Life is War: The Rhetoric of Biomimesis and the Future Military


  • Roger Stahl


In recent years, Western military powers have experimented with both weaponizing existing life forms and designing robotic weapons that mimic existing life forms. These efforts have been accompanied by a discourse of what future warfare will be like. Weapons contractors have released visions of this future on YouTube, television documentaries have popularized scenarios of biowarfare, and films have pushed these narratives to the limits of science fiction. As such, the discourse of “biomimetic warfare” is no longer contained in conversations among military theorists. This essay argues that these rhetorics constitute a redefinition of the boundaries of “war.” The essay takes inspiration from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's notion of an emerging “military-vital complex,” or a military that concerns itself with the biopolitical in Foucault's sense of the word. That is, the vision of the bio-mimetic military signals a profound public redefinition of war away from localized forms of punishment and destruction and toward a version of war war imminent to the lifeworld and concerned with life's patrol, maintenance, and production.