Biopolitical life: the ‘war against war’ of the multitude

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:
Biopolitical life: the ‘war against war’ of the multitude

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This chapter pursues the problem of what life is and what life may become outside of its capture within the forms of logistical order promoted in the name of a War on Terror, through recourse to the work of two of the most currently influential of all Foucauldian thinkers, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. What defines the work of Hardt and Negri, and certainly what has helped make their work so popular in recent years, is their attempt to reconstitute the historical tradition of refusal of and resistance to the logistical ordering of liberal societies. The chapter is organized as follows. One section provides an account of the development of the theory of the war of the multitude as it occurs in Negri's political thought. The text then examines how this contributes to the more recent account of Hardt and Negri's conceptualisation of the ‘two wars of liberal modernity’ through which, as they argue, the antagonistic relationship between the multitude and liberal regimes has developed. The final section addresses the problem of how this antagonism has been complicated by the emergence of Terror as a resistance to liberal regimes, and the question of whether Hardt and Negri are able to usefully distinguish their account of the contemporary character of the war of the multitude from it.

Keywords: life; War on Terror; Michael Hardt; Antonio Negri; liberal modernity; liberal regimes

Chapter.  11318 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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