foucault society must be defended summary

He asks, “can we find in bellicose relations, in the model of war, in the schema of struggle or struggles, a principle that can help us understand and analyze political power, to interpret political power in terms of war, struggles and … In the 19th century, however, there is a major change in the right of life and death, causing the power to change from “the right to take life or let live” to “the power to ‘make’ live and ‘let’ die” (241). Several of them would be published just a few months later, with the release on 17 November 1976 of his History of Sexuality—Volume 1 (La Volonté de savoir): the notions of biopolitics and security, of population, of race wars and racism. This takes on a biological transcription of race struggle that turns later into the social struggle between classes. 0 comments. With this emergence of “nation,” broadly conceived, a new type of knowledge was necessary that was both administrative and historical. According to the classical theory of sovereignty, the sovereignty has the right of life and death, but the “balance is always tipped in favor of death,” so the sovereign’s power can only be exercised by killing or executing a subject, it becomes “the right to kill” (240). Your email address will not be published. He calls them “Knowledges from below” and a “historical knowledge of struggles” (7). Foucault, Michel. The articulation of these two technologies of power is what Foucault calls the normalizing society. The vitality of “a” nation within the social body becomes hooked into the idea of the State. All rights reserved. © 2020 Foucault 13/13. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. As Emmanuelle Saada writes, “Ann Stoler’s reading of Foucault in colonial situations remains indispensable.” It is for us a particular pleasure to have Professor Stoler in conversation with Columbia Professors Gooding-Williams and Chatterjee. At two key junctures in his 1975 lectures Abnormal, Foucault turns his attention to the way in which the figure of the abnormal gives way, in the last years of the nineteenth century, to “the problem of heredity, racial purification, and the correction of the human instinctual system by purification of the race.” (Abnormal, p. 133; see also pp. Putting these three concepts in conversation, Foucault argues that it is the linking of politics as race war (as between races) with modern racism against the abnormal (within races) that produces the worst excesses of the 19th and 20th centuries: the brutal, genocidal forms of colonization that seek to eliminate others and cleanses one’s own, as well as Nazism with its race war and internal cleansing as well. This new historico-political discourse of war establishes a link between “relations of force and relations of truth” (52). The key problem with biopower is thus…the depoliticized violence of expert knowledge” (ibid.). Three key concepts structure the central argument of Society Must Be Defended: (1) race war; (2) biopolitics; and (3) modern racism. It is none of my business to the extent that it is not up to me to lay down the law about the use you make of it. Society Must Be Defended (1992): “Chapter 11” by Caitlin Duffy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. / Foucault, Michel. We witness a shift from “man-as-body” to “man-as-species,” as power relations focus on “living man, man-as-living-being.” (p. 242), (3)   During the 19th century, there emerges as well what Foucault refers to as “modern racism”: a form of racism that, Foucault argues, is associated with the elimination of the abnormal, the cleansing of defectives. The third lecture is a forceful critique of the juridical concept of sovereignty and its basis in “right” or attendant legitimacy, which assumes some kind of pre-formed subjects. He suggests that we have to abandon the model of the Leviathan and study power at its infinitesimal points of (usually material) implementation, the techniques, and the tactics through which it circulates. But while the battle may have been at first between “distinct” races in the way we may think of two nations at war, in this case the two races at war are internal to the social body. Foucault terms this biopolitics, which “derive(s) its knowledge from, and define its power’s field of intervention in terms of, the birth rate, the mortality rate, various biological disabilities, and the effects of the environment… Biopolitics deals with the population, with the population as political problem, as a problem that is at once scientific and political, as a biological problem and as power’s problem” (245). Since the Middle Ages, the “theory of right” was the essential way in which the legitimacy of power was established and centralized (“right,” in terms of law, but also institutions, apparatuses, rules, etc). This transition is paralleled and works through a move from the history of sovereignty and its basis in rights to a history of conquest and its binary underpinnings (he calls the latter a “counter history”). The relations of force within society itself become a necessary object of knowledge, and this knowledge is wielded by various groups within the social body. Foucault credits Boulainvilliers with this insight: For this historian, “relations of force and the play of power are the very stuff of history. the child immigrants who are dying and/or disappearing after being taken into federal custody, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, Foucault asks “why did sexuality become a field of vital strategic importance in the nineteenth century” and answers that “Sexuality exists at the point where body and population meet. That model in effect presupposes that the individual is a subject with natural rights or primitive powers; it sets itself the task of accounting for the ideal genesis of the state; and finally, it makes the law the basic manifestation of power” (265). Foucault shows how this happened in large part through the conceptualized development of relationships of force within society between and among different groups. Foucault believes that “sovereignty itself has been undermined” (ibid.). He moves from this discussion to begin talking about a “certain” economism of power; that is, the view held in both liberal and Marxist thought that power is a thing that can be invested, withdrawn, possessed, surrendered, etc as if it were a commodity. In the classical theory of sovereignty, the right of life and death was one of sovereignty’s basic attributes. The birth of this historical-political discourse serves as a truth-weapon, where truth turns on local interests. Discipline’s field of application was on the body, the individual, but with this new form of biopower is directed not on man-as-body, as in discipline, but on man-as-species. (Chapter 11) Foucault demonstrates that “the theme of race does not disappear,” but that “it becomes part of something very different, namely State racism” (239).

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