Thursday, 3 July 2008

Opium and the Law

My vampiric existence continued last night, though I forced myself to wake up early this morning in the hope that I can start adjusting my sleeping pattern. I forged ahead with my composition. I wasn't terribly inspired, though the passages I wrote sounded 'right.'

I finished reading Opium and the People (Virginia Berridge and Griffith Edwards). The project is essentially Foucaultian, though the writers never quoted him, because in a way, as social historians (at least as far as this project is concerned), Berridge and Edwards try to resist accepting any figurative model. For them, their book suggests a way to investigate the issue of opiate use and public policies with the epistemological space of Foucault in mind (again, suggested, but not named), but the reader's consciousness of the actual physical and material conditions of the biopolitical structure in British drug politics and policy-making (and in relation to it, the formative elements of the British polity at large upon the basis of the biological lives of the 'people') in today's society (in terms of the book, post-1968 society) is one that cannot be easily negotiated simply through an ontological question.

Policy-making in the twentieth century (and arguably, since antiquity) presupposes an ontological turn that transforms animal lives into humans, and vice versa, and the underlying presupposition of public policy is in fact the management and execution of human lives as animals. As long as the book stays within the concern of policy-making as a symptom of this ontological question at large, the reader is left with two choices: either one must abandon tentatively, for 'pragmatic' reasons, the ontological impasse that the Foucaultian thesis has propounded (and later on, developed by Agamben), and continue to make policies based on the assumption that our democracy is founded upon the execution, exclusion, and management of animal lives in the name of the law, or one must seriously rethink the question how a new way to approach the negotiations of drugs, and our epistemological space that gives forms to their beings (and hence, our understanding of them, their effects, the social, political and monetary values), that would forever suspend the violence of the law and the community that sustain themselves upon the exclusion of lives without any percepts of beginning or an end.

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