I want to thank my friend Robert van Hennik for introducing me to Rosi Braidotti. I am fascinated by her work.
There is no doubt that capitalism and consumerism have contributed to the depletion of earth’s resources. According to Braidotti, there’s worse to come. Technological advances, combined with capitalism has created what she calls “advanced capitalism” (Braidotti, 2006). She describes this as the “capitalising of all that is living… human and non-human life forms”. It has even led to the commodification of difference for the sake of profit. An example that springs to mind is China’s once inconceivable ‘one country, two systems’ constitution.
Conversely, it has created new binaries such as the distinction between ‘insured’ over ‘uninsured’ people; and the injustice of the developing world not having access to patented medicines because of copyright.
For Braidotti, the management of the living and the dying is integrated into the advanced capitalist system of the management of life processes. I.e. the management of the living requires the management of the dying – what she pointedly describes as a social context where there are “corpses that matter and corpses that don’t”. At the height of the Ebola crisis, I heard this sad lament from a colleague… “Ebola is 5 white deaths away from a cure”.
Needless to say there is an urgent need to think creatively about an alternative to what she calls the “posthuman” challenge. It is scary what is at stake if a humane alternative is not found because globalisation will make advanced capitalism ubiquitous. For Braidotti, advanced capitalism is about:
- structural injustices in ‘post-industrial/colonial/communist’ societies.
- the becoming-third-world of the first world, while continuing the exploitation of developing countries.
- the militarization of the technological and also of the social space.
- the globalization of pornography and the trafficking and prostitution of women and children, in a ruthless trade in human life.
- the feminization of poverty and the rising rates of female illiteracy, as well as the structural unemployability of large sectors of the population, especially the youth.
- the difficulty of the Law to cope with phenomena such as the new reproductive rights, ranging from copy-right laws in the use of photocopiers, video-recorders, and internet, to the regulation of surrogate motherhood and artificial procreation.
- the problem of environmental control.
BRAIDOTTI, R. 2006. Transpositions : on nomadic ethics, Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA, Polity Press.