Critical Analysis of Giorgio Agamben
In, Life That Does Not Deserve to Live, Giorgio Agamben aims to expand on Michel Foucault’s concepts of ‘biopower’ and ‘biopolitics’, to express the way in which the state has power over society in the way that ‘bare life’ is produced. He uses the Latin term homo sacer – literally translated to ‘sacred man’ – to describe a life which can be “eliminated without punishment” , one that possesses no value to the state and therefore can be terminated without the act being considered a crime. Examples of this can be seen in people who experience ‘brain death’ and subsequently have their life support machine switched off, and in people in prison camps such as Guantanamo Bay. However, the biggest example we are given of bare life, is in the Jewish
…show more content…
This, for Agamben, is what defines ‘biopower’, the power to decide whose life is worthy of being lived. This expands on Foucault’s point that, “Biopolitics deals with the population…that is at once scientific and political, as a biological problem and as power’s problem. And I think that biopolitics emerges at this time” . Thus, the Nazi regime was not only an example that clearly illustrated both points made by Foucault and Agamben, but it is the first noticeable instance of this new structure. Therefore, even the democratic societies that succeeded this regime are linked even closer to it because they, arguably, take the relationship between state and health directly from this system. This link can be shown with the creation of the National Health Service in Britain only three years after the end of the Second World War.
Overall, Agamben certainly uses Foucault’s terminology of ‘biopower’ and ‘biopolitics’ in his concept of ‘bare life’. He uses the expands the notion of ‘biopower’ in the sense that he sees the relationship between politics and medicine in the modern society. However, for Agamben, ‘biopower’ is the power of the sovereign to decide who should live and who should die, where Foucault claimed it to be the surveillance over the body. His thesis on the camp being the definitive model for the line between ‘bios’ and ‘zoe’ is interesting in the