chapter  6
17 Pages

Biopolitics and/as Infrastructure

WithChristopher Breu

This chapter considers the extent to which biopolitics collapses the base/superstructure distinction in Marxist analysis of political economy. It begins by considering the theoretical reframing of the problem in Hardt and Negri, and in Esposito, especially around the idea that biopolitics saturates the socius, and that its productive capacities no longer conform to traditional materialist critique, seen in divisions of society and nature. The base/superstructure question itself had been taken up in earlier Marxist thinking (in different ways, for example, by Louis Althusser, Raymond Williams, and Fredric Jameson) so the real issue in foregrounding biopolitics is the ways in which it helps to understand the relevance or not of the distinction. In a detailed analysis of materialist conceptualization, this chapter argues for a nuanced understanding of biopolitics relationship to and as infrastructure, where the latter is never an unproblematic base of social production and reproduction, and the former is infrastructural by degree, not kind.