Created 21:49, 19 November 2013
Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri
Chapter 1.2 Biopolitical Production
“The 'police' appears as an administration heading the state, together with the judiciary, the army, and the exchequer. True. Yet in fact, it embraces everything else. Turquet says so: 'It branches out into all of the people's conditions, everything they do or undertake. Its field comprises the judiciary, finance and the army.' The police includes everything.” - Michael Foucault Biopower in the Society of Control
In the society of control, the behaviors of social integration are internalized within the subjects. Power is exercised through machines that organize the brains and bodies toward alienation from the sense of life and the desire for creativity.
Biopower refers to a situation in which power aims the production and reproduction of life itself.
In disciplinary society, the relationship between power and the individual remained static: the invasion of power corresponded to the resistance of the individual. When power becomes completely biopolitical, the whole social body is composed by power's machine and developed in its virtuality. This relationship is open, qualitative and affective.
The production of Life
The central role previously occupied by the labor power of mass factory workers in the production of surplus value is today increasingly filled by intellectual, immaterial, and communicative labor power. It is thus necessary to develop a new political theory of value that can pose the problem of this new capitalist accumulation of value at the center of the mechanism of exploitation.
The immediately social dimension of the exploitation of living immaterial labor immerses labor in all the relational elements that define the social but also at the same time activate the critical elements that develop the potential of insubordination and revolt through the entire set of laboring practices. After a new theory of value, then, a new theory of subjectivity must be formulated that operates primarily through knowledge, communication and language.
The new laboring practices in biopolitical society should not be treated solely regarding their intellectual and incorporeal aspects. The productivity of bodies and the value of affect are absolutely central in this context.
Three primary aspects of immaterial labor in the contemporary economy: . the communicative labor of industrial production that has newly become linked in informational networks . the interactive labor of symbolic analysis and problem solving, . the labor of the production and manipulation of affects
Corporations and Communication
The huge transnational corporations construct the fundamental connective fabric of the biopolitical world in certain important aspects. Capital has indeed always been organized with a view toward the entire global sphere, but only in the second half of the 20th century did multinational and transnational industrial and financial corporations really begin to structure global territories biopolitically.
The great industrial and financial powers produce not only commodities but also subjectivities. They produce agentic subjectivities within the biopolitical context: they produce needs, social relations, bodies and minds – which is to say, they produce producers. In the biopolitical sphere, life is made to work for production and production is made to work for life.
The communications industries integrate the imaginary and the symbolic within the biopolitical fabric, not merely putting them at the service of power but actually integrating them into its very functioning.
At this point we can begin to address the question of legitimation of the new world order.
The imperial machine lives by producing a context of equilibria and/or reducing complexities, pretending to put forward a project of universal citizenship and toward this end intensifying the effectiveness of its intervention over every element of the communicative relationship, all the while dissolving identity ad history in a completely postmodernist fashion.
The new framework of legitimacy includes new forms and new articulations of the exercise of legitimate force. During its formation, the new power must demonstrate the effectiveness of its force at the same time that the bases of its legitimation are being constructed.
The enemies that Empire opposes today may present more of an ideological threat than a military challenge, but nonetheless the power of Empire exercised through force and all the deployments that guarantee its effectiveness are already very advanced technologically and solidly consolidated politically.
The Empire's powers of intervention might be best understood as beginning not directly with its weapons of lethal force but rather with its moral instruments. What we are calling interventions is practiced by a variety of bodies, including news media and religious organizations, but the most important may be some of the so-called non-governmental organizations, which, precisely because they are not run directly by govenrnments, are assumed to act on the basis of ethical or moral imperatives.
It is hard not to be reminded of how in Christian moral theology evil is first posed as privation of the good and then sin is defined as culpable negation of the good. Within this logical framework it is not strange but rather all too natural that in their attempts to respond to privation, these NGOs are led to denounce publicly the sinners (or rather the Enemy in inquisitional terms).
The NGOs are completely immersed in the biopolitical context of the constitution of Empire; they anticipate the power of its pacifying and productive intervention of justice.
It would be difficult to say which is more important to Empire, the center of the margins. Center and margin seem continually to be shifting positions, fleeing any determinate locations.
Empire appears in the form of a very high tech machine: it is virtual, built to control the marginal event, and organized to dominate and when necessary intervene in the breakdowns of the system.
In the genesis of Empire there is a rationality at work that can be recognized not so much in terms of the juridical tradition but more clearly in the often hidden history of industrial management and the political uses of technology. This is a rationality that situates us at the heart of biopolitics and biopolitical technologies.
If we wanted to take up again Max Weber's three part formula of the forms of legitimation of power, the qualitative leap that Empire introduces into the definition would consist of the unforeseeable mixture of . elements typical of traditional power . an extension of bureaucratic power that is adapted physiologically to the biopolitical context . a rationality defined by the 'event' and the 'charisma' that rises up as a power of the singularization of the whole and of the effectiveness of imperial interventions.
In Empire and its regime of biopower, economic production and political constitution tend increasingly to coincide.