I have been reading Jason W. Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life — a book which helps to theorize the rise of the Biotariat. Moore writes, “all limits to capital emerge historically, out of the relations of humans with the rest of nature. And in equal measure, so do all projects for the liberation of humanity and our neighbors on planet earth.” The Biotariat rises to that “equal measure” — a relational “project” at once for the “liberation” of the human and the extra-human. As I read Moore, his notion of what this project may look like is just as provisional as my sense of what the Biotariat might actually be — it is yet a project, at the conceptual level, that I can only name “poetic.” Here is Moore again:
Efforts to transcend capitalism in any egalitarian and broadly sustainable fashion will be stymied so long as the political imagination is captive to capitalism’s either/or organization of reality.
I want to begin this series of commentaries on the Biotariat — a term I will use to explore the coming resistance of “bare life” — by looking at a poetry which directly addresses the legal excision of certain subjects. I have in mind here David Herd’s excellent 2016 Carcanet book Through, which, along with Herd’s organizing and editing of the Refugee Tales project and volumes, constitutes an extensive foray into the violence of borders and the creation and management of the state of exception. Herd explores the interpenetration of spaces and languages of, on the one hand, bordering and exclusion, and on the other, as a grassroots counter-system, spaces and languages of welcome and inclusion — thresholds, commons, and pilgrims’ paths.
I want to begin this series of commentaries on the Biotariat — a term I will use to explore the coming resistance of “bare life” — by looking at a poetry which directly addresses the legal excision of certain subjects.