Tag: Biopolitics

Michel Foucault: Biopolitics and Biopower

Key Concept Despite their prominence in subsequent academic writing,1 the concepts of “biopower” and “biopolitics” are perhaps the most elusive, and arguably the most compelling (given the attention they have subsequently received), concepts of Michel Foucault’s oeuvre. Within his published work, these concepts featured only in the last chapter of the slim first volume of…

Governmentality: Notes on the Thought of Michel Foucault

Key Concept The title of Foucault’s lecture series of 1977-78 Security, Territory, Population was poorly chosen; the series should, as he acknowledges, have been called ‘Governmentality’, since the concern of these lectures is with the overarching ‘problem of government’ – that is, ‘how to govern oneself, how to be governed, by whom should we accept…

The Market as the Unique Site of Truth: On Foucault & Milk

It is pos­sible that after the rise and the fall of the Keynesian gov­ern­ment­ality, the neo­lib­eral model of gov­ernance and leg­ality reaches its apogee in the af­ter­math of the 2008 crisis.Whom would you ask in order to check if the milk you are drinking is fresh? This trivial question can be answered in multiple ways.…

The Alien Body in Contemporary Netherlands: Incarceration and Force-feeding of Asylum Seekers

On 22 May 2013, the Dutch State Sec­ret­ary of Secur­ity and Justice and Min­is­ter for Migra­tion offered the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives a memor­andum issued by the Coun­cil of State con­cern­ing ‘the options to admin­is­ter food and drink to an alien in deten­tion who is on hun­ger and/​or thirst strike, against his will.’ This essay sets out to unpack the main premises of these recom­mend­a­tions in the frame­work of biopol­it­ics, its colo­nial her­it­age and con­tem­por­ary deploy­ment in the Neth­er­lands. Whilst under­stood in a his­tor­ical con­tinuum, this little doc­u­ment gains rel­ev­ance as it rep­res­ents a sig­ni­fic­ant step over the threshold of the human …

Debt as a Mode of Governance

Capitalism has complete control over life: it has “biopolitical” control. In the primitive society, debt is charged through the primitive inscription, or coding, on the body. Blood-revenge and cruelty address a non-exchangist power. In the despotic society, all debts become infinite debts to the divine ruler. In capitalism, all debts finally break free from the sovereign and become infinite by conjoining flows. With capitalism, debt is continuous and without limit: student debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, medical debt. Whereas in the primitive system debt is incurred through inscription and, in despotism, exercised by divine law, in capitalism “the market-eye keeps a watch over everything”. In other words, the market-eye becomes the new normal that constitutes the biopolitical control around a weightless, infinitely circulating, immortal debt. We now live in the era of debt in which it is the soul of the individual that is imprisoned […]