Archive for critiquing

Kritiking Space Exploration and Development

Posted in 2011-2012 High School Space Topic, camp, High School, topic with tags , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by kevin kuswa


Dr. Kevin D. Kuswa*

(2011-2012) Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.

            As many of you know, a topic very similar to this one has been debated on the high school level in the past.  Full of debates about resource wars, the overpopulation crisis and possible solutions, mapping asteroids, the intent and existence of various clans of extra-terrestrials, and weapons snatched from the plots of science fiction novels, the clashes were evenly matched and quite interesting.  This year’s topic adds the idea of “development,” arguably the step taken after exploration and a more explicit gesture to the free market’s inevitable influence in space (privatization CP, anyone? Just collect cards that say the USFG crowds out investment in space to answer the permutation).  “Development of space” is conceivably dependent on exploration, such that the topic is divided between “first-stage discovery” and “second-stage use” where the objective is more sustained and regulated.  The unfortunate construction of “and/or” will probably hinder some of these rich sequencing debates, but they will also reinforce each other (exploration leads to more development and vice-versa) so that being well prepared on one means being well-prepared on both.  Another interesting series of questions concerns what activities related to space are NOT exploration or development, how do these endeavors (education about space, for example), trade off with one another or open ground for negative counterplans, and what aspect of space policy is most ripe for criticism?

            Of course, once again, the USFG is at the center of the universe, this time literally, as the topic projects outward to the Earth’s second atmospheric layer “and beyond.”  How often do you see the Earth take on a possessive in this sense and what arrogance to assume that the USFG should be the agent to explore and develop all external territory?  Copernicus would be proud.  “Dancing with the Stars” becomes governing them, and not like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!  This essay is an attempt to begin the broad link debate for a number of Kritiking options on the Space Topic, a taste of the depth and clash necessary to compete successfully on the negative.  Backing up, though, before detailing a few arguments on each side, we must begin with an Overview.

I. Overview…

…Effect, (1)  because getting outside the Earth and gazing upon her wonder is the true route to planetary consciousness—perhaps the mental space beyond the “meso” or “middle” sphere?  The affirmative has to occur in the “Thermosphere” or beyond, with the Earth defined as the starting point—the center—and the USFG as the puppet master of that planet.  Even more interesting, whether you have a starting point on the Earth or outside the Earth, we know that the mesosphere itself is excluded—at least from topical affirmative action. To explicitly project beyond this layer is to invite debates about the layer itself, a response intrinsic to the wording of the topic.  And, in this case, a brief swipe at the literature points to a fascinating layer of change and transition—the place where the Earth’s environment converts into what we so rigorously classify as “outer space.”  Information on the upper atmosphere wiki provides a description:     

“More than 100 metric tons of meteoric debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere per day, most of it in the form of small meteoroid metal particles with sizes smaller than 1 mm, evaporating and forming atomic Metal Layers, which are observed mainly in the mesosphere, at a range between 80 and 105 km. The mesosphere is also the region where turbulent mixing of the lower and middle atmosphere ends and molecular diffusion becomes the dominant transport process. This leads to composition changes: whereas below the mesosphere composition is constant, above the mesosphere it changes drastically with altitude such that the heavier species are concentrated lower down while the light ones dominate at the higher altitudes.” (2)

The same source contends that this region is the location for the highest clouds on the planet made up of ice crystals (Noctilucent Clouds), and it is the “gateway that connects the Earth to space.”   Because of its properties, the mesosphere is critical to the study of global warming, space travel, energy use, and many other crucial questions, yet it is underexplored and often neglected because it is too close to study by spacecraft and too distant to study through remote sensing.

            This issue may end up being more of a PIC debate (strike the phrase “beyond the mesosphere” and defend textual competition), but the mesosphere is definitely a good place to start thinking about the crazed anthropocentrism of what the topic implies in the first place.  More broadly, begin with an assessment of what you will be up against—what most affirmatives will try to claim against you.  Regardless of our treatment of the mesosphere and below/within, this topic is all about the new frontier and claiming it for a group of nation-states, the colonization of the unknown, a classic strategy of human and Western imperialism, capitalism, racism, the patriarchy, and other ideologies premised on power, progress, and advancement through exploitation and ownership.  If the aff does not find itself caught up in calculative thinking as a means of understanding and managing everything that is outside the planet’s atmosphere, often parallel to sailing out across the ocean to ‘discover’ new worlds, built on the promise of unimaginable wealth and beauty, it is probably not topical.  Older criticisms of development and structural adjustment (Escobar, E. San Juan) often turn to horror stories involving space exploitation as a metaphor for the ways in which industrial capital would commodify the “Other” based on race and class, as well as “difference” in general—a natural Us-Them dichotomy, exploiting entire regions of the universe under the flag of “Explore and Develop.”  Now it is no longer a metaphor, and simple assumptions like “nation-states will get along when faced with new challenges,” “humans make good decisions about energy use and weapons development,” and “now is the time to devote our capital and resources to speculation beyond the planet,” will confound affirmatives with a very high burden of proof all season, giving the topical case a lot to overcome when forced to defend the topic.

II. The Link.

When you hear exploration, you should conflate “exploitation.”  When you hear development, you should conflate “envelopment.”  Resolved: Expand the Exploitation and Erasure of Space.  No.  That is not a statement that should be supported and any affirmative contributing to such a shattering and apocalyptic project should be rejected. 

            The traditional affirmative case will claim some combination of advantages about US leadership in space, the scientific advances possible in space, the economic bounty we can access in space, and a few other “keys to survival” that can only be obtained by exploring and developing beyond the mesosphere.  The affirmative will try to assert that space exploration is not only beneficial to humankind, but also imperative to the survival of our species. A more specific policy will likely contend that NASA does not receive necessary funding to maximize its full potential and an increased budget would enhance efforts to discover new advances in medical, environmental, and other fields, as well as potentially encountering new life forms.  Finally, in solvency, the aff will state that the United States can ensure cooperation with other nations and use space exploration as a tool for global diplomacy.   Let us go through some of these arguments in detail:

1. Funding and support. 

The substantial increase in exploration and development has to be justified through the political process and this is the first step for understanding the full reaches of the link arguments.  Congress approves between $15 and $20 billion in funds for NASA each year and the spending compromise in April is no exception.   The funds are always hotly contested (indeed, more chopping is bound to occur to the $18 billion allocated for 2011), making for a nexus of link arguments about prioritization, taxation, and general debates about federal spending.

“The U.S. Congress included $18.45 billion for NASA in hard-fought spending compromise lawmakers passed April 14 to fund the federal government for the last five months of the 2011 budget year…  Most of the NASA savings were achieved by funding Space Operations — an account that includes the international space station and soon-to-be-retired space shuttle — at about $600 million below the 2010 level and denying increases the White House sought for Aeronautics and Education. There’s also no funding specified for Space Technology, a roughly $300 million account NASA hopes to boost to $1 billion next year. NASA’s Exploration Systems and Science Mission Directorates were the big winners, with both divisions singled out for significant boosts. The NASA Science Mission Directorate — that part of the agency that funds planetary probes, space telescopes and environmental satellites — will receive $4.945 billion for the remainder of 2011, or about $448 million above the 2010 level. H.R. 1473 also frees NASA to formally cancel the Constellation program under which it has been developing the Ares family of rockets and an Orion spacecraft optimized for manned lunar missions.” (3)

The specified dollar amounts matter, and the line between increasing and maintaining is fairly clear.  This may not strike readers as a primary link argument for most critiques, but such a dismissal would be costly for those aspiring to kritik the resolution throughout the year because you cannot “race to the middle” and succeed.  You must master the specifics, know the political context that the affirmative is mired in, and be ready to debate the ways these bureaucracies operate (or claim to operate).  “State bad,” friends, is insufficient. 

2.  Technology and Space. 

            The affirmative is certain to contend that the discovery of new technology and resources depends on further space exploration.   1ACs will cite people like Mark Whittington, a self-published author and space advocate, in order to sell the concept of “spin-offs” (4).  In short, space exploration, worth over $50 billion in jobs and contracts a year, stimulates the economy, creates spin-off technologies, and inspires thousands of school-children to “reach for the stars.”  According to this argument, even though the concept of “spin-offs” has tended to be oversold, these advances do exist and they have brought benefits to society on a scale that justifies the expenditures devoted to space. Further advances are possible, yielding more products, perhaps everything from water recycling technology to new sources of energy. Space technology developed by NASA has proven useful for private space commerce and this trend could continue in the future. 

            The assumptions that these advances are always there for the taking and that humans should consider space as a vast array of resources to be harnessed and deployed for human purposes is a difficult one to defend from any standpoint or ethics concerned with anthropocentric thinking.  The “environment” as an ecological practice and a sense of Oneness cannot be separated from space itself, no matter how abstract or distant that space is.  Human conquest is a form of imperial control and domination, regardless of the new forms of fuel that are added to the fire.  Almost equally compelling against the “space bounty” affirmatives is a position centered on capitalism and an ethics of fighting a system of economic accumulation.  Resisting capitalist-statism, the jurist-priest and the magician-emperor for D&G, requiring rejecting a Master-Servant binary with the USFG as the agent of exploration and development while the construction of space is empty itself, a “New World” being defined as unknown and beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, yet somehow inert, waiting to be managed and allocated, void of independent agency, and constructed—in total—as a resource.  Del McWhorter and Gail Stenstad provide plenty of ammunition against a calculative approach to Being seen in the management of resources in the 2009 edition (Toronto Press) of Heidegger and the Earth.  Thinking through technology is also a quick route to the subjectification of the self to the smooth operation of objects, what Baudrillard would call The Perfect Crime.    

3. Leadership and Space. 

            From here you can take your pick of scenarios, and affirmatives will, always holding back an add-on or two and ready to ratchet up the escalation ladder in terms of planetary annihilation and beyond.  The “” website is a collection of justifications for space exploration generated by a “group of young professionals with a passion for space exploration” and includes health, education, security, energy, economy, leadership, and the environment.  Among these sections, Go Boldly (5) connects space exploration and NASA’s role to the development of vaccines from microbiological research performed on the International Space Station (ISS), to advances in baby formula necessary for neural and visual development, to medical improvements in kidney dialysis and a number of other life-saving procedures, to energy efficiency improvements in construction material, to new means of harnessing energy through fuel cells and other solar power.  The possibilities are virtually infinite given the significant leaps in knowledge we have already made through space exploration.

            Making a link out of these types of arguments is essential because letting this type of assertion slide is the recipe for a 2AC and 2AR that claims to “solve the problems under-riding the kritik of technology” by eliminating poverty, providing infinite (or free—see Tesla Coil) energy for the planet, or otherwise making resource constraints less of a problem for humanity.  This blind faith in future technology should also be characterized as a link, but the negative would be well-advised to poke holes in the “space tech solves” argument in as many ways as possible.  Debating the progress and living standard improvements of technology in general will be a good starting point for the debate about future advances coming out of more space exploration and development, but ultimately this is a question of framing.  Not same vague “framework-fiat garble,” but a rhetorical framing of all of the benefits brought about by space innovations operating alongside the continued poverty, warfare, disease, and resource limitations on earth, not to mention structures of racism, sexism, and a number of other identity binaries that result in the enslavement and oppression of vast number of people across the planet.  Space innovations have solved, what, exactly?  For whom?  The affirmative will want to say space is different and the negative will need to interrogate that claim aggressively. 

            Many “space cooperation possible” arguments will cite David Livingston, a regular space podcaster as the host of the Space Show ( in addition to serving as an adjunct in the Space Studies Department at the University of North Dakota.  Livingston argues that a sizable portion of our space technology and experience in outer space was developed when the US and the then-USSR were forging treaties to cooperate in space exploration, to prohibit weapons in space, to rescue each other’s astronauts/cosmonauts if necessary, and to treat celestial bodies in a way that prevented territorial ownership while allowing room for resource development for all humanity. These nations worked together to prevent conflict in space and the efforts have a proven and unparalleled track record. Today, Livingston notes, the International Space Station features multiple countries working together under a model agreement that works. This has always been the case in space exploration. No other discipline, activity, venture, or multinational effort has a track record equal to “manned (sic.) space development.”  The aff will want to argue that even though there may be challenges ahead for our space behavior, so far we are doing fine in space, certainly much better with each other than we are doing back here on Earth. (6)  The bottom line is that the furthest the aff. will be able to go on the “space is different” track is through a loose statement of current endeavors like the I.S.S. and a total dismissal of existing planetary conflict.

            Livingston, Whittington, and many other space exploration advocates will emphasize the cooperation and harmony that has dominated most of our current efforts in space. (7)  The negative needs to debate these claims head on and has a vast arsenal from which to select arguments.  Research on the nation-state, diplomacy, international relations, and realism is abundant and has been debated for decades.  The trick is to find the sources that make those same types of criticisms in the context of space policy (8) and the “spirit of cooperation” that apparently prevails in space.  With specific evidence, it should not be hard to apply a Foucauldian criticism of the capture of “peace” (politics is war by other means), or a criticism of “Security” in international relations using Dillon, Dalby, Ole Weaver, and many others.  Throughout the debate, the link needs to stress the fact that the affirmative represents a substantial increase in investment in space by the USFG at a time when the US cannot cover its mammoth debt and is cutting billions of dollars from an already super-strained budget.  Empirical examples do not take into account the unilateral nature of the topic and the current financial condition of the United States.  

4. Survival of the Species / Extinction Rhetoric

The Decision:  To Be(ar) or not to Be:

            The negative needs to make a choice, at least in the block, as to whether the debate should be about ideology and the logical extension of the way we think OR if the debate should be about the rhetorical choices we make to defend various forms of competing advocacies in the round.  Ideology-effect or Rhetorical-effect?  Materiality and the constitutive effects of rhetoric matter in both, but the first asks questions about the world as a whole and the second asks questions about the debate’s depictions of the world in the context of an external set of subjectivities and movements.  This choice might not seem to matter in that both options are not transfixed on fiat, but it actually could be quite significant.   This is a round-framing distinction primarily based on the treatment of debate’s relationship to rhetoric—the rhetoric of the sources being used and the literal speech created by the debaters in the round.  The ideology position tends to argue that the method deployed by the affirmative is complicit and indicative of a path that will itself end in extinction.  Some critiques of capitalism argue that a system of wage exploitation will bring us to extinction, some critiques of white privilege argue that structures of racism will bring us to extinction, some critiques of technology argue that our own military advances will bring us to extinction, and some critiques of anthropocentrism argue that humans will find a way to destroy the planet by extracting its resources and overpopulating the land.

            So, if this is the type of criticism (essentially an ideological criticism) that is in play in the debate round, it is difficult to do much with the “rhetorics of survival/extinction.”  Both sides are making claims about the end of life as we know it or the value of preserving life in the first place.  The words and descriptions we use in the debate are central to the detection and elaboration of various ideologies, but the word choice and the representations emanating from the discourse uttered in the debate are not the starting points of the criticism.  Most ideological criticisms posit a distinct “root cause” or general path of inevitable doom within which the affirmative operates.

            Thus, in this first realm, the Ideology-Effect, the negative critique will have to confront the affirmative’s argument about extinction—that the planet is doomed and the colonization of space is crucial to the continued long-term survival of the species and many other aspects of life on Earth.  There are no shortage of extinction arguments that might compel a vigorous space program and generate an imperative to find ways to sustain life off the planet.  Asteroids, evil or robotic extra-terrestrials, the use of weapons of mass destruction, natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc.), sun shifts, massive plagues, a loss of presidential political capital, global starvation, or of course global warming are just the tip of the extinction iceberg, all of which could justify a rapid exodus off the rock we call home.

            To Bear down on this affirmative argument, encapsulated wonderfully in the literature advocating the colonization of Mars, means indicting the extinction scenarios offered by the affirmative and using the push into space as proof of the actual world-ending consequences of the ideology being critiqued.  In other words, fight fire with gravity.  The affirmative will come at the extinction question from any number of places.  Professor of Physics at Arizona State University as well as the Director of the “Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science,” Paul Davies supports the colonization of Mars because such a colony would act as a “lifeboat in the event of a global catastrophe.”  He contends:

“A worldwide project to create a second home for humankind elsewhere in the solar system would be the greatest adventure our species has embarked upon since walking out of Africa 100,000 years ago, and provide a unifying influence unparalleled in history.” (9)

Not only would a Mars colony act as a safety-valve, humans could mine its asteroid belt for minerals.  The ability to survive on Mars may be changing as it begins to warm, according to Science News. (10).  Again, from an ideological perspective, these are the kinds of arguments that will need to be positioned as the harbingers of extinction, not the solutions.  As the market begins to colonize planets other than Earth, the logics of capitalism and labor exploitation, for example, will force the simultaneous weaponization of space.  Conflicts among nations will provoke further militarization, making an accidental launch or the escalation of hostilities even more likely than if we were to stay rooted on the planet.  As space exploration frees us from certain constraints, it will also make it easier and more thinkable to enact species-threatening changes. 

            If the negative is not going to criticize the rhetoric of the “doomsayers/space saviors” and make a series of threat construction arguments, another path than can help minimize the aff’s contention that space is the only escape—separation or death—try or die, is the argument that colonization is inevitable.  Whether the US substantially increases its efforts or not, privatization is coming and is being fueled by the government as we speak. (11)  Do not let the affirmative get away with the outlandish claim that space exploration and development will halt without the plan. 

            We will end the link section with a note about the second of the two options (To Bear or Not to Be)—the “Rhetorical Effect” kritik.  The argument begins with the speech choices made by the affirmative and the effects of their particular advocacy based on their discourse and their representations.  Yes, the ideological-effect and the rhetorical-effect overlap and bleed into one another constantly, but there is value in isolating the affirmative’s speech-act as distinct from the ways the external world can be imagined or constructed.  To say that the Earth is facing total annihilation, then, is more about the effects of making such a claim in the debate than it is an impact to be compared against the impacts that might result from thinking within the constraints laid out by the plan.  The identities, subjectivities, and physical locations (bodies, places, and territories) are meaningful and cannot be dismissed—the rhetoric generated by the debaters is the primary route to those considerations and must be evaluated through the lens of how debate relates to change discursively.  This is an appropriate bridge to the second half of the negative’s task: make the link count.

III.  Concluding:  Not Pigs…In….Space!, but Pigs in Zen.

            The link is not enough alone and a few additional steps will need to be take to seal the deal and move from the application to the ballot itself.  The negative should win the debate because the USFG is not in a position to expand space exploration given the magnitude of the more immediate concerns at home and on the planet.  If the “Earth First!” mantra can become more than a minor blip on the social movement radar, the ethics behind any dismissal of our local surroundings may make space exploration a difficult endeavor to expand.  Maybe Whitey should not be on the moon until more humans can pay the rent.  At the very least, we have series of ethical questions to ask before a massive reorientation toward outer space is undertaken. (12)   A good place to concentrate is the space weapons debate, how these weapons are being controlled, the consequences of arms control and misperception, and the internal links between exploration and militarization.  DeBlois, for example, argues that some advances may need to be given up by the US in order to obtain assurances from other nations and to assure that US efforts are not seen as overly ambitious or aggressive. (13)  If exploration and development are a prelude to warfare and space and space war would be catastrophic, than the plan is probably worth rejecting and will not solve as expected.

            The major thread of this essay has been to seek out specificity in the link debate and to use those links as platforms for the remainder of the position.  If it is important to look at space exploration from a philosophical approach, the game is on!

Erin Daly, ASU, and Frodeman, Chair of the North Texas Philosophy Dept, ’08.

“Revolutions in philosophic understanding and cultural worldviews inevitably accompany revolutions in science. As we expand our exploration of the heavens, we will also reflect on the broader human implications of advances in space. Moreover, our appreciation of human impact on Earth systems will expand as we come to see the Earth within the context of the solar system. Most fundamentally, we need to anticipate and wrestle with the epistemological, metaphysical, and theological dimensions of space exploration, including the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the development of the space environment, as it pertains to our common understanding of the universe and of ourselves. Such reflection should be performed by philosophers, metaphysicians, and theologians in regular conversation with the scientists who investigate space and the policy makers that direct the space program. The exploration of the universe is no experimental science, contained and controlled in a laboratory, but takes place in a vast and dynamic network of interconnected, interdependent realities. If (environmental) philosophy is to be a significant source of insight, philosophers will need to have a much broader range of effective strategies for interdisciplinary collaborations, framing their reflections with the goal of achieving policy-relevant results. If it is necessary for science and policy-makers to heed the advice of philosophers, it is equally necessary for philosophers to speak in concrete terms about real-world problems. A philosophic questioning about the relatedness of humans and the universe, in collaboration with a pragmatic, interdisciplinary approach to environmental problems, is the most responsible means of developing both the science and policy for the exploration of the final frontier.” (14)

* by Dr. Kevin Kuswa with assistance from a group of students in Debate 201 (R. Rueda, M. Collins, C. Shrader, M. Stern).  April, 2011

“Its Okay to Want to be Evil,” a Kritik lecture by Scott Odekirk

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by Scott Odekirk

Kritiking Reductions in Police and Military Presence

Posted in Battles, tactics with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by kevin kuswa

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey.

You cannot do too much reading and thinking about the words in your topic and how those words relate to the positions you want to run.  Begin to link the way the words are defended and projected into an ideology that your authors are criticizing.  Let us go through some evidence and set up some arguments, remembering that you can win debates with a few solid cards—in fact you are more likely to win debates if you can explain a few pieces of crucial evidence as opposed to spewing through more blocks.

—-So, the affirmative is going to “reduce” military or police presence?  Really?  Reduce from where is order to augment where?  Reduce means to keep around with a lower profile—not eliminate.  We won’t really reduce our global military or police presence.  If we do, we’ll replace those troops with other troops and call them something else—peacekeepers, advisors, officials, non-military personnel etc.   It’s military presence (like turtles) all the way down.  You reduce “its” presence and someone else’s military or police will take its place.

Dochterman, Political Analyst, Writer for Aporia Journal, 2002 (Zen, An Anarchist Analysis of the Detention of Immigrants and War, post 9/11)

Policing instances of ill health, sordid living conditions, human rights violations, and “rogue states” become an affair of the American state, the U.N., and N.A.T.O. as well as the N.G.O.s that follow quickly after them. The civil wars that empire produces (as in the Phillipines), now often melded into the rubric of “terrorism”, thus provide more instances for America to go to war and regulate population flows and the material conditions of life, Westernizing what it can in the process. Agamben’s concern with the zoe (bare life) of the immigrant and refugee takes on a double significance. Empire’s wars and global capital will increasingly displace people and provide for violations of so-called “human rights“; however, it is such displacement that comes to be the concern of the war machine itself. This type of analysis helps to explain the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which without a clear short-term economic benefit (who thought Iraq would be “manageable” within a few months?) have more to do with extending empire’s capacity for biopolitical control. When N.G.O.’s and humanitarian institutions step in to occupied countries, the biopolitical regulation of “births and mortality, the level of health and life expectancy” swings into full effect. Introducing such seemingly innocuous organizations can radically alter the bureaucratic and at times, the cultural constitution of a country, and must be seen as the first step in neo-colonialist projects by the West. This central fact illuminates the otherwise mysterious bombings of the U.N. buildings and attacks on health workers in Iraq. These attacks send the message that it is not a question of one master or another, however benign, but a total rejection of the system of global neo-colonialism in both its military and bureaucratic guises. Thus, sovereign force, manifest in the U.N., N.A.T.O., the American military and carried out by N.G.O.’s, humanitarian organizations and “peacekeeping” groups comes to have a direct relation to the bare life (zoe) of the people of other nations, their living standards and their health. This is a biological infection of the “outside” of Empire by Empire.

—-Reforms in the military are extension of Biopower—the ceding of genocidal power to the false hopes of liberalism.  Economic liberalism and individual sovereignty are not possible through such a system.  Indeed, their path makes possible the extension of total control. 

Dean, Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, 2000 (Mitchell, Always Look on the Dark Side of Life: Politics and the Meaning of Life)

This thesis overcomes the successionist view of forms of power connected with our first thesis, even if it tends to reproduce its bipolar structure. The problem with the latter however it that somehow the source and point of articulation of sovereign and bio-politics seems to escape intelligibility. Why should our societies become ‘really demonic’ when they combine within themselves the powers over life with rights of death, or Hebraic understandings of the duties of the shepherd towards his flock with the virile and agonistic relationships between free citizens found within the Greek polis, as Foucault maintained (1981)? Can one simply make a virtue out of an absence of intelligibility of the articulation – is it the very heterogeneity of these forms of power that accounts for their devilish potential? Can we democratise sovereignty and use notions of rights to check the totalitarian impulses of bio-politics? Can we redress such despotic potentialities by an appeal to an outside of the sphere of limited government? At times Foucault appears to endorse such possibilities. At others, he seems to suggest that liberalism and democracy are flawed means for this task and that we should not become complacent. Perhaps, in this case, sovereignty can always return to an atavistic form as in Nazism, or liberalism can reveal its horribly illiberal side. Perhaps, to try another suggestion, bio-politics simply puts incredible technological means (the atomic, the biological and the chemical weapons and the organization of the modern military, and the applications of bio-science and biomedicine) in the service of sovereign powers – a kind of biotechnological account of genocide. If but perhaps Foucault has identified a problem and a language to investigate the problem without identifying how and why these elements form the problem. Before moving to a new thesis, let us note that there is one problem with the view that liberalism can act to check totalitarian administration of life. Both of the means by which it hopes to do so refer principally to nothing but simple existence. On the one hand, the economic rationality that provides a limit to government refers before all else to the means of the sustenance of life. On the other, the sovereign individual has rights, especially in the era of international human rights, simply by virtue of merely living itself. ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ reads the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If there is optimism in Foucault’s approach, it is one that cannot rely on a movement that checks the powers over life. The more liberalism and modern rights movements seek to defend us from the dangers of bio-powers, it would seem, the more they make possible its extension.

—-Working toward peace—a more secure world—is not about reducing the role of military force.  The practice of promoting peace has to take a certain form or it will be used to justify panoptic sovereignty and state control.  Attempts to operate within the current international system only serve to replicate the conflicts that result from it.  The norm of peace that develops from such actions results in humanitarian interventions in the name of the common good.  Their isolation of conflict and subsequent proclamation of a “new constraint on police action” is a giant performative contradiction.

Richmond, Department of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews, ’01 

[Oliver P., “A Genealogy of Peacemaking: the Creation and Re-Creation of Order,” Alternatives: Global, Local, Political Vol. 26 No. 3, p. AOF]

What has tended to occur since the end of the Cold War is that peace operations have aimed at the reconstitution of states and their frameworks. From Cambodia to Somalia and Yugoslavia, the official focus guiding peace operations was the creation and recreation of Westphalian states in order to democratize or solve humanitarian problems. In former-Yugoslavia and perhaps in Kosovo and in East Timor, the focus was on creating new states, but ones that were ultimately based on ethnic majoritarianism. This tendency emphasizes the fact that states underpin the international system, conceptually and physically, and the key organizations through which peace operations occur, and the end result is the replication of that system. As with previous approaches, third-generation approaches depend on containing violent conflict with a regime of truth in which it is claimed that the balance between management and resolution, order and justice, has shifted toward the resolution of conflict through human-security discourses. However, such approaches still tend to be acultural, give rise to the possibility of intervention without consent, based on Western models of neoliberal democratization and human rights as universally prescriptive. The hybridization of monodimensional approaches to ending conflict has raised several new and familiar debates. The first significant question relates to the type of order that hegemonic powers with sovereign claims to truth and knowledge use such approaches to ending conflict to reify. In the Westphalian system, such an approach was applied to preserve the statecentric order, territorial integrity, and very basic human rights. However, it was also applied to preserve a systemic balance of power that resulted in the positivist aspects of order taking precedence over the normative, state security taking precedence over human security-a negative peace. Have third-generation approaches moved beyond this-from the Westphalian into a post-Westphalian order? Francois Debrix has shown how the United Nations can be compared with a panopticon in which global observation and surveillance, not to mention intervention, occurs to endorse and simulate certain forms of order propagated by its dominant members and by the universal claims of the Charter within the context of their claims about forms of global governance and globalization. (53) These practices are aimed at normalizing the practices of sovereign states within the international system (and a latent international society) and their representations and the activities of the social groups located within these structures. Generally speaking, the different approaches to making peace are victims of a performative contradiction in that the assumptions that lie behind them may prove to exacerbate the issues that lie at the heart of the conflict.]

—-Finally, they appeal to the state to resolve a dilemma created by the state.  They are a mask, a perfectly benevolent mask on the state’s monopoly of power (“But,” they whine, “we reduce that power”).  No, they don’t—they make it less visible and harder to detect. The symbolic interaction between the appeal and the consequences is the ability to wage war—an ability that becomes a capability that becomes an inevitability.  They cannot solve and the case harms are replicated. 

M. Duffield, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Lancaster, ‘04 (Mark, Carry on Killing: Global Governance, Humanitarianism and Terror)

Bio-politics emerged with modernity to form the basis of state power.  It is concerned with validating, supporting and promoting the life of the nation (Foucault 1998).  For the purposes of this paper, bio-politics is the regulation of life at the aggregate level of population.  Bio-politics exists in the governmental technologies that both discover and act upon the varied biological, demographic, health, social and economic factors and mechanisms that constitute life as aggregated species-life.  Global governance, however, is a specific form of bio-power.  It is a power over the life of populations conceived as existing globally rather than nationally or territorially.  More specifically, it is a power over populations experienced as territorial or local illustrations of a particular global species-type.  This is how we know, for example, ‘refugees’, ‘economic migrants’, ‘internally displaced’ the ‘chronically poor’, and so on. In relation to global governance, those technologies and strategies that constitute ‘development’ are an essential expression of international bio-power. Bio-politics, however, contains an intrinsic and fateful duality.  As well as fostering and promoting life it also has the power to “…disallow it to the point of death” (Ibid: 138 orig. emph.).  In making this bio-political distinction, racism plays a formative role (Foucault 2003; Stoler 1995) FQUOTE “” .  This not only includes its nineteenth and early twentieth century biological forms, it also involves its contemporary cultural, value and civilisational re-inscriptions (Duffield 1984).  Race and its modern codings underpin the division between valid and invalid life and legitimates the measures deemed necessary to secure the former against the later.  In this sense, bio-politics is intrinsically connected with the security populations, including global ones.  This duality moreover underlies the paradox of bio-politics: as states have assumed responsibility for maintaining and developing life, wars have become increasingly more encompassing, devastating and genocidal for the populations concerned.  The awesome power to unleash limitless death presents itself as a cynical counterpart, …of a power that exerts a positive influence on life, that endeavours to administer, optimize, and multiply it, subjecting it to all precise controls and comprehensive regulations.  Wars are no longer waged in the name of a sovereign who must be defended; they are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilised for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity: massacres have become vital (Ibid: 136). As the managers of species-life, since the end of the nineteenth century states have been able to wage total wars that have pitched entire populations against each other in cataclysmic struggles to the death.  What is at stake in modern war is the existence of society itself.  Genocide consequently emerges as a strategy “…because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population” (Ibid: 137).  Although the ending of the Cold War raised hopes of a ‘peace dividend’, the diagrammatic form of bio-power was to be re-inscribed in the ‘new wars’ of the 1990s and confirmed with the declaration of war on terrorism.