Racism is a function of biopolitics used as a means to control populaitons
Milchman and Rosenberg 2005 [Alan & Alan, “Michel Foucault: Crises and Problemizations”, The Review of Politics, Volume 67, p. 340]
“Society Must Be Defended”culminates in Foucault’s chilling account of a tendency immanent to bio-politics, a tendency to what he has elsewhere designated as Athanato-politics,” and its basis in what he here terms state racism. The question that Foucault raises in his final lecture in this course, is how can mass murder and extermination become instantiated in a regime of biopower: If it is true that the power of sovereignty is increasingly on the retreat and that disciplinary or regulatory disciplinary power is on the advance, how will the power to kill and the function of murder operate in this technology of power, which takes life as both its object and its objective? ... How, under these conditions, is it possible for a political power to kill, to call for deaths, to demand deaths, to give the order to kill ... ? Given that this power’s objective is essentially to make live, how can it let die? How can the power of death, the function of death, be exercised in a political system centered upon biopower? (p. 254) For Foucault, it is here that racism, which, indeed, has a long history, intervenes, and now becomes inscribed in the basic mechanisms of the modern state. According to Foucault: … broadly speaking, racism justifies the death-function in the economy of biopower by appealing to the principle that the death of others makes one biologically stronger insofar as one is a member of a race or a population, insofar as one is an element in a unitary living plurality. … The specificity of modern racism … is not bound up with mentalities, ideologies, or the lies of power. It is bound up with the techniques of power, with the technology of power. We are dealing with a mechanism that allows biopower to work. So racism is bound up with the workings of a state that is obliged to use race, the elimination of races and the purification of the race, to exercise its sovereign power. The juxtaposition of - the way biopower functions through - the old sovereign power of life and death implies the workings, the introduction and activation of racism. And it is, I think, here that we find the actual roots of racism (p. 258). State racism then emerges, when in a regime of biopower, internal or external threats lead the state to engage in mass death: “Once the State functions in the biopower mode, racism alone can justify the murderous function of the State” (p. 256).
Race is a key facet implicated in the fabrication of bare life
Doty, Associate Professor School of Politics & Global Studies, 11
[Roxanne Lynn, Published April 12, 2011. “Bare life: border-crossing deaths and spaces of moral alibi.” Page 607. http://www.envplan.com/openaccess/d3110.pdf. RH]
Race, as it pertains to immigration policies, is relevant to the criticisms and questions that have been raised about Foucault's neglect of the international realm and specifically his lack of attention to the operations of power beyond the local and national realms of the West. Jabri (2007) points to the contemporary relevance of race, arguing that it is just as much a part of the ``late modern intervention into the societies of others'' as it was in the colonial past (Hing, 2009, page 23).When it comes to contemporary US border enforcement strategies, biopolitics is implicated in the very construction of the boundaries that create a national realm as distinct from an international realm, and race is clearly implicated in this. The racialized underpinnings of various contemporary local legislations such as Proposition 187 discussed above as well as the long history of overt and structural racism in US immigration policies culminate in the undocumented migrant as bare life, a subject whose very existence is synonymous with illegality and is therefore deemed a threat to US sovereignty and governance. The unauthorized migrant becomes socially undesirable, and ultimately one who can be killed without consequence. De Genova (2002) observes that ``the category `illegal alien' is saturated with racialized difference and indeed has long served as a constitutive dimension of the racialized inscription of `Mexicans' in the United States''. This is consistent with Balibar's (2005) exploration of the phenomena of racism and his argument(s) that the categories of difference, otherness, and exclusion are crucial to an examination of racism, especially in its multiple forms, notably pertaining to what has been labeled differentialist or neoracism. Balibar (2005, page 20) notes that ``globalization as such has, at least in principle, no exterior'' and that such exterior as it exists to any degree ``is only reinforced by the working of political boundaries as mainly instruments of security and control of the flows of populations with absolutely unequal status and rights''. The unequal status and rights of populations frequently break down along racialized lines.
The biopolitical implications of the status quo create the ideological priming needed for a holocaust
Smith 11 (Robert, “Endgame Nearing an End: The Production of Bare Life under the U.S. Deportation Regime”, pg. 9, BW)
Agamben writes that the sovereign nomos is the principle that joins law and violence to establish the territorial of order. The sovereign occupies the point indistinction between violence and law. In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre wrote that sovereignty demarcates a space established and constituted by violence. This violence cannot be separated from a principle of unification that subordinates all social practices. Through its monopolization of vio¬lence the state claims to create a space where society is perfected for all, though in fact it is the interests of a minority class that are enforced. The Westphalian state system, held as a defining element of modernity, established the principle of territorial sovereignty in international law. Galina Cornelisse defines the concept of “territoriality” as the founding of political authority on demarcated territory (Cornelisse 2010). Though the idea of universal human rights emerged after 1945, these rights became inextricably tied to national citizenship and hence state sovereignty. It is this sovereignty that finds itself under attack by globalization, the free movement of labor across borders. Under globalization, the State must fight irrelevancy by reconstituting itself through the production of bare life. This is why, according to Schinkel, deportation and detention are not shortcomings of the state under globalization but its fulfillment (Schinkel 2009). According to Foucault, another decisive event of modernity was the inclusion of bare life in the political realm as a subject. The focus on this bare life as an object of the calculations of state power is the practice known as biopolitics, which finds its ultimate expression in the “camp.” Agamben understands this causal chain as crucial to addressing modern democratic state’s contradictions. The most horrific events of the 20th century, especially Nazism and the death camps, can be traced to this stumbling block of Western democracy: that it seeks to bring about people’s happiness in the realm of bare life, which tragically brings democracy into collusion with totalitarianism. The camp is thus the “nomos of the political space in which we live,” leading Agamben to the disturbing conclusion that the state of exception has become the rule, and in truth we are all homo sacer. The absolute biopolitical space of the “camp”, which establishes the “political space” of modernity (Schinkel 2010: 8), is topologically different from the prison because the prison is securely embedded in the juridical realm, while the camp is the space of the exception which makes the juridical realm possible. As the localization of the state of exception where sovereign power confronts bios, bare life, without mediation, the camp is a “realm of experimentation, exercise and symbolic reproduction of the violence of sovereign power” that also sends an ambiguous, threatening message to the outside world (Minca 2005). We shall see below how these concepts are tangibly realized in the deportation regime of the United States.
Impact—Value to Life
Biopolitcs is a murderous enterprise that results in political death, exclusion, and a loss of value to life.
Ajana, Lecturer in Culture, Digital Humanities & Creative Industries at King’s College London. 2005 [Btihaj, 2005 “Surveillance and Biopolitics,” Electronic Journal of Sociology. RH]
Embedded within this biopolitical overdetermination is a murderous enterprise. Murderous not insofar as it involves extermination (although this might still be the case) but inasmuch as it exerts a biopower that exposes ‘someone to death, increasing the risk of death for some people, or, quite simply, political death, expulsion, rejection, and so on’ (Foucault 2003 : 256), and inasmuch as it is ‘based on a certain occluded but inevitable and thus constitutive violence’ (Zylinska, 2004: 530); a symbolic violence (manifested, for instance, in the act of ‘naming’ as Butler (in Zylinska, 2004) and Derrida argue ‘asylum seekers’, ‘detainees’, ‘deportees’, ‘illegal immigrants’, etc) as well as a material one (for example, placing ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ in detention centres), attesting to that epistemic impulse to resuscitate the leftover of late modernity and the residual of disciplinary powers that seek to eliminate and ostracise the unwanted-other through the insidious refashioning of the ‘final solution’ for the asylum and immigration ‘question’. Such an image has been captured by Braidotti (1994: 20): Once, landing at Paris International Airport, I saw all of these in between areas occupied by immigrants from various parts of the former French empire; they had arrived, but were not allowed entry, so they camped in these luxurious transit zones, waiting. The dead, panoptical heart of the new European Community will scrutinize them and not allow them in easily: it is crowded at the margins and non-belonging can be hell. The biopolitics of borders stands as the quintessential domain for this kind of 11 sorting, this kind of racism pervading Western socio-political imaginary and permeating the rhetoric of national and territorial sovereignty despite its monolithic use of euphemism. It is precisely this task of sorting and this act of fragmenting that contemporary modes of border security and surveillance are designed making ‘the management of misery and misfortune … a potentially profitable activity’ (Rose, 1999: 260) and evaporating the political into a perpetual state of technicism (Coward, 1999: 18) where ‘control’ and ‘security’ are resting upon vast investments in new information and communications technologies in order to filter access and minimise, if not eradicate, the infiltration and ‘riskiness’ of the ‘unwanted’. For instance, in chapter six of the White Paper, ‘Secure Borders, Safe Haven’ (2002), the UK government outlines a host of techniques and strategies aimed at controlling borders and tightening security including the use of Gamma X-ray scanners, heartbeat sensors, and millimetric wave imaging to detect humans smuggled in vehicles.
Biopower renders life calculable, and allows for the government to have total control over all aspects of life, devaluing it.
Inda, 2002 (Johnathan Xavier, Department of Chicano Studies at University of California “Biopower, Reproduction, and the Migrant Woman’s Body”, 100-101)
“For a long time ,” Foucault notes, “one of the characteristic privileges of sovereign power was the right to decide life and death” (History: 135). For instance, If an external enemy sought to overthrow him, the sovereign could justly wage war, requiring his subjects to fight in defense of the state. So, without directly proffering their death, the sovereign was sanctioned to risk their life. In this case, he exercised “an indirect power over them of life and death” (135). However, if someone hazarded to rebel against him and violate his laws, the sovereign could exert a direct power over the transgressor’s life, such that, as penalty, the latter could be put to death. The right to life and death, then, was somewhat dissymmetrical, falling on the side of death: “The sovereign exercised his right to life only by exercising his right to kill, or by refraining from killing; he evidenced his power over life only through the death he was capable of requiring.. The right which was formulated as the ‘power of life and death’ was in reality the right to take life or let live” (136). As such, this type of power, Foucault observes, was wielded mainly as a mechanism of deduction, making it “essentially a right of seizure: of things, time, bodies, and ultimately life itself” (136). That is, power was fundamentally a right of appropriation—the appropriation of a portion of the wealth, labor, services, and blood of the sovereign’s subjects---one that culminated in the right to seize hold of life in order to subdue it. The power of appropriation or of deduction, Foucault suggests, is no longer the principal form of power in the West. Since the classical age, the mechanisms of power here have undergone a radical transformation. Power now works “to incite, reinforce, control, monitor, optimize, and organize the forces under it”; it is “a power bent on generating forces, making them grow, and ordering them, rather than one dedicated to impeding them, making them submit, or destroying them” (History: 136). Thus, in contrast to a power organized around the sovereign, modern “power would no longer be dealing simply with legal subjects over whom the ultimate dominion was death, but with living beings, and the mastery if would be able to exercise over them would be applied at the level of life itself; it was the taking charge of life, more that the threat of death, that gave power its access even to the body” (142-143). In short, political power has assigned itself the duty of managing life. It is now over life that power establishes its hold and on which it seeks to have a positive influence. This power over life, which Foucault calls biopower, is most apparent in the emergence of “population” as an economic and political problem in the eighteenth century. This “population” is not simply a collection of individual citizens. We are not dealing , as Foucault notes, with subjects, or even with a “people,” but with a composite body “with its specific phenomena and its peculiar variables: birth and death rates, life expectancy, fertility, state of health, frequency of illness, patterns of diet and habitation” (History: 25). The “population,” in other words, has its own form of order, its own energy, traits, and dispositions. The management of this “population,” principally of its health, Foucault suggests, has become the primary commitement as well as the main source of legitimacy of modern forms of government: it’s the body of society which becomes the new principle [of political organizations] in the nineteenth century. It is this social body which needs to be protected, in a quasi-medical sense. In place of the rituals that served to restore the corporeal integrity of the monarch, remedies and therapeutic devices are employed such as the segregation of the sick, the monitoring of contagions, the exclusion of delinquents. (“Body/Power”: 55) The concern of government, then, is to produce a healthy and productive citizenry. Its commitment is to the protection and enhancement of the health of particular bodies in order to foster the health of the composite body of the population. This means, according to Foucault, that “biological existence” has now come to be “reflected in political existence” (history: 142). As such, biopower ultimately designates “what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations” (143), its main overall concern being the life of the population, that is, of the species body—the body that functions as the foothold of biological processes pertaining to birth, death, health, and longevity. Simply put, the species body and the individual as a simple living being have become what are at stake in a state’s political tactics, marking the politicization of life, turning politics into biopolitics and the state into a biopolitical state.
The end point of biopolitics is a state in which legal order is indistinguishable from bare life
Dean, 04 – professor of sociology at the University of Newcastle (Mitchell, “Four Theses on the Powers of Life and Death,” Contretemps 5, December 2004, http://sydney.edu.au/contretemps/5december2004/dean.pdf)//HK
Fourth thesis: Bio-politics captures life stripped naked (or the zoē that was the exception of sovereign power) and makes it a matter of political life (bios). Today, we seek the good life though the extension of the powers over bare life to the point at which they become indistinguishable. In this formulation, the emergence of a government over life in the eighteenth century does mark a rupture in forms of rule, which the search for an ʻoriginary structureʼ of sovereignty cannot capture. For Foucault, the nature of this rupture is the displacement, articulation or re-inscription of sovereignty within a peculiarly modern form of politics, bio-politics. However, this capture of the government of the state by bio-powers is already present in the structure of sovereignty. It would be a mistake, in this sense, to view Agambenʼs quest for the structure of sovereignty, with its multiple thresholds, as ahistorical, that is, as insensitive to temporal thresholds. His thesis offers a kind of history of modernity. Here, the demonic character of modern states lies in the possibility that the thresholds that maintained bare life as a state of exception are breaking down. Zoē is entering into a sphere of indistinction with bios in modern politics. For Agamben the paradigm of modern politics—the new Nomos—is not the liberal governing of freedom, but the concentration camp. The camp is the material form of the stabilization of the state of exception, the excluded inclusion, both inside and outside modern political and legal ordering. Because the camp is established by law as a space of exception, it is subject to no order itself, only direct police command. It is thus a space of ordered disorder in which bare life enters into a zone of indistinction with legal order. While such views may appear to lead to a kind of radical condemnation of many instances of bio-politics, such as the attempt to develop humane processing procedures for asylum seekers, the idea of mapping zones of indistinction would seem to locate arenas of analysis and spheres of contestation rather than a site of dogmatic rejection. We have become used to a style of criticism in which liberal notions of the individual citizen have been revealed to be constituted through a series of exclusions (of women, the disabled, prisoners, the insane, the poor, the indigene, the refugee, etc). Note that Contretemps 5, December 2004 28 bio-power today holds the promise of extraordinary solutions to disability, criminality and insanity. The inclusion of women through their state of exclusion, also, would appear to raise interesting questions concerning sovereign violence given womenʼs historic biological relationship to the reproduction and care of human life. This relationship, itself excepted under the universality of law, is thus produced as bare life; and women are required to take responsibility for sovereign decisions. If we are to take Agamben seriously, this desire for inclusion may have the effect not simply of widening the sphere of the rule of law but also of hastening the point at which the sovereign exception enters into a zone of indistinction with the rule. Our societies would then have become truly demonic, not because of the re-inscription of sovereignty within bio-politics, but because bare life which constituted the sovereign exception begins to enter a zone of indistinction with our moral and political life and with the fundamental presuppositions of political community. In the achievement of inclusion in the name of universal human rights, all human life is stripped naked and becomes sacred. Perhaps in a very real sense we are all homo sacer. Perhaps what we have been in danger of missing is the way in which the sovereign violence that constitutes the exception of bare life—that which can be killed without committing homicide—is today entering into the very core of modern politics, ethics, and systems of justice.
The pursuit of biopolitics creates dichotomies between the “evil” foreign and the “secure” domestic, drawing boundaries that justify killing in the name of saving life. This society of control spreads across the globe as the domestic populous becomes ever more isolated
Campbell ’05 – Professor of Cultural and Political Geography in the Department of Geography at Durham University in the UK (David, “The Biopolitics of Security: Oil, Empire, and the Sports Utility Vehicle,” American Quarterly 57.3 (2005) 943-972, JSTOR)
As an imagined community, the state can be seen as the effect of formalized practices and ritualized acts that operate in its name or in the service of its ideals. This understanding, which is enabled by shifting our theoretical commitments from a belief in pregiven subjects to a concern with the problematic of subjectivity, renders foreign policy as a boundary-producing political performance in which the spatial domains of inside/outside, self/other, and domestic/foreign are constituted through the writing of threats as externalized dangers. The narratives of primary and stable identities that continue to govern much of the social sciences obscure such an understanding. In international relations these concepts of identity limit analysis to a concern with the domestic influences on foreign policy; this perspective allows for a consideration of the influence of the internal forces on state identity, but it assumes that the external is a fixed reality that presents itself to the pregiven state and its agents. In contrast, by assuming that the identity of the state is performatively constituted, we can argue that there are no foundations of state identity that exist prior to the problematic of identity/difference that situates the state within the framework of inside/outside and self/other. Identity is constituted in relation to difference, and difference is constituted in relation to identity, which means that the "state," the "international system," and the "dangers" to each are coeval in their construction. Over time, of course, ambiguity is disciplined, contingency is fixed, and dominant meanings are established. In the history of U.S. foreign policy regardless of the radically different contexts in which it has operated the formalized practices and ritualized acts of security discourse have worked to produce a conception of the United States in which freedom, liberty, law, democracy, individualism, faith, order, prosperity, and civilization are claimed to exist because of the constant struggle with and often violent suppression of opponents said to embody tyranny, oppression, anarchy, totalitarianism, collectivism, atheism, and barbarism. This record demonstrates that the boundary-producing political performance of foreign policy does more than inscribe a geopolitical marker on a map. This construction of social space also involves an axiological dimension in which the delineation of an inside from an outside gives rise to a moral hierarchy that renders the domestic superior and the foreign inferior. Foreign policy thus incorporates an ethical power of segregation in its performance of identity/difference. While this produces a geography of "foreign" (even "evil") others in conventional terms, it also requires a disciplining of "domestic" elements on the inside that challenge this state identity. This is achieved through exclusionary practices in which resistant elements to a secure identity on the "inside" are linked through a discourse of "danger" with threats identified and located on the "outside." Though global in scope, these effects are national in their legitimation.12 The ONDCP drugs and terror campaign was an overt example of this sort of exclusionary practice. However, the boundary-producing political performances of foreign policy operate within a global context wherein relations of sovereignty are changing. Although Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have overplayed the transition from modern sovereignty to imperial sovereignty in Empire, there is little doubt that new relations of power and identity are present. According to Hardt and Negri, in our current condition, Empire establishes no territorial center of power and does not rely on fixed boundaries or barriers. It is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding frontiers. Empire manages hybrid identities, flexible hierarchies, and plural exchanges through modulating networks of command. The distinct national colors of the imperialist map of the world have merged and blended in the imperial global rainbow.13 As shall be argued here, the sense of fading national colors is being resisted by the reassertion of national identity boundaries through foreign policy's writing of danger in a range of cultural sites. Nonetheless, this takes place within the context of flow, flexibility, and reterritorialization summarized by Hardt and Negri. Moreover, these transformations are part and parcel of change in the relations of production. As Hardt and Negri declare: "In the postmodernization of the global economy, the creation of wealth tends ever more toward what we will call biopolitical production, the production of social life itself, in which the economic, the political, and the cultural increasingly overlap and invest one another."14 While the implied periodization of the term postmodernization renders it problematic, the notion of biopolitics, with its connecting and penetrative networks across and through all domains of life, opens up new possibilities for conceptualizing the complex relationships that embrace oil, security, U.S. policy, and the SUV. In Todd Gitlins words, "the SUV is the place where foreign policy meets the road."15 It is also the place where the road affects foreign policy. Biopolitics is a key concept in understanding how those meetings take place. Michel Foucault argues that biopolitics arrives with the historical transformation in waging war from the defense of the sovereign to securing the existence of a population. In Foucault s argument, this historical shift means that decisions to fight are made in terms of collective survival, and killing is justified by the necessity of preserving life.16 It is this centering of the life of the population rather than the safety of the sovereign or the security of territory that is the hallmark of biopolitical power that distinguishes it from sovereign power. Giorgio Agamben has extended the notion through the concept of the administration of life and argues that the defense of life often takes place in a zone of indistinction between violence and the law such that sovereignty can be violated in the name of life.17 Indeed, the biopolitical privileging of life has provided the rationale for some of the worst cases of mass death, with geno- cide deemed "understandable" as one group s life is violently secured through the demise of another group.18 However, the role of biopolitical power in the administration of life is equally obvious and ubiquitous in domains other than the extreme cases of violence or war. The difference between the sovereign and the biopolitical can be understood in terms of the contrast between Foucault s notion of "disciplinary society" and Gilles Deleuzes conception of "the society of control," a distinction that plays an important role in Hardt and Negri s Empire. According to Hardt and Negri, in the disciplinary society, "social command is constructed through a diffuse network of dispositifi or apparatuses that produce and regulate customs, habits, and productive practices." In the society of control, "mechanisms of command become ever more democratic, ever more immanent to the social field, distributed throughout the brains and bodies of the citizens." This means that the society of control is "characterized by an intensification and generalization of the normalizing apparatuses of disciplinarity that internally animate our common and daily practices, but in contrast to discipline, this control extends well outside the structured sites of social institutions through flexible and fluctuating networks."19 Network is, therefore, the prevailing metaphor for social organization in the era of biopolitical power, and it is a conception that permits us to understand how the effects of our actions, choices, and life are propagated beyond the boundaries of our time-space location.20 It is also a conception that allows us to appreciate how war has come to have a special prominence in producing the political order of liberal societies. Networks, through their extensive connectivity, function in terms of their strategic interactions. This means that "social relations become suffused with considerations of power, calculation, security and threat."21 As a result, "global biopolitics operates as a strategic game in which the principle of war is assimilated into the very weft and warp of the socio-economic and cultural networks of biopolitical relations."22 This theoretical concern with biopolitical relations of power in the context of networked societies is consistent with an analytical shift to the problematic of subjectivity as central to understanding the relationship between foreign policy and identity. That is because both are concerned with "a shift from a preoccupation with physical and isolated entities, whose relations are described largely in terms of interactive exchange, to beings-in-relation, whose structures [are] decisively influenced by patterns of connectivity."23 At the same time, while conceptual approaches are moving away from understandings premised on the existence of physical and isolated entities, the social and political structures that are produced by network patterns of connectivity often appear to be physical and isolated. As Lieven de Cauter argues, we don't live in networks; we live in capsules. Capsules are enclaves and envelopes that function as nodes, hubs, and termini in the various networks and contain a multitude of spaces and scales. These enclaves can include states, gated communities, or vehicles with the latter two manifesting the "SUV model of citizenship" Mitchell has provocatively described.24 Nonetheless, though capsules like these appear physical and isolated, there is "no network without capsules. The more networking, the more capsules. Ergo: the degree of capsularisation is directly proportional to the growth of networks."25 The result is that biopolitical relations of power produce new borderlands that transgress conventional understandings of inside/outside and isolated/ connected. Together these shifts pose a major theoretical challenge to much of the social sciences, which have adhered ontologically to a distinction between the ideal and the material, which privileges economistic renderings of complex social assemblages.26 As we shall see, overcoming this challenge does not mean denying the importance of materialism but, rather, moving beyond a simplistic consideration of objects by reconceptualizing materialism so it is understood as interwoven with cultural, social, and political networks. This means that "paying increased attention to the material actually requires a more expansive engagement with the immaterial."27
Biopolitics necessitates genocidal slaughters of entire groups of people in the name of the survival of humanity writ-large
Rey Chow, Professor of the Humanities at Brown, 2002, The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p. 9-10
Let me attempt to reformulate Foucault’s argument in a somewhat different manner. When life becomes the overarching imperative, his argument implies, all social relations become subordinate to the discursive network that has been generated to keep it going, so much so that even a negative, discriminatory fact such as racism is legitimated in the name of the living. Rather than straightforwardly assuming the form of a callous willingness to kill, therefore, racist genocide partakes of the organization, calculation, control, and surveillance characteristic of power—in other words, of all the “civil” or “civilized” procedures that are in place primarily to ensure the continuance of life. Killing off certain groups of people en masse is now transformed (by the process of epistemic abstraction) into a productive, generative activity undertaken for the life of the entire human species. Massacres are, literally, vital events.6 If Foucault thereby shows how murder (a negative act) can be legitimated by a valorization of life (a positive idea), his logic may, I think, also be turned around to demonstrate that the valorization of life itself, by the necessity of practice, can give rise to processes of discrimination, hatred, and, in some extreme cases, extermination. In other words, if the notion of legitimation shows how murder can, indeed, make sense as part of a positive idea, the reversal of Foucault’s logic shows that the material process of enforcing a positive idea inevitably derails it into something destructive and unjust. It is, of course, always possible to explain this derailment economically: since an infinite valorization of life cannot possibly be sustained on the basis of finite resources, various forms of disciplinary and regulatory controls must be introduced in order to handle population increases, thereby resulting in a hierarchical situation in which resources are assigned to the privileged few rather than distributed equally among all, etc. Yet this type of explanation—which sees unequal economic distribution as the primary source of social injustice—does not seem adequate to account for the persistence of racism, especially in places where there is actually sufficient wealth, where the democratization of resources seems to some degree to have been achieved. How, in other words, is one to account for an environment in which one may be allowed to stay alive, may be told that all is equal, may be given access to many things, only then to realize that an insidious pattern of discrimination continues systematically to reduce one to a marginal position vis-à-vis mainstream society? Such an environment, which is characterized by a schism between the positively proclaimed values of life, on the one hand, and an affective dis-ease felt by those who sense they are nonetheless the targets of discrimination, on the other, cannot be addressed purely on economic grounds. The schism in question is not simply a matter of lies versus truths, or false ideology versus lived reality. It is rather, if we follow Foucault’s thinking, symptomatic of the generative functioning of biopower itself. To illustrate this, some examples may be useful.
Biopolitics legitimizes racism and genocide
Milchman and Rosenberg 5 (Alan and Alan, Both @ Queens College, Review Essay: Michel Foucault: Crises and Problemizations, The Review of Politics vol67 no2, JSTOR)
"Society Must Be Defended "culminates in Foucault's chilling ac count of a tendency immanent to bio-politics, a tendency to what he has elsewhere designated as "thanato-politics," and its basis in what he here terms state racism. The question that Foucault raises in his final lecture in this course, is how can mass murder and ex termination become instantiated in a regime of biopower: If it is true that the power of sovereignty is increasingly on the retreat and that disciplinary or regulatory disciplinary power is on the advance, how will the power to kill and the function ofmurder operate in this technology of power, which takes life as both its object and its objective? ....How, under these conditions, is it possible for a political power to kill, to call for deaths, to demand deaths, to give the order to kill... ?Given that this power's objective is essentially tomake live, how can it let die? How can the power of death, the function of death, be exercised in a political sytem centered upon biopower? (p.254) For Foucault, it is here that racism, which, indeed, has a long history, intervenes, and now becomes inscribed in the basic mechanisms of the modern state. According to Foucault: …broadly speaking, racism justifies the death0function in the economy of biopower by appealing to the principle that the death of others makes one biologically stronger insofar as one is amember of a race or a population, insofar as one is an element in a unitary living plurality.... The specificity
of modern racism... is not bound up with mentalities, ideologies, or the lies of power. It isbound up with the techniques of power, with the technology of power. We are dealing with amechanism that allows biopower towork. So racism is bound up with the workings of a state that is obliged to use race, the elimination of races and the purification of the race, to exercise its sovereign power. The juxtaposition of—or the way biopower functions through? the old sovereign power of life and death implies the workings, the introduction and activation of racism. And it is, I think, here that we find the actual roots of racism (p. 258). State racism, then emerges, when in a regime of biopower, internal or external threats lead the state to engage in mass death: "Once the State functions in the biopower mode, racism alone can justify the murderous function of the State" (p. 256). But, according to Foucault, what is it that constitutes a group within the population as a "race?" Race is a "way of introducing a break into the domain of life that is under power's control: the break between what must live and what must die" (p. 254). The basis for such a break in the biological continuum can be ethnic or religious; it can be founded on sexual orientation, on deviance from a society's norms, on mental or physical illness, or on criminality. Any such "cut" in the continuity of the species can constitute a race in Foucauldian terms, so long as the "identity" in question is meataphysically defined, attributed to the very being of the individual or group. Moreover, the constitution of race entails "... the hierarchy of races, the fact that certain races are described as good and that others, in contrast, are described as inferior: all this is away of fragmenting the field of the biological that power controls.... It is, in short, away of establishing a biological-type caesura within a population that appears in the biological domain" (p. 255). And on the bases of such a caesura, the exclusion or elimination of the inferior race can be undertaken, purportedly in the interests of the life and health of the superior race, those who are normal. Race, for Foucault, is linked to the "dividing practices" through which a population can be regulated and controlled in a bio-political regime. The Foucauldian notion of race is a novel one, permitting us to see the numerous ways in which such dividing practices are instantiated in the modern world, as so many manifestations of a racialization of politics, even where there is no necessary genetic basis for the invidious distinctions that it entails.
Foucault's analysis of state racism focuses on the Nazi and Stalinist regimes. Nazism is seen as the "paroxysmal" development of the technologies and mechanisms of biopower, while Stalinism has perfected what Foucault terms a "social-racism," inwhich the state exercises its right to kill or eliminate "class" enemies, the abnor mal, and "criminal" elements, no less metaphysically defined than the Jews or "Gypsies" that were the target of the Nazis. Foucault's linkage of state racism and the perpetuation of mass murder to ten dencies immanent to biopower, makes it clear that, for him, regimes such as Nazism and Stalinism are not atavistic reversions to the premodern past, but historically specific manifestations of tenden cies that are also found throughout the modern, democratic, West. Indeed, in their essay "Situating the Lectures," the editors of "Society Must Be Defended," Alessandro Fontana and Mauro Bertani, point out, "That there would appear to be a very strange kinship between 'liberal societies' and totalitarian states, or between the normal and the pathological, and sooner or later itmust be investigated" (p. 276). It seems to us, that Foucault's meditation on biopower and "thanato-politics," provides a basis for just such an investigation.7 Foucault's focus on the state racism of regimes such as Nazism or Stalinism, now past, should not mislead us into think ing that his vision of a "thanato-politics" was not a prospective one. Foucault lectured 15 years before the genocide in Rwanda and the Moreover, bloody ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. But these outbreaks of murderous state violence and racism, the examples of which have continued multiply, confirm the danger that Foucault saw ensconced within to the dispositif of bio-politics.8
Exception is the law of pure violence without logos: it declares itself as the decider of which violences are and are not legitimate.
Doxdater 2008 [Eric, “The [Rhetorical] Question of Exception, For Now,” in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 5.2]
‘‘Will Americans Understand What It Means to Live in a State of Emergency?’’ On the day after the day, this perceptive question was asked of me by a friend who struggled against the emergency in South Africa that ran between 1985 and 1990. The answer could only be, ‘‘By and large, no.’’ And, little has changed. In ‘‘relatively traditionless America,’’ as Hannah Arendt once put it, the promise of a return to progress has done well to obscure the ‘‘grey zone’’ that forms when a sovereign(’s) rule of law strives to sanctify and negate the normative power of its own precedent.11 A reflection of his concern for the nature and cost of this hypocrisy, Agamben’s letter is more than a rehearsal of Foucault’s thesis on biopolitics. Expressing a preference not to participate in ‘‘efforts to convince us to accept as normal and humane those means of control which have always been considered exceptional and properly inhumane,’’ the letter offers an important clue about the operativity of the exception, that which is both ‘‘an anomic space in which what is at stake is a force of law without law’’ and a mythic violence ‘‘by means of which law seeks to annex anomie itself.’’12 Paradoxically, one is never fully in a state of exception. An unformulatable manifestation of sovereignty’s structure, the declaration of exception is also an event that dissolves and then appropriates the question of the political itself; when everything and everyone is deemed suspect, the task of deciding the humanity of living man is converted into a spiraling causality of fate, a form of life that is guilty as such.13 If Agamben’s philosophical claim about the paradigm of the camps confounded the New York Times’ politically correct editorial desk, the exception’s unraveling of citizenship into bare life can also be understood in terms of what Arendt called ‘‘general subjectivity,’’ a law of ‘‘pure violence without logos’’ and a logos that obscures the power*the word and deed in concert*which appears before and constitutes the law.14