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Biopower Supplement - Scholars

Biopower Supplement - Scholars

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Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008

Scholars Lab

1 Biopower

Biopower Supplement
Biopower Supplement.....................................................................................................................................................1 BIOPOWER ≠ IMPACT (1/3)........................................................................................................................................3 BIOPOWER ≠ IMPACT (2/3)........................................................................................................................................4 BIOPOWER ≠ IMPACT (3/3)........................................................................................................................................5 BIOPOLITICS = EMPOWERING/HEALTH (1/2).......................................................................................................6 BIOPOLITICS = EMPOWERING/HEALTH (2/2).......................................................................................................7 A2: No Meaning to Life..................................................................................................................................................8 Turn – Alt Denies Autonomy..........................................................................................................................................9 Turn – Alt Denies Agency.............................................................................................................................................10 Turn - Alt = Totalizing Discourse..................................................................................................................................11

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

2 Biopower

BIOPOWER GOOD (1/1) The endpoint of biopower is not the creation of bare-life but the fostering and production of forms-of-life. Biopower seeks to optimize the individual and produce “extra-life.” Ojakangas 05 (Mika, Impossible Dialogue on Biopower, Foucault Studies, Doctorate in Social Science)
Moreover, life as the object and the subject of bio‐power given that life is everywhere, it becomes everywhere is in no way bare, but is as the synthetic notion of life implies, the multiplicity of the forms of life, from the nutritive life to the intellectual life, from the biological levels of life to the political existence of man.43 Instead of bare life, the life of bio‐power is a plenitude of life, as Foucault puts it.44 Agamben is certainly right in saying that the production of bare life is, and has been since Aristotle, a main strategy of the sovereign power to establish itself to the same degree that sovereignty has been the main fiction of juridico‐ institutional thinking from Jean Bodin to Carl Schmitt. The sovereign power is, indeed, based on bare life because it is capable of confronting life merely when stripped off and isolated from all forms of life, when the entire existence of a man is reduced to a bare life and exposed to an unconditional threat of death. Life is undoubtedly sacred for the sovereign power in the sense that Agamben defines it. It can be taken away without a homicide being committed. In the case of bio‐power, however, this does not hold true. In order to function properly, bio‐power cannot reduce life to the level of bare life, because bare life is life that can only be taken away or allowed to persist which also makes understandable the vast critique of sovereignty in the era of bio‐power. Bio‐power needs a notion of life that corresponds to its aims. What then is the aim of bio‐ power? Its aim is not to produce bare life but, as Foucault emphasizes, to “multiply life”,45 to produce “extra‐life.”46 Bio‐power needs, in other words, a notion of life which enables it to accomplish this task. The modern synthetic notion of life endows it with such a notion. It enables bio‐power to “invest life through and through”, to “optimize forces, aptitudes, and life in general without at the same time making them more difficult to govern.” It could be argued, of course, that instead of bare life (zoe) the form of life (bios) functions as the foundation of bio‐power. However, there is no room either for a bios in the modern bio‐political order because every bios has always been, as Agamben emphasizes, the result of the exclusion of zoe from the political realm. The modern bio‐political order does not exclude anything – not even in the form of “inclusive exclusion”. As a matter of fact, in the era of bio‐politics, life is already a bios that is only its own zoe. It has already moved into the site that Agamben suggests as the remedy of the political pathologies of modernity, that is to say, into the site where politics is freed from every ban and “a form of life is wholly exhausted in bare life.”48 At the end of Homo Sacer, Agamben gives this life the name “form‐of‐life”, signifying “always and above all possibilities of life, always and above all power”, understood as potentiality (potenza).49 According to Agamben, there would be no power that could have any hold over men’s existence if life were understood as a “form‐of‐life”. However, it is precisely this life, life as untamed power and potentiality, that bio‐power invests and optimizes. If bio‐power multiplies and optimizes life, it does so, above all, by multiplying and optimizing potentialities of life, by fostering and generating “forms‐of‐life”.50

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

3 Biopower

Totalitarianism and Ethnic Racism caused the Holocaust, NOT biopolitics. Dickinson 04 (Edward, Biopolitics, Facism, Democracy, Central European History v37 n1, Ass. Prof. Hist. at
University of Cincinnati) In an important programmatic statement of 1996 Geoff Eley celebrated the fact that Foucault’s ideas have “fundamentally directed attention away from institutionally centered conceptions of government and the state . . . and toward a dispersed and decentered notion of power and its ‘microphysics.’”48 The “broader, deeper, and less visible ideological consensus” on “technocratic reason and the ethical unboundedness of science” was the focus of his interest.49 But the “power-producing effects in Foucault’s ‘microphysical’ sense” (Eley) of the construction of social bureaucracies and social knowledge, of “an entire institutional apparatus and system of practice” ( Jean Quataert), simply do not explain Nazi policy.50 The destructive dynamic of Nazism was a product not so much of a particular modern set of ideas as of a particular modern political structure, one that could realize the disastrous potential of those ideas. What was critical was not the expansion of the instruments and disciplines of biopolitics, which occurred everywhere in Europe. Instead, it was the principles that guided how those instruments and disciplines were organized and used, and the external constraints on them. In National Socialism, biopolitics was shaped by a totalitarian conception of social management focused on the power and ubiquity of the völkisch state. In democratic societies, biopolitics has historically been constrained by a rights-based strategy of social management. This is a point to which I will return shortly. For now, the point is that what was decisive was actually politics at the level of the state. A comparative framework can help us to clarify this point. Other states passed compulsory sterilization laws in the 1930s — indeed, individual states in the United States had already begun doing so in 1907. Yet they did not proceed to the next steps adopted by National Socialism — mass sterilization, mass “eugenic” abortion and murder of the “defective.” Individual . gures in, for example, the U.S. did make such suggestions. But neither the political structures of democratic states nor their legal and political principles permitted such policies actually being enacted. Nor did the scale of forcible sterilization in other countries match that of the Nazi program. I do not mean to suggest that such programs were not horrible; but in a democratic political context they did not develop the dynamic of constant radicalization and escalation that characterized Nazi policies. The radicalizing dynamic of the Nazi regime was determined, however, not only by its structure but also by its ideology. The attentive reader will have noticed a degree of conceptual slippage in many of the quotations used in the foregoing pages between ethnic racialism and eugenics, between “eugenic” murder and the Final Solution. This slippage between “racialism” and “racism” is not entirely justified. After the rigors of the Goldhagen debate, it takes some sangfroid to address the topic of antiSemitism in Germany at all.But it appears from the current literature that there was no direct connection between anti- Semitism and eugenic ideas. Some German eugenicists were explicitly racist; some of those racist eugenicists were anti-Semites; but anti-Semitism was not an essential part of eugenic thought. As Peter Fritzsche — among many others — has pointed out, racism really is at the heart of the Nazi “discourse of segregation,” and the “fantastic vision” of all-out racial war that motivated the Nazis is not explained merely by the logic of enlightened rationalism, technocracy, and scientism.51 Eugenics did not “pave the way” for the murder of millions of Jews. Ethnic racism — and particularly antiSemitism— did.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

4 Biopower

The final solution was the byproduct of a unique understanding of the relationship between Jews and Germans. Biopolitics does NOT necessitate extermination of the Other. Dickinson 04 (Edward, Biopolitics, Facism, Democracy, Central European History v37 n1, Ass. Prof. Hist. at
University of Cincinnati) And yet, it is clear that anti-Semitism and eugenics did not imply, presuppose, or necessitate each other. The Nazi variant of biopolitical modernity was in fact quite idiosyncratic. It is very difficult to assess the place of explicitly ethnic racist thinking in the development of eugenics; but despite a resurgence of interest in the differing “character” and fate of ethnic groups after about 1927, on the whole ethnic racism appears to have become gradually less interesting to eugenicists from the late imperial period forward. The Nazis shifted the balance quite suddenly and forcibly in favor of ethnic racial thought after 1933. It may be that the growing in マ uence of eugenics made National Socialist thinking more plausible for many people in the early 1930s; but it seems equally likely that the moderation of eugenics in the 1920s may have increased the appeal of the Social Democratic Party (as the strongest advocate, among the non-Nazi political parties, of eugenic policies) while actually discrediting the Nazis’ more dated ideas.53 In fact, it may be useful to consider not only what eugenic ideas and euthanasia policy contributed to the implementation of the Final Solution, but also how momentum toward the Final Solution shaped Nazi eugenics. The context for Nazi eugenic policies was shaped fundamentally by the Nazis’ sense that Germany was in a permanent racial war with “the Jews” (or communists and democrats, which in the Nazi worldview amounted to the same thing). The urgency of Nazi eugenic policy —the scope of forcible sterilization, the murder of tens of thousands of “defective” people— derived not just from the “normal” fear of degeneration typical of eugenics since its inception, but also from a quite extraordinary understanding of the immediacy of racial confrontation.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

5 Biopower

The holocaust was the result of a series of unique conditions, not the endpoint of all biopolitical regimes. Ranibow and Rose 03 (Paul/Nikolas, Thoughts On The Concept of Biopower Today, The Molecular Science
Institute, Professor of Anthropology at University of Chicago, Professor of Sociology at James Martin White) Holocaust is undoubtedly one configuration that modern biopower can take. This, as we have already implied, was also Foucault’s view in 1976: racisms allows power to sub-divide a population into subspecies known as races, to fragment it, and to allow a relationship in which the death of the other, of the inferior race, can be seen as something that will make life in general healthier and purer: “racism justifies the deathfunction in the economy of biopower by appealing to the principle that the death of others makes one biologically stronger insofar as ones is a member of a race or a population (2003: 258). The Nazi regime was, however, exceptional – “a paroxysmal development”: “We have, then, in Nazi society something that is really quite extraordinary: this is a society which has generalized biopower in an absolute sense, but which has also generalized the sovereign right to kill… to kill anyone, meaning not only other people but also its own people… a coincidence between a generalized biopower and a dictatorship that was at once absolute and retransmitted throughout the entire social body” (2003: 260). Schmitt argued, erroneously in our view, that the “state of exception” was the guarantee of modern constitutional power. But the articulation of biopower in the form it took under National Socialism was dependent upon a host of other historical, moral, political and technical conditions. Holocaust is neither exemplary of thanato-politics, nor is it in some way the hidden dark truth of biopower.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

6 Biopower

The Nazis were a uniquely violent variation of biopolitics. Biopower generally seeks to create a healthy, pluralistic society, not the totalitarian state. Dickinson 04 (Edward, Biopolitics, Facism, Democracy, Central European History v37 n1, Ass. Prof. Hist. at
University of Cincinnati) Why was Europe’s twentieth century, in addition to being the age of biopolitics and totalitarianism, also the age of biopolitics and democracy? How should we theorize this relationship? I would like to offer . ve propositions as food for thought. First, again, the concept of the essential legitimacy and social value of individual needs, and hence the imperative of individual rights as the political mechanism for getting them met, has historically been a cornerstone of some strategies of social management. To borrow a phrase from Detlev Peukert, this does not mean that democracy was the “absolutely inevitable” outcome of the development of biopolitics; but it does mean that it was “one among other possible outcomes of the crisis of modern civilization.”112 Second, I would argue that there is also a causal fit between cultures of expertise, or “scientism,” and democracy. Of course, “scientism” subverted the real, historical ideological underpinnings of authoritarian polities in Europe in the nineteenth century. It also in a sense replaced them. Democratic citizens have the freedom to ask “why”; and in a democratic system there is therefore a bias toward pragmatic, “objective” or naturalized answers— since values are often regarded as matters of opinion, with which any citizen has a right to differ. Scientific “fact” is democracy’s substitute for revealed truth, expertise its substitute for authority. The age of democracy is the age of professionalization, of technocracy; there is a deeper connection between the two, this is not merely a matter of historical coincidence. Third, the vulnerability of explicitly moral values in democratic societies creates a problem of legitimation. Of course there are moral values that all democratic societies must in some degree uphold (individual autonomy and freedom, human dignity, fairness, the rule of law), and those values are part of their strength. But as people’s states, democratic social and political orders are also implicitly and often explicitly expected to do something positive and tangible to enhance the well-being of their citizens. One of those things, of course, is simply to provide a rising standard of living; and the visible and astonishing success of that project has been crucial to all Western democracies since 1945. Another is the provision of a rising standard of health; and here again, the democratic welfare state has “delivered the goods” in concrete, measurable, and extraordinary ways. In this sense, it may not be so simpleminded, after all, to insist on considering the fact that modern biopolitics has “worked” phenomenally well. Fourth, it was precisely the democratizing dynamic of modern societies that made the question of the “quality” of the mass of the population seem— and not only in the eyes of the dominant classes — increasingly important. Again, in the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the expected level of the average citizen’s active participation in European political, social, cultural, and economic life rose steadily, as did the expected level of her effective influence in all these spheres. This made it a matter of increasing importance whether the average person was more or less educated and informed, more or less moral and self-disciplined,more or less healthy and physically capable,more or less socially competent. And modern social reform — “biopolitics” defined very broadly —seemed to offer the possibility of creating the human foundation for a society ordered by autonomous participation, rather than by obedience. This too was part of the Machbarkeitswahn of modernity; but this was potentially a democratic “Wahn,” not only an authoritarian one. Fifth, historically there has been a clear connection between the concept of political citizenship and the idea of moral autonomy. The political “subject” (or citizen — as opposed to the political subject,who is an object of state action) is also a moral subject. The citizen’s capacity for moral reasoning is the legitimating postulate of all democratic politics. The regulation of sexual and reproductive life has long been understood in European societies to be among the most fundamental issues of morality. There is, therefore, a connection between political citizenship on the one hand, and the sexual and reproductive autonomy implied in the individual control that is a central element of the modern biopolitical complex, on the other. <CONTINUES>

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7 Biopower


<CONTINUES> The association in the minds of conservatives in the late imperial period between democracy and declining fertility was not a panicky delusion; panicky it certainly was, but it was also a genuine insight into a deeper ideological connection.113 Perhaps it should not be surprising, therefore, that the first great homeland of eugenic legislation was the United States — the first great homeland of modern democracy. In fact the United States served both as a kind of promised land for racial and eugenic “progressives” in Germany, and as a worst-case scenario of “regression into barbarism” for those opposed to coercive eugenic measures. 114 Nor should it be surprising that, apart from Nazi Germany, the other great land of eugenic sterilization in Europe in the 1930s was Scandinavia, where democratic governments heavily in マ uenced by social democratic parties were busily constructing the most ambitious and extensive welfare states in the world.115 The lesson is not that modern democracy is “dangerous” or destructive, much less that it is crypto-fascist — that, as Jacques Donzelot put it, the 1930s was the age of “social fascism” and our own age that of “social sector fascism.” 116 The relevant message is, rather, that it is time to place the less familiar history of modern democratic biopolitics alongside the more familiar history of modern totalitarian biopolitics. The dream of perfectibility — Machbarkeitswahn — is central to modernity. But social engineering, the management of society, can be organized in different ways. Historically, totalitarian biopolitics was a self-destructive failure. Democratic biopolitics has, in contrast, been— not in any moral sense, but politically —a howling success. For the historian interested in modernity, that story is no less interesting or important than the story of the implosion of the Nazi racial state.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

8 Biopower

A2: No Meaning to Life
Life is its own meaning – No secondary meaning to be removed from it Cline 6 (Austin, Masters – Princeton, http://atheism.about.com/b/a/256277.htm)
In Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, Dan Barker writes: Who said life must have meaning? Why can’t life just be life? My family has three cats, We enjoy watching them play, eat, sleep, lie in the sun and chase bugs. Do they ask themselves what is the meaning of life? Is their life any less livable because they possess no coherent purpose for existence? Since we humans have larger brains with a greater rational capacity and self consciousness than other animals we somehow assume we must be worthy of a higher purpose. Isn’t that arrogance? To ask the question about the meaning in life one must first assume the presence of someone to bestow bestow that meaning. This usually amounts to granting the existence of a transcendent reality, a supernatural realm to which we can somehow relate in a “meaningful manner.” If you can live without the need for meaning in life, then you will likewise not need the invented frame of reference, the plan and purpose of a divine will. To many people life is its own meaning, and the word “meaning” becomes meaningless.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
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9 Biopower

Turn – Alt Denies Autonomy
Attempts to escape representations denies human agency Claire Colebrook, Professor of English Lit University of Edinburgh, Questioning Representation, SubStance Vol. 29 No. 2 Issue 92, 2000, p47-67 JStor
The idea of autonomous representation is, perhaps, an oxymoron. To represent oneself is to submit to a transindividual system of language, signification or representation. But any such representational scheme can never be fully disowned, rendered anonymous, collective, inhuman or fully dispersed beyond all subjectivity. Rather, the act of representation institutes autonomy or places a self in a point of view, Autonomy ought not to be defined in terms of a being that is then expressed. Rather, the procedure of autonomy is a recognition that there is no foundational being other than its continual institution through a representation that dislocates itself from a prior presence. If we do not recognize that representation effects an autonomy that it can then be seen to belie, if we try to overcome this scar of representation, then we do so at the expense of forgetting what it is to think. In short, we attack the error of anthropologism-the idea of a general human subject who represents us allwith the error of anthropomorphism: the idea of a world that is fully and adequately given, without representation, separation or the contribution of thought.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

10 Biopower

Turn – Alt Denies Agency
Postmodernism is an attempt to escape reality and pretend that everything occurs in your head. This removes agency necessary to deal with the REAL effects of oppression and suffering in the world. MacKinnon 2000 (Catharine, Symposium On Unfinished Feminist Business: Points Against Postmodernism,
Chicago-Kent Law Review, Prof of Law at Univ of Mich and Prof of Law at Univ of Chicago, lexis) Postmodernism as practiced often comes across as style--petulant, joyriding, more posture than position. But it has a method, making metaphysics far from dead. Its approach and its position, its [*701] posture toward the world and its view of what is real, is that it's all mental. Postmodernism imagines that society happens in your head. Back in the modern period, this position was called idealism. In its continuity with this method, to offer a few examples, postmodernism has made the penis into "the phallus" and it is mostly observed to signify. 32 Women have become "an ongoing discursive practice," 33 or, ubiquitously, "the female body," 34 which is written on and signified but seldom, if ever, raped, beaten, or otherwise violated. Racism and homophobia are elided "differences" in disguise. Abuse has become "agency"--or rather challenges to sexual abuse have been replaced by invocations of "agency," women's violation become the sneering wound of a "victim" pinned in arch quotation marks. 35 Instead of facing what was done to women when we were violated, we are told how much freedom we had at the time. (For this we need feminism?) Agency in the postmodern lexicon is a stand-in for the powerless exercising power; sometimes it means freedom, sometimes self-action, sometimes resistance, sometimes desire. We are not told which of these is meant, precisely, or how any or all of these things are possible under the circumstances. It would be good to know. Oddly missing in this usage is what an agent legally is: someone who acts for someone else, the principal, who is pulling [*702] their strings. Domination, postmodernists know exists, but they don't tell us how or where or why. It is something that no one does or has done to them but somehow winds up in "gendered lopsidedness." 36 What we used to call "what happened to her," has become, at its most credible, "narrative." But real harm has ceased to exist. So whole chapters of books with "pornography" in their titles can be written without ever once talking about what the pornography industry concretely does, who they are, or what is done to whom in and with the materials. 37 There is no discussion of how pornography exploits and mass-produces sexual abuse. There is not even an extension of the early work on the scopic drive by Foucault, Lacan, and Irigaray (who are even French)--an analysis that is readily extendable to describe the aggressive appropriation and trafficking of women in pornography. 38 Nor have I noticed the multiculturalists out there opposing the spread of pornography from Scandinavia, Germany, and the United States on grounds of cultural imperialism, and it's taking over the world. The point of postmodernism is to get as far away from anything real as possible.

Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
Scholars Lab

11 Biopower

Turn - Alt = Totalizing Discourse
The idea that nothing is real and that everything is socially constructed recreates the same totalizing discourse that post-modernism attempts to escape. A partial objective standpoint allows us to effect social change without creating a totalizing narrative. MacKinnon 2000 (Catharine, Symposium On Unfinished Feminist Business: Points Against Postmodernism,
Chicago-Kent Law Review, Prof of Law at Univ of Mich and Prof of Law at Univ of Chicago, lexis) It is my view that it is the relation of theory to reality that feminism changed, and it is in part a reversion to a prefeminist relation of theory to reality that postmodernism is reimposing. This is not about truth. Truth is a generality, an abstraction of a certain shape and quality. Social realities are something else again. Postmodernism has decided that because truth died with God, there are no social facts. The fact that reality is a social construction does not mean that it is not there; it means that it is there, in society, where we live. According to postmodernism, there are no facts; everything is a reading, so there can be no lies. Apparently it cannot be known whether the Holocaust is a hoax, whether women love to be raped, whether Black people are genetically intellectually inferior to white people, whether homosexuals are child molesters. To postmodernists, these factish things are indeterminate, contingent, in play, all a matter of interpretation. Similarly, whether or not acts of incest happened or are traumatic to children become fogged over in "epistemological quandaries" as beyond thinking, beyond narrative, beyond intelligibility, as "this event that is no event"--as if survivors have not often reported, in intelligible narratives, that such events did happen and did harm them. 41 That violation often damages speech and memory does not mean that, if one has speech and memory, one was not violated. Recall when Bill Clinton, asked about his sexual relationship with a young woman intern, said that it all depended on what "is" means. The country jeered his epistemic dodge as a transparent and slimy subterfuge to evade accountability: get real. The postmodernists were strangely silent. But you can't commit perjury if there are no facts. Where are these people when you need them? What postmodernists want, I have come to think, apart from to live in their heads instead of in the world (that old dodge), is to vault themselves out of power methodologically. They want to beat [*704] dominance at its own game, which is usually called dominating. They want to win every argument in advance. Also, if everything is interpretation, you can never be wrong. Feminism has faced that you don't know what is real by getting outside your determinants (which you can't do anyway) but by getting deep inside them with a lot of other people with the same foot (even feet) on their necks. Abdicating this, feminism's source of power, postmodernism has swallowed the objective standpoint while claiming to be off on a whole new methodological departure. Then they sigh and admit they might have to concede partiality, 42 meaning admitting only knowing part. What, again, was the alternative? Totality? What's wrong with partiality--except from the objective standpoint, which thinks it means you can't be right? Who said there is either the whole or a part? Postmodernism keeps becoming what it claims to supersede. 43

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