Tim Christiaens (2021), “Against the Republican Foucault: How to Establish an Affirmative Biopolitics of Care”, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 83 (4), 683-709.
In The Republic of the Living, Miguel Vatter argues that, at the end of the 1970s, Michel Foucault did not convert to but criticized neoliberalism from a republican point of view. Neoliberal governmentality allegedly represses the capacity of human collectives to democratically govern themselves. The potential for republican self government would then constitute the basis for an affirmative variant of biopolitics. I argue that this creative reformulation of Foucault’s oeuvre does not work as an interpretation of Foucault nor as a valid critique of neoliberalism. Using the influence of Georges Canguilhem on Foucault, I propose to locate the potential for affirmative biopolitics not in the collective capacity for self-government, but in the fragility of living beings in their interaction with their milieu. Because life is constitutively dependent on infrastructural conditions to flourish, we need a biopolitics that establishes institutions which support the sustenance of life.