Re: Power In Eduation & Foucault

this posting frustrates me because it presumes that Foucault is holding up
a universal truth. Its obvious he does nothing of the sort; its simply his
opinion--which, unfortunately for the critics, is based on an immense
reading of source material as well as a careful, meticulous, and honest
reading (At least this was his stated aim, and I take his word for it).
Foucault does not set out to accuse, at least not in the same tradition of
intellectualism from which he himself emerges. He simply finds the world
so (though he puts it a little more subltely than you do), and like
parrhesiades, says it is. If you don't like what he says, don't read him.
Unfortunately he's not here to surprize you with his next move.
The thing about this type of thought (Foucault's)--its becoming all the
more clear to me--is its a weapon. If you don't find it useful, if it
doesn't ring in your ears, invent something else. By the way--and this is
my opinion--I find no relevancy or significance to the question concerning
the difference between authority and authoritarianism. It's what the SS
and the NYPD share in common that is important, not the degree to which one
becomes a pure form. Studies of the standardization of testing would be
the least interesting thing to do from a Foucauldian point of view:
wouldn't it be more important to focus on the specifics of the relationship
of the trainer (the teacher) to the trained (the child); including a
genealogical analysis--in the Nietzschean sense--of the values at play?
And can you have a "total institution" in an open society? Doesn't the
latter somewhat presuppose the absence of the former (that is to say, if
the latter is to have any significance whatsoever)?
On the last point, I don't think the College de France has ever
pretended to be "outside of disciplinary power" (if you can quote me a
source I'd be surprized. It does have the sense, and the
self-identification that 'thought is free', I know about that). I don't
think Foucault went there to be "outside" (a term which in anycase is
entirely alien to his formulation of the question of power).
Even this withstanding, the assumption is that you can't speak about
domination from the inside (which I take the reference to "ivy-covered
halls" to presumably mean; unless its an aesthetic criticism of the floral
arrangement of the College). Even this presupposes a division. Does this
make Foucault's books less of a force than they are simply because he was a
professor at one of France's foremost intellectual institutions? I find
this notion puerile. Beyond that, its naive and judgemental. It separates
us out from the people who happen to be in positions of authorship (the
professors, the doctors, the lawyers, the policemen, the judges, etc.).
Wouldn't it be more valuable--perhaps more fruitful--if we talked with
people (no matter who they are); tried to be honest, not assume a division
in advance, perhaps see one and seek to overcome it. I know as well as
anyone that certain sections of our communities are ostracised,
quarrantined, silenced. Wouldn't it be good if in addition to pausing for
them to speak we talked with their prison guards as well? I'm not trying
to make some "ideal speech" argument, but I reject the implicit judgement
you make in your criticism of Foucault's positionality; that the guard has
nothing to say, cannot talk, that we cannot listen to him as well as the

best wishes/sincerely,
Ian R. Douglas | Watson Institute for International Studies
Brown University, Box 1831, Providence, RI 02912 USA

tel: 401 863-2420 fax: 401 863-2192

"Perhaps we are too dedicated to commentary to know
what lives are." - Michel Foucault

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