The Republic of the Living: Biopolitics and the Critique of Civil Society.pdf

The Republic of the Living: Biopolitics and the Critique of Civil Society.pdf


"In this thrilling intervention into thinking about human life, Miguel Vatter rejects the usual turn towards bios and turns instead (using Agamben, Benjamin and many other interlocutors to do so) towards the physical, the local, and the body in all its vulnerability and desire. In this way the body as fetish can become a means for its own unraveling; a turn towards the body, towards zoe, can mean that the body becomes something other than a site upon which power is exercised (biopower) and become instead a site in which power is experienced, negotiated and often subverted (biopolitics)."-James Martel, San Francisco State University "This book moves forward the entire debate on biopolitics. Offering a new articulation of the politics of life with the republican conception of politics, the book outlines in suggestive ways the contours of an affirmative biopolitics. Natality, normativity, and eternal life are the categories through which the author gives new strength to Foucault's perspective."-Roberto Esposito

Miguel Vatter is Professor of Politics at the University of New South Wales. He is the author of Between Form and Event: Machiavelli's Theory of Political Freedom (Kluwer, paperback edition Fordham) and is editor of Crediting God. Sovereignty and Religion in the Age of Global Capitalism (Fordham).

Acknowledgments Introduction Part I. Biopolitics of the Economy 1. The Tragedy of Civil Society and Republican Politics in Hegel 2. Living Labor and Self-Generative Value in Marx Part II. Biopolitics of the Family 3. Reification and the Redemption of Bare Life in Adorno and Agamben 4. Natality, Fertility, Mimesis in Arendt's Theory of Freedom 5. The Heroism of Sexuality in Benjamin and Foucault Part III. Biopolitics of Rights 6. Free Markets and Republican Constitutions in Hayek and Foucault 7. Biopolitical Cosmopolitanism: The Right to Have Rights in Arendt and Agamben Part IV. Biopolitics of Eternal Life 8. The Unity of Biological Life and a Philosophical Life in Aristotle, Spinoza, and Heidegger 9. Eternal Recurrence and the Now of Revolution: Nietzsche and Messianic Marxism Notes Bibliography Index

This book takes up Foucault's hypothesis that liberal "civil society," far from being a sphere of natural freedoms, designates the social spaces where our biological lives come under new forms of control, and are invested with new forms of biopower. In order to test this hypothesis, the chapters look back at the critical theory of civil society starting with Hegel and Marx through Lukacs, Adorno, Benjamin and Arendt from the new horizon opened up by Foucault's turn to biopolitics and its reception in recent Italian theory. Negri, Agamben, and Esposito have argued that biopolitics denotes not only new forms of domination over life, but harbors within it an affirmative relation between biological life and politics that carries an emancipatory potential. The chapters of this book take up this suggestion by locating this emancipatory potential in the biopolitical feature of the human condition that Arendt called "natality" and proceed to illustrate how natality is the basis for a republican articulation of an affirmative biopolitics. This book aims to renew the critical theory of civil society by pursuing the traces of natality as a "surplus of life" that resists the oppressive government of life found in the capitalist political economy, in the liberal system of rights, in the bourgeois family and offers the normative foundation for a new "republic of the living." Finally, natality permits to establish a relation between biological life and contemplative life that reverses the long held belief in a privileged relationship of thinking to the possibility of our death in order to propose a materialist, atheological conception of contemplative life as eternal life.


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