The concept of “biopower” (the power exerted by modern biopolitics) entails, as rightly observed by Gomes Pereira, an “ambiguous movement: a juncture in a life that must be protected at all costs, the invention of others that threaten life, and the emergence of lives that do not deserve to be lived. Thus, we live in a time when there is overvaluation and protection of life, while at the same time there are areas where people are left to die” (Gomes Pereira, Pedro Paulo. “In and Around Life: Biopolitics in the Tropics”, in Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology, 10(2), pp. 13-37, 2013).
What does this remind you of?
Here is a hint: Although many of us believe that “biopolitics” is a pejorative term invented by Foucault, the word was originally coined seventy years before the French thinker, in 1905, by the Swedish radical conservative Rudolf Kjellén. Biopolitics (biopolitik), in Kjellen’s Weltanschauung, indicated his vitalistic conception of the State: “the political is nothing else but the continuation of nature at another level and therefore destined to incorporate and reproduce nature’s original characteristics” (Gunneflo, Markus. “Rudolf Kjellén: Nordic Biopolitics Before the Welfare State”, in Retfærd: Nordisk juridisk tidsskrift, 35(3), 2015. ). It is worth noticing that the socialdemocratic notion of Folkhemmet was influenced by Kjellén’s thought.