website statistics Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976 - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976

Availability: Ready to download

An examination of relations between war and politics From 1971 until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault taught at the Collège de France, perhaps the most prestigious intellectual institution in Europe. Each year, in a series of 12 public lectures, Foucault sought to explain his research of the previous year. These lectures do not reduplicate his published books, although th An examination of relations between war and politics From 1971 until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault taught at the Collège de France, perhaps the most prestigious intellectual institution in Europe. Each year, in a series of 12 public lectures, Foucault sought to explain his research of the previous year. These 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 research. In Society Must Be Defended, Foucault deals with the emergence in the early 17th century of a new understanding of society 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 power/knowledge that was to become a primary concern in his final years.


Compare

An examination of relations between war and politics From 1971 until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault taught at the Collège de France, perhaps the most prestigious intellectual institution in Europe. Each year, in a series of 12 public lectures, Foucault sought to explain his research of the previous year. These lectures do not reduplicate his published books, although th An examination of relations between war and politics From 1971 until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault taught at the Collège de France, perhaps the most prestigious intellectual institution in Europe. Each year, in a series of 12 public lectures, Foucault sought to explain his research of the previous year. These 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 research. In Society Must Be Defended, Foucault deals with the emergence in the early 17th century of a new understanding of society 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 power/knowledge that was to become a primary concern in his final years.

30 review for Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    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 yet which are inscribed in reality and fall under a regime of truth dividing the truth and the false. It 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 yet which are inscribed in reality and fall under a regime of truth dividing the truth and the false. It is quaint 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 Acquisition 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 more 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    A lot to grapple with here, and I will do so below more for my memory in writing a dissertation than anything else, so be warned! I love that this book starts out with Foucault's critique of Marx -- there must be more out there I haven't found in terms of that critique, 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 h A lot to grapple with here, and I will do so below more for my memory in writing a dissertation than anything else, so be warned! I love that this book starts out with Foucault's critique of Marx -- there must be more out there I haven't found in terms of that critique, 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 create 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 oppresses. In 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 them. Got 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 more on that later.) One critique before moving on, Foulcault writes: "When I say "subjugated knowledges" I am also referring to a whole series of knowledges that have been disqualified as nonconceptual knowledges, as insufficiently elaborated knowledges: naive knowledges, hierarchically inferior knowledges, knowledges that are below the required 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 onwards. The question here is what is power, but as Foucault writes: "'What is power?' is obviously a theoretical question 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" [13]. In Marxism, you 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" [14]. He 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 emphasis): This 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 disequilibrium 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 inequalities, 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 disequilibrium 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, or in other words a trial by strength in which weapons are the final judges. It means that the 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 quo requires a battle of strength in which weapons are the final judge. I guess we're all heading back to the mountains and jungles then, no? But maybe he jests, because we're only studying power after all. The next chapter shows nicely how he turns things upside down. Where the traditional question 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 thus: To 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 more 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 you 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 you. One of the key sections of the book is of course on race and racism, and a remarkably interesting and unique take on both really that is rich and provocative though I'm not sure what I think about it yet. 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 conquest 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 (you 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 centralise/control 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 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 this: And 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 you are functioning in the biopower mode, how can you justify the need to kill people, to kill populations, and to kill civilizations? By using the themes of evolutionism, by appealing to a racism. This 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 more 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 dimension: here, 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 technique 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 more 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 way: Whenever, 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. [262] There's so much more 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 question the utility of his work to practical struggle, it is undoubtedly full of ideas and questions 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 brilliant/problematic statements to ponder over, which is impressive.

  3. 5 out of 5

    vi macdonald

    I've been reading Foucault for years, 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 you want to get a primer on his thought, don't be like me- start here! It also features, by far, my favourite quote from Michel Foucault- something I can see becoming a personal motto that takes me through the re I've been reading Foucault for years, 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 you want to get a primer on his thought, don't be like me- start here! It also features, by far, my favourite quote 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 distorted or buried. It will decipher a truth that has been sealed."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Troy

    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 more 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 knowledge. This book opens with a bit about how power is projected through discipline (in fact, in the beginning 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 more 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 knowledge. This book opens with a bit about how power is projected through discipline (in fact, in the beginning there's a lovely and concise summary of the rough tenants of Discipline and Punish ). And immediately is followed by describing Foucault's methodology, and what historical information he looks at, and why his methodology is constructed it as it is. If that sounds confusing, trust me when I say that it isn't, and that he writes clearly about what he's interested in, and why. Also in the beginning, he defends his bookish nature by describing how and why he digs up two different types of lost knowledge: a) specific practical knowledge and guides, and b) local direct histories. (So for example, if looking at the rise of prisons, a) would be architectural models inspired by the panopticon, guides for running the prison, etc., and b) would be transcripts from the prisoners and maybe even the guards.) But these lectures are primarily about how a new type of history is created. A new type of history that eventually turns into the idea of "class struggle." Foucualt traces this history back to an early notion of "race struggle" (more on that in a sec') and on the invention of an idea that "war is behind all social interactions" (more, on that too, in a bit). "Race struggle": Roughly Foucault claims that a new form of history arises in the 17th c. Before then (again, roughly) history was all about following and codifying the lineage of power ("history is about kings;" "history is written by the winners"). In the 17th c. a new type of history emerges which is from the point of view of the conquered. It's a struggle of "racial history" since this new narrative focuses on the conquered or disposed race. (For example, the 17th c. saw the rise of the history of the Saxons as opposed to the history of the Normans. The Norman history was the dominant history; the history of power coming from William the Conquerer, a Norman. The Saxons were establishing a counter history; their history of the "rightful winners." They were using The Bible as a model, which provided a model for a history of the oppressed.) Then this new type of history moves to France and mutates into a more complex story of different strands of histories, of different histories for various races, and then eventually turns into a history for types of people. Eventually, there is a history for the depowered nobility, another history for the new and newly powerful bourgeoisie, and finally, a history of "the people." The move to The People allows the shift from "racial struggle" to "class struggle." As you can imagine, his "race struggle" model of history is appropriated by the State, which results in State racism, which is prescient and relevant for us today. Roughly, the State turns the historical narrative into a struggle against "enemies from within" as well as "enemies from without." And it uses those struggles in order to keep its people in-line. Then there's the new idea of "war is behind all interactions." It's not Hobbes' war of all against all, but an idea that war and struggle underpins all individual groups and nations, and that each group is struggling for power and domination. Again, this is prescient and relevant for us today. (One quick note is that this idea undermines the older idea of Truth and replaces it with a distrust of dominant narratives, which results in a cynical fracturing and a tough relationship to the idea of a common struggle. You see this in both Fox News and in far left academia. Anyway, it's more complicated than that, but still, you get some of the idea.) There's way more to the book. It's packed full of ideas and asides that are spellbinding and intriguing. The whole book is filled with gems, and the very end starts to talk about "biopower" which is the topic of another series of lectures (roughly, how the state uses surveillance to control its populace). Last, my friend and roommate asked me, "Why read Foucault when you love Deleuze so much? I mean, it seems a little... less involved." And I told her that I prefer Foucault and Bourdieu. I like the way they approach things "on the ground." I like the way they constantly bring back their studies to today. I like the way I can use their work to think about the world around me, and I like the way they provide me with tools for living. Deleuze is really, for me, about questioning the way I approach the world, and it's not deeper, but it is more dense and a little harder to apply or to turn is ideas into tools I can use. In the end, I guess I'm a typical U.S. pragmatist, and I want results and apparatus to apply, and am not as interested in theories for the sake of theories. When it comes to theory, I want tools. Foucault gives me that.

  5. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    A decent place to make a run at Foucault, this one is by far his most accessible. Basic object of the lecture series is his "inversion of Clausewitz," i.e., the thesis that politics is the continuation of warfare by other means. I suppose the question would accordingly be whether warfare, or technique derived from warfare, is the basic engine of history, or, at least the presentation or reactivation of history. There is very little discussion of military doctrine or military history--more signific A decent place to make a run at Foucault, this one is by far his most accessible. Basic object of the lecture series is his "inversion of Clausewitz," i.e., the thesis that politics is the continuation of warfare by other means. I suppose the question would accordingly be whether warfare, or technique derived from warfare, is the basic engine of history, or, at least the presentation or reactivation of history. There is very little discussion of military doctrine or military history--more 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 (e.g., as in the case of the "nobiliary reaction," as produced by M. Boulainvilliers--a fascinating description that covers several lectures, and is critical to a genealogy of rightwing "thought," if that is the correct term). There's a slick reading of Hobbes, by the bye, as well as erudite commentary on Marat, and plenty of tormented critique of the ancient doctrine of sovereignty, as well as a working through the obsession with Rome (and probably becoming obsessed while doing so). There's plenty of other useful bits thrown in along the way, via digression, but the lectures hold course against the main object, which is investigated from the 17th century 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 society.) This main line of inquiry 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 excepted. Recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Casey James

    "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 strug "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 conquests 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 possible. Later, 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 techniques 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 more 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 "required 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 you biologically stronger in that one is an element of a different biological population competing for resources. In addition, as more and more 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 more of a logical manifestation of modernity and the age of biopower.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara-Maria

    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 scholarship. he is awfu 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 scholarship. he is awfully potent at moments when discussing the counterhistories that emerge when blood is dried in the codes of jurisprudence. the quote that led me to read these lectures: "the role of history will, then, be to show that laws deceive, the 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 the deciphering, the detection of the secret, of the outwitting of the ruse, and of the reappropriation of a knowledge that has been distorted or buried. it will decipher a truth that has been sealed" (72).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    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 book is that i get a visual picture of the man in front of an audience by reading this book. It's like a movie for the mind. 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 book is that i get a visual picture of the man in front of an audience by reading this book. It's like a movie for the mind.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    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 writes/lectures engagingly. That's certainly what I found; compared to some other political theorists (I'm looking at you, Žižek) 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 p 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 writes/lectures engagingly. That's certainly what I found; compared to some other political theorists (I'm looking at you, Žižek) 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 9:30am. 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 posterity. The lectures cover a lot of ground, so I'll pick out a few things that especially interested me. Firstly, I liked 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 frequently. 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 single 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. 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 more 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. Quite 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 question 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 quite 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 more of his work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scribe

    Foucault is always hard to get into, but once you 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 Punis Foucault is always hard to get into, but once you 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 school. In these lectures, Foucault addresses the link between war and politics - is either an extension of the other, but through different means? In asking the question, he delves into the history of power struggles in France, England and Europe over the last 800 years or so, and traces the use of stories and knowledge through this time to show how the balance of power has changed. In short, a fascinating read - and one that asks many more questions than it does provide answers, especially as the lectures are now 35 years 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 questions more, as I'd probably rack up dozens of fines if I had to keep getting this out of the library.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Franti

    "Society must be defended" is a shining example of how a philosophical essai can be entertaining while being thougt-provoking. I would add that the sheer quantity of concepts for which Foucault proposes a critical perspective, is itself entertaining. If it exists a downside to this book is its capability to excite the reader's braincells and push him/her out of focus and into endless personal speculations about contemporary society. Foucault reverses the Clausewitzian notion of "War as continuat "Society must be defended" is a shining example of how a philosophical essai can be entertaining while being thougt-provoking. I would add that the sheer quantity of concepts for which Foucault proposes a critical perspective, is itself entertaining. If it exists a downside to this book is its capability to excite the reader's braincells and push him/her out of focus and into endless personal speculations about contemporary society. Foucault reverses the Clausewitzian notion of "War as continuation of politics through other means" and unfolds a plethora of reflections (on the micro-mechanisms of power, the underlying conflict that is inherent to society and to the concept of domination) that have not lost their strength as tools to build a critical perspective of contemporary society. This book is surprisingly a pageturner and whether you end up reading it for your dissertation (as I did) or just for fun or curiosity, you won't be disappointed. Finally, not only Foucault is THE name to drop when you want to brag, but also if you actually read it you will find easier to develop a different perspective on generally accepted knowledge and even more importantly the style of Foucauldian analysis is fundamental to overcome your own interpretative biases. Foucault will teach you stuff..but he will also teach you to think about stuff

  12. 5 out of 5

    Reginald Simms

    "Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." ~Mao Zedong Starting with the the idea of history and the narratives of different perspectives in power, Foucault has advanced that idea from the juridical to the disciplinary. The disciplinary regime is there to administer knowledge and the effects of that knowledge, in essence, different groups can trot out different narratives/histories as the truth. This truth becomes what is known and in itself contains the power as i "Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." ~Mao Zedong Starting with the the idea of history and the narratives of different perspectives in power, Foucault has advanced that idea from the juridical to the disciplinary. The disciplinary regime is there to administer knowledge and the effects of that knowledge, in essence, different groups can trot out different narratives/histories as the truth. This truth becomes what is known and in itself contains the power as in the old cliché knowledge is power. The administration of truth has been transformed and understood in recent centuries as the reproduction of the individual and inherently the body. Once understood as the administration of bodies, Foucault advances that notion to a more macro level or to the level of population. The control of the population through juridical and disciplinary functions, through not anymore the destruction of life only but the making or letting of life as the bio-political mode of power. Society Must Be Defended is the turning point in which Foucault starts to articulate the concept of bio-power.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    For most of the book I was slogging. I mean once in a while there'd be a really cool idea, but then I'd realize it was in the context of a debate about whether it was the aristocracy or the bourgeoise who had "invented history" and I would be like Really, this is how I'm spending my time? But the very last lecture finally emerged from medieval France and got into biopolitics and socialism and whatnot and suddenly I understood all the references and just as suddenly and perhaps not coincidentally For most of the book I was slogging. I mean once in a while there'd be a really cool idea, but then I'd realize it was in the context of a debate about whether it was the aristocracy or the bourgeoise who had "invented history" and I would be like Really, this is how I'm spending my time? But the very last lecture finally emerged from medieval France and got into biopolitics and socialism and whatnot and suddenly I understood all the references and just as suddenly and perhaps not coincidentally every paragraph seemed totally brilliant. So perhaps I just didn't have the background knowledge needed to appreciate all the brilliant ideas that were illustrated by episodes from Charlemagne's era. I don't know.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David McGrogan

    This is probably the deepest and strangest work of political philosophy of the last 50 years, which defies all attempts at summary. Whether discussing Hobbes, Charlemagne, or Hitler, Foucault never fails to offer a perspective that is completely original. What I haven't noticed being mentioned by other reviewers, though, is how good a read these lectures are - of all the collected volumes of his lectures, I find these by far the most enjoyable and entertaining: listening to him in full flow in 1 This is probably the deepest and strangest work of political philosophy of the last 50 years, which defies all attempts at summary. Whether discussing Hobbes, Charlemagne, or Hitler, Foucault never fails to offer a perspective that is completely original. What I haven't noticed being mentioned by other reviewers, though, is how good a read these lectures are - of all the collected volumes of his lectures, I find these by far the most enjoyable and entertaining: listening to him in full flow in 1975-76 must really have been something.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Garrett

    I cannot say that I "get" everything that Foucault is discussing, but I love the way that my mind is prevented from setting up camp in well worn thought grooves by his provocation. I appreciate the challenge and embrace the new found perspectives. My only critique of the book/lectures is that he focuses almost exclusively on English and French historical/counter historical discourse. I would love to see these ideas applied more broadly both culturally and historically. I cannot say that I "get" everything that Foucault is discussing, but I love the way that my mind is prevented from setting up camp in well worn thought grooves by his provocation. I appreciate the challenge and embrace the new found perspectives. My only critique of the book/lectures is that he focuses almost exclusively on English and French historical/counter historical discourse. I would love to see these ideas applied more broadly both culturally and historically.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    The Collège de France is the country's most prestigious research institution, but unlike other universities it does not give out any degrees. Academics who are given chairs are able to pursue their own research, with the only requirement being that they periodically give lectures - open to the public - on the progress of their research. It from this podium, at perhaps the height of his celebrity, that Foucault delivers a series of lectures in 1975 to a standing-room only Parisian public audience The Collège de France is the country's most prestigious research institution, but unlike other universities it does not give out any degrees. Academics who are given chairs are able to pursue their own research, with the only requirement being that they periodically give lectures - open to the public - on the progress of their research. It from this podium, at perhaps the height of his celebrity, that Foucault delivers a series of lectures in 1975 to a standing-room only Parisian public audience. In these lectures, Focault is at a moment of pivot in his research. He takes the early part of 1975 to begin to sketch out the loose ends from his previous areas of research and lay out unresolved questions or ideas that he intends to pick up in the future. In this lecture format, too, the medium is one that lends itself to sketching out big ideas but necessarily without the academic rigor of a published work. It is from this context that SMBD is written - providing a broad range of new and novel ideas. It is also from this podium that Focault is also most accessible - his methodologies, assumptions, and overarching ideas are laid bare. The primary new ideas that Foucault lobs out relate to Biopower, Race, and State Racism - all of which Foucault would go on to further expand in future works. The historical argument goes like this - at the end of the 17th / beginning of the 18th centuries economic and population growth grew so fast that the power of the sovereign in Western Europe became totally inadequate to exercise power in order to govern society and was overwhelmed. It is from this deficiencies in technology of power that the disciplinary is invented - written about very well in Discipline and Punish. In a brief, disciplinary power is the power over people's individual bodies through drilling, surveillance, measurement, hierarchicalization, and incentives. Think the newly forming military, medical, prison, mental health, and educational apparatuses forming at this time - the likes of which we take for granted today but were truly new and novel "technologies of power" at the time. In this time of rapid societal change and a weakening of sovereign power, new political forces emerge - particularly the bourgeoisie and nobility looking to wrest back power from the sovereign. Here Foucault goes deep to demonstrate the evolution of history as a political tool that was taken up by these groups to be wielded as a cudgel in the discourse of "right" and "sovereignty". Here he develops his ideas on the war as a model for understanding history and submits that history becomes fractured and essentially centered on the subject's interests telling the history - in contrast to the universal histories supporting the sovereigns power which had characterized history up until this point. This is the history of war between races & necessarily told from the perspective and interest of one of those races. So it is from this fracas that new universal discourses emerge, primarily as the bourgeoisie take control over politics and power in Western European governments in the early 18th century. The historical discourse of races at war morphs into a discourse of the nation having a universal race (i.e. that of the French people, as opposed to the individual nations of the Franks, Gauls, Normans, etc.). This nation-race then must be protected from corrupting external forces. This logic - "Society Must Be Retaken" from the external invaders (the Franks, the Normans) to "Society Must Be Defended" from corrupting influences from within and without. Biopower, then, develops in this transition from the sovereign's model of power (the power to kill) to that of bourgeoisie (the power to make live and let die). This power is characterized - in contrast to disciplinary power - not as the power over a single body, but the power over a whole population. The tools of this power are things like the census, statistics, insurance, medicine, swamp drainage, etc. This is the technology of power that allows the state to fulfill it's maxim that "Society Must Be Defended". But with this new view of power and sovereignty, the old power of the sovereign - to kill - become paradoxical. Functionally, the ability to wage war and kill has been critical to the modern nation state so how does power get around this? The answer is by inventing state racism - not necessarily traditional racism (hating someone due to their biology) - but the scientific, Darwinistic discourses used to create breaks in the population based on biological (real or fictional) traits to justify killing in order to make core race stronger. Nearly all of the great atrocities of the 19th and 20th century (e.g. colonialism, Nazi gas chambers, the Soviet purges, etc.) can be linked to this logic. So here is where the lectures reach their punchline -- Foucault is merciless in asking the question: "Why does the shadow of fascism and Stalinism loom so large over modern western liberal governments?" In Foucault's analysis, while Stalinism and fascism are historical abominations they are also nothing more than the logical extension of Western Liberalisms technologies of powers - normalizing societies built on disciplinary- and bio-power - taken to an extreme. They are also convenient bogeymen to distract from more penetrating analysis of our own society's assumptions of power and projects of state racism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Devitt

    Violence and the Law (Summer 2018) at The New School

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    In this series of lectures, Foucault shows how discourses of truth – here, specifically or especially historical truth – constitute claims upon, and justifications of, political power. Beginning with the 17th-century democratic ferment surrounding the English Civil War, and reappearing around a century later with a French aristocratic reaction in the years leading up to the Revolution, there appeared a historico-political theory which sought to both analyze history and explain contemporary power In this series of lectures, Foucault shows how discourses of truth – here, specifically or especially historical truth – constitute claims upon, and justifications of, political power. Beginning with the 17th-century democratic ferment surrounding the English Civil War, and reappearing around a century later with a French aristocratic reaction in the years leading up to the Revolution, there appeared a historico-political theory which sought to both analyze history and explain contemporary power relations in terms of an originary violent conquest of one nation by another, establishing a political domination which would – not without resistances, struggles, and the possibility of reversals – go on to be reconstituted, sublimated, and recapitulated in the institutions of the state down to the present day. This polemical discourse of victimized and victimizing infra-political 'nations', which would ultimately develop during the 19th century into one of 'races' and 'classes', comprised an attack on the formula of historical knowledge that had theretofore legitimated the absolute monarchical form of the state by claiming continuity with a foundational, juridical right of sovereignty. As Foucault observes in describing the principle of historicism in relation to scholarship, “War is waged throughout history, and through the history that tells the history of war”(173).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Harvey

    I thought the eleventh chapter was exciting (especially p. 242). "...in the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, we saw the emergence of the techniques of power that were essentially centred on the body, on the individual body. They included all devices that were used to ensure the spatial distribution if individual bodies (their separation, their alignment, their serialization, and their surveillance) and the organization, around those individuals, of a whole field of visibility. They were also t I thought the eleventh chapter was exciting (especially p. 242). "...in the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, we saw the emergence of the techniques of power that were essentially centred on the body, on the individual body. They included all devices that were used to ensure the spatial distribution if individual bodies (their separation, their alignment, their serialization, and their surveillance) and the organization, around those individuals, of a whole field of visibility. They were also techniques that could be used to take control over bodies. Attempts were made to increase their productive force through exercise, drill, and so on. They were also techniques for rationalizing and strictly economizing on a power that had to be used in the least costly way possible, thanks to a whole system of surveillance, hierarchies, inspections, bookkeeping, and reports--all the technology that can be described as the disciplinary technology of labour." "This [new] technology of power [...] does dovetail into it, integrate it, modify it to some extent, and above all, it is by sort of infiltrating it, embedding itself in existing disciplinary techniques." "...discipline tries to rile a multiplicity of men to the extent that their multiplicity can and must be dissolved into individual bodies that can be kept under surveillance, trained, used, and if need be, punished."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael A.

    My first dive into Foucault! A bit heady for me. Probably requires a decent background in French history to fully understand what he's talking about. However, his notion of power and how no one really has it and it flows through networks is interesting, as was his notion of biopower in the last lecture. One thing sort of bugged me though. Towards the end he says "This play [the sovereign right to kill and the mechanisms of biopower to this paroxysmal point] is in fact inscribed in the workings of My first dive into Foucault! A bit heady for me. Probably requires a decent background in French history to fully understand what he's talking about. However, his notion of power and how no one really has it and it flows through networks is interesting, as was his notion of biopower in the last lecture. One thing sort of bugged me though. Towards the end he says "This play [the sovereign right to kill and the mechanisms of biopower to this paroxysmal point] is in fact inscribed in the workings of all States. In all modern States, in all capitalist states? Perhaps not. But I do think that ... the socialist State... is as marked by racism as the workings of the modern ... capitalist State.... Socialism was a racism from the outset.... you will always find a racist component in socialism." He admits this is an enormous claim and would require another lecture to prove it, but uh...yikes. That seems egregiously wrong to me! Maybe he is using some idiosyncratic definitions here. Other than that, the book was interesting to read, despite me understanding maybe half of it (being generous). Should have started with an easier Foucault read!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    A lot of concepts and ideas that would be productive for further research are discussed here but they never gel into a cohesive and compelling argument. They more or less just array Foucault's various arguments that he was beginning to deploy (3 or 4 lectures could be taken in a completely decontextualized manner to describe core tenets of Foucault's project regarding "governmentality" - the first two lectures are indeed the "Two Lectures" previously collected out of context in the compilation P A lot of concepts and ideas that would be productive for further research are discussed here but they never gel into a cohesive and compelling argument. They more or less just array Foucault's various arguments that he was beginning to deploy (3 or 4 lectures could be taken in a completely decontextualized manner to describe core tenets of Foucault's project regarding "governmentality" - the first two lectures are indeed the "Two Lectures" previously collected out of context in the compilation Power/Knowledge) alongside an interesting narrative of history as a method of by turns opening a field of political conflict and neutralizing politics. And racism tacked on a little at the end. Again, maybe because of the exploratory nature of these works, none of this hangs together as one argument. I seem to remember Security, Territory, Population as being a lot tighter.

  22. 5 out of 5

    tyler

    i am woefully underprepared for this book. it feels like nearly 75% of it is discussion of history that i have no idea about (gauls, franks, Clovis... 17th/18th century French history, Thierry, Boulainvilliers, savages, barbarians... the list goes on) and unlike Discipline & Punish, i struggled to see forest for the trees. the first several chapters were very good. did I catch a whiff a Insurrectionary Foucault?! as is typical of foucault, the text is beautifully written (er... orated?) and i'm po i am woefully underprepared for this book. it feels like nearly 75% of it is discussion of history that i have no idea about (gauls, franks, Clovis... 17th/18th century French history, Thierry, Boulainvilliers, savages, barbarians... the list goes on) and unlike Discipline & Punish, i struggled to see forest for the trees. the first several chapters were very good. did I catch a whiff a Insurrectionary Foucault?! as is typical of foucault, the text is beautifully written (er... orated?) and i'm positive there's a ton to learn from this, it's just that i failed to do so. also, where's all the biopower??? finally mentioned in the last lecture?? hopefully the next 2 years of lectures (Security, Territory, Population, & The Birth of Biopolitics) are more understandable for me. Beginning: 4 stars Middle: 3 stars Final chapter: 5+ stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Was really only interested in this book as a stepping stone toward Mbembe's work on necropolitics. I don't like Foucault all that much, but this was better to read than some of his other works. Also I still don't understand how socialism can be "racist" against the bourgeoisie lol. Was really only interested in this book as a stepping stone toward Mbembe's work on necropolitics. I don't like Foucault all that much, but this was better to read than some of his other works. Also I still don't understand how socialism can be "racist" against the bourgeoisie lol.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    It’s a book of Foucault’s lectures. What do you want me to say

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fufan Liu

    Different modes of struggles along history where human were the subjects.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara Lind

    Not very good

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Michel Foucault's "Lectures" series is a collection of lectures given at the College De France from 1971 to 1984. They have been recently translated and published, but for whom, that I am not quite sure. I absolutely loved reading this particular lecture series, "Society Must be Defended". The major themes Foucault discusses are Race and War, and their causal relations. As an American reader, my initial interpretation of the word Race hinge on the US interpretation: skin color. But Foucault, and Michel Foucault's "Lectures" series is a collection of lectures given at the College De France from 1971 to 1984. They have been recently translated and published, but for whom, that I am not quite sure. I absolutely loved reading this particular lecture series, "Society Must be Defended". The major themes Foucault discusses are Race and War, and their causal relations. As an American reader, my initial interpretation of the word Race hinge on the US interpretation: skin color. But Foucault, and most of Europe, consider Race in a different, albeit for more accurate, way. They consider Race in the terms of what I would describe as nationality. So, Race, then, is not skin color, but regional origin, national origin, etc. I have had lengthy discussions upon this cultural distinction with friends from Europe, and it has proven true each time. Now, this fits very well into what Foucault describes as War. War is antagonism. War is power relations. War is struggle. And ultimately, War is racist. It is racist in the sense of power and subjugation, not in the Malcolm X / US / Huey Newton race war between Whites and Blacks, but in the sense of one subspecies of man establishing dominance over another subspecies of man. Foucault takes for a precondition, man-as-species. Or in Literary Theory terms: Universal Humanism. But Universal Humanism is an ideal, and it is not a reality. Beyond Humanism is man-as-species, man-as-political-body, etc. What amazing phenomenon has occurred beyond the eighteenth century is namely the classification and hierarchialization of War. But before Foucault can get to that, he must confront Clausewitz' famous dictum: "war is the continuation of politics by other means". Foucault first challenges this statement by reversing it and arguing that politics is the continuation of war by other means. I will summarize this, most likely in an inaccurate manner, by stating that Foucault ultimately argues that politics hold the population in a state of perpetual war. I think of Virginia Woolf's essay Three Guineas, in which she criticizes the pomp and celebration of the aftermath of War, and these ritualistic measures to keep the public employed at war, while not actually, physically, being in a war. Something along the lines of the Military Industrial Complex discussion. He then goes on to discuss and dissect how it came to be that War became the means to understanding History. Who are the major individuals who wrote History? When did it become a State functioning separation and domination of one race over another? For this, Foucault takes on Hobbes and the function of War within the building of modern France, Germany, and England. This is all far too large a subject to cover in this little review. So, I will end it by arguing that this book is not for everyone. In fact, I don't think I may ever read it again. Reading Foucault is a special thing. His knowledge is not meant for this man sitting at a desk, wanting a paycheck, desirous of life, love, and such. It's meant for someone distinct. Someone devoted. It's meant for a time and place that no longer exists for me outside Academia. I apologize for this late realization. But it is the direct reason it took me months to finish this collection. The terms "normalization" and "biopower" are absolutely essential to any theoretical argument I undertake, but they are so few and far between outside of those halls of Academia that Foucault's relevancy is waning for me. Still, I do not hesitate in giving it five stars. So, enjoy at your leisure, but beware: the ideas and theories contained herein may cause alienation.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    To decide who will live and who will die [Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites] To decide who will live and who will die [Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites]. Is Foucault popular because he is superficial? There's something relieving, liberating in the ease with which he pulls together history and ideas, historicizing concepts he's just made up, and following weak threads across centuries. For all his intelligence, however, Foucault risks here lacking a problem, lacking a struggle, and therefore lacking edge. He is onto something, as always, but mixes too many concepts, indecisively in the end, as explanations are attempted, and causal relationships tried out and then abandoned. What is sovereignty? The power to decide on the life or death of the subjects. For Hobbes, sovereignty is made possible by the subjects themselves - because they want to live. His explanation is a juridical (and peaceful, insofar as contractual, contra the image of the Leviathan) attempt to counteract the perils of the discourse that founds political order on violence or civil war. Foucault says that the latter interpretation of politics derives from the biblical heritage of our civilization. Greek-Roman tradition promotes a contractual view of society, whereas the Jewish-Christian tradition injects into history the view that there is always an anointed people, suffering under foreign domination until the liberation to come. It is this tradition that reads history through the lens of revolution, and pursues what we now call identity politics and Foucault names 'racism' (we mean something different with that term now, so Foucault's thesis appears confusing). In our revolutionary times (as opposed to juridical), sovereignty pursues identity politics as the main criterion for deciding who will leave and who will die, and as the way to keep the foundational civil war alive. There is also discipline, biopower, the apparatuses, but these are not essential to the argument flow (on the contrary, they give rise to misconceptions, as when Foucault states that biopower is an alternative to sovereignty). Civil war - subterranean or open - is the glue that prevents society from falling apart. Sovereignty picks winners in this permanent war, and is defined as the referee that prevents one party from destroying the others. In this sense, and in no other, sovereignty defends society.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leland

    I was baffled that Picador began its Lectures series with the publication of this volume - it seemed such an arbitrary choice. Why not simply publish the Lectures in chronological order? Also - why put so much of the supplemental material at the end of the book - the contextual information in "Situating the Lectures..."? There are excellent reasons for the choices and it soon becomes clear that Foucault was summarizing his recent work while considering new avenues, while acting as his own "popul I was baffled that Picador began its Lectures series with the publication of this volume - it seemed such an arbitrary choice. Why not simply publish the Lectures in chronological order? Also - why put so much of the supplemental material at the end of the book - the contextual information in "Situating the Lectures..."? There are excellent reasons for the choices and it soon becomes clear that Foucault was summarizing his recent work while considering new avenues, while acting as his own "popularizer" as he spoke to (and with, it turns out... ) a general audience. He addressed non-specialists very clearly and persuasively! Very enjoyable for its wit and its helpful clarification of his topics and method - excited to go on to "Abnormal," the earlier Lecture series!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Reading Foucault one can see why French intellectuals and philosophers in particular have such a high reputation. This is a series of lectures given between 1975 -76 at the College de France during a turbulent period in recent history which prompts Foucault to examine the questions of power relations, racism, biopower, and the role of war in politics and politics in war - among others. That being said there are no answers, that is not the role that Foucault has taken on - he is not a polemicist, Reading Foucault one can see why French intellectuals and philosophers in particular have such a high reputation. This is a series of lectures given between 1975 -76 at the College de France during a turbulent period in recent history which prompts Foucault to examine the questions of power relations, racism, biopower, and the role of war in politics and politics in war - among others. That being said there are no answers, that is not the role that Foucault has taken on - he is not a polemicist, but more an explorer, a researcher - and these lectures are really a summary of where he is at when giving the lectures, for he continually revisits his key themes. Read and enjoy. This is an excellent translation, it reads well, and the ideas presented are as fresh as they were when the were originally presented.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.