Infrastructure and Logistics

Existential provisions: The technopolitics of public infrastructure

The paper provides a technopolitical analysis of public infrastructure by attending to the ways large technical systems became a political problem and how the development of infrastructure has inflected biopower, territoriality and security. It seeks to deepen the historical understanding of technopolitics by exploring the concept of Daseinsvorsorge (existential provision), which served as a crucial framework guiding public infrastructure provisions in Germany. Daseinsvorsorge provides a particularly revealing lens through which to examine questions of technopolitics, since it makes it possible to illuminate the dis/continuities in the government of infrastructure between three distinct political regimes: Nazi Germany, the post-war Federal Republic and contemporary Germany. The concept first became operative in post-war Germany, but it had emerged during the Third Reich in the work of Carl Schmitt’s disciple Ernst Forsthoff. Forsthoff identified steps towards Daseinsvorsorge in Nazi infrastructure planning, which was part and parcel of war mobilization, and borrowed tropes from the geopolitical imaginary of Nazi Germany like Lebensraum. After the war, Daseinsvorsorge aimed at establishing equal living conditions within Germany. With European integration and the privatization of infrastructure, the norms and forms of Daseinsvorsorge eroded without vanishing, since they surface in modified ways in EU guidelines and in critical infrastructure protection.

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