrinsic modality that life assumes in the expression of its own unrestrainable power to exist. (185-186) – of Spinoza

It is for this reason that, when seen in a general perspective, every form of existence, be it deviant or defective from a more limited point of view, has equal legitimacy for living according to its own possibilities as a whole in the relations in which it is inserted. (186)

It cannot be said that Spinoza’s intuitions found expression and development in later juridical philosophy. The reasons for such a theoretical block are multiple. But in relation to our problem, it’s worth paying attention to the resistance of the philosophy of natural right [diritto] as a whole to think the norm together with life: not over life nor beginning from life, but in life, which is to say in the biological constitution of the living organism. (186)

[…] we can say that for Spinoza nothing other than individuals exist. These individuals are infiniye modes of a substance that does not subtend or transcend them, but is that expressed precisely in their irreducible multiplicity; only that such individuals for Spinoza are not stable and homogenous entities, but elements that originate from and continually reproduce a process of successive individuations. (187)

In short, the process of normativization is the never-defined result of the comparison and conflict between individual norms that are measured according to the different power that keeps them alive, without ever losing the measure of their reciprocal relation. (187)

Completely normal isn’t the person who corresponds to a prefixed prototype, but the individual who preserves intact his or her own normative power, which is to say the capacity to create continually new norms: „Normal man is normative man, the being capable of establishing new, even organic forms.“ (191)

I would say that his [Deleuze’s] „theoretical“ (though we could say biophilosophical) resides in the connecting and diverging point between the life and precisely a life. Here the move from the determinate article to that of the indeterminate has the function of marking the break with the metaphysical feature that connects the dimension of life to that of individual consciousness. There is a modality of bios that cannot be inscribed within the borders of the conscious subject, and therefore is not attributable to the form of the individual or of the person. (192)