Biopolitics Reading Group Notes 3 – Lazzarato

Another round of notes for Biopolitics reading group. For Maurizio Lazzarato’s essay From Biopower to Biopolitics.

We are going to do the first chapter of Foucault’s lectures (biopolitics, territory, security), and Lazzarato’s chapter in Deleuze and the Social next time.

Over the fold.

From Biopower to Biopolitics – Maurizio Lazzarato

1. Problematic of life in polis
Life and living being at heart of new political battles and new economic strategies

Foucault only focused only indirectly on such developments; he was interested determining what in life resists and concerned with describing a constructivist political ontology, one that begins with the body and its potential.

Begins with ‘freedom’ produced and not obedience and its legitimating forms.

2. Introduce Biopolitics
Agamben also looks at introduction of zoe into the sphere of the polis. For Foucault, “biopolitics is the form of government taken by a new dynamic of forces that, in conjunction, express power relations that the classical world could not have known.”

“Foucault described this dynamic … as the emergence of a multiple and heterogeneous power of resistance and creation that calls every organization that is transcendental, and every regulatory mechanism that is extraneous, to its constitution radically into question.”

Foucault’s analysis: Life into history occurs with the insertion of government of the family and government of the polis become imbricated with one another [see governmentality lecture]

Foucault’s political economy is not Marx’s. Marx reduces relations of force to relations between capital and labor, …making these binary and symmetric relations the source of all social dynamics and every power relation. Foucault’s political economy governs “the whole of a complex material field where not only are natural resources, the products of labor, their circulation and the scope of commerce engaged, but where the management of towns and routes, the conditions of life(habitat, diet, etc.), the number of inhabitants, their life span, their ability and fitness for work also come into play.”

New power relations cannot be simply projected on top individuals, but is constituted from below. “We need an ascending analysis of the constitution of power dispositifs”

Biopower is the strategic coordination of these power relations in order to extract a surplus of power from living things [what is the relation of this to “machinic surplus value” in D&G?] Lazzarato argues that “Biopower coordinates and targets a power that does not properly belong to it, that comes from the ‘outside.’ Biopower is always born of something other than itself” and does this not contradict Negri and Hardt’s reading?

3. Transfer from old powers
socialization of the forces that political economy attempts to govern calls sovereign power into crisis; result is an integration of biopower and sovereign power [Empire as biopolitical sovereignty machine?]

Not a succession of dispositifs but a displacement of function and renders the ‘problem of its foundation even more acute’. Better to think “the articulation and distribution of the different dispositifs that are present simultaneously in the linkage of the government, population and political economy”

4. From War to Government
Foucault in 1970s = power as battle or war. Really is ‘freedom’ but this ‘freedom’ is the power to deprive others. Freedom only consists of the appropriation, the conquest and the submission of other forces [fucking right-wing libertarians!!!]

Power is not “omnipotent and omniscient” because every force is a power of the body [Spinoza, affects?] Power comes from below; the forces that constitute it are multiple and heterogeneous.

Foucault moves from model of war to model of government.

One Foucault not two: Foucault of the analysis of power and Foucault of the problematic of the subject

5. Ascending analysis of the constitution of power dispositifs
Analysis of power dispositifs must begin with dynamic of forces and the ‘freedom’ of individuals, not with the dynamics of institutions. If you start with institutions who inevitably end up with a “subject of law”. Three types of power:

1) strategic relations
2) techniques of government
3) states of domination

terms of relations are merely effects and not causes, focus on relations [Deleuze, relations external to their terms]. Nietzschean concept of forces is precursor to Foucault’s strategic relations.

“Power is defined as the capacity to structure the field of action of the other, to intervene in the domain of the other’s possible actions.”

Freedom is possibility to change the situation. ‘State of domination’ is characterized by the institutional stabilization of strategic relations.

Governmental technologies open and close strategic games.

6. Creation and Resistance
Relationship between resistance and creation intimately related. Condensation of strategic relations into relations of domination meets with resistance. Example of homosexuals as minorities that have to create their own culture.