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Financialising Biopower (3): Financialisation’s Double-Bind

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# This is a work in progress, please consult the author for citation #

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I offer alternative way to overcome the mere analogy between financialisation in economic realm and in social/societal realm, which as I argued before hinders us in seeing a purposeful gradual restructurisation of power in sustainability era. The idea is to reverse the analysis of financialisation of daily life to the analysis of the daily life of financialisation. By the latter, I will emphasise the quotidian and micro dynamics within the financialised life while not neglecting its global biopolitcial intervention. The alternative consists of two moves. The first is to see biopolitical financialisation as double-binded. The second is to take the problem of financialisation seriously in its economic terms. The two will converge around a model to specifically deals with the kind of society that dwells a redoubled financialised life, a society that I will call ‘the society of anticipation’.[1]

Gabriel-Metsu-xx-Usurer-with-a-Tearful-Woman-1654
(Sumber: Usurer with A Tearful Woman, Gabriel Metsu (1654); worldofcoins.eu)

First, on the double bind logic of biopolitical financialisation. To account for the double bind feature, I follow the contextual logic already worked out (and continue to do so) by the Paris school of insecuritisation theory.[2] Drawing from Foucault’s (mostly later) works on governmentality, this school argues that when security concerns are declared, uttered, framed or simply announced, a sphere of insecurity is at the same time created. In other words, the practice of security affects the context within which it emerges and constitutes the society to which it addresses.[3] The two happen simultaneously and thereby cannot be disentangled from each other; Didier Bigo uses the metaphor of Möbius ribbon to accentuate this inseparable of security/insecurity.[4] (The Copenhagen school of securitisation theory, this school criticises, neglects this very consequence of the securitising move). It is this contextual logic of insecurity that my initial theorisation of financialisation’s double bind draws inspiration from.

Second, on the economy of financialisation. Financialisation must be seen as a form of accumulation of capital, or in the French Régulation school, an accumulation regime—that is a long-term trajectory of profit growth.[5] Financialisation marks a new mode of accumulation away from real economy (production by means of material production) to that of finance economy (production of money by means of circulation of money). This is still the old one. The newer one, that is the biopolitical financialisation which targets the life itself, tries to convert every aspect of life into asset/capital to generate a long-term steady amount of profit. Financialisation, in its biopolitical version, then involves a kind of capitalisation process. However, this time, I argue, that this kind of financialisation is also outdated. The latest form of financialisation is no longer the biopolitical financialisation, but rather the financialisation of biopower. In it, the power to permanently financialise every aspect of life becomes the subject of financial investment. This way, the investment is done not for a money profit in return, but for the sustainable process of financial investment itself.

The novelty of this kind of financialisation rests in its attempt to render the biopower itself a collateral. This means to subject the entire ensemble of institution, knowledge and expert that rule over the conception of life to financial logic. By this, the entire ensemble of biopower will be treated as something that is exposed to risk. This gesture might be call a ‘riskification’.[6] This riskification gesture will read biopower in terms of risk. Specifically, the “riskifying actor would need to point convincingly not to a specific and existing threat, but to the existence of conditions of possibility or ‘permissive causes’ of future possible harmful events.”[7] After being subjected to a riskification move, the ensemble of biopower is securitised. Securitising a biopower entity must be seen as reinforcing its modalities in order that it be tougher, more prepared, readier to survive should any risk materialised and to mitigate it.  So, here we have three steps in finansialising biopower: capitalisation, riskification and securitisation.

If the two moves are combined, then we will have a model of analysis sufficient to map out the new biopolitical diagram of the financialisation of biopower. This combination will apply the first move to the second. The three steps financialisation of biopower, insofar it is a financialisation, also has a double-bind feature. When a biopower entity is financialised, then it constitutes the context and the society on which it excercises its power. So the three steps must be added with a mirroring three steps. My proposal would be: proletarianisation, precarisation and insecuritisation. Along with the capitalisation of biopower, proletarianisation happens on the side of the society under the sphere of biopower. This society will be deprived of its access to and autonomy towards capital, which is the life itself.[8] When the biopower is riskified, the society will be precaritised in that it will be exposed to the condition of being unsure, uncertain, and unstable.[9] Lastly, when securitisation reinforces and reinstates the power apparatus to biopower entity, then the society will be powerless and thus exposed to the ever-present danger and enveloped in fear. These three processes will then result in a new kind of society specific to the age of financialised biopower, that is a society of anticipation. People in this kind of society are confronted with permanent feeling of uncertainty, powerless, fear and risk, and would do anything they could to anticipate and to ensure their survival and well-being. Randy Martin rightly points out that “the consequence of risk acceptance is that the actions of others take hold of your fate.”[10]

Aims and Methods

The analytical model outlined above will then be employed in the course of the research. In so doing, I designate three aims for the study. Firstly, I will do a brief genealogy of the biopower before and aftermath of the 2008 crisis. The Foucauldian method of problematisation will be at work. The emergence of any biopower, in the light of this method, will be seen as a specific solution to a specific mode of problematic. So, in the context of this research, I will trace every effort to pose a problem for the former biopolitical aparatus before the crisis and carefully see how a specific mode of biopower came to be the answer to the crisis, while not the other. More specifically, I willl detect a shift of biopower discourse articulating around and during the crisis. In so doing, I will focus on the various discourse, statement, initiative, pamphlet, report, rhetorics, speech, program, rundown event arrangement, invited guest, conference design, etc., articulated by leaders, world figures, top CEOs, experts, etc., in the World Economic Forum (WEF) from around 2008-2013. Specifically, it is on how they responded to the crisis and related it to the problem of governance. The merit of beginning with the WEF is its informal and non-binding nature. The Forum gathers, invites, converses, discusses, provokes, and speculates on the ideas that are relevant for the contemporary situation at time. In 2008-2013, of course, recovery from crisis has seized the main agenda of the forum. Thus, we can get a hint about the form of governance (or biopolitics) in gestation. The aim is to properly contextualise the rise of the new biopilitics, i.e. the financialisation of biopower.

Secondly, I will further elaborate on the detail of the thesis of the new biopolitics. The model of financialisation’s double bind already outlined above will be developed further by bringing it to the dialogue with the existing breadth of academic intervention in the field. To develop the capitalisation/proletarianisation part, I will enter into dialogue with the theorisation of post-Autonomist Marxist scholar on the way in which contempary capitalism, or in their word “cognitive capitalism,” has successfully put every aspect of life to work for the permanent reproduction of capital. For the riskification/precarisation part, I will invite the risk-IR and risk-society theorists into the discussion on the one hand, and relate it to what has been done by some feminist post-Autonomist marxist on the problem of precarity, precarisation, and precariat. Lastly, for the securitisation/insecuritisation part, I will engage the (European) non-traditional security theories, mainly of securitisation (Copenhagen school) and of insecuritisation (Paris school). By the end of the chapter, this research is ready to draw the diagram of the new biopolitics.

Drawing the diagram of the new biopolitics will be the third aim of the study. In doing so, this research will focus on the biopolitical shift of paradigm manifested in the discourse of Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. The shift from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, the rise of the so-called green and blue economy, the food security discourse, biotechnology business, etc., will be put under scrutiny by the analytical model of financialisation’s double bind. To look at the societal context of the enactment of the new biopolitics, this research will compare societal impact of the program on Indonesia, especially through its MP3EI program—The Masterplan of Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development, with the same impact on another country.[11] For Indonesia case, I will focus on the Masterplan document—its truth-knowlege claim, its supporting academic/expert report, its derivative acts (legal and institutional) from the national up to the county/village level, and its network of consultant/trusteeship/NGOs. Some semi-structured interview will be conducted to two groups of informants: decision makers (national to local) and representatives of society. Some prospective targets (but yet still tentative) are: the UKP4 (Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development)—which consists of experts (and all of them are outsorced “worker”!), the BAPPENAS (National Development Planning Agency)—which consists of technocrats, the Trade Ministry, and Industrial Ministry, but also the Education Ministry that I claim plays a central role in orienting the country’s orientation of education. With regard to the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, Indonesia is a unique case due to its being one of the three co-chair (along with Liberia and United Kingdom) specially appointed by the Secretary General to prepare and conceptualise the post-2015 agenda, and to represent the voice of developing countries therein.

Finally, the research will then discuss the findings and draw the theoretical implication for the understanding of both biopolitical financialisation and financialisation of biopower, and explore the possibility to carry on Foucault’s call to defend the society in the wake of the new and contemporary biopolitcs. The new call might be: society’s future must be defended. [HYP]

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