bios versus thanatos

BIOPOLITICS (a key socialist biopedia project item).

OR THANATOS? THIS IS THE  DILEMMA OF CONTEMPORARY HISTORY!

OF OUR LIFE AND DEATH.

Evtushenko: “Optimism is the virtue of oppressors”

Mao by Anselm K., with irony

ABSTRACTS.

Italiano. 

Resta irrisolta la domanda posta per la prima volta da Michel Foucault:

Come mai la relazione sempre più diretta della politica con la vita, rischia di produrre un esito di morte?

Con l’intenzione di integrare nelle scienze sociali, la ricerca filosofica di Foucault ed Esposito (tra gli altri), da una provvisoria definizione, articoliamo alcuni punti di indagine su quella questione centrale:

L1. La Politica mediatizzata non ruota che attorno: innanzitutto alla Vita, ed ai cicli vitali degli artefatti.

L2. Se il Politico non abita più una sfera pubblica, che ne è degli altri “pezzi” di H. Arendt e della bio-economia in particolare? Lo vedremo ai punti successivi.

L3. Caso studio subcrime: negli USA tutto ruota attorno alle vite e lotta per la sopravvivenza (in un declino della piattaforma di sistema) di “bianchi”, afro-am. e latinos. Essendo in lotta per entrare nella middle class (nel vecchio sistema democratico ascensionale), andavano puniti e violentati esemplarmente, alla Historie d’O. Berlusconi direbbe: fatto! Ma ciò può produrre contraccolpi come Obama, in un sistema rappresentativo ancora vitale, e comunque attraversato dalla carica Impolitica degli oppressi. Ma Obama deve riuscire ora nell’IMPOSSIBILE: far riconvergere un partito spaccato per linee biopolitiche, ciò su cui hanno fallito (anche per eccesso di ideologia) 160 anni di marxismo. Si pensi all’Algeri dell’infanzia di Camus: homo homini lupus tra i disperati europei colà emigrati. Può un Obama ideologicamente ad equipaggiamento leggero riuscirci? Non da solo: come potrebbe raddoppiare la coalizione, senza perdere la prima (degli afro-americani, creativi, giovani e poche frange di TU non tradizionali), e continuare la penetrazione Obamacan in un campo avversario che si chiude? Impossibilità al cubo.

L4. Lezioni del caso studio: dalla fase di incubazione Reaganiana, è nata una costellazione Global Finance, che ricompatta il mondo su una ThanatoPolitica dispiegatamente post-democratica, ma non fascista; nemmeno nella Cina assassina dei Laogai. Essa dispiega ThanatoPolitiche: ecologiche, di Darwinismo sociale, economie sub-criminali e criminalitout court (vedi pagina statica Armagheddon di questo blog).

L5. Lemma socialista, anti-Chicago. Aggiornando il compagno Bordiga:

Capital mineralises the Earth.

Capital  biochemicalises the Bioshpere.

Capital derivatises our homes, hopes and gasoline.

L6. La democrazia è morta e non ritorna. Questo ultimo (e discutibile) lemma, è per con-catenazione l’assioma di un altro ciclo, logicamente successivo ma contemporaneo: da dove ripartono le bio-, anti-thanato-politiche, di destra, centro e sinistra? Se ne potrebbero trarre indicazioni per l’Obama New Deal, che al momento gode di molte più Prob. attese, di un New Deal Cinese (contro cui congiura l’Occidente affamatore e sfruttatore).

In altri termini: chi esporterà democrazia a chi e come, in guerra o pace, nel decennio 2010-20?

L7. Martin Van Creveld (1999), The Rise and Decline of the State. Cambridge University Press. Raggiunto l’apice nelle 2 guerre mondiali, dal 1975 (ossia in corrispondenza della attuale “onda lunga” di Kondratiev –  vedi Perez 2002) lo Stato è in inarrestabile declino, e verrà sostituito da altre forme di potere astratto, impersonale.

 

English.

As Esposito (2004, 2008) argues in his book Bìos, in the semantic variety about Biopolitical notions, lies the key question, Foucault posed the first: why a more and more direct relation between life and Politics, runs a risk of yielding death ouctomes?We discuss it here, proposing a new interpretation of the Global Politics current régime, running  along the unbalanced, highly unstable and dynamic axis of collusion, nonalliance and quasi nonbelligerance WASHINGTON-BEIJING (New Delhi will arise later on, as an uninvited 3rd pole). We label it a post-fascist and post-democratic Thanatos Politics of:

– environmental pillage, fucking hundreds and, by now, thousands of future Sapiens generations, plus animals and the vegetation (opposite to Hans Jonas’ ethics of responsibility);

– organisation, exploitation  of a suddenly doubled global workforce (from 1.5 to 3 bn);

– ULTIMATE SURRENDER: submission by rape of the useless Middle Class, now extended to its subprime lower margin: proletarians can’t go middle class, since it’s the opposite way, white collars must go proletarians (paradigms: a Roman Arena. Histoire d’O. Pasolini’s Salò-Sade. The sado-masoch web sitekink.com);

– intra-capitalist expropriation, Darwinian selection of a Rentiers Elite (this is, with high tech use, the closer aspect to Nazism: the novelty is more actual selection, and less co-optation).

We do not close in pessimism, although we qualify a Foucault- Natoli optimism. We believe a neoMarxist organisation of the neoProletariat (the oppressed, from slaves to expropriated creatives), must start from the political fact that democracy is dead (our final Lemma 6 here). This is the starting point of a new cycle (beyond the scope of this single page): local and global socialist BioPolitics, against ThanatoPolitics.

 

BIOPOLITICS.

Arcapedia’s DEFINITION (based on Foucault, Esposito, and a precisation by Natoli on the DNA focus).

“The Industrial Revolutions (energy, steam power, electricity, electronics, nano- andbio-technology) based Age of Technique (Heidegger) superimposes – from the 1920s  – with a current Age of Biopolitics (Foucault, his “technology of the self”). Not only bodies (as it happened already, through mediated forms, in pre-Biopolitical Ancien Régimes and Hobbes’ Modernity: see Foucault’s genealogies), but even biological life, body’s matter (i.e., DNA) take directly, im-mediately the center of the political arena.”

LEMMA 1.

Politics, both in its reality and its mediatic mirrors,  is now ONLY about such issues as: abortion, Africa and afro-americans, aging, Amazonia, animals, automation, biogenetics, biovariety, boyhood, clans and ethnies, climate change, death and euthanasia, DNA and drugs, energy, ethics, fashion and life-styles, food, gender, health, heath, hiv-aids, housing, hygiene, immigration, IPR, marriage, hospitals, pandemias, parenthood, patents, “race”, rights, R&D, sex, species, water, web 2.0, welfare, whether Asia is a menace or an opportunity, youth etc.

In a word, it is about Life, and life-cycles.

LEMMA 2.

Politics – therefore – is no more, as it was in Hanna Harendt’s Athens stylisation, a public space (Action) opposed to the private space of a bio-economics of reproduction and exchanges with Nature (Labour in HA’s well known tripartition: Labour, Work, Action). It follows that – if HA applies to Modernity and perhaps to the Early Fordist Incipit, but not to current Contemporaneity – then BIOeconomics and BIOsociology are in search of a redefinition, in the age of BIOpolitics: we will suggest something in next Lemmas.

LEMMA 3.

Take a bio-emergence as the subcrime housing, mortgage, shadow finance boom and bust. Life immediately takes the center both of Global Financial K accumulation, and of politics at the same time: US elections discuss just this (plus life and death of American boys and girls in Iraq). A New New Deal on life after the subcrime civil war, will be the main act of the new President in 2009-12. Americans will vote on life\death issues, and are already dividing on biogroups for the first time ever: the Democratic Party has split on BIOsociological grounds as never before, it almost split in 2 parties in Primaries (by age,  gender and race-ethnies). This is its weakest point NOW: no easy way to reunite a so divided people. Will Latinos shift from Clinton to Obama or not? The presidential battle will be fought first  WITHIN THE DEMOCRATIC CAMP: if  they find a NEW, superior unity, a unity across bio-variety, they might win even at 66%, if they don’t, they lose at 44%.

subcrimebiosocialscience1

GOTO our SubcrimeBioSocialScience.pdf: depending upon the elections exit, Gloria Ortiz might see again her little daughter she left in Honduras, OR NOT; and the lives of many other incumbent, or immigrant Americans will change likewise.

LEMMA 4.

IT MIGHT FOLLOW, from a Bio-Political Economy analysis such as the one briefly outlined in Lemma 3, that:

4A. We live perhaps within very complex societies, now regulated more and more by a new constellation: with BioPolitics at the centre, and Bio Economics, Bio Planning, Bio Research, Bio Sociology, Ecology management and actual life in Ecosystems, etc. around: as harmonic ancillary synchronus systems, reinforcing the Bio\Thanato Political core momentum with cumulative interactive feedbacks – far from any equilibrium by def. (relational hyper-complexity). This constellation constatation:

– throws into “la poubelle de l’Histoire” – on the one hand – every Freemarketeer ideology, and forever. The “autonomy of economics” simply does not exist; and never did in the past, at any epoch, as any honest social scientist knows. For sure, not in the Reagan-Thatcher emergency phase of the above constellation (see point 4.B).  Such a fake autonomy is simply a Modern (pre-postModern) Narrative of great literary success: it is always chosen as a propaganda narrative, and sometimes it even works (although it is openly  absurd), in quite different contexts and modern sub-periods, for disguising the real power, HYPER-POLITICAL  games and tissuing the alliances (nothing to do with the spoken economicism: pure Machavellism- Gramscism) of the bourgeois and rentier classes-subsystems, aiming to conquer Central Power positions in Capitalist Systems. E.g., the last known large scale uses oflaissez faire were:

a) REAGANISM, at the service of the Financial US-UK based élites, in order to put their Speculation “K” (no Capital at all, in fact, just Power cristallised in Property Rights) at the centre of the Global Economy, in the post-communism demolition work (1980s) and transition (90s).

b) DENGHISM in China: a clever strategy, buiding up an Imperialist Alternative to the US, by alliance with the mostly US-based multinational co.s and global finance.

– But, on the other hand, the Constellatin hypothesis also violates, or at least limits the scope and current application of the  Foucault-Natoli’s Anarchic Axiom (see also below, where this theme is rediscussed again and again): “in complex evolutionary systems, an emergent sub-systems asynchrony always tends, sooner or later, to reproduce average-global, or at least individually acceptable degrees of freedom”. Compare the optimism of such an Axiom with Evtushenko’s caveat: although the latter is a bit drastic, even emerging  (not yet incumbent) classes, and oppressed but combative working classes share optimism, and foresee degrees of freedom.

4B. 2007-08 current events are epochal, in a sense. First of all, because they allow finally to separate the superfluous and the permanent, among the components of the Reaganite Transition Age (not an “Era”, as it was believed by contemporaries, both supporters and weak, complice therefore succumbent social-democrat “opponents”). During the current Subcrime crisis, global BioPolitics has definitely left the Reagan Age (fully incl. its social-democratic follow-ups: Clinton’s Third Way, Blair’s New Labour and D’Alema), and taken the full features of Bio Economics and Bio Social Engineering.

Nothing new in essence: Reaganism and Greenspan’s late version, shaped in a maniacal HYPER-DECISIONIST- DIRIGISTIC WAY (an inner paradox, openly violating their own fake freemarket narrative; see 4A) the biological sphere and life of all the social classes.

The novelty now is the phenomenology (ça va sans dire, not mere accident, epiphenomenon). After Reaganism, the BioPolitical hegemony and constellation (4A) comes to the fore, and declares openly herself, what she is for (“democracy” dares what Hitler, Stalin and Mao did practice, but never dared to declare):

“I am the Bare Power on your Life, a Power without false, powerless narratives, and suits: I am bare”.

This paves the way to 2008+ Right and Left narratives ABOUT BIO-POWERS: the Right quickly abandons a free market ideology, which would, e.g., forbid a Bear Stearns instant bailout by the Fed (McCain is mistaken, not doing this change, the FT, but even the WSJ is on the verge of doing). The Left, with Obama’s lucky exception,  is much slower (see Gordon Brown’s opportunistic,  Amletic uncertainty about Northern Rock, opposite to “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke) in abandoning the social-democratic last narrative, the servile Blair-Cinton adaptation to the Ancient Rentier Régime, that only yielded a “Left” governance of dreadful and deathful THANATO-policies:

– THANATO-ECOLOGY: ecosystems destruction and dilapidation, forthousands of generations to come. Fuck-off the survival of the species: an anti-Darwinian ethics (H. Jonas).

– THANATO-Social (pseudo) Darwinism: the booms and busts, the artificially enhanced instability of Capitalisms, Schumpeterianly selecting and shaking a Rentiers élite of the strongest (Pareto, Michels): see, among others, the life and thought of an emergent shipping Rentier, the greek-“american” boss Peter Georgiopoulos, on yesterday’s FT, June 12, p. 18 on paper – the final interview of the people who lead series: Former banker brings ruthless approach – in the shipping trade. The cinic deals, spezzatini and M&A battles, etc.. Up to the Mother of all non-mergers: Microsoft not capable to eat such an easy prey as Yahoo, since the Google giant backed it. The ultra-cinism of the Banker, the Pure Rentier. Not the Classic Capitalist only caring about Value (Marx): the Global Rentier purely seeking Surplus Value appropriation, careless and ignorant about technicalities, economic values (Harvey, a neo-marxist scandalising the vetero-marxist prisoners of Classicism).

– THANATO-Politics and economic policies, monopolised by that 0.1% Rentiers élite, while the Middle Class is proletarised, its support to democracy being obsolete (lemma 6). New entries to Middle Class are just raped in the subcrime business: no justice, no compensation, nothing! We’ll see what happens with an Obama New Deal: Eleanor Roosevelt (in her Autobiography) tells the New Deal was ex-post instrumental for WW2 mobilisation; the US must start (and is) preparing to WW3, one never knows.

4C. Surviving its Reagan-Thatcher emerging era, there is a new blend ofThanato Politics – Economics -Ecology now ruling the Global Economy, from Washington to Beijing. It is no more a Fascist\Communist traditional Thanatos. It has to do with a Marxian subordination of Life to Death: historically,  in the long run, an unsustainaible Vampiristic programme: by the Law of Value (that ThanatoPolitics is not yet capable of violating), all this castle is fed by a Subversive vein of Creativity. But – due to   Reaganite structural change – a  system much resilient, in the short term, to the oppositions by a hyper-fragmented New Proletariat (again: VERSUS Natoli’s axiom, or, at least,  qualifying his optimism along the SR and LR).

LEMMA 5.

A Socialist, anti-Chicago Lemma.

5A. The Reagan Transition generation (1975-2000) has made a global experiment in Free Markets Rule, minimalism in Politics – just allowing markets to invade, subvert and possibly normalize (a target often not achieved: see, below, Natoli on asynchronous subsystems) any social and geographical subsystem, e.g. 3rd W. Debt artificially created by the Reaganomics sky-rates of interests, forcing to export-lead growth for servicing the debt – or death.

5B. But the “economics invading politics” phenomenology (Loretta Napoleoni) hides a much stronger, opposite and substantial flow (this is our friendly critique to Loretta): BioPolitics invading economics and shaping a new age of  immediately Life-Based ThanatoEconomics, at the service of Global ThanatoPolitics (Lemma 4). In which capital accumulation needs to vampirise more and more, indefinitely human and ecosystem lives; subcrime being just a minor example, the big ones are about to come, in the current Long Deflationary Wave.

5C. The Modern illusion, false perspecitive of unlimited innovation continues (Simone Weil; N. Georgescu Roegen). As Italian marxist Amedeo Bordiga put it:Capital mineralises the Earth. Now also: Capital  biochemicalises the Bioshpere;Capital derivatises our homes, hopes and gasoline: both processes engendering today’s agrinflation and oil price bubble, now – in June 2008 – on the verge of degenerating the subcrime recession into stagflation.

LEMMA 6.

This is the end of democracy, according to some political philosophers, although there is no sort of agreement on this analysis (mainly because democracy definitions differ).  E.g. (in our wording, from their live discussion yesterday June 12, 2008 in Verona, at the Campostrini Institute):

Salvatore Natoli

Politics has always been BioPolitics. In the Age of Technique, the novelty is thatBioPolitics shifts from bodies to DNA. Power manipulates the DNA, but this is not likely to degenerate into a mimetic collapse, like a clones world, since emergent counter-powers are the frequent result of asynchronous sub-systems, in our complex societies (see point 4A above).

Roberto Esposito

He is arguing in favour of  Lemma 6: END OF, AND -moreover – NO LIKELY RETURN TO DEMOCRACY.

In Hobbes’ Modern Order, politics-life relations are mediated (by order, power, Parliamentary representative systems). In the Age of Technique, these relations become immediate.

In a 1st phase, BIO-Politics quickly degenerates in Lenin’s, Hitler’s and Mao’s THANATO-Politics.

In the West, Democracy is now substituted by new Liberal Models of a Bio-Political type (Foucault). Where bodies and their difference matter, not the equality of abstract subjects (Hobbes).

There is hardly any room for a restauration of Democracy (bringing the past back).

The left – instead of looking backward to lost democracies – might better aim to free BIOpolitics from a THANATOpolitics tragedy. In the conference last night, Roberto pointed to the example-paradigm of Africa, generic drugs and neglected diseases:

Free Africa from Big Pharma IPRs!

Talking Africa, this is paradigmatic as well: an image of struggle for life, extreme BioPolitics (besides the Web, it was on paper in the original NYT, and the Corriere della Sera MAGAZINE: not by chance with a comment by  Roberto Saviano, Gomorra’s bio-sociologist: “This picture’s desperation screams”).

On the run from Zimbabwe, election day (NOTABENE), at Beitbridge Point.

If the woman and child suceeded, they might have been killed by South African poors 1 month later, in Xenophobic pogroms!!! This is what we call the dramatic failure of socialism and marxism. Straight to the point: we are in Communist and Mandela’s SA. Here we are, even if not his fault, poor Madiba. Something deeper

A masterpiece from the great, prizes-winner, super (The Star, SA) photographer:

Themba Hadebe /AP Photo.

A Zimbabwean woman with her child on her back crawls under the razor wire marking the border with South Africa. One thousand people are fleeing Zimbabwe per day in search of food and safety.

Source: Human Wave Flees Violence in Zimbabwe (New York Times, 21 April 2008)

 

 

LEMMA 7

Martin Von Creveld (1999): the state is now declining. Excerpts from his conclusions:

government and state are emphatically not the same. The former is a person or group which makes peaces, wages war, enacts laws, exercises justice, raises revenue … . The latter is merely one of the forms … (p.415).

… the most important characteristics of the state are as follows. First, being sovereign, it refuses to share any of the above functions with others but concentrates all of them in its own hands. Secondly, being territorial, it exercises such powers over all the people who live within its borders and over them only. Thirdly and most importantly, it is an abstract organization. .. it is neither a man nor a community, but an invisible being known as a corporation. As a corporation it has an independent persona. (…)

In the main, the threat to the state … comes from other corporations … all have in common that they are more attuned to modern technology, communication and transportation in particular, than the state. (p. 416)  As a result, some of them are able to grow richer than most states; or take over some of the latter’s functions; or evade its control by establishing colonies and moving their resources  outside its borders; or influence the opinions of its citizens more than governments can; or (as in the case of numerous guerrilla and terrorist organizations) succesfully resist it weapon in hand; or, not seldom, some combination of all these things. (p. 417)

As other organizations step into the shoes of the retreating sate, they will no doubt seek to fill its role in many of these respects. Unlike the present members of the international community, all of which are sovereign, most of them will probably be unable to exercise exclusive control over a given territory …

The organizations which. in the future, will carry out the functions of government will be more fragmented, more integrated with each other than those which have become familiar during the last 300 years or so. (…) This carries the danger that they will be less representative and less democratic than most modern states, much in the way that, already today, senior Eurocrats and the UN secretary-general are appointed or elected by governments rather than being voted for by the people of the EU and the world respectively. (p.418 ) (…) People and organizations who used to rest peacefully in the bosom of the state will have to do, indeed alredy are doing, more to defend themselves …

Contrary to the fears of many and the hopes of a few, however, Word War III – meaning a large-scale clash between superpowers each of which dominates the better part of a continent or hemisphere  – will almost certainly not take place. (p.419)

 

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

subcrimebiosocialscience

E.F. Arcangeli (2008), SubCrimeBioSocialScience.pdf. Published and regularly updated every month in this blog: click above, or pass through the Static Page “An intro to SUBCRIMINOLOGY”.

We apply here Political Economy to the current crisis of Capitalisms, and find a new blend of ThanatoPowers; as argued above, hardly anything in common with 20th C. tyrannies, their working and necessary democides. Except for some obscure common basics and risks: being generically “bad” varieties of Capitalisms; a pervert use of technologies; the selection of a Nichilistic élite; main difference: until now they preferred individuals’ rape to democide.

Global finance needs the Other’s life as a neghentropic source of energy; and massively rapes, destroys it and its life environments. Its current hyper-power concentration is untenable, because: it is no more able to deliver (false) growth, as in the Clinton-Greenspan decade; and the BRICS 5, the ones who grow, pretend BioPowers more and more for their own élites (no better than the old Empire ones). The Foucault-Natoli Anarchy Axiom (rooted in Marx and Operaismo) must embody in a new wave and ways of class struggle, to show its inner Truth.

R. Esposito (2008), Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy (Posthumanities). The University of Minnesota Press. Original ed.:

R. Esposito (2004), Bios. Biopolitica e filosofia. Torino: Einaudi.

Da qualche tempo nessuno dei grandi eventi che scuotono il mondo è più interpretabile fuori della categoria di biopolitica: dovunque si volga lo sguardo, la questione del bíos appare al centro di tutte le traiettorie politicamente significative. E tuttavia, a tale straordinario rilievo non corrisponde una adeguata chiarezza sul significato del concetto. Esso sembra percorso da un’incertezza di fondo, da un’inquietudine semantica, che lo espone a letture contrastanti. Ciò che, in tale contrasto, resta irrisolta è la domanda posta per la prima volta da Michel Foucault: come mai la relazione sempre più diretta della politica con la vita rischia di produrre un esito di morte? Nel libro l’autore cerca una risposta a questo interrogativo.

A FINAL LEMMA: THE STATE IS ABOUT TO DISAPPEAR- Martin Van Creveld (1999), The Rise and Decline of the State. Cambridge University Press.

The state, which since the middle of the 17th century has been the most important of all modern institutions, is in decline. From Western Europe to Africa, many existing states are either combining into larger communities or falling apart. Many of their functions are likely to be taken over by a variety of organizations that, whatever their precise nature, are not states. In this unique volume Martin van Creveld traces the story of the state from its beginnings to its end. Starting with the simplest political organizations that ever existed, he guides the reader through the origins of the state, its development, its apotheosis during the two World Wars, and its spread from its original home in Western Europe to cover the globe.

Ch 1.  Before the state: prehistory to AD 1300

Ch 2. The rise of the state: 1300 to 1648

Ch 3. The state as an instrument: 1648 to 1789

Ch 4. The state as an ideal: 1789 to 1945

Ch 5. The spread of the state: 1696 to 1975

Ch 6.  The decline of the state: 1975-

Conclusions: beyond the state

 

DEATH. MUGABE, Zimbabwe’s tyrant

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