Artifice and Agency

Friday, May 01, 2009

foucault's plague city... in mexico?

There's an article in Slate this week called "An Outbreak of Opportunism" that talks about how the Mexican president is trying to use the outbreak of swine flu to consolidate his power. If this doesn't sound like Foucault's description of the locked-down, heavily surveilled plague city, then I don't know what does: 

In addition, Calderón has used the health crisis to concentrate political power in his hands. On Saturday, he issued a decree that places the entire country under a state of emergency. He has authorized his health secretary to inspect and seize any person or possessions, set up check points, enter any building or house, ignore procurement rules, break up public gatherings, and close down entertainment venues. The decree states that this situation will continue "for as long as the emergency lasts." 

...Indeed, it appears that Calderón is now seeking to consolidate his break with the fundamental principles of liberal constitutionalism and the separation of powers. This past Thursday, Calderón presented a bill to Congress that would allow him to declare a state of emergency at any time without its consent. If approved, the bill would allow the National Security Council, made up of presidential appointees, to grant broad powers to the military and to suspend basic civil liberties in all or parts of the country at the president's request. This council would have the power to continue the emergency for as long as it wants.

What stands out the most to me in this article after having read the Foucault from last week is that all of this is being done (ostensibly) in the name of the health and safety of the Mexican state, and that the rhetoric used by the Mexican government is one of responding-- necessarily-- to a crisis, even if it means sacrificing crucial liberties.


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