Lately, much of the most insightful political analysis includes reference to “biofascism”, “biopower”, “biopolitics”, “the biosecurity state” and so on. These terms are new to many of us… What do they mean?
The Romanian agro-nihilist collective M.E.K.A.N. has authored an amazing called “Ecstasy in the time of the cholera” which offers some succinct notes on biopolitics from which I have distilled the following insights.
Biopolitics is not new. The primary M.O. of European hegemony is to create a network of power relations all working in conjunction in the aim of ruling Bios, that is, life.
Biopower can take many forms. It could mean the control of the health, reproduction, or epidemiology of the subjects, or the shaping and control of their intimate thoughts, desire, and imagination.
In the West, biopower acts through seduction, manipulation, and incitement, rather than through direct coercion. Successful biopower does not force you to take a certain path, but convinces you that this is either the only desirable path you can take, or the only possible one.
Biopolitical discourse is always the same: the authorities are taking all necessary measures to contain threats to health: the “contagious” (to be confined), the “degenerate” (to be eliminated), the “primitive” (to be educated and/or integrated)…
Whatever the State considers as its enemy is represented as an illness (infection, plague, cancer, pest, etc.) that attacks the body of the Nation.
Whenever Biopower enacts oppression, exclusion, discrimination, apartheid, incarceration, terror, war, torture, genocide and so on, it justifies it as an act meant to preserve the health and well-being of the Nation or population.
In this way, even the most ruthless governmental measures will be perceived by the loyal citizens as a neutral and benevolent therapeutic intervention.
Most Westerners have sunken into a state of infantilism, dependent on the will, guidance and resources of someone else; while at the same time perceiving the discipline and control that these authorities enact as normal, as good, as a privilege, as a right, as freedom or as love.
“Crisis” is the favourite new tool of biopolitics: kept in a perpetual state of crisis, the infantilized population will do anything to “save their lives”.
Fascists, who get themselves excited with biopolitical fantasies of genocide and “cleansing” at the best of times, compare migrants to the coronavirus; the news blurts that migrants bring over the infection; all sorts of brutality are justified through public health discourses.
The more docile one is, the more aggressively they will embrace egotism and fascism in times of crisis: terrorized by their own helplessness, the loyal citizen starts looking for a scapegoat, for someone on which to project their self-despise.
This can be, for example, one of the classical others of modernity: women, migrants, “non-whites”, “homosexuals”, etc.’. In the 2020 case, the scapegoats are “the infected”, “the asymptomatic positives”, “those that do not obey the quarantine and put all of us to risk”, etc.
And of course “anti-maskers”, “anti-vaxxers”, “conspiracy theorists”, people who socialize in defiance of public recommendations, etc.
If you’d like to learn more about these mysterious, radical and brilliant Romanian theorists, check out their website here: https://mekan.noblogs.org/