Environmental Crisis and Depoliticization

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: H├Ârsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ilari NIKULA, University of Lapland, Finland
Along with the idea of global environmental crisis there has emerged depoliticizing trends that are driven by processes that are justified by their capacity to improve the sustainability of societies and individuals. This paper examines these depoliticizing political and societal implications that derive from this crisis. Also the ways in which the crisis has been constructed and governed are analyzed. For a theoretical framework Michel Foucault’s studies of power and governing is used. The analysis is specifically built around the concepts of governmentality and biopower. Thus, this research has a foucauldian premise and it presumes the political nature of all knowledge-claims. It approaches the knowledge of the world discursively.

It is argued in this paper that the environmental crisis is moving us towards a post-political, or post-democratic state. This includes the tendency of issues being centralized under global technocratic management and consensual policy-making of institutions like Kyoto protocol or annual climate summits, and other institutions that are further called for to police the world. These depoliticizing tendencies reduce the sphere of democratic political deliberation and debate. As the current understanding of the environmental crisis as a “supra-national and non-class-specific global crisis”transcends social differences, proper political choice between competing ideological visions of a different social order is slowly reduced.

Furthermore, the global framing of this existential threat creates one global polity. It makes global governmentality possible. It centralizes the tools of rule and governing, as 'the biosphere' and 'global climate' are brought into being only through biopolitical practices of assessment, such as the generation of statistical data and graphic representations. This allows a governing from a distance, using policy and statistical evidence to influence how people see their local environments and their relation with it.