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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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Sovereignty, Democracy And The Political

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The analysis of the contemporary phenomena of biopolitics, therefore, discloses that dissolution of sovereignty on multiple levels appears as one of key characteristics of these processes, accompanied by the dissolution of democracy and the political. This happens in reference to the issues of international institutions and international law, but equally concerns numerous aspects of liberal governmenality in public and private life. Sovereignty and democracy, in this sense, relate to the question of political subjectivity, and at the same time to subjectivity and intersubjectivity in polis and oikos. Moreover, the biopolitical turn here also consists in the unanimity, i.e. in the consensus between the so-called “right” and “left” in the West, in relation to this fragmentation of sovereignty, law and the political, as well as in relation to the replacement of authentic democracy with crypto-Schmittian power politics.33 Because of this, the rise of discourses on post-sovereignty and liberal democracy – both in opposition to the concept of democracy – manifests different forms of the biopolitical dictum.

From Jouvenele to Maritain and Agamben, and backwards, sovereignty appears as absolutized power beyond law and, as such, is presented as always opposed to multitude and pluralism. It is identified with arbitrariness of sovereign’s decisions, i.e. with autocracy and untransferability of authority, which testifies to the transcendence of sovereignty as power beyond law. The conceptual lack of these theories, however, is exemplified in the difference between decesionistic sovereignty and popular sovereignty, the difference they do not address and which deals with the issue...

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