Becoming Precarious in the age of neoliberal bio-politics

This technology of power, in Michel Foucault’s sense, focuses on processes of self which work to normalize subjectivity by investing bodies with an affect on what it means to care and protect one’s self. While Greek state acts by way of bureaucratic and repressive mechanisms of medicine and the police, reactive forms of knowledge are produced as a reflection to the production, control and discipline of the vulnerable subject. In this sense, unlike Michael Hardt’ s assertion during the Teaching the Crisis Summer School, that capital produces subjectivities, we can see that capital’s value is constructed within those power relations and by those vulnerable subjectivities. That means that to be economically indebted as a performance of self within today’s neo-liberal governmentality is a privilege insofar as one desires to enact the multiple and ambivalent conditions of citizenship in its current contexts. Yet, it is marginalization that enables the possibility for the construction of (multiple category) citizens and the ability to safely and openly categorize the human in the first place (as Hardt does).

To feel safe and protected in the context of the current debt crisis is a ground that has acquired great significance within today’s bio-political governance and neo-liberal logistics. For it is a ground that all inscriptions take place; inscriptions that involve the ethics of having and missing, gaining and losing. In this process, the way to enact one’s personhood passes through the face of the Other in unprecedented ways because of the biopolitical mediation of the aesthetically healthy body by neo-liberal ethics of crisis. There is a deep seated relation between this archetype and its Other. The norms of self-sufficient individuality, one that is fortified, supposedly, through its detachment from society and that embodies the idealized image of the efficient and competitive privileged entrepreneur, are projected upon those lives deemed dangerous and dangerously vulnerable, lives that don’t match the normative requirements of neo-liberal life and livability. Thus, bio-politics of crisis deploy the marked bodies of the sick, the poor and the impoverished, the homeless, the unemployed, the disabled, the migrants, the HIV positives, the queers and the addicts as a strategic affective vehicle for a redistribution of public space, resources, representation and senses of belonging.

Using the Greek flag as a baton. Most of the neo-Nazi activities are tolerated by the police. Using the Greek flag as a baton. Most of the neo-Nazi activities are tolerated by the police. Images from the police operation “Xenios Zeus” Images from the police operation “Xenios Zeus”

Sandro Mezzandra suggested in the summer school that in order to understand contemporary capitalism, we should locate ourselves in periphery than in the centre. We would add that we should consider this position not just in terms of geopolitical centre/periphery structure, but in terms of subjectivation processes as they come about  through multiple, contradictory and imperceptible rationalities and ethics of life as well. Because it is within these vicious processes of losing and projecting these losses to Others that the neo-liberal ethics of crisis becomes tangible as concrete realities. A way to imagine oneself as having through and within the neo-liberal logics and the ethics of economics. Thus, unlike Andrei Kurnik’s invitation to include those at the margins during the uprisings which accompany such violent procedures, we suggest that we stay suspect to all acts of inclusion and deconstruct the same structures of hegemonic political discourse that produce those at the margins. If the dominant academic subject ought to think “the political” for the Other, in such a degree so to lose track of the endless mimetic juxtapositions of the specters’ of the political and pose the question: Can we think the political without a subject? As Stefano Harney did in his lecture at the summer school, as an effort to disengage political action from a specific image of a subject, then, considering the performative quality of actions through contradictory rationalities of life and, mostly, the subtle corporeal inscriptions that happen because of bio-politic governance and affective manipulation during crisis, it is more sane and ethically grounded to a disapproval of politics of abjection to ask if it would be possible to act consciously towards the care of the Other at ones’ time of losing. That means to ask if it would be possible to act without waiting for the teleological promise of political action to be fulfilled, but to be conscious of the ideal images we uphold for our selves, the ambivalent politics these ideals sustain and the constitutional Others necessary for their presence.

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