Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Kordela, A.K.
Monsters of biopower: Terror(ism) and horror in the era of affect
(2016) Philosophy Today, 60 (1), pp. 193-205.

DOI: 10.5840/philtoday2016113104

This paper argues that today the true source of terror in the economico-bio-politically advanced countries of global capitalism lies in biopower’s own constitution as a normative field (the protection of life) that presupposes its exception (the superfluity of life) as its own precondition. At the two extreme poles of this exception we find “terrorism,” and particularly suicide bombing, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones), as the pair revealing the core of biopower. However, of the two only “terrorism” is discursively constructed in the “West” as a monstrous act that should incite horror. Linking horror to the psychoanalytic concepts of repression and foreclosure, I argue that the biopolitical function of horror lies in rendering unreadable the message of such “monstrous” acts. Furthermore, insofar as horror’s experience is an affective state of being that can, nevertheless, be incited discursively, affect shifts to the center of the political domain. The affect of horror in particular becomes instrumental to politics as it can provide the criterion for determining the bio-racial break between, in Foucault’s words, “what must live and what must die “. © 2016. Philosophy Today.

Author Keywords
Affect; Biopolitics; Psychoanalysis; Racism; Terrorism

One thought on “Monsters of biopower: Terror(ism) and horror in the era of affect (2016)

  1. Janet Abbey says:

    So we enter the land of McLuhan in this abstract. The Medium is the Message and as McLuhan tells us the message of the Medium is invisible and colonizes us. The invisible horror remains unseen. The content of the individual EVENTS is irrelevant. Terrorism has seeped into our bones and cortex.

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