Brian Massumi is Professor of Communication at the University of Montreal. He is the author of
National Enterprise Emergency: Steps toward an Ecology of Powers
Preemption must be understood as part of an ecology of powers. This term refers to the fact that preemption is a dominant mode of power but it cohabits the field of power with earlier modes with very different logics. The way these modes co-operate is too complex to be understood as a system. A distinction between system and process is developed to grasp the complexity. Foucault’s categories of power—sovereign, disciplinary, biopower—are adopted and adapted. Ontopower is distinct from, and more encompassing than, all of these. Ontopower pertains to an ecology of powers also in the sense that it is “environmental”: bearing not on the individual or on life, but on the collective field of emergence of forms of life. The relation between the process of ontopower and the capitalist process is discussed at length. A new concept of nature is proposed to understand how these processes form a symbiosis.