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Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 1

Scholars Lab 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

indeed. that instead of bare life (zoe) the form of life (bios) functions as the foundation of bio‐power. Agamben gives this life the name “form‐of‐life”. to “optimize forces.43 Instead of bare life. As a matter of fact. It enables bio‐power to “invest life through and through”. by multiplying and optimizing potentialities of life. as Foucault emphasizes. In the case of bio‐power. the multiplicity of the forms of life. understood as potentiality (potenza). however. the life of bio‐power is a plenitude of life. Life is undoubtedly sacred for the sovereign power in the sense that Agamben defines it. that bio‐power invests and optimizes. above all. a notion of life which enables it to accomplish this task.” Ojakangas 05 (Mika. The sovereign power is.45 to produce “extra‐life. If bio‐power multiplies and optimizes life. Foucault Studies. it is precisely this life.50 . of course. It has already moved into the site that Agamben suggests as the remedy of the political pathologies of modernity.”48 At the end of Homo Sacer. life is already a bios that is only its own zoe. 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.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 2 Scholars Lab 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. signifying “always and above all possibilities of life. However. there is no room either for a bios in the modern bio‐political order because every bios has always been. from the nutritive life to the intellectual life. What then is the aim of bio‐ power? Its aim is not to produce bare life but. the result of the exclusion of zoe from the political realm. bio‐power cannot reduce life to the level of bare life. as Foucault puts it. and has been since Aristotle. that is to say. Biopower seeks to optimize the individual and produce “extra-life. However. from the biological levels of life to the political existence of man. it does so. In order to function properly. this does not hold true. to “multiply life”. into the site where politics is freed from every ban and “a form of life is wholly exhausted in bare life. life as the object and the subject of bio‐power given that life is everywhere. Bio‐power needs a notion of life that corresponds to its aims. 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. Impossible Dialogue on Biopower. based on bare life because it is capable of confronting life merely when stripped off and isolated from all forms of life. Doctorate in Social Science) Moreover. it becomes everywhere is in no way bare. aptitudes. there would be no power that could have any hold over men’s existence if life were understood as a “form‐of‐life”. in the era of bio‐politics.”46 Bio‐power needs.” It could be argued.44 Agamben is certainly right in saying that the production of bare life is. as Agamben emphasizes.49 According to Agamben. and life in general without at the same time making them more difficult to govern. but is as the synthetic notion of life implies. always and above all power”. when the entire existence of a man is reduced to a bare life and exposed to an unconditional threat of death. life as untamed power and potentiality. by fostering and generating “forms‐of‐life”. It can be taken away without a homicide being committed. The modern bio‐political order does not exclude anything – not even in the form of “inclusive exclusion”. The modern synthetic notion of life endows it with such a notion. in other words.

This is a point to which I will return shortly. Biopolitics. one that could realize the disastrous potential of those ideas. gures in. Ethnic racism — and particularly anti- Semitism— did. . NOT biopolitics. Democracy. and toward a dispersed and decentered notion of power and its ‘microphysics. racism really is at the heart of the Nazi “discourse of segregation. In democratic societies. which occurred everywhere in Europe. But neither the political structures of democratic states nor their legal and political principles permitted such policies actually being enacted. however. deeper. some of those racist eugenicists were anti-Semites. . 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 . mass “eugenic” abortion and murder of the “defective.S.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. What was critical was not the expansion of the instruments and disciplines of biopolitics. the U. biopolitics was shaped by a totalitarian conception of social management focused on the power and ubiquity of the völkisch state. Dickinson 04 (Edward. did make such suggestions. Hist.’”48 The “broader.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 3 Scholars Lab Biopower BIOPOWER ≠ IMPACT (1/3) Totalitarianism and Ethnic Racism caused the Holocaust. Nor did the scale of forcible sterilization in other countries match that of the Nazi program. Other states passed compulsory sterilization laws in the 1930s — indeed. Facism. and the external constraints on them.51 Eugenics did not “pave the way” for the murder of millions of Jews. technocracy. individual states in the United States had already begun doing so in 1907. but anti-Semitism was not an essential part of eugenic thought.49 But the “power-producing effects in Foucault’s ‘microphysical’ sense” (Eley) of the construction of social bureaucracies and social knowledge.Semitism and eugenic ideas. biopolitics has historically been constrained by a rights-based strategy of social management. Ass. Prof.But it appears from the current literature that there was no direct connection between anti. not only by its structure but also by its ideology. After the rigors of the Goldhagen debate. In National Socialism. 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. The radicalizing dynamic of the Nazi regime was determined. Instead. For now. between “eugenic” murder and the Final Solution.” and the “fantastic vision” of all-out racial war that motivated the Nazis is not explained merely by the logic of enlightened rationalism. it was the principles that guided how those instruments and disciplines were organized and used. Some German eugenicists were explicitly racist. Central European History v37 n1. of “an entire institutional apparatus and system of practice” ( Jean Quataert). and scientism. Yet they did not proceed to the next steps adopted by National Socialism — mass sterilization. This slippage between “racialism” and “racism” is not entirely justified. 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. simply do not explain Nazi policy. for example. the point is that what was decisive was actually politics at the level of the state. it takes some sangfroid to address the topic of anti- Semitism in Germany at all. A comparative framework can help us to clarify this point. . and less visible ideological consensus” on “technocratic reason and the ethical unboundedness of science” was the focus of his interest.” Individual . As Peter Fritzsche — among many others — has pointed out.

on the whole ethnic racism appears to have become gradually less interesting to eugenicists from the late imperial period forward. but despite a resurgence of interest in the differing “character” and fate of ethnic groups after about 1927. among the non-Nazi political parties. presuppose.53 In fact. at University of Cincinnati) And yet.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 4 Scholars Lab Biopower BIOPOWER ≠ IMPACT (2/3) The final solution was the byproduct of a unique understanding of the relationship between Jews and Germans. or necessitate each other. but also from a quite extraordinary understanding of the immediacy of racial confrontation. . Central European History v37 n1. Prof. of eugenic policies) while actually discrediting the Nazis’ more dated ideas. The Nazi variant of biopolitical modernity was in fact quite idiosyncratic. Dickinson 04 (Edward. the murder of tens of thousands of “defective” people— derived not just from the “normal” fear of degeneration typical of eugenics since its inception. Democracy. 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. Ass. Hist. Facism. Biopolitics does NOT necessitate extermination of the Other. The urgency of Nazi eugenic policy —the scope of forcible sterilization. but also how momentum toward the Final Solution shaped Nazi eugenics. It is very difficult to assess the place of explicitly ethnic racist thinking in the development of eugenics. 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. it is clear that anti-Semitism and eugenics did not imply. Biopolitics. it may be useful to consider not only what eugenic ideas and euthanasia policy contributed to the implementation of the Final Solution. 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. which in the Nazi worldview amounted to the same thing).

nor is it in some way the hidden dark truth of biopower. but which has also generalized the sovereign right to kill… to kill anyone. But the articulation of biopower in the form it took under National Socialism was dependent upon a host of other historical. The Nazi regime was. Thoughts On The Concept of Biopower Today. in Nazi society something that is really quite extraordinary: this is a society which has generalized biopower in an absolute sense. The Molecular Science Institute. and to allow a relationship in which the death of the other. to fragment it. however. 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). erroneously in our view. moral. political and technical conditions. Ranibow and Rose 03 (Paul/Nikolas. then. was also Foucault’s view in 1976: racisms allows power to sub-divide a population into subspecies known as races. as we have already implied. exceptional – “a paroxysmal development”: “We have. 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). This. Professor of Sociology at James Martin White) Holocaust is undoubtedly one configuration that modern biopower can take. of the inferior race. that the “state of exception” was the guarantee of modern constitutional power. Professor of Anthropology at University of Chicago. not the endpoint of all biopolitical regimes. Schmitt argued. . Holocaust is neither exemplary of thanato-politics.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 5 Scholars Lab Biopower BIOPOWER ≠ IMPACT (3/3) The holocaust was the result of a series of unique conditions.

Fifth. on the other. 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. and the visible and astonishing success of that project has been crucial to all Western democracies since 1945. or “scientism. the democratic welfare state has “delivered the goods” in concrete. has historically been a cornerstone of some strategies of social management.” not only an authoritarian one. But as people’s states.more or less socially competent. 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. Again. the concept of the essential legitimacy and social value of individual needs. but this was potentially a democratic “Wahn. Democracy. as did the expected level of her effective influence in all these spheres. to insist on considering the fact that modern biopolitics has “worked” phenomenally well. not the totalitarian state. is simply to provide a rising standard of living. Prof. Ass. in the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the expected level of the average citizen’s active participation in European political. it may not be so simpleminded. historically there has been a clear connection between the concept of political citizenship and the idea of moral autonomy. there is a deeper connection between the two.”112 Second. after all. The age of democracy is the age of professionalization. Democratic citizens have the freedom to ask “why”. It also in a sense replaced them. Scientific “fact” is democracy’s substitute for revealed truth. In this sense. and the sexual and reproductive autonomy implied in the individual control that is a central element of the modern biopolitical complex. at University of Cincinnati) Why was Europe’s twentieth century. this does not mean that democracy was the “absolutely inevitable” outcome of the development of biopolitics. the vulnerability of explicitly moral values in democratic societies creates a problem of legitimation. more or less moral and self-disciplined. I would argue that there is also a causal fit between cultures of expertise. human dignity. The political “subject” (or citizen — as opposed to the political subject. “objective” or naturalized answers— since values are often regarded as matters of opinion. social. a connection between political citizenship on the one hand. To borrow a phrase from Detlev Peukert. expertise its substitute for authority. Of course. of course. ve propositions as food for thought. There is. and those values are part of their strength. One of those things. This too was part of the Machbarkeitswahn of modernity. and here again. Central European History v37 n1. of technocracy. fairness. The citizen’s capacity for moral reasoning is the legitimating postulate of all democratic politics. and hence the imperative of individual rights as the political mechanism for getting them met. <CONTINUES> . and in a democratic system there is therefore a bias toward pragmatic.” and democracy. Another is the provision of a rising standard of health. in addition to being the age of biopolitics and totalitarianism. Biopolitics. Of course there are moral values that all democratic societies must in some degree uphold (individual autonomy and freedom.more or less healthy and physically capable. 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. Third. this is not merely a matter of historical coincidence. but it does mean that it was “one among other possible outcomes of the crisis of modern civilization. therefore. Biopower generally seeks to create a healthy. pluralistic society. “scientism” subverted the real. again. Dickinson 04 (Edward.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 6 Scholars Lab Biopower BIOPOLITICS = EMPOWERING/HEALTH (1/2) The Nazis were a uniquely violent variation of biopolitics. Facism. also the age of biopolitics and democracy? How should we theorize this relationship? I would like to offer .who is an object of state action) is also a moral subject. measurable. and extraordinary ways. First. cultural. and economic life rose steadily. This made it a matter of increasing importance whether the average person was more or less educated and informed. with which any citizen has a right to differ. Hist. Fourth. historical ideological underpinnings of authoritarian polities in Europe in the nineteenth century. The regulation of sexual and reproductive life has long been understood in European societies to be among the most fundamental issues of morality. the rule of law).

where democratic governments heavily in マ uenced by social democratic parties were busily constructing the most ambitious and extensive welfare states in the world. the management of society. therefore. apart from Nazi Germany. rather. The dream of perfectibility — Machbarkeitswahn — is central to modernity. that story is no less interesting or important than the story of the implosion of the Nazi racial state. and as a worst-case scenario of “regression into barbarism” for those opposed to coercive eugenic measures. that the first great homeland of eugenic legislation was the United States — the first great homeland of modern democracy. Democratic biopolitics has. in contrast.113 Perhaps it should not be surprising.” 116 The relevant message is. . can be organized in different ways. For the historian interested in modernity.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 7 Scholars Lab Biopower BIOPOLITICS = EMPOWERING/HEALTH (2/2) <CONTINUES> The association in the minds of conservatives in the late imperial period between democracy and declining fertility was not a panicky delusion. Historically. that it is time to place the less familiar history of modern democratic biopolitics alongside the more familiar history of modern totalitarian biopolitics. totalitarian biopolitics was a self-destructive failure. been— not in any moral sense. the 1930s was the age of “social fascism” and our own age that of “social sector fascism. but it was also a genuine insight into a deeper ideological connection. But social engineering. the other great land of eugenic sterilization in Europe in the 1930s was Scandinavia. as Jacques Donzelot put it.115 The lesson is not that modern democracy is “dangerous” or destructive. much less that it is crypto-fascist — that. 114 Nor should it be surprising that. but politically —a howling success. In fact the United States served both as a kind of promised land for racial and eugenic “progressives” in Germany. panicky it certainly was.

Dan Barker writes: Who said life must have meaning? Why can’t life just be life? My family has three cats. This usually amounts to granting the existence of a transcendent reality. http://atheism. We enjoy watching them play. 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. .htm) In Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to 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. a supernatural realm to which we can somehow relate in a “meaningful manner. sleep. the plan and purpose of a divine will. Masters – Princeton. To many people life is its own meaning.” If you can live without the need for meaning in life. eat. then you will likewise not need the invented frame of reference. lie in the sun and chase bugs. and the word “meaning” becomes meaningless.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 8 Scholars Lab Biopower A2: No Meaning to Life Life is its own meaning – No secondary meaning to be removed from it Cline 6 (Austin.

without representation. . 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. Questioning Representation. Autonomy ought not to be defined in terms of a being that is then expressed. Rather. we attack the error of anthropologism-the idea of a general human subject who represents us all- with the error of anthropomorphism: the idea of a world that is fully and adequately given. collective. To represent oneself is to submit to a trans- individual system of language. Professor of English Lit University of Edinburgh. signification or representation. If we do not recognize that representation effects an autonomy that it can then be seen to belie. separation or the contribution of thought. p47-67 JStor The idea of autonomous representation is.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 9 Scholars Lab Biopower Turn – Alt Denies Autonomy Attempts to escape representations denies human agency Claire Colebrook. 2 Issue 92. Rather. SubStance Vol. In short. if we try to overcome this scar of representation. inhuman or fully dispersed beyond all subjectivity. an oxymoron. then we do so at the expense of forgetting what it is to think. the act of representation institutes autonomy or places a self in a point of view. rendered anonymous. 2000. perhaps. But any such representational scheme can never be fully disowned. 29 No.

and the United States on grounds of cultural imperialism. who they are. precisely. or otherwise violated. 32 Women have become "an ongoing discursive practice. Lacan. at its most credible. more posture than position. Postmodernism imagines that society happens in your head. We are not told which of these is meant. the principal. 35 Instead of facing what was done to women when we were violated. This removes agency necessary to deal with the REAL effects of oppression and suffering in the world. sometimes self-action. Its approach and its position. joyriding. Chicago-Kent Law Review. But it has a method." women's violation become the sneering wound of a "victim" pinned in arch quotation marks. There is not even an extension of the early work on the scopic drive by Foucault. or how any or all of these things are possible under the circumstances. "narrative. In its continuity with this method. we are told how much freedom we had at the time. MacKinnon 2000 (Catharine. postmodernists know exists. who is pulling [*702] their strings. ubiquitously. Oddly missing in this usage is what an agent legally is: someone who acts for someone else. So whole chapters of books with "pornography" in their titles can be written without ever once talking about what the pornography industry concretely does. It would be good to know. 38 Nor have I noticed the multiculturalists out there opposing the spread of pornography from Scandinavia." But real harm has ceased to exist. Back in the modern period. beaten. Domination. and Irigaray (who are even French)--an analysis that is readily extendable to describe the aggressive appropriation and trafficking of women in pornography. is that it's all mental. if ever. raped." 33 or. lexis) Postmodernism as practiced often comes across as style--petulant. but they don't tell us how or where or why. this position was called idealism. Germany. 37 There is no discussion of how pornography exploits and mass-produces sexual abuse. to offer a few examples. Symposium On Unfinished Feminist Business: Points Against Postmodernism. postmodernism has made the penis into "the phallus" and it is mostly observed to signify. sometimes resistance." 36 What we used to call "what happened to her. Racism and homophobia are elided "differences" in disguise. or what is done to whom in and with the materials. and it's taking over the world." has become. sometimes desire. (For this we need feminism?) Agency in the postmodern lexicon is a stand-in for the powerless exercising power. ." 34 which is written on and signified but seldom. making metaphysics far from dead. sometimes it means freedom. Abuse has become "agency"--or rather challenges to sexual abuse have been replaced by invocations of "agency. It is something that no one does or has done to them but somehow winds up in "gendered lopsidedness.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 10 Scholars Lab Biopower Turn – Alt Denies Agency Postmodernism is an attempt to escape reality and pretend that everything occurs in your head. The point of postmodernism is to get as far away from anything real as possible. its [*701] posture toward the world and its view of what is real. Prof of Law at Univ of Mich and Prof of Law at Univ of Chicago. "the female body.

postmodernism has swallowed the objective standpoint while claiming to be off on a whole new methodological departure. whether or not acts of incest happened or are traumatic to children become fogged over in "epistemological quandaries" as beyond thinking. Then they sigh and admit they might have to concede partiality. This is not about truth. Recall when Bill Clinton. I have come to think. But you can't commit perjury if there are no facts. whether Black people are genetically intellectually inferior to white people. if everything is interpretation. Symposium On Unfinished Feminist Business: Points Against Postmodernism. there are no facts. To postmodernists. Truth is a generality. beyond narrative. said that it all depended on what "is" means. contingent. so there can be no lies. whether homosexuals are child molesters. Similarly. Also. 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. Where are these people when you need them? What postmodernists want. They want to beat [*704] dominance at its own game. feminism's source of power. which is usually called dominating. 43 . an abstraction of a certain shape and quality. 42 meaning admitting only knowing part. 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. in society. Abdicating this. 41 That violation often damages speech and memory does not mean that. Postmodernism has decided that because truth died with God. According to postmodernism. whether women love to be raped. The postmodernists were strangely silent. all a matter of interpretation. Social realities are something else again. They want to win every argument in advance. lexis) It is my view that it is the relation of theory to reality that feminism changed. again. that such events did happen and did harm them. The fact that reality is a social construction does not mean that it is not there.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. Apparently it cannot be known whether the Holocaust is a hoax. it means that it is there. Chicago-Kent Law Review. if one has speech and memory. you can never be wrong. these factish things are indeterminate. and it is in part a reversion to a prefeminist relation of theory to reality that postmodernism is reimposing.Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008 11 Scholars Lab Biopower Turn . in intelligible narratives. Prof of Law at Univ of Mich and Prof of Law at Univ of Chicago. A partial objective standpoint allows us to effect social change without creating a totalizing narrative. What. beyond intelligibility. in play. was the alternative? Totality? What's wrong with partiality--except from the objective standpoint. asked about his sexual relationship with a young woman intern. there are no social facts. as "this event that is no event"--as if survivors have not often reported. is to vault themselves out of power methodologically. one was not violated. The country jeered his epistemic dodge as a transparent and slimy subterfuge to evade accountability: get real. MacKinnon 2000 (Catharine. everything is a reading. apart from to live in their heads instead of in the world (that old dodge). where we live.