Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Haskaj, F. From biopower to necroeconomies: Neoliberalism, biopower and death economies (2018) Philosophy and Social Criticism, 44 (10), pp. 1148-1168.

DOI: 10.1177/0191453718772596

Open access

The deaths of millions from war, genocide, poverty and famine are symptomatic of a crisis that extends beyond site-specific failures of governance, culture or economies. Rather than reiterate standard critiques of capitalism, uneven development and inequality, this article probes and maps a shift in both the global economy and logic of capital that posits death as a central activity of value creation. “Crisis,” then, is more than an accidental failure or inconvenient side effect of either global economy or political reality, but pivotal to both. Extending notions of biopower and necropolitics, I argue that, due to the extension of market logic, populations have been reconfigured and reconceptualized as “excess”-not only disposable but also fundamentally valued only in their negation. This devaluation of selected population is devalorization of living labor, thus creating a space for death as a generalized commodity, market and economic activity. Crucially, this shift exceeds the historic understandings of labor, value and politics, forcing a revaluation of biopower and of extant understandings of the global economic and political order. Death as a source of value marks an entirely new space in capital that exceeds its former limits. This process can be seen in examples of genocidal warfare, ethnic cleansing, environmental “disasters” and globalized poverty that function as industries of death, mining the accumulated stored value of life, as death, and as an activity itself, instead of the old extractive exploitation of living labor. © The Author(s) 2018.

Author Keywords
Biopower; Critical theory; Foucault; Genocide; Globalization; Labor; Marx; Necropolitics; Neoliberalism; Political economy

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