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Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction by Thomas Lemke

By Thomas Lemke

The organic positive aspects of people at the moment are measured, saw, and understood in methods by no means ahead of concept attainable, defining norms, setting up criteria, and deciding upon regular values of human lifestyles. whereas the thought of “biopolitics” has been associated with every thing from rational decision-making and the democratic association of social lifestyles to eugenics and racism, Thomas Lemke bargains the first actual systematic assessment of the background of the concept of biopolitics, exploring its relevance in modern theoretical debates and supplying a miles wanted primer at the topic.

Lemke explains that existence has develop into an self sufficient, goal and measurable issue in addition to a collective truth that may be separated from concrete dwelling beings and the singularity of person event. He exhibits how our realizing of the approaches of existence, the organizing of populations and the necessity to “govern” members and collectives bring about practices of correction, exclusion, normalization, and disciplining. during this lucidly written booklet, Lemke outlines the stakes and the debates surrounding biopolitics, supplying a scientific evaluation of the background of the inspiration and making transparent its relevance for sociological and modern theoretical debates.

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A society defined by natural law is superseded by a “normalizing society”: It is no longer a matter of bringing death into play in the field of sovereignty, but of distributing the living in the domain of value and utility. Such a power has to qualify, measure, appraise, and hierarchize, rather than display itself in its murderous splendor; it does not have to draw the line that separates the enemy of the sovereign from his loyal subjects. It effects distributions around the norm. (1980, 144) However, Foucault’s thesis that modern politics tends to become biopolitics does not imply that sovereignty and the “power over death” play no role any more.

12). What the author means by this phrase are those measures and initiatives that would help to achieve an ecological world order. , 165–183). The concept of biopolitics was linked to ecological considerations and became a reference point for various ideological, political, and religious interests. One of the most curious responses to the “ecological question” is the idea of a “Christian biopolitics” put forward by theologian Kenneth Cauthen in his book Christian Biopolitics: A Credo and Strategy for the Future (1971).

As a result, the claim to have provided “deeper” empirical explanations and the promise of a more comprehensive theoretical and conceptual approach remain largely unfounded and unrealized (Saretzki 1990, 91–92). In starting from the idea that “nature” is an autonomous system and a closed sphere, with the conviction that this closed sphere decisively shapes political action, biopoliticians put forward and prolong the very dualism of nature and society whose continuing existence they also bemoan.

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