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Will Malson Biopolitics Bad NC Page 1 of 3

Biopolitics Bad NC

We’ve come here today to provide an answer to the great question: to compete, or to cooperate? As
such, my philosophy is that cooperation is superior to competition as a means of achieving excellence.

I’ll be explaining this to you in 4 basic contentions: why the affirmative’s rhetoric regarding competition
is detrimental, and how cooperating can prevent said rhetoric’s effects.

CONTENTION 1: THE AFFIRMATIVE SPEAKER’S DISCOURSE OF COMPETITION


JUSTIFIES BIOPOLITICS. Sanford Schram 06
Schram 2006- (Sanford, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College “Welfare Discipline: Discourses, Governance, and
Globalization”, pg. 5) (HEG)
My argument is that welfare reform was legitimated in part by politically questionable concerns about economic globalization. I do not deny that economic
globalization was occurring; instead, I am arguing that what I am calling globalization discourse helped make it seem in the United States that economic
globalization of necessity required scaling back the welfare state in the name of being able to compete internationally. Welfare
state
retrenchment was made possible in no small part because the issue was framed in the United States in terms
of a crisis narrative on the necessity of welfare policy retrenchment in the face of growing international
economic competition, making it seem unavoidable that the United States retrench welfare provision. U.S. globalization discourse
had created its own specter of a debilitating global economic competition that required welfare state
retrenchment as part of the necessary response.

I’ll take a moment and explain a few things.

First of all, what is biopolitics? In the work of Michel Foucault, biopolitics is the style of government
that regulates populations through biopower. Biopower is the application and impact of political power
on all aspects of human life.

Second, what exactly was Sanford Schram talking about? Schram mentioned the U.S. and a state of
welfare retrenchment. Simply put, he’s talking about how the U.S. used economic rhetoric regarding
competition to justify a permanent welfare system. This permanent welfare system was one of the many
possible manifestations of biopolitics. This application of biopolitics was used to justify securitizing
discourse of globalization. This ties in well with

CONTENTION 2: THE SECURITIZING DISCOURSE OF GLOBALIZATION ENABLES ANY


ACTION IN THE NAME OF SURVIVAL. Sanford Schram 06
Schram 2006- (Sanford, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College “Welfare Discipline: Discourses, Governance, and
Globalization”, pg. 6-7) (HEG)

In this way, globalization discourse could very well become its own self-fulfilling prophecy. Like a ghost of a not-
yet-fully-born world system, globalization discourse haunted the political imagination of the west until preoccupation with its very idea furthered the
possibility of it materializing in practice. For someone like Jacques Derrida, globalization discourse is therefore like Jacques Derrida, globalization discourse
is therefore a form of melancholy more than mourning: by anticipation, we were regretting what had not yet happened, rather than waiting to grieve after a
loss occurred. The
crisis narrative of welfare retrenchment as a necessary consequence of economic
globalization implied to its audience a subject position as a concerned party who must share the
narrative’s sense of urgency and must accept that drastic actions need to be taken to avoid the impending
catastrophe before it arrives. Therefore, irrespective of how much increased global economic activity was occurring, the crisis
narrative of welfare states had actually already entered into what has been called a race to the bottom
stemming from global economic competition, the idea has created anticipation to the point that the retrenchment in social welfare
Will Malson Biopolitics Bad NC Page 2 of 3

protections that did take place has increased the currency of the very same idea to the point that scaling back has become what has to be done in order to
compete successfully in a new global economy. In a vicious cycle, globalization discourse makes itself real.

Now what is he talking about? Again, he refers to a retrenchment of a welfare state. What he’s getting at
is that the crisis narrative, or competition rhetoric, similar to the rhetoric used by the affirmative speaker,
is used to justify drastic governmental actions. It is further justified by a sense of false urgency that must
be accepted. This vicious cycle of globalization and competition rhetoric makes globalization a reality –
we can see the very evidently in the world today – already there are treaties out there that would
establish a global government in response to crisis situations such as global warming. This is a fitting
time to move on to

CONTENTION 3: BIOPOLITICS ALLOWS THOSE IN POWER TO CHOOSE WHOSE LIFE


IS WORTHY AND WHOSE ISN’T. THIS DEVALUES LIFE AND LEADS TO
EXTERMINATION. Giorgio Agamben 98
Agamben 1998 (Giorgio is a professor of philosophy at the University of Verona, Homo Sacer, 1998, pg. 142-143) (HEG)

Here it becomes clear how Binding’s attempt to transform euthanasia into a juridico-political concept (“life unworthy
of being lived”) touched on a crucial matter. If it is the sovereign who, insofar as he decides on the state of exception, has the
power to decide which life may be killed without the commission of homicide, in the age of biopolitics
this power becomes emancipated from the state of exception and transformed into the power to decide
the point at which life ceases to be politically relevant. When life becomes the supreme political value, not only is the problem of
life’s nonvalue thereby posed, as Schmitt suggests but further, it is as if the ultimate ground of sovereign power were tt stake in this decision. In modern
biopolitics, sovereign is he who decides on the value or the nonvalue of life as such. Life—which, with the
declarations of rights, had as such been invested with the principle of sovereignty—now itself becomes the place of a sovereign decision. The Fuhrer
This is why the Fuhrer’s word,
represents precisely life itself insofar as it is he who decides on life’s very biopolitical consistency
according to a theory dear to Nazi jurists to which we will return, is immediately law. This is why the problem
of euthanasia is an absolutely modern problem, which Nazism, as the first radically biopolirical state,
could not fail to pose. And this is also why certain apparent confusions and contradictions of the euthanasia program can be explained only in the
biopolitical context in which they were situated. The physicians Karl Brand and Viktor Brack, who were sentenced to death at Nuremberg for being
responsible for the program, declared after their condemnation that they did not feel guilty, since the problem of euthanasia would appear again. The
accuracy of their prediction was undeniable. What is more interesting, however, is how it was possible that there were no protests on the part of medical
organizations when the bishops brought the program to the attention of the public. Not only did the euthanasia program contradict the passage in the
Hippocratic oath that states, “I will not give any man a fatal poison, even if he asks me for it,” but further, since there was no legal measure assuring the
impunity of euthanasia, the physicians who participated in the program could have found themselves in a delicate legal situation (this last circumstance did
give rise to protests on the part of jurists and lawyers). The fact is that the National Socialist Reich marks the point at which the integration of medicine and
politics, which is one of the essential characteristics of modern biopolitics, began to assume its final form. This implies that the sovereign decision on bare
life comes to be displaced from strictly political motivations and areas to a more ambiguous terrain in which the physician and the sovereign seem to
exchange roles.

What Agamben is talking about here is biopolitics in its ultimate application: biopolitics directly allows
those in power to choose whose life is worthy and whose isn’t, thus devaluing live and justifying the
extermination of most of the species. Now, how do we stop it? What is the alternative to biopoliticis? In
actuality, it’s very simple, and it leads us to

CONTENTION 4: THE ALTERNATIVE: PASSIVITY. COOPERATION WITH THE WAY


THINGS ARE IS CRITICAL TO REJECTING THE AFFIRMATIVE SPEAKERS
BIOPOLITICAL ONTOLOGY. OUR ALTERNATIVE IS THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW
SUBJECTS THROUGH CRITICISM AND REJECTION OF THE AFFIRMATIVE- THIS
FUNCTIONS AS A REEXAMINATION OF OUR CURRENT BIO-POLITICAL LANDSCAPE,
WHICH IS KEY TO PREVENTING DOMINATION BY THE STATE. Carol Johnson 04
Johnson PhD in 2004 (Carol, PhD in philosophy, FOUCAULT, ROGERIAN ARGUMENT, AND FEMINIST STANDPOINT THEORY: INTERSECTING
DISCOURSES CONCERNING WELFARE REFORM DURING THE 1990s, A DISSERTATION, SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
Will Malson Biopolitics Bad NC Page 3 of 3

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE TEXAS WOMAN’S UNIVERSITY,
pp.14-16) (HEG)
I will begin this section with a review of Foucauldian scholarship related to social welfare, then address feminist and other philosophical concerns associated
with Foucault’s rejection of universal principles from the Enlightenment period, specifically the history of reason, the question of eschatological history, and
the objectivity of science, and then explain what I believe Foucault contributes to this study. Foucault devoted much of his scholarship to examining how,
during a specific epoch in history, institutionalized ideologies and practices infiltrated discourses and ways of knowing for individuals and groups to such an
extent that these ideologies and practices eventually and unquestioningly became part of the fabric of what it meant to be human (Sonja K. Foss, Karen A.
Foss, and Robert Trapp 213). Foucault was particularly concerned with uncovering the voices of those who were typically silenced or excluded from the
discourses that affected them, which is one reason his work is so relevant today. Inv his examinations, Foucault sought to establish the relationship
between knowledge and power, especially in how knowledge about human beings becomes translated into possible sites where power could be exercised.
By sites of power Foucault meant those circumstances where the institution at its lowest level interacted with those subordinate to it. His explorations reveal
themselves in the painstaking detail evident in his histories about clinical medicine, prison systems, and sexuality. He examined how sites of power act on
individuals with a focus on the relationship between power and the creation or understanding of self. Foucault’s genealogical approach begins in the present
by questioning how a particular practice constituted itself and what assumptions had to be in place in order for it to be so. He then begins a meticulous
process of retracing the practice’s evolution, identifying its impact on (or in the creation of) other disciplines, professions, and practices. In these processes,
Foucault searched to find and disclose the voices of those who were silenced by the exercise of particular practices and power. Subsequently, his work has
influenced research in a number of disciplines, including rhetoric, medicine, education, criminal justice, political science, and the social sciences.
Understandably, research applying Foucault to the issue of social welfare continues to grow. As early as 1982, Martin Hewitt contributed an important work
Foucault’s approach to social
entitled Social Policy and the Politics of Life: Foucault’s Account of Welfare. In his analysis, Hewitt compares
welfare with Marxist social policy. Hewitt explains that Marx moves the subject of welfare away from the recipient to
that of the social and economic systems that control them (17). For Marx, welfare laws and policies are
created for the benefit of the policy makers and politicians, not for the recipients (17). According to Hewitt,
Foucault “extends this process of decentering” begun by Marx, shifting the study of social welfare from its connection with “structures such as social class,
To paraphrase
ideological hegemony, social formation and the state,” to the question of how these structures are constituted and perpetuated (17).
Hewitt, Foucault is concerned with the discursive power relationship between the practitioner and the
recipient as well as the manner in which the recipient becomes complicit in his own regulation—the social
service system was designed to place the client at the center in an effort to regulate and normalize deviant individuals and to support and perpetuate existing
Hewitt sees Foucault’s contribution as one of resistance—Foucault encourages
forms of power relations (17-18).
the “construction of new subjects” through the examination of the rules, regulations, and methodologies
used by the system to govern (18). -JC

In conclusion, the choice before you today is thus: to embrace biopolitics or cooperative construction as
an individual ontology. With biopolitics comes the entrenchment of the welfare state - justifications of
globalization rhetoric, which justifies the extermination of the species. With cooperative construction
comes the destruction of biopolitical applications, which prevents this. The choice is clear. Thank you.