Logistical life: war, discipline, and the martial origins of liberal societies

Julian Reid

in The Biopolitics of the War on Terror

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780719074059
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701676 | DOI:
Logistical life: war, discipline, and the martial origins of liberal societies

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This chapter details Foucault's own neglected account of the origins of modern forms of disciplinary and biopolitical forms of power in the development of the military sciences of organisation. It draws on Foucault to demonstrate how liberal regimes of governance emerged during the eighteenth century in response to the challenge of how to overcome the problem of war within society; how that challenge led liberal regimes to develop unprecedented techniques with which to intervene upon and control the life of societies in the production of ways of living believed to be compatible with peace. And yet how, in turn, the development of such techniques of pacification has functioned historically to exacerbate the problem of war inter-socially in ways that are especially pertinent today. In order to remove the problem of war from society, liberal regimes set about making the life of their societies into so-called logistical life. Logistical life is a life lived under the duress of the command to be efficient, to communicate one's purposes transparently in relation to others, to be positioned where one is required, to use time economically, to be able to move when and where one is told to, and crucially, to be able to extol these capacities as the values which one would willingly, if called upon, kill and die for.

Keywords: Foucault; power; liberal regimes; governance; logistical life

Chapter.  11506 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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