Étienne Balibar, Human species as biopolitical concept, Radical Philosophy, 2.11 (December 2021)
I submit that the current situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic and its biopolitical consequences reveals something new in the ontological status of the human species which also involves an anthropological ‘revolution’. 1 This is something more than the fact that the combined tendencies called ‘globalisation’ (which, regardless of whether we assign them a recent or ancient origin, have clearly crossed a line at the end of the twentieth century) have resulted in relativising frontiers or distances, and subjected all human societies to a single system of economic interdependencies, thus realising something of the Marxian prediction (in the German Ideology) that every singular being would relate to every other, when the development of their ‘productive forces’ has reached ‘the stage of totality’. 2 It is also not the same as the fact that environmental consequences of global warming, of industrial waste and consumerist pollutions, plus the destruction of biodiversity are now affecting the whole planet and its populations. Of course the links of the Anthropocene with this type of pandemic do clearly exist. But what I want to discuss is something more directly linked to our self-definition as a ‘species’, working at a more elementary level.