Biopolitics, Civil Society and Political Eschatology: Foucault's Distrust in the Population's Inherent Forces

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Abstract

Michel Foucault's scepticism toward discourses on the organic vitality of populations is not only explainable by his attention to the dark 'underside of biopolitics - the risks of perse-cution of individuals, who threaten the population's vitality from the inside. Moreover, it should be understood in light of Foucault's acute sensitivity to the deep-seated, conflict-rid-den nature of the population in terms of its inherent potential for cultural clashes, violent struggles, suspicions, hatred, or, in short, the perpetual conflicts of civil society. Foucault's work led him to a position of ambiguous support for the state and to a more evident distrust in the forces of the population. He used the term "political eschatologies" about antipolitical visions that pronounce the end of politics in a final accord where social contradictions dis-solve and the community will prevail over the state. Foucault played on the religious signifi-cations of the term, especially in regard to the religious, fanatic rejection of the duality bet-ween state and civil society, a rejection that rests on the belief in a completion of historical and political time and the final salvation of all in "the city of God". The article demonstra-tes Foucault's highly ambiguous view of civil society, it examines his discussion Ferguson's work on civil society, and it considers Foucault's use of the term "political eschatologies" to indicate the dangers of extreme, anti-state, political movements. It challenges the image of Foucault as an unequivocal proponent of grass roots and identity politics.
Translated title of the contributionBiopolitics, Civil Society and Political Eschatology : Foucault's Distrust in the Population's Inherent Forces
Michel Foucault's scepticism toward discourses on the organic vitality of populations is not only explainable by his attention to the dark 'underside of biopolitics - the risks of perse-cution of individuals, who threaten the population's vitality from the inside. Moreover, it should be understood in light of Foucault's acute sensitivity to the deep-seated, conflict-rid-den nature of the population in terms of its inherent potential for cultural clashes, violent struggles, suspicions, hatred, or, in short, the perpetual conflicts of civil society. Foucault's work led him to a position of ambiguous support for the state and to a more evident distrust in the forces of the population. He used the term "political eschatologies" about antipolitical visions that pronounce the end of politics in a final accord where social contradictions dis-solve and the community will prevail over the state. Foucault played on the religious signifi-cations of the term, especially in regard to the religious, fanatic rejection of the duality bet-ween state and civil society, a rejection that rests on the belief in a completion of historical and political time and the final salvation of all in "the city of God". The article demonstra-tes Foucault's highly ambiguous view of civil society, it examines his discussion Ferguson's work on civil society, and it considers Foucault's use of the term "political eschatologies" to indicate the dangers of extreme, anti-state, political movements. It challenges the image of Foucault as an unequivocal proponent of grass roots and identity politics.
LanguageDanish
JournalSociologisk Forskning
Volume50
Issue number3/4
Pages267-287
ISSN0038-0342
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

    Cite this

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    title = "Biopolitik, civilsamfund og {"}politisk eskatologi{"}: Foucaults mistillid over for befolkningens indre kr{\ae}fter",
    abstract = "Michel Foucault's scepticism toward discourses on the organic vitality of populations is not only explainable by his attention to the dark 'underside of biopolitics - the risks of perse-cution of individuals, who threaten the population's vitality from the inside. Moreover, it should be understood in light of Foucault's acute sensitivity to the deep-seated, conflict-rid-den nature of the population in terms of its inherent potential for cultural clashes, violent struggles, suspicions, hatred, or, in short, the perpetual conflicts of civil society. Foucault's work led him to a position of ambiguous support for the state and to a more evident distrust in the forces of the population. He used the term {"}political eschatologies{"} about antipolitical visions that pronounce the end of politics in a final accord where social contradictions dis-solve and the community will prevail over the state. Foucault played on the religious signifi-cations of the term, especially in regard to the religious, fanatic rejection of the duality bet-ween state and civil society, a rejection that rests on the belief in a completion of historical and political time and the final salvation of all in {"}the city of God{"}. The article demonstra-tes Foucault's highly ambiguous view of civil society, it examines his discussion Ferguson's work on civil society, and it considers Foucault's use of the term {"}political eschatologies{"} to indicate the dangers of extreme, anti-state, political movements. It challenges the image of Foucault as an unequivocal proponent of grass roots and identity politics.",
    keywords = "Foucault, Civil society, Biopolitics , Political eschatology, The state",
    author = "Kaspar Villadsen",
    year = "2013",
    language = "Dansk",
    volume = "50",
    pages = "267--287",
    journal = "Sociologisk Forskning",
    issn = "0038-0342",
    publisher = "Sveriges Sociologfoerbund",
    number = "3/4",

    }

    Biopolitik, civilsamfund og "politisk eskatologi" : Foucaults mistillid over for befolkningens indre kræfter. / Villadsen, Kaspar.

    In: Sociologisk Forskning, Vol. 50, No. 3/4, 2013, p. 267-287.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    N2 - Michel Foucault's scepticism toward discourses on the organic vitality of populations is not only explainable by his attention to the dark 'underside of biopolitics - the risks of perse-cution of individuals, who threaten the population's vitality from the inside. Moreover, it should be understood in light of Foucault's acute sensitivity to the deep-seated, conflict-rid-den nature of the population in terms of its inherent potential for cultural clashes, violent struggles, suspicions, hatred, or, in short, the perpetual conflicts of civil society. Foucault's work led him to a position of ambiguous support for the state and to a more evident distrust in the forces of the population. He used the term "political eschatologies" about antipolitical visions that pronounce the end of politics in a final accord where social contradictions dis-solve and the community will prevail over the state. Foucault played on the religious signifi-cations of the term, especially in regard to the religious, fanatic rejection of the duality bet-ween state and civil society, a rejection that rests on the belief in a completion of historical and political time and the final salvation of all in "the city of God". The article demonstra-tes Foucault's highly ambiguous view of civil society, it examines his discussion Ferguson's work on civil society, and it considers Foucault's use of the term "political eschatologies" to indicate the dangers of extreme, anti-state, political movements. It challenges the image of Foucault as an unequivocal proponent of grass roots and identity politics.

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