Il faut défendre la sociétécours au Collège de France 1976 (READ)

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Il faut défendre la sociétécours au Collège de France 1976Create a body of true knowledge Foucault argues that this is done primarily to allow Marxism to benefit from the power that Western society has granted scientists and the scientific paradigm rather than to actually create a Marxism that is scientific Thus Marxism oppressesIn opposition to Marxism s or psychoanalysis s or liberal economist s or etc subjugation of various knowledges Foucault s project is to liberate these various subjugated knowledges to set them free or in other words to enable them to oppose and struggle against the coercion of a unitary formal and scientific theoretical discourse 11 His archeological work seeks to understand these formal scientific discourses and his geneological work to liberate the local knowledges that have been subjugated by themGot it Fundamentally antithetical to Marx in its theory and I couldn t ask for a clearer definition of the archeological v the geneological There s also the fact that he ends the lectures with socialism is racism but on that later One critiue before moving on Foulcault writes When I say subjugated knowledges I am also referring to a whole series of knowledges that have been disualified as nonconceptual knowledges as insufficiently elaborated knowledges naive knowledges hierarchically inferior knowledges knowledges that are below the reuired level of erudition or scientificity I applaud this project of course My problem with Foucault is always that he writes in a way that cannot engage in dialogue with these knowledges but can only unearth or worse discover them Please note the complete absence of the actual people who hold these knowledges whatever those are when separated from their human beings both from these lectures and presumably from these lecture rooms Meh So onwardsThe uestion here is what is power but as Foucault writes What is power is obviously a theoretical uestion that would provide an answer to everything which is just what I don t want to do 13 Instead he wants to try and understand how it operates He starts with liberalism and Marxism which he believe share the common feature of economism stemming from a juridical understanding of power In liberalism power is regarded as a right which can be possessed in the way one possesses a commodity 13 it can be traded taken given up by political contract and etc To take that to its conclusion There is therefore an obvious analogy and it runs through all these theories between power and commodities between power and wealth 13In Marxism ou have what Foucault calls the economic functionality of power to the extent that the role of power is essentially both to perpetuate the relations of production and to reproduce a class domination that is made possible by the development of the productive forces and the ways they are appropriated In this case political power finds its historical raison d etre in the economy 14He moves away from these economistic theories exploring the ideas that power is not something that is given exchanged or taken back that it is something that is exercised and that it exists only in action and that power is not primarily the perpetuation and renewal of economic relations but that it is primarily in itself a relationship of force Power is essentially that which represses 15 And so we come to the crux of Foucault s argument and his difference from Marxism and liberalism rather than analyzing it power in terms of surrender contract and alienation or rather than analyzing it in functional terms as the reproduction of the relations of production shouldn t we be analyzing it first and foremost in terms of conflict confrontation and war Here he inverts Clausewitz s aphorism to ask whether politics is the continuation of war by other means and continues to state the ideas he will explore through the rest of the book in a nutshell If politics is the continuation of war by other means then my own underlining for emphasisThis would imply three things First that power relations as they function in a society like ours are essentially anchored in a certain relationship of force that was established in and through war at a given historical moment that can be historically specified And while it is true that political power puts an end to war and establishes or attempts to establish the reign of peace in civil society it certainly does not do so in order to suspend the effects of power or to neutralize the diseuilibrium revealed by the last battle of the war According to this hypothesis the role of 15 political power is perpetually to use a sort of silent war to reinscribe that relationship of force and to reinscribe it in institutions economic ineualities language and even the bodies of individuals This is the initial meaning of our inversion of Clausewitz s aphorism politics is the continuation of war by other means Politics in other words sanctions and reproduces the diseuilibrium of forces manifested in war Inverting the proposition also means something else namely that within this civil peace these political struggles these clashes over or with power these modifications of relations of force the shifting balance the reversals in a political system all these things must be interpreted as a continuation of war And they are interpreted as so many episodes fragmentations and displacements of the war itself We are always writing the history of the same war even when we are writing the history of peace and its institutions Inverting Clausewitz s aphorism also has a third meaning The final decision can come
only from war 
from war in other words a trial by strength in which weapons are the final judges It means that in which weapons are the final judges It means that last battle would put an end to politics or in other words that the last battle would at last and I mean at last suspend the exercise of power as continuous warfare 16 That s a definition and a half which seems to mean that the achievement of any victory against the status uo reuires a battle of strength in which weapons are the final judge I guess we re all heading back to the mountains and jungles then noBut maybe he jests because we re only studying power after allThe next chapter shows nicely how he turns things upside down Where the traditional uestion as he sees it would ask How does the discourse of truth establish the limits of power s right Foucault would ask What are the rules of right that power implements to produce discourses of truth Or What type of power is it that is capable of producing discourses of power that have in a society like ours such powerful effects It s a good illustration as are the following 5 methodological precautions which stand as an excellent summary of what Foucault thinks power is and what power is not while also making him sound a bit like a Buddhist text They in turn are summed up thusTo sum up these five methodological precautions let me say that rather than orienting our research into power toward the juridical edifice of sovereignty State apparatuses and the ideologies that accompany them I think we should orient our analysis of power toward material operations forms of subjugation and the connections among and the uses made of the local systems of subjugation on the one hand and apparatuses of knowledge on the other 34 This differentiation between state apparatus and material operations is carried through in his discussion of sovereignty and the discourse of rights that emerged in response to it Foucault suggests that the mechanism of power shifted in the 17th and 18th centuries from essentially feudal monarchy to the kind of power discussed above while the theorisations of struggle against it did not make the same shift Whereas power ceased to be about land and goods and legal rights the critics continued to treat it so while in fact it had become much about control of time and labour surveillance and the mechanics of discipline Hobbes for example in looking at contracts and rights as the foundation for sovereignty completely ignores and actually hides the fact that power relations have nothing to do with right and everything to do with domination It is rare ou find groups like the Diggers who are able to articulate in some manner that this domination is the problem rather than Norman lords instead of Saxon lords or what have ouOne of the key sections of the book is of course on race and racism and a remarkably interesting and uniue take on both really that is rich and provocative though I m not sure what I think about it et In a highly simplified form if I understand the argument right we have long had a concept of sovereignty as legitimate state based power which words and history existed to praise and exalt to the exclusion and obfuscation of all other ideas Slowly this shifted as a new discourse came into being a counterhistory of dissent and revolution acknowledging the oppressed and the subjugated As power and sovereignty was based on the conuest of one people by another connecting back to Clausewitz s aphorism though it somehow feels far distant this took the form of race struggle a binary struggle of peoples in which everyone was on either one side or the other their side defining their discourses of truth In the 16th century what was initially seen as race struggle slowly became seen as class struggle in these counterhistories and so race began to be used by the counterhistory arising in opposition to the original counterhistories ou can see why this is difficult but this new counterhistory is in the service of those with power It was reformulated with medical and biological meaning and as Foucault states Whereas the discourse of races of the struggle between races was a weapon to be used against the historico political discourse of Roman sovereignty the discourse of race in the singular was a way of turning that weapon against those who had forged it of using it to preserve the sovereignty of the State 81 Essentially it sought to preserve power and centralisecontrol discourse through defining the State in terms of its need for protection against the other the subrace the enemy Thus he argues racism is only a stage in this larger discourse of race struggle He returns to race in the last lecture which introduces the idea of biopolitics a term I ve always found very off putting but never mind Essentially it is a new function of government from sovereignty s old right to take life or let live to the power to make live and let die 241 It is the State in its new function of measuring and monitoring nurturing and manipulating the mass of the population for its own benefit rather than simply disciplining individual bodies This new form of politics. E lectures do not reduplicate his published books although they do have themes in common The lectures show Foucault ranging freely and conversationally over the implications of his researchIn Society Must Be Defended Foucault deals with the emergence in the early 17th century of a new understanding of socie. ,

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Does not replace the old rather it complements and articulates with it in a highly insidious fashion primarily through institutions and specialised scientific knowledges and the development of norms to which individuals and general society must live up to Within this new method of governing racism becomes first a way to fragment and divide the population for improved control That s easy to understand I m not sure I fully grasp what follows In a war situation it is easy to legitimate that the other people must die in order that our people may live thereby giving the state expanded power over life and death Racism recreates this latitude granted under conditions of war for a regime of biopolitics in other words killing or the imperative to kill is acceptable only if it results not in a victory over political adversaries but in the elimination of the biological threat to and the improvement of the species or race There is a direct connection between the two In a normalizing society race or racism is the precondition that makes killing acceptable 256 So perhaps that makes sense of thisAnd we can also understand why racism should have developed in modern societies that function in the biopower mode we can understand why racism broke out at a number of privileged moments and why they were precisely the moments when the right to take life was imperative Racism first develops with colonization or in other words with colonizing genocide If Vol au-dessus d'un nid de coucou you are functioning in the biopower mode how canou justify the need to kill people to kill populations and to kill civilizations By using the themes of evolutionism by appealing to a racismThis of course changes war as well it is not simply a matter of destroying a political adversary but of destroying the enemy race It makes sense of Nazism and Stalinism And I don t think that it is trying to take the place of other ideas and meanings of race as they lived and experienced but rather goes deeper adding a new dimensionhere we are far removed from the ordinary racism that takes the traditional form of mutual contempt or hatred between races We are also far removed from the racism that can be seen as a sort of ideological operation that allows States or a class to displace the hostility that is directed toward them or which is tormenting the social body onto a mythical adversary I think that this is something much deeper than an old tradition much deeper than a new ideology that it is something else The specificity of modern racism or what gives it its specificity is not bound up with mentalities ideologies or the lies of power It is bound up with the techniue of power with the technology of power It is bound up with this and that takes us as far away as possible from the race war and the intelligibility of history We are dealing with a mechanism that allows biopower to work So racism is bound up with the workings of a State that is obliged to use race the elimination of races and the purification of the race to exercise its sovereign power The juxtaposition of or the way biopower functions through the old sovereign power of life and death implies the workings the introduction and activation of racism And it is I think here that we find the actual roots of racism 258 It is this much wider difficult idea of racism that allows Foucault to say Socialism was a racism from the outset 261 contentious words He argues that because socialism never recognised biopower as a form of control and the role that racism has played in that it has essentially recreated or sought to recreate these same controls even while changing the social structure That I can see and is useful in thinking about what happened in Russia I m not sure I agree that it is endemic in socalist thought per se in the following wayWhenever on the other hand socialism has been forced to stress the problem of struggle the struggle against the enemy of the elimination of the enemy within capitalist society itself and when therefore it has had to think about the physical confrontation with the class enemy in capitalist society racism does raise its head because it is the only way in which socialist thought which is after all very much bound up with the themes of biopower can rationalize the murder of its enemies 262There s so much here primarily on the practice and discourses of history and on the nation I have to change my rating to 5 stars because while I get so frustrated with Foucault and continue to uestion the utility of his work to practical struggle it is undoubtedly full of ideas and uestions well worth thinking over and this is definitely a book I ll be returning to I am certain I will find an entirely new set of brilliantproblematic statements to ponder over which is impressive A decent place to make a run at Foucault this one is by far his most accessibleBasic object of the lecture series is his inversion of Clausewitz ie the thesis that politics is the continuation of warfare by other means I suppose the uestion would accordingly be whether warfare or techniue derived from warfare is the basic engine of history or at least the presentation or reactivation of historyThere is very little discussion of military doctrine or military history significant by far is how the concept of race war as distinguished from racism or racist war is a grid of intelligibility for historical knowledge particularly how historical knowledge is produced and deployed in political struggle eg as in the case of The Nobiliary Reaction As Produced nobiliary reaction as produced M Boulainvilliers a fascinating description that covers several lectures and is critical to a genealogy of rightwing thought if that is the correct termThere s a slick reading of Hobbes by the bye as well as erudite commentary on Marat and plenty of tormented critiue of the ancient doctrine of sovereignty as well as a working through the obsession with Rome and probably becoming obsessed while doing soThere s plenty of other useful bits thrown in along the way via digression but the lectures hold course against the object which is investigated from the 17th hold course against the main which is investigated from the 17th through Stalinism The last lecture ends with some fairly amazing if brief commentary about the Third Reich and the Soviet Union but as always he s less interested in the extremes for their own sake than for what they have in common with and therefore how they shed light upon the norms of his own societyThis main line of inuiry carries the notion of race war through the development of the notion of nation to its terminus in the concept of class and of course class struggle which should be familiar enough Incidentally it s not an anti marxist writing by any stretch but it does have much critical commentary about socialism in general from which marxism is only partially exceptedRecommended A series of lectures that Foucault gave at the College de France which ironically enough I am right by that location Beautiful spot I might add Here he examines power through a historical perspective One of the reasons why I like this In the things I am presently concerned with the moment when that which does not exist is inscribed in reality and when that which does not exist comes under a legitimate regime of the true and false marks the birth of this dissymmetrical bipolarity of politics and the economy Politics and the economy are not things that exist or errors or ideologies They are things that do not exist and et which are inscribed in reality and fall under a regime of truth dividing the truth and the falseIt is uaint growing old I celebrated my birthday today by coming home and noshing on a wonderful Indian meal with my wife I retired then to complete this volume and was rather shaken with thought If this volume is any indication then the Foucault Lectures series provides a rich trove of erudition and theory and is one which I will mine again and again The work begins exploring the distinction between Institution and Acuisition as regards to Sovereignty lord knows I worried about my deficits per Hobbes and Machiavelli It is Foucault s notion of war as politics by other means that strings the text along the discussion leads to his notion of race which for Foucault is a ethnic chauvinism than the American or modern binary opposition These views at history are simply astonishing The idea of a dovetail into the nascent biopolitical creates an enticing field of possibility This is the way to read Foucault I want to read ALL of the lectures So readable so clear Nothing at all like his published books and even interesting than his interviews which are usually pretty great This book is somewhere between listening to Foucault think out loud and having him relate a very consistent and constrained argument As usual for him this is about power and knowledgeThis book opens with a bit about h in these lectures foucault speaks of history power war race one of the few outright discussions of this from him i ve come to understand sovereignty biopolitics and their relations this is done with an impressive clarity although in the mid to late lectures i was at a loss in trying to follow the minutiae of european history in which most of his research on these matters germinate recommended especially if one wants to understand his influence on postcolonial scholars Foucault is always hard to get into but once ou eventually get a grip of the assumptions and definitions he comes in with the ideas he presents and the stories he describes are mindblowing I borrowed this from the local library and read it over a couple of months but have now ordered my own copy There is a loose agenda in this series of lectures but it s not always very precisely defined coherent or entirely thoroughly backed up But what Foucault does well as in Discipline and Punish is use history to shed light on certain movements today Perhaps this is how history should have been taught at schoolIn these lectures Foucault addresses the link between war and politics is either an extension of the other but through different means In asking the uestion he delves into the history of power struggles in France England and Europe over the last 800 Khaiye Aur Vajan Ghataiye years or so and traces the use of stories and knowledge through this time to show how the balance of power has changedIn short a fascinating read and one that asks many uestions than it does provide answers especially as the lectures are now 35ears old and working out how they apply to modern politics and technology is a challenge in itself I wanted my own copy to delve into these uestions as I d probably rack up dozens of fines if I had to keep getting this out of the library. Ty and its relation to war War was now seen as the permanent basis of all institutions of power a hidden presence within society that could be deciphered by an historical analysis Tracing this development Foucault outlines a genealogy of powerknowledge that was to become a primary concern in his final Tales from a Pilots Logbook years. I ve been reading Foucault forears and while I ve loved a lot of his writings I m actually retroactively annoyed at myself for not beginning here This is without a doubt the best possible introduction one could ask for when it comes to understanding the mature works of Foucault If ou want to get a primer on his thought don t be like me start hereIt also features by far my favourite uote from Michel Foucault something I can see becoming a personal motto that takes me through the rest of my studies The role of history will then be to show that laws deceive that kings wear masks that power creates illusions and that historians tell lies This will not then be a history of continuity but a history of deciphering the detection of the secret edge that has been distor Politics is war by other means Foucault attempts to see if the concept of war can be used to analyze of power relations He argues that the juridical theory of sovereignty masks the war going on between conflicting forces groups classes races religions etc and explores how people began to see the history of power as being a history of war He uses the history of France written by Boulainvilliers for much of this and locates the birth of the discourse of social war and even class struggle in the race struggle Historical discourse is a tool a weapon in the political fight to justify right The monarchy created a history where they were those with the right to rule because of former conuests they inherited The bourgeoisie tried to create an argument surrounding natural rights think Rousseau while the nobility Boulainvilliers and the like used the lens of race struggle and war to say that the governance of the invaders the social peace that they maintain is just an order of battle The bourgeoisie found this most difficult and is why they ignored historical discourse for so long They had to rework the notion of the nation in order to make a new historical discourse possibleLater MF briefly talks about the shift in power that occurred between the old days classical juridical theory of sovereignty and the 19th century biopolitics when power over human s biological life came under state control The old way was the right of the sword The right of sovereignty was to put people to death or allow them to live The new right established the right to make life and let die Some of the techniues of power in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that centered on the body were spacial separation surveillance of bodies attempts to increase productive force through exercise and drill etc Ways of rationalizing power and making it efficient and economical were seen in a system of surveillance hierarchies bookkeeping reports inspections etc These are all disciplinary technologies of labor In the second half of the 18th century a new technology of power that is non disciplinary modifies the previous disciplinary form Instead of applying it directly to bodies displinary human as body it is applied to humans as species to the human as living being It is addressed to the mass of humans whom are affected by the characteristics of birth death illness production etc Illness affected the population s strength and productivity and costed money The end of the 18th century is seen with the end of the anatamo politics of the human body and instead the biopolitics of the human species At the end MF wraps up a lot of points addressed in the book in a discussion about state racism biopolitics and nazism The most murderous states are also of necessity the most racist 258 He says that if normalizing biopolitical regimes wish to exercise the old sovereign right to kill it must become racist both direct murder and indirect murder exposing a certain group to death increasing the risk of death for some people This new racism modeled on war was reuired because a biopower that wanted to wage war had to articulate the will to destroy the adversary with the risk that it might kill those whose lives it had by definition to protect manage and multiply 258 Racism justifies the death funciton in the economy of biopower by appealing to the principle that others dying makes ou biologically stronger in that one is an element of a different biological population competing for resources In addition as and of one group s number dies the race to which it belongs will become purer Considering all of this it is easy to see that Nazi Germany and their scientifically calculated genocide is less of an aberration and of a logical manifestation of modernity and the age of biopower I read Society Must Be Defended on four different trains and in three different stations It s a good book for a long journey as it turns out I hadn t previously read any Foucault but I d heard that he writeslectures engagingly That s certainly what I found compared to some other political theorists I m looking at ou i ek his writing is clear and fluid Society Must Be Defended is a transcription of a series of lectures that Foucault gave in 1976 Amusingly the lectures were so popular that Foucault found the crowds frustrating and therefore moved them to 930am This was intended to put off students and as a stereotypically morning allergic postgraduate I can only assume that it worked Luckily of those that attended the lectures some recorded them for posterityThe lectures cover a lot of ground so I ll pick out a few things that especially interested
me firstly i 
Firstly I the notion of the Enlightenment not as a flowering of new knowledge so much as systematisation of scattered and heterogeneous knowledge into a structure of academic disciplines Foucault is very fond of the idea of discipline and applies it freuently I was especially struck by the image of the model industrial town subject of my undergraduate dissertation using the built environment as a disciplinary mechanism Foucault s description of the nature of power was also new to me and I really liked it According to the SITUATING THE LECTURES AFTERWORD HE NEVER SETTLED ON ONE the Lectures afterword he never settled on one definition of power revising his understanding constantly during his researches Within these lectures however he seems to be Using Energy As An Allegory For Power energy as an allegory for power is described as something that circulates part of a chain see also Power is something that passes through individuals It is not applied to them I find this formulation subtle and effective than others I ve come across which tend to treat power as a sort of blunt instrument applied by one group to another A third element that appealed was the discussion of how death has gone from being a public ritualised event to a private hidden taboo Foucault suggests that this is because death used to be a transition from one sovereign power to another from a monarch to god This is no longer the case since sovereign power in the living world has shifted from allowing life and granting death to granting life through public health interventions and allowing death This is a very intriguing point uite a bit of the book focuses on the nature of history and how it has been told This is interesting but less viscerally fascinating to me The history of racism and how states use it is however very striking Foucault ends his lectures with the uestion of how socialism can avoid becoming racist as he admits socialist regimes have all been to a greater or lesser extent His formulation of racism as the emphasis on a lesser class that compete with a greater one for resources is still powerful today Strong echoes of this can be discerned in today s UK government rhetoric about benefit scroungers vs strivers Such rhetoric implies that the former are damaging to the latter and must be eradicated for society to thrive This is a horrible and divisive narrative Foucault suggests that racism persists in this way because political regimes fail to re evaluate the state mechanisms such as public health and welfare that began in the eighteenth century As these mechanisms began on a racist basis they cannot leave it behind The final brief point of Foucault s that will stick with me is the idea of Homo Economicus the absolutely rational perfectly informed and self interested myth figure as savage As Foucault points out such an entirely self interested figure is antithetical to society and recalls instead Hobbes model of humans pre society Although as a noun the term savage has been consistently used in a racist manner in the form of an adjective it s interesting to apply to the free market economic understanding of human behaviour Indeed it occurred to me whilst reading this that Homo Economicus is essentially a psychopath The characteristics of psychopathy overlap uite neatly with the assumptions of Homo Economicus for example stress immunity risk neutrality Machiavellian egocentricity personal utility maximisation blame externalization lack of consideration of social costs and spillover effects rebellious nonconformity total independence from others decisions and utility functions I got these specific characteristics from the wikipedia article on psychopathy What does this say about economics as a discipline I wonder To sum up Society Must Be Defended is an ideal travel companion together with a pair of noise blocking headphones in case of loud children on the train I found it very thought provoking and an excellent introduction to Foucault I m definitely planning to read of his work A lot to grapple with here and I will do so below for my memory in writing a dissertation than anything else so be warnedI love that this book starts out with Foucault s critiue of Marx there must be out there I haven t found in terms of that critiue but this really helped me think through the distinctions as it has always seemed to me that the two could well complement each other I suppose they still can if broken into pieces and rejoined but I have a much better sense of how different Foucault s project is He argues that Marx or any other similar over arching theory such as psychoanalysis provided tools that can be used at the local level only when the theoretical unity of their discourse is so to speak suspended or at least cut up ripped up torn to shreds 6 Why is that particularly in thinking about theories that have liberation as their goal Because their effort to unify knowledge into a single framework of understanding is the problem particularly the way that theoretical frameworks such as Marxism see themselves as a science This sets up an aspiration to power where they decide what kinds of knowledge are legitimate and which are not with the aim of organising them filtering them putting them into hierarchies to. An examination of relations between war and politicsFrom 1971 until his death in 1984 Michel Foucault taught at the Collège de France perhaps the most prestigious intellectual institution in Europe Each ear in a series of 12 public lectures Foucault sought to explain his research of the previous ear Thes. ,