In those cases in which the regime of rights does not successfully produce

In those cases in which the regime of rights does not

This preview shows page 55 - 57 out of 150 pages.

historically does — create compulsory pro- grams to enforce it. But again,there arepolitical and policy potentials and con- straintsin such a structuringof biopolitics that arevery differentfrom those of National Socialist Germany. Democratic biopolitical regimes require,enable, and incite a degree of self-direction and participationthat isfunctionally incompatible with authoritarianor totalitarian structures. And this pursuit of biopolitical ends through a regime of democratic citizenship does appear, his- torically, to have imposed increasingly narrow limits on coercive policies, and to have generated a "logic" or imperative of increasing liberalization. Despite lim- itations imposed by political context and the slow pace of discursive change, I think this is the unmistakable message of the really very impressive waves of leg- 90 islative and welfare reforms in the 1920s or the 1970s in Germany. Of course it is not yet clear whether this is an irreversible dynamic of such systems. Nevertheless, such regimes are characterized by sufficient degrees of autonomy (and of the potential for its expansion) for sufficient numbers of peo- ple that I think it becomes useful to conceive of them as productive of a strate- gic configuration of power relations that might fruitfully be analyzed as a condition of "liberty," just as much as they are productive of constraint, oppres- sion, or manipulation. At the very least, totalitarianism cannot be the sole ori- entation point for our understanding of biopolitics, the only end point of the logic of social engineering. This notion is not at all at odds with the core of Foucauldian (and Peukertian) theory. Democratic welfare statesare regimes of power/knowledge no less than early twentieth-century totalitarian states; these systems are not "opposites," in the sense that they are two alternative ways of organizing the same thing. But they are two very different waysof organizingit. The concept "power" should not be read as a universal stifling night of oppression, manipu- lation, and entrapment, in which all political and social orders are grey, are essentially or effectively "the same." Power is a set of social relations, in which individuals and groups have varying degrees of autonomy and effective subjec- tivity. And discourse is, as Foucault argued, "tactically polyvalent." Discursive elements (like the various elements of biopolitics) can be combined in different ways to form parts of quite different strategies (like totalitarianism or the demo- cratic welfare state); they cannot be assigned to one place in astructure, but rather circulate. The varying possible constellations of power in modern soci- eties create "multiple modernities," modern societies with quite radicallydif- 91 fering potentials.
Background image
Brodrillard alt badNo one cares about their alt, but their focus on esoteric language theory makes us worsesubjects unable to understand whyviolence happens or howto respond
Background image
Image of page 57

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture