Understanding Bare Life

Understanding Bare Life

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By Alexander Dugin

Survival is the most important concept of Spinoza. For him, it is associated with duration and life, as the ability to preserve one’s identity for a certain period. Ability = strength. Further, Deleuze, reflecting on Nietzsche, force = life. Survival is persistence in durability, in persistence. The will to last. Survivalism is a lifestyle aimed at only one thing – survival, which means, life for the sake of life, strength for the sake of strength.


Agamben, analyzing Schmitt’s concept of the “state of emergency” Ernstfall, comes to the concept of “Bare life”. This is the object over which the absolute domination is established by the absolute will to power, which has reached the utmost purity of its sovereignty. Agamben sees a prime example of this in the concentration camp population. There, everyone has one goal – survival. This is “Bare life” – without any vertical ambitions, which are completely stopped by the crystal of sovereignty. Life for life. Live to live. Last to last. Is that all? And that’s it!


But here’s what’s interesting. “Bare life” – in a concentration camp, softer, in a totalitarian society, even softer, in any society – there is pure duration. But what should last? If life were not “bare”, then this will would dress up in costumes and masks of value – I will be this and that, I live for this and that, I will do this and that .. But when we are placed in Mauthausen or GULAG (or Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo), values ​​are abolished, ties are broken, persons are erased. There is no longer one who lives. There is only life itself with a constant round-the-clock opportunity to instantly lose it. It is not a person who lives in the face of death. The person is no more. There is only “Bare life”, it is it – and not “man” – and wants to survive.


In this case, life itself looks for ways to last. The person no longer makes decisions. Now nothing depends on him. And here the most important thing: what if you have to change in order to survive? Stop being yourself, become a different person or not at all. For classical identity, this is tantamount to death itself – to die as “I” means to stop living. But for “Bare life” this is not the case. What matters is not who lives, but whether or not – and it is no longer important – who and how. If the essence of life is survival, then the ontological status of the subject – man – is one of the endless strategies of life. To survive, “Bare life” will be able to abandon the old human identity and crawl further as a snake.
That is why Spinoza is so valuable for postmodernists – his naturalist metaphysics does not open Modern, it rather closes it, so already deliberately designates the horizon of posthuman mutations.


The theory of evolution is the theory of “Bare life”. Adaptation, natural selection, species mutation are examples of these dynamics. To escape or just get additional comfort, the fish is ready to stop being a fish, crawl ashore and become a lizard. The bird is ready to drown itself and become an octopus. A monkey can choose, tools, laughter and risk, and become human. Or maybe not. This is the arbitrariness of “Bare life”. This is a standalone duration logic.
There is nothing more inhuman than survival. As soon as we turn to this argument, we are no longer there. We immediately disappear as people, and by our presence only as carriers of “Bare life”. A real person, even in a concentration camp in a critical situation, is able to make a choice between life and death – life and death of himself as a person. Naked Life has already made its choice. Live to live. And it is desirable to live well – but to live by anyone, what or what, that will have to.


With the pandemic, vaccinations, total medical and police control, with the ubiquitous electronic surveillance and storage of all data about us in unified information centers, we are entering transparent conditions of “bare life”. This means how in the most severe situations we have a choice – to be or to be someone, to be or to be human.


Once we choose to survive, we are finished. Not just someone will rule us – we are always ruled by someone, someone in command, someone humiliates – even by the simple fact of his greatness and superiority of power. But if we live, then we fight and defend our being as the being of people. Any struggle is a risk, but to live is to live at risk.


Being human is a terrible risk. By choosing a bare life, we release this tension.


Author

Alexander Dugin is a prominent Russian philosopher and Geopolitical analyst.


Republishing is allowed with the copyright credit to the Radical Outlook

About Post Author

The Radical Outlook

The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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