Crying for Repression: Populist and Democratic Biopolitics in Times of COVID-19.
by Karsten Schubert • Critical Legal Thinking— Law and the Political —1, April 2020
We live in very Foucauldian times, as the many think-pieces published on biopolitics and COVID-19 show. Yet what is remarkable—biopolitically—about the current situation has gone largely unnoticed: We are witnessing a new form of biopolitics today that could be termed populist biopolitics. Awareness of this populist biopolitics helps illuminate what is needed today: democratic biopolitics.
Traditional analyses of biopolitics focus on state and medical institutions and how they govern the behavior of individuals and the people. These analyses carve out the (potentially) repressive effects of such biopower on individuals and communities. Governing in the time of an epidemic is biopolitics in its purest form—it is no surprise that Agamben (Foucault et al. 2020) interpreted the severe measures that the state implemented in terms of their repressive effects.