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The destruction, death and militarization of everyday life

NECROPOLITICS: Leaving millions of people to starvation, epidemics, war and flight.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

With his analysis of brutalism, Mbembe makes a contribution to what is necessary postcolonial corrective to Foucaults thesis on biopower. He confronts the thesis of the administration of life with the outer limit of this life; the destruction, death and militarization of everyday life.

What used to be the biopolitical exception – violence, war, death and destruction – and which were previously primarily attributed to the "margins" of the empire, to the colonies, is now becoming the rule everywhere. And not just in the boundaries of the residual empires, but also internally in the promised western continents, where border violence is a permanently present aspect of migrants and other racialized bodies: «Border violence has become one of the most significant features of our time. Little by little, the fight against so-called illegal migrants has evolved into a social warfare on a global scale. This war is no longer fought against specific individuals, but is instead directed at entire classes and populations.

A "link between biopower, state of emergency and state of siege".

Warfare now combines military, police and security techniques with the bure Aukra athletic-administrative techniques and thus pave the way for a cold and distant violence, which is sometimes no less bloody than before. “This warfare is based on that Mbembe describes as a «planetary reconfiguration of space», where violence accompanies every move of the migrant, every move. Even if the migrant reaches its destination in the West and does not drown in the anonymous mass graves of the Mediterranean, this is fundamentally unwelcome – and subject to a flurry of authorities and daily racist humiliations.

From biopolitics to necropolitics

The colonization of everyday life, which one could aptly call the expansion and technological potency of former colonial oppression, depends on it Mbembe in his related essay Necropolitics (Danish, 2019), describes as a «link between biopower, state of emergency and siege mode ». In this key essay, Mbembe describes how a link between governmental techniques and repression mechanisms is developed and tested in the post-colonial world.

Mbembe tries to rethink the postal colony in light of the latest technological mutations of late modern warfare based on Palestineand, more specifically, the Gaza Strip, which serves as a kind of laboratory for how entire populations can be subjected to experiments in new forms of brutalization and "endless war."

By extension, the Israeli architect and military theorist Eyal Weizman Mbembe describes a reorganization of the spatial coordinates of the war itself: «The battlefields are not only located on the surface of the earth – the underground as well as the airspace are made into conflict zones. The occupation of the sky is therefore critically important as most of the patrol is carried out from the air. Various other technologies are mobilized for this purpose: sensors on board drones (UAVs), reconnaissance aircraft, AWACS, attack helicopters, an earth observation satellite and "hologramammatizing" techniques. Killing is targeted precisely. ”

The fight against so-called illegal migrants developed into a social warfare on
global level.

Living dead

But the endless war in the postal colony not only aims to kill in the corporeal sense, but to develop precise technical operations to maintain redundant population groups in an absolutely impotent or subjected position. The Western subject status and the political privileges that accompany this status are constantly suspended in «new and unique forms of social existence ... giving them the status of living dead.

Where biopoliticsone's purpose was to monitor, maintain and manage life, to shape and transform individuals in order to produce certain types of (neoliberal) subjects, then necropoliticsone purpose, so to speak, the opposite: to leave millions of people to hunger, epidemics, war and escape, and to target the violent intervention, to those who dare to cross borders and claim to be subjects in their own right. Thus, for necropolitan regimes, death is not an end in itself. These degrade and destroy the rebellious way of lifeis – which, seen from the abstract value of capital, has become fundamentally "overlooked".

But the rebellious ways of life still claim their rightful share of life and their equally unquestionable right to inhabit the planet's original common space.

See "The disciplinary community was born out of the great plague epidemics." 

Dominique Routhier
Routhier is a regular critic of Ny Tid.
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