Biopolitics of security in the 21st century






Abstract. This essay addresses two questions. It first asks what happens to security practices when they take species life as their referent object. It then asks what happens to security practices which take species life as their referent object when the very understanding of species life undergoes transformation and change. In the process of addressing these two questions the essay provides an exegesis of Michel Foucault’s analytic of biopolitics as a dispositif de sécurité and contrasts this account of security with that given by traditional geopolitical security discourses. The essay also theorises beyond Foucault when it interrogates the impact in the twentieth century of the compression of morbidity on populations and the molecular revolution on what we now understand life to be. It concludes that ‘population’, which was the empirical referent of early biopolitics, is being superseded by ‘heterogenesis’. This serves as the empirical referent for the recombinant biopolitics of security in the molecular age.

‘. . . freedom is nothing but the correlative development of apparatuses of security.’

Michel Foucault – Security, Territory, Population



~ by blombladivinden on August 7, 2012.

6 Responses to “Biopolitics of security in the 21st century”

  1. The French postmodern philosopher, M. Foucault, always supported the arguments for the existence of human freedom–the very idea that we are not determined, but that we hold destiny and future in our hands using a unique authentic abilities ingrained within our existence. Unfortunately, as a critical philosopher, he also fully understood the intention of modern technocratic, antagonistic society display. Culture experts (the highest profession experts associated with the power of institutions), mass media, and the “bio-political” driven society “playing” against the deepest sources of the human free will. Foucault’s major philosophical concept discusses the scare of the future society of total surveillance–a totalitarianism that is politically presented as justified through the net of mass media and the institutional power imbalance while endangering naturally flourishing individuals. I found this quote interesting while reading the article about Foucault’s biopower offered in this blog-post:

    “The life of species being which Foucault first interrogated in his analytic of biopower was not this life.
    Empirically speaking, the life which Foucault first interrogated when inaugurating this analytic of the bio-economy of power relations was that of ‘population’. A population is not a subject, a people or a public. A population is a cohort of biological individuals. Specifically, from an insurer’s point of view, for example, a population is simply a risk pool.”

    For some totally unrelated and unimportant reasons I was recently researching resources for the Artificial Intelligence and I came across this video from the expert and the teacher Rachel Goshorn, assistant professor of System Engineering at the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Science in the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. (I do not have a possibility to highlight the web-connection, so please, help me w/th the link):

    This class was taught to implement the surveillance system and monitor neural activities of other classmates, campus personal, and people around and establish interpretation of unusual behavior patterns?! Amazing….
    This is the scariest part of this biopower society today—the ability to monitor, observe, interpret, and intervene with the human mind and psyche without any consensus.The sneak and peak technology? And this is done in 2008 and was sold as the product to the airports’ security agencies. What are the projects of the system engineering program at this school right now? Is this really the purpose of the highest education today—to become a “spy worm” machine that can be implemented into your neighbor’s head and sold for good money?

  2. Thanks for helping w/th the link and your kind words.

    Speaking about biopolitics, recently I came across this text–the interview with Wolf Singer, brain researcher and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt am Main. An interview with Roman Brinzanik and Tobias Hülswitt, published in Berlin, September 10, 2009. Here is what W. Singer highlights as the point of our “brain” evolution:

    “Brain development is based on a constant process of remodeling controlled by neuronal activity. Since this activity is in turn influenced by sensory signals, it follows that the micro-relays of our brains are adapted to our complex socio-cultural world and therefore differ from those of the cavemen. Otherwise we couldn’t drive our cars, solve differential equations, compose symphonies and speak so nimbly as we do. Our genetically specific disposition obviously allows for this process of refinement. So we are living on an advance granted us by biological evolution and profit from the incredibly delayed development of the brain. This makes it possible to use the achievements of cultural evolution for the refinement of the brain structures, to install cultural knowledge through epigenetic mechanisms.”

    This text fits well in your topic if anybody would like to expand on Ethics and the Future of Man and Technology. Here is the link–thanks in advance for you help regarding the link:

  3. Sorry ivaray, I´m still not able to install your video so it will show the video player. But as you write it works anyway. Good enough? 🙂

  4. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality blogs online.
    I am going to highly recommend this site!

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