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Biomedicine, markets, biopolitics « Previous | |Next »
December 20, 2006

Biomedicine is the big sign of postmodernity and the new knowledge economy in which knowledge is tied entrepreneurship, capital and the free market. Biomedicine is the future! Biotechnology is the next wave of the knowledge economy and biomedical biotechnology is seen as a key driver for the knowledge economy everywhere.

Nikolas Rose, writing in Kritokos, says that the discourse of biomedicine describes how many believe that we are on the threshold of an epochal change.

The sequencing of the human genome, it was claimed, would enable experts to read the book of life, decode the code of codes, remake Eden, usher in a brave---or terrifying---new world. Our genotypes would be read out, coded on a chip, and used to predict our fate, dignose our diseases and to personalise our medicines. New reproductive technologies would enable a world of designer babies and engineered people. Human stem cells would regenerate damaged human tissue, cure spinal injuries, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Smart drugs would enable us to engineer our moods, emotions, desires and intelligence at will. Some of the biomedical techniques cited insuch futurology are already familiar, but most are said to be 'just around the corner'. Each day seems to bring news of research that promises to increase our ability to modify, manipulate, transform our living bodily processes at will in pursuit of our secular desires.

Biomedicine is linked up with the market, as all the state governments in Australia just love biocapitalism because the biotech industry is a powerful engine of growth and change. It is a form of knowledge/power--a biopolitics.

Is biomedicine one more stage in the long history of medicalization in the sense that more and more everyday troubles are coming within the sphere of medicine, and technical fixes to misery and ill health are replacing addressing social causes of suffering. I'm not so sure. This looks to me to be something different--- more like a reshaping of our bodies to achieve perfection by improving on nature than biology is destiny; a bio-politics of life rather than an eugenics imposed by a state to improve the quality of the population; a steady reshaping of what it is to be human in postmodernity than a becoming posthuman.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:05 PM |