Another Life: The Nature of Political Economy in Foucault's Genealogy of Biopolitics

  • Terranova T
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Abstract

The article focuses on the relation established by Foucault in the two lecture courses Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of Biopolitics between life, nature and political economy. It explores the ways in which liberalism constructs a notion of economic nature as a phenomenon of circulation of aleatory series of events and poses the latter as an internal limit to sovereign power. It argues that the entwinement of vital and economic processes provides the means of internal redefinition of the raison d'Etat and uses such an explanation to understand the emergence of the network topos as a technology of regulation of the unstable co-causality of milieus of circulation. The article also follows Foucault's argument that the neoliberal market is significantly different from the liberal market inasmuch as, unlike the latter, it is not defined as an abstract logic of exchange among equals but as an ideal logic of competition between formal inequalities. Finally it asks whether new theories of social production and sympathetic cooperation, in the work of authors such as Yochai Benkler and Maurizio Lazzarato, can offer an alternative to the neoliberal logic of market-based competition as the basis for the production of new forms of life.

Author-supplied keywords

  • biopolitics
  • cooperation
  • neoliberalism
  • political economy
  • social production
  • topology

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Authors

  • Tiziana Terranova

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