Category: Biopower/Biopolitics

Population Control and Violence

To go back a few steps, one puzzle is why Arendt, Foucault, Taylor and others believe that taking “life” as the primary value leads to states that kill (in large numbers?)

James Scott’s Against the Grain (Yale UP, 2017) (which I have just about finished reading) offers some ideas along that line.  Scott accepts that both slavery and war existed before the emergence of the state.  But he sees the state as obsessed from the start with population control.  So much for Foucault’s bringing the question of population on board somewhere in the eighteenth century.  For Scott, it is all about people, and almost nothing to do with territory, when considering the underlying motives of war.

Life, in its barest form, is about subsistence, about producing enough to sustain life.  (In that sense, Scott is a materialist of a fairly straight-forward Marxist/Darwinian type.)  The state always creates classes of people who do not directly (or even indirectly) produce the stuff needed for subsistence.  Thus, any state must 1) organize production in such a way that a surplus is produced, and 2) appropriate that surplus for distribution to those who do not produce the basics (food, clothing etc.)  Furthermore, states create a need for non-subsistence goods (metals, luxuries, the implements of war, the ceremonial architecture of hierarchies) that necessitate 1) trade and 2) even more laborers who are not directly producing subsistence goods and who must be fed.

The problem with life—if we think in Arendt’s terms—is that it requires “labor.”  The problem of the state, in Scott’s rendering, is that it amplifies the need for labor because states invent so many more things to labor on.  War is a primary means to gain access to more labor.  The most important prize of a successful battle is prisoners who can be turned into slaves.  Or, alternatively, the threat of violence can make a neighboring society agree to pay tribute.

The state, then, has a stake in keeping its slaves alive, in increasing its population in order to secure an adequate supply of labor.  But it also has to coerce people into doing that labor because there is no good reason to voluntarily do the work.  It’s economic exploitation and appropriation from the get go—and all the way down.  States are always kleptocracies—and taxes are the form that robbery takes.

Scott has written a book called Two Cheers for Anarchism that is not very good.  His other work is off the charts fantastic.  (Seeing Like a State, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, Weapons of the Weak, and The Art of Not Being Governed.)  He comes down squarely on the side of organized violence is far worse (because more effective and more systematic) than the sporadic but ever-present violence found in non-state societies.  Far be it from Scott to accept Steven Pinker’s insistence that the rule of law curbs violence.  If we go by the numbers, the legitimate violence of the state always claims more victims than free-lancers.

Still—does a state that claims to be working in the service of life inflict more death than a state that locates its raison d’être elsewhere.  And does it even make any sense to think in those terms?  What would a state look like that did not claim to be enhancing, protecting, sustaining the life of its subjects?  Even the most brutal regime, one that accepts, without putting any kind of pretty face on it, that power must be deployed ruthlessly and continuously, still sees that power as enhancing and protecting the lies of the powerful. The wielders of power don’t will their own death.

The alternative is a sacrificial culture, one centered around a death cult.  The Nazis approach that elevation of death over life.  “Balanced against this life, this death.” (Yeats).  It seems plausible to me that, in certain circumstances, a kind of fatalistic embrace of death, an even joyful embrace of destruction including destruction of the self, would be possible.  In all the stuff about killing that I have been reading, about the ecstasy, the “high,” of battle, I haven’t seen anyone talk about the ecstasy of embracing one’s own death in the general conflagration.  Surely, however, that’s an ecstasy of submission, not one of power.  (The ever presence of those two sides of Nietzsche, his celebration of the “beast” who acts unapologetically out of the will to power shadowed by the masochism of the Dionysian figure who glories in suffering and in willing to live his whole painful life over and over again.)  To embrace death is an odd combination of hatred for life and never feeling more alive than when the end of life is imminent.

The point, if we take the Darwinian perspective that also appealed so much to Engels, is that the preservation of life (enabling its reproduction) is the first requirement imposed upon us by biology.  No state could possibly escape that imperative.  Scott is simply arguing that the state is not necessarily the most efficient and preferable (according to a variety of criteria) means for preserving life—and employing the state as the means for subsistence comes with some very high costs.  He clearly believes that non-state solutions to the problem of subsistence are actually better for most involved (if not for the elites at the top of state hierarchies.)

Scott’s conclusion is driven by his not valuing the achievements of “civilization” very highly and by his firm belief that “culture” (as opposed to “civilization”) is preserved (and can ever flourish) in the stateless conditions that we have mistakenly thought of as “dark ages.”  Arendt’s take, it seems to me, would be the exact opposite.  She sees the polity—and politics—as the pinnacle of human achievement precisely because it transcends labor and the necessities of subsistence.  “Man’s life would be cheap as beasts” (King Lear) if we didn’t aspire to—and actually achieve—something more than mere subsistence.  “Freedom” is only granted to us by the polis and precisely means escaping from the bonds of necessity, of being able to indulge in the non-productive “action” that politics enables.  Arendt is motivated by a horror of production, of doing something for the sake of securing or making the means to life.  She values those things that are not conducive to preserving or sustaining life.

Thus, she also wants a state not oriented toward life.  Instead, her ideal state (just like her ideal political actor) is motivated by a “love of the world.”  That’s where I will pick it up tomorrow.

Lives Worth Living

The dilemma: if we adopt a universal, egalitarian, minimalist standard, then every life should be preserved.  To say that “every life” refers to all living things on the planet, we are proposing the impossible, enunciating an “ought” that is completely disconnected from “can.”  The only real choice is between “letting Nature take its course” or intervening to over-rule what Nature would produce if left alone.  Such interventions cannot, however, cannot avoid killing some creatures (whether it is antibiotics killing bacteria or protecting sheep from wolves and thus condemning the wolves to starvation or condemning the creatures the wolves will devour when they can’t get at the sheep).  Interventions, in other words, always make a value judgment that some lives are more worth preserving than some other lives.  We can’t slip the noose of death, altogether.  Death will come—to all creatures in the long run.  We can either let it come as it may—or shunt it in one direction or another, buying time for some creatures even as we reconcile ourselves to, or even actively promote, the death of other creatures.

Humanism, at its most basic, presumably, is a prejudice in favor of human lives over the lives of non-human creatures.  Such a definition of humanism would make it strictly homologous with racism and sexism—namely the valuing of one category (a particular species or race or sex) over another.

Robinson Jeffers writes “I’d rather kill a man than a hawk.”  A radical attempt to slough off humanism.  But not a way to avoid judgment or standards.  There are, presumably, reasons for preferring the hawk’s life to the human’s.  So—to reiterate—it comes to seem impossible to just say that my ethic is to respect all life, to work to preserve every life.  Since life feeds on life, some must die in order that others may live.

But there is another problem, one in a rather different register.  Let’s assume a full-bore humanism for the moment.  So now it might seem the ethic would be revised to say: all human lives are to be preserved, accepting the consequence that all non-human lives are to be sacrificed to the needs of human life prior to any sacrifice of one human life to preserve another human life.  This universalist egalitarianism is “liberal” in many ways, although liberals like Martha Nussbaum and Judith Butler are made queasy by the thought of animal sacrifice for human life.  Still, both of them are adamant that all human lives should be equally valued—or, to phrase it differently, for Nussbaum all humans have an equal right to live, while for Butler all human lives should be equally grievable.

Certainly for Nussbaum  (and I suspect for Butler, but won’t pursue here how she would make her case) this equal right of all humans to live is only a minimum, a floor—and, as such, does not represent her full ethical ambitions.  It is not just a life humans are entitled to.  Each human has an equal claim on the means, resources, and liberty required to “flourish.”  Nussbaum offers a detailed list of 10 things—ranging from food, shelter, leisure, and education, to family, friends, and health—one needs in order to flourish.  Nussbaum is not arguing that “bare life” (to use Agamben’s term for “zoe”; Agamben is working from similar texts from Aristotle as those that inspire Nussbaum) is not worth living.  But she is arguing there are non-minimalist ways of living that are superior to bare life.  For Agamben, “bios” in Aristotle’s texts names this life that is more than “bare life.”  And one crucial question is what kind of society, what kind of polity, enables the achievement of bios, of flourishing.

But I want to defer that political question for the moment and concentrate on the judgment, the standard, that justifies distinguishing bare life from flourishing.  Because now we have a hierarchy within the set of all human lives.  They are not all equal.  Some are fuller, better, than others.  One way of marking this difference would be to say that some lives are more satisfying than others.  A life lived without the burden of chronic illness or fairly constant pain would be more enjoyable, easier to bear, even if not necessarily more fulfilling in other ways, than one lived in poor health.   Another way of marking this difference would be to say that some lives are more meaningful than others.  This second way seems to lead to issues (and ideas) of productivity.  A meaningful life is given over to an activity that is deemed important (or significant)—and it has some success in achieving the important aims that it sets out to accomplish.  We could say some lives are more admirable than others (in relation to the tasks that life is devoted to advancing and the success of those advancement efforts), just as (negatively) we can think of some lives as “wasted,” as having not made a very productive use of the time that person was allotted on earth.

The “liberal” solution to this dilemma, which introduces troubling (because unequal) distinctions among lives, is a) to try to distinguish between what is freely chosen by the individual and what is imposed from without, and b) to acknowledge a pluralism that realizes that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.”  The sum result of these two tenets is, basically, to say that material and other deprivations that limit the range of an individual’s life chances and choices are unacceptable—especially if others receive the material goods and social/educational/psychological opportunities denied to some.  In practice, this usually comes to rest in the assertion that a strict equality of material goods and other kinds of opportunities is neither necessary nor achievable.  But we can identify a “floor” of necessities (that is what Nussbaum 10 point list aims to do) that any “good” polity must provide if its citizens are all to enjoy a decent prospect of creating a flourishing life for themselves.

And the pluralism point says that—once that floor has been provided for all—the polity has no right to intervene in the choices people make about how to live their lives.  Full bore tolerance is the only sensible approach to the variety of values that underlie people’s choices.  Attempts to impose notions of meaning and importance can only lead to conflict.  People are incredibly, perhaps congenitally, stubborn—which means that efforts to dictate how they should behave cause way more trouble than they are worth (because such efforts are rarely successful).

The Nussbaum position seems to me fairly unassailable.  A good society should make available the means for flourishing.  And her list of basic means is pretty convincing.  A simple Kantian test works well here, in my opinion.  Look at her list and consider which of its items I would willingly dispense with.  Then consider on what grounds could I possibly deny to others any of those items.  Why do I deserve something I would begrudge to others or, worse, claim that they did not deserve?

The most common candidate, of course, is work.  I deserve something because I work for it.  That slacker doesn’t deserve it.  Don’t work, don’t eat.  And that self-righteous distinction between effortful me and slacker him slides into the thrill of meting out punishment.  If conservatives are obsessed with envy as the poison pill vice that afflicts all liberals, then leftists need to become equally obsessed with the sadistic desire to punish that is barely hidden within so much conservative moralism.

I want to finish up today’s thoughts by going in a different direction.  What are we to do when the basic requirements for a flourishing life are not withheld by social and political arrangements, but by Nature itself?  I speak out of personal experience here, but out of an experience more and more widely shared: witnessing old people outlive their lives, lingering on in debilitated physical and/or mental condition in ways that cruelly condemns them to live a life not worth living.  Our humanist commitment to fighting against the death that Nature will eventually dole out, to delay as long we can, has the effect of sustaining a life that is worse than death.  The values get completely inverted here.  There are circumstances in which death is better than life.  (Arendt made this point in her totalitarianism book in a most chilling way when she reminds us that certain kinds of torture can also make death preferable to continued life.)

I understand all the complexities of euthanasia and also understand all the legal safeguards put in place even in jurisdictions that allow assisted suicide.  I don’t want to get into how to create a good euthanasia program here.  What I want to assert—and I think this should be fairly uncontroversial although many would disagree—is that some lives are not worth living.  We can—and should—be pluralistic here as well.  A life that would be intolerable to me still might be well worth living for another.  And maybe there are some people wo are—and can be—absolutists on this score.  For them, any life, no matter how dire its circumstances and its debilities—is better than death.  But it is certainly the case that there are also many people who find death preferable to certain lives.

This all makes me unhappy.  I would like to take life as an absolute standard.  But I am compelled by this logic to accept a) that we do judge among lives, finding some more satisfactory or significant than others (even if we want to protect against the polity devaluing some lives below a minimalist floor because other lives are worthier), and b) that in certain circumstances death is better than life.

In short, we can’t just leave it at “bare life” as a good all should have protected and preserved.  Bare life is too bare—and in some cases so extremely bare that death is preferable.

The Only Wealth Is Life

In Unto This Last, John Ruskin declares that the “only wealth is life.’  There is something deeply attractive to me in this absolute declaration.  Here my spade turns.  Whatever does not avail to life, Ruskin adds, we should designate “illth, for we ought to have a corresponding term” to wealth, one that designates those things that impede or even actively destroy life.  (pp. 209, 211 in Penguin edition.)

To take “life” as one’s standard of value means that, at a minimum, that which provides for the material goods required for subsistence is good.  For starters, it would seem we need to supplement that standard with the proviso that all are equally entitled to “life”—from which it follows that all should have the means to sustain life.  When it comes to mere existence (what the new discourse is calling “bare life,” having resurrected the term zoe out of Aristotle’s work), no life is more valuable than another.  Life is a non-discriminating term.  “I know when one is dead and when one lives,” says Lear (V, iii, 264), and that basic difference is all that counts.  We should value, Ruskin is saying, everything (whether it be food, or a way of arranging human and social affairs) that contributes to sustaining life and delaying death.

What appalls Ruskin—and me—is that, despite the lip service we pay to life as, if not the highest, at least a recognizable, good, we hardly act that way.  “We usually speak as if death pursued us, and we fled from him; but that is so in only rare instances.  Ordinarily he masks himself—makes himself beautiful—all-glorious; not like the King’s daughter, all glorious within, but outwardly: his clothing of wrought gold.  We pursue him frantically all our days, he flying or hidden from us” (190).  Our actions belie our devotion to life since so much of what we do is death-dealing, either for ourselves or for others.  Isn’t it enough that nature brings pestilence, famine, and death?  Do human actions have to add to those burdens?

Yet even Ruskin—as determined a seeker of firm, absolute values as any writer I know—cannot maintain “life” as an unqualified standard.  He, too, like almost all writers on the subject is moved to consider what makes a life worth living (to borrow William James’s phrase).  It seems impossible to view all lives as equal or equivalent.  We are pushed to judge among lives, to compare them, to see some as more valuable than others.  For Ruskin, this evaluation takes the form of assessing various modes of living in the world as contributing to the promotion of life.  “Five great intellectual professions, relating to the daily necessities of life, have hitherto existed,” he tells us:

The Soldier’s profession is to defend it.

The Pastor’s to teach it.

The Physician’s to keep it in health.

The Lawyer’s to enforce justice in it.

The Merchant’s to provide for it. (177).

And the value of these lives, when we come to judge them, is not only determined by how well different individuals performed the professional task they assumed, but (crucially) rests on the willingness of those individuals to die instead of failing to perform that task.

“[T] duty of all these men is, on due occasion, to die for it [i.e. life].

“on due occasion,’ namely—

The Soldier, rather than leave his post in battle.

The Physician, rather than leave his post in plague.

The Paston, rather than teach Falsehood.

The Lawyer, rather than countenance Injustice.

The Merchant—what is his “due occasion” of death?

It is the main question for the merchant, as for all of us.  For, truly, the man who does not know when to die, does not know how to live (177).

What happened to the supreme value of life?  It has evaporated in front of us—or, at the very least, some individual lives must willing accept death “on due occasion” in order to promote the general life (of the species?, of a more circumscribed community?).  A life not devoted to the furthering of life is a life not worth living.  Integrity to that purpose, faithfulness to duty, could require death.  And if one does not acknowledge the claim death has upon him in such instances, one “does not know how to live.”

So, it seems, life is not such a simple matter.  One has to learn how to live.  Or maybe it is better to say that one has to self-consciously, reflexively, assess one’s life in light of the standard to promote life—and then judge if one’s life meets the standard.  A certain reading of Nietzsche would see him as precisely scorning this sort of evaluation.  Living creatures should pursue life—its continuation and the pleasures it might afford along with the sufferings that it entails—period.  No second thoughts, no regrets, no judgments of good and evil.  Any evaluation beyond seeing something as “good” because it avails life or “bad” because it impedes it only hinders life’s full expression.  To affirm life unreservedly is to damn the consequences in ways that Ruskin cannot bring himself to do.

The sticking point is, as Esposito (in Bios: Biopolitics and Philosophy) makes clear in his chapter on Nietzsche, is that Nietzsche denies that it is either possible or desirable to “preserve life through the abolition of conflict” (85).  Life is only abundant, only fully realized, in conflict.  Thus, life cannot be sequestered from death; life is, to a large extent, the infliction of death.  In the most basic terms, this boils down to the fact that life feeds on other lives.  Everything that eats must kill some other living creature for its food.  If every creature (as the conatus doctrine in Spinoza asserts) aims to persist in its own mode of being, the life is sustained only through the destruction of some conative beings by other conative beings.  There are no willing sacrificial victims to life’s persistent hunger.  In order to sustain life, we must kill.

It is this logic that I am trying to puzzle out.  Lots of different ways to go from here.  One is the Girard route, toward the idea that the sacrifice is inevitable, and thus the issue is whether the sacrifice will be imposed on another creature or assumed by one’s self.  Freely chosen self-sacrifice (the model is Jesus Christ) is the only path to peace.

A different track leads to my opening concern.  If Nietzsche states some fundamental law of life, then how come Foucault, Arendt, Taylor etc. seem to think that a special attention to life is a “modern” development—and that this “special attention” leads to death-dealing polities/societies.  Why is the attempt to preserve life, an attempt to fend off the Nietzschean fatalism about the inevitability of conflict, a formula for increasing the violence some humans direct toward others.  And, finally, I also want to consider how “bare life” is not enough, so that (on the one hand) we have the appeal of the Aristotelean notion of “flourishing” (a la Martha Nussbaum) and (on the other hand) we can think of lives not worth living (leading to issues of assisted suicide as well as unassisted suicide).

I’ll see how far I get in subsequent posts.

Biopolitics and Racism

One quick note as an addendum to the first entry on Biopower/Biopolitics.  If we think of the diet and exercise industries, we can identify a non-state source of pressure on selves to toe the line as regards health, longevity etc.  And that pressure feeds fairly directly into the creation of markets to be exploited by commercial interests.  So biopower is hardly confined to states.

The racism argument, made briefly by Foucault and treated at greater length by Esposito in Bios, is a fairly straightforward version of the claim that an attention to preserving life leads to the infliction of death.  (We can see here a version of the “perversity” style of argument that Hirschman sees as dear to conservatives: namely the claim that efforts to do A—in this case to preserve life—in fact lead directly to an outcome that is not-A—the exact opposite of A—an increase in deaths.)

Basically, the claim is that efforts to preserve life will, inevitably, lead to identifying various threats to life, various agents that will cause life to cease.  Those agents are, then, slated for preventive destruction.  A simple case would be pesticides.  In order the insure the health and life of my crops I must kill the pests (insects/molds/funghi/weeds etc.) that threaten the crops.  Esposito shows how this logic feeds directly into Nazi thinking.  The Jews were pests that threatened the health of the German people—and hence had to be exterminated.  The killing of Jews was persistently justified in the name of health.  Similarly, Nazi eugenics and euthanasia were understood in relation to a notion of “lives not worth living,” i.e. life itself was judged according to criteria that designated some lives as not up to the mark.  (I will devote a future post to this conundrum since it brings up the issue of old age so directly).

Judith Butler’s recent work has focused just here: how is it that some lives are deemed more valuable than others?  Or, as she puts it, whose life is grievable?  We could translate from there over to Martha Nussbaum: how come only some get to have a flourishing life?  What are the criteria by which some are denied access to the necessaries that sustain life?  One criteria can be racist—whole categories of people are outside the circle of the worthy.

One question then: is it “inevitable” (a word Esposito loves) that protecting life requires designating enemies to life that must be eliminated.  This might be called the negative path.  There is also a positive path (the one I always associate with Dickens’s Great Expectations.)  Here the realization is that the sustaining of life can only come at the expense of other lives.  We all must eat—and so some living things must be eaten.  At that basic level, as Dickens sees it, we are all criminals.  Being alive is just proof that you have participated in the killing of something.  Life is paired inextricably with death—and the only two alternatives are self-sacrifice or the sacrifice of the not-self.  No innocent life.

The problem with a claim that large is that it seems universal—an absolute condition of life everywhere and everywhen.  But Arendt, Taylor, Foucualt and the rest are trying to make a claim specific to modernity, a claim that there was some kind of fundamental shift, characterized as the moment that the polity took the preservation of life as its chief focus and justification.  And if racism is a modern phenomenon (as many historians and theorists have argued), then there would have to be a connection of that racism with the new prioritization of life.  I don’t see the connection, or at least am not convinced that is the connection at work here.  Racism, certainly as it pertains to both Jews and Africans, is economically convenient in the European exploitation of the non-European world.  So I don’t see that we need biopower to explain racism.  What seems qualitatively different about Nazi racism is its roots in a discourse of health and its economic non-rationality.  The wholesale killing of Africans in the Atlantic slave trade was a cost of doing business, but killing Africans was not the direct purpose.  There was no economic gain to be had from a dead African.  But the Nazis (beyond stealing the resources of the Jews) had little to gain economically from genocide.  Their logic (if we can even use that term) does seem to refer to some kind of notion of disease, infection, immunization etc.  They were not about sustaining life economically, but about protecting life against dire external threats.

What gets left out, it seems to me, of Esposito’s mostly convincing account of the Nazis is hatred.  To focus on the “logic” that underlines their genocidal program is to miss the hatred that animates it, that renders killing a positive pleasure, an act in which one self-righteously indulges a most satisfying sense of vindication, of revenge, of seeing justice done.  Can those feelings really be traced back to a desire to preserve life?  Seems more the idea that these others (the Jews for Nazis, the blacks for the white Trump supporters that Arlie Hochshild describes in her book) have stolen something that is rightfully mine?  And it isn’t life they have stolen: it is dignity, recognition, legitimacy, status.  They seem to be thought of as more “worthy” (along some dimension) than me in the current social milieu. They get all the favors.  More in the “Mom always loved you best” mode than in terms of direct threats to my life.  Injustice, not fear for one’s vey life, is the motor, I would say.  A mixture of envy and indignation.

So I am not yet ready to buy that a focus on life as the highest good necessarily has the perverse outcome of increasing violence, of increasing the state’s proclivity to inflict death.

Another problem is Thucydides, or Steven Pinker.  It is just not obvious that modern states inflict death at any higher rate than premodern ones.  Pinker, of course, argues that violence is on the decline, that the obvious result of the Enlightenment movement toward notions of equality is exactly the result we have gotten: less wholesale killing.  In other words, the new valuation of life, which includes extending the right to life to the lowest born, did not have a perverse effect but had, in fact, the effects that we would predict to most directly follow.  Valuing life leads to a better deal for more people.  Placing power at the service of life leads to longer lives and fewer violent (human-inflicted) deaths.

The deep resistance of the left to all narratives of progress, to any suggestion that modernity is (at least in some ways) better than what preceded it, has (I would venture to guess) multiple causes.  A hatred of complacency mixes with a fear that we will settle for a half loaf where we should be striving for a full one.  But there is a deep incoherence in rejecting all ideas of progress in the name of a standard—the full loaf—yet to be reached.  A standard gives you something to measure by.  And once you are in the realm of measurement, then you have established a line along which progress can be tracked.  I guess Foucault could retreat to saying that all societies are unfree; they are just unfree is different ways.  But, even then, we would be tempted to judge some variants of unfreedom as more onerous than others.  Make the struggle against unfreedom as local and specific as you like; the struggle is still going to be toward something—either toward the removal of some form of oppression or the installation of some less onerous way of doing/arranging things.  We know better and worse in many circumstances—and all we need to some idea of progress is some notion of better and worse.

In short, I am hardly going to deny the violence of modern states.  But I am not convinced that that violence is generated or augmented by a devotion to the value of life.  I am much more inclined to say that the value placed on life is a brake (yes, a mostly, although not entirely, ineffective one) on even more violence.  Mass anti-war movements, large-scale dissent from a state’s war-making, is a modern phenomenon.  That we are even having this conversation seems to testimony to a transvaluation of values that can, conveniently, be described in terms of a heightened reverence for life.

Similarly, racism still seems to me best combatted by a generalized valuation of life.  Two things seem involved here: one, identifying something we value that is shared across whatever boundaries our categories can fabricate or our cultures erect, and two, identifying that shared thing’s vulnerability in relation to the fact that it can quite easily be lost.  Life’s value is established vis a vis the death we aim to delay, especially in relation to keeping humans from inflicting death upon one another.  I just don’t see how that worthy goal somehow (perversely) ends up causing more deaths than would have occurred if we didn’t set life at such a high value.

More thoughts about all this to come, including looking at Arendt and Taylor more specifically, trying to think about the logic of sacrifice, and questions about whether some lives are not worth living.