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Twenty-First Century Biopolitics

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Bogdana Koljevic

What are phenomena of contemporary biopolitics in the twenty-first century? Foucault’s theory of biopolitics as neoliberalism is opposed to post-political theories developed by Agamben, Hardt and Negri and as such – more instructive. Because microstrategy of power is not Foucault’s final word on politics, political genealogy opens the space for creative and local critique of biopolitics. And if military interventions, terrorism and wars against terrorism are exemplary phenomena of biopolitics, bellum justum is a contradictio in adjecto. In response to such biopolitics, the relation between sovereignty and democracy is re-examined and we are entering a time of small revolutions.
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What Is Contemporary Critique Of Biopolitics?

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To begin with, a political-philosophical analysis of biopolitics in the twenty-first century as its departure point, suggests the difference between Foucault’s theory and contemporary investigations, particularly Agamben’s, Hardt’s and Negri’s reflections. This difference, mostly between such works as The Birth of Biopolitics and Society Must Be Defended, on the one hand, and The History of Sexuality vs. Homo Sacer, State of Exception, Means Without End, Empire and Multitude, on the other, leads to the rethinking of the political and, therefore, to the issue of political subjectivities. Moreover, Foucault’s genealogy of the present – as the path for conceptualizing the multiplicity of appearances of contemporary biopolitics – actually leads to the rethinking not only of politics, but also of ethics and law. In comparison with post-political theories, the project of genealogical critique presents perspectives and potentialities for the political practice beyond biopolitics. Doubtlessly, Foucault does not in any case endorse either moral or political ends, and yet his oeuvre outlines what a political philosophy, faithful to his thinking, would look like – and that it could not be reduced to microphysics of power.

Our thesis here, therefore, is twofold: the basis for comprehending contemporary phenomena of biopolitics lies precisely in Foucault’s theory of biopolitics as neoliberalism whereas the response to such a situation can also be found perhaps, in a rethinking of freedom as a new potentiality of democratic politics. This is to say that an analysis of the birth of biopolitics in history of liberalism aims not only at...

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