March 30, 2010

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Neoliberalism, reflexivity, and biopolitics Here is an excerpt from the draft of paper on neoliberalism and biopolitics. The longer version (although still very much draft, proto-paper, or narrative outline) is available here: Download Neoliberalism and drive wpsa Neoliberalism, reflexivity, and biopolitics Global capitalism threatens human continuation and planetary stability. The economic calamity of the past three years has forced even staunch neoliberals to acknowledge the excesses and instabilities wrought by privatization, financialization, and speculation. The meltdown of the financial system, with its cascade of effects on employment, pension funds, housing, education, social services, and infrastructure, with its bankrupting of entire countries and production of public debt at a scale heretofore associated with world war, has brought home the inequality and destruction previously (but not completely) displaced onto so-called developing and third worlds and into some first-world post-industrial (really, post-apocalyptic) cities and suburbs. What, if anything, does the concept of biopolitics contribute to our ability to analyze this conjuncture? On the one hand, as Mick Dillon points out, Foucault’s account of biopolitics provides an account of a specific modality of power, one that aims to ‘make life live.’Biopolitics does not designate a general theory but rather a set of processes, operations, and apparatuses that coexist among other discourses and operations producing and circulating power. Viewed from this angle, the question of biopolitics and the financial crisis that brought on the great recession may be the wrong question. Biopolitics doesn’t encompass everything. Analyses of biopolitics that focus on the life sciences, on bio-tech as an industry,...
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Aspergers: a disorder of our own The late Victorians had hysteria, then other neuroses, at least according to Freud. According to Deleuze and Guattari (not to mention R.D. Laing), yet more symptomatic was schizophrenia. And who are we or what is the syndrome marking us to ourselves? Aspergers. Topicality: it's made the cover of the NYT magazine. One of the featured hedge fund managers in The Big Short has Aspergers. A model on ANTM has had it (well, maybe not exactly, but she had something on the autism spectrum). A leading contender on American Idol seems like she may have it. With academics, it's easier to identify those without Aspergers than those with it. Applicability: Aspergers is characterized by difficulty in social interaction, difficulty in reading and responding to the emotions of others, and focused interest on seemingly odd topics. These traits could also be thought about in terms of the decline of symbolic efficiency wherein we are unsure about social norms and expectations, lack collective or symbolic identities, and become fixated on anything that might help us stabilize our fluctuating, unstable egos. Who doesn't find social interaction ever more challenging? We are unsure as to how others will respond to what we say and do. What some of us read as justified anger, others dismiss as irrational violence. We are also daily confronted with the specificity of others'--which strikes us as strange, foreign, oddly focused on matters we don't understand. This aspect could also link up with the overall climate of anti-intellectualism such that any...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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