“As Foucault explained in The Birth of Biopolitics (2008), the rise of neoliberalism—his use of the noun—marked a radical transformation: whereas before, the state, among its various bureaucratic operations, “monitored” the work- ings of the economy, its “organizing principle” is now the market. Government actually has become business. And nation-states have become holding companies in and for themselves. In the upshot, the categorical distinction between politics and economics, that classical liberal fiction, is largely erased. Effective gover- nance, in turn, is measured with reference to asset management, to the attraction of enterprise, to the facilitation of the entrepreneurial activities of the citizen as homo economicus, and to the capacity to foster the accumulation—but not the redistribution—of wealth. Under these conditions, heads of state begin to resemble, and often actually are, CEOs who treat the population as a body of shareholders…
Once upon a time, antineoliberal theory posited an opposition between the state and the free market, arguing that the antidote to the latter lay in the active inter- vention of the former. But the opposition is false, just another piece of the detri- tus of the modern history of capital. As states become mega-corporations (Kremlin, Inc.; Britain, PLC; South Africa, Pty Ltd.; Dubai, Inc.)—all of them, incidentally, branded and legally incorporated—they become inextricably part of the workings of the market and, hence, no longer an “outside,” an antidote, or an antithesis from which to rethink or reconstruct “the neoliberal paradigm.” This, in part, is why government is increasingly reduced to an exercise in the technical management of capital, why ideologically founded politics appear dead, replaced by the politics of interest and entitlement and identity—three counterpoints of a single triangle. And this is why the capillaries of neoliberal governance seem so firmly entrenched in the cartography of our everyday lives, there to remain for the foreseeable future—to the degree that any future is foreseeable.”
John Comaroff, The End of Neoliberalism? What is Left of the Left
This is a really great, concise reading of Foucault/why he’s important for critiques of 21st century capitalism [via rhizombie]
The answer is always biopower!
“If “freedom” can be said to exist in Foucault, it is tied to his conception of life as alterity and biopolitics as inseparable from the productive, “natural” dimension of human existence as the element in which power has to function. So famously, he said power becomes the “power to make live and let die,” but there is a limit here. There is something radically other about life that exceeds the grasp of power. This is because technologies of government/security control the milieu of a population but are unable to completely penetrate its biological processes. Therefore these technologies only function in a regulatory way. The political tendency towards systemization (i.e., “resistance”) is based on the presupposition of the impotence of power. The residual power of life is disclosed not as merely power over life but as power of life. There is an Inherent unpredictability here that serves as the limit that governmental power cannot overcome, but it is also, ironically, the source for power (basically the idea of exponential increase). Life remains resistance to biopolitical calculations then, but it is not because of a willing agent-subject. It is tied rather, to life as force of chance and to the capability for error. Foucault’s challenge to biopolitics was to conceived of a politics of disorganization that affirms life without finality, ends, or goals. Here’s where Deleuze’s conception of life as “ontology of force” becomes a helpful corollary. Anyway, you can see the radically different conception of life/the subject/politics here that only a very deliberate misreading could mistake for “liberalism” or “anarchy.”
Rhizombie on Bio Fooko
To be fair, communities of thinkers create journals and they have to fill the pages of these journals with something. I guess.
For the record, I want a government job where I am allowed unprecedented access to “penetrate” biological processes.