power and war

'The ceremonies, rituals and signs with which the sovereign showed his
predominance, have become superfluous. There's a machinery now which
guarantees the asymmetry, the difference in level and in power. It doesn't
matter much who exercises the power. Any person at random can keep the
machine going, in the case of the absence of the directors even his family
or his closest allies, his friends, his guests or his servants. Their
motives are also not important: it can be indiscrete curiosity, childish
amusement, the hunger for knowledge of a scientist who wants to observe this
museum of human nature or the malice of those who take pleasure in spying
and punishing.' (Surveillir et punir Ch 3 'Panoptism', my translation of the
Dutch translation (sorry) pp 279)
Reading this passage I suddenly had the impression that Foucault had
Hobbes's Leviathan in mind as the point of departure, when he described the
transition to the new kind of power dynamics. I wander what the experts on
this list think and it would also be interesting to know what Foucault's
view was on Rousseau's solution of the shared general will.
Moreover Hobbes's view has a lot of influence in the political conflict over
Iraq. I believe the U.S. government (the U.S. 'gang of 4', the world's most
infamous bible club) are strong admirers of Hobbes and think it's the will
of their God that the U.S., or even Texas become the worlds Leviathan. Of
course Saddam Hussian has more or less the same ideas, be it that he doesn't
fool himself by thinking that his predominance is in anyone else's interest
besides those of himself and his next of kin. Moreover al the stress on
unity from the side of some European politicians also has a Hobbesian
undertone. My comment would be that there's apparently a gap between the
model of power in the minds of many modernist people and the mechanics of
power as Foucualt describes them and that this modernist model has much to
do with the war on Iraq. For Blair, Bush and Hussian power is personal power
and they use a lot of rituals an ceremonies to preserve it (the signs of
power are the powers of the signs). The U.N. strategy, supported by France
and Germany was a clear example of the panoptical strategy, based on
inspection and visibility. Maybe the flaw was that the visibility was
incomplete because it depended to much on the secret services. This 'secret
visibility' may not have been very effective. So is this war not a medieval
kind of war, based on a mythical consciousness? The comparison with the
crusades might not be so far fetched as it seems. If so I can understand why
the fundamentalist protestants and Muslims are so inspired. These people
have been brought up with tales of personal absolute power of a personal God
and his chosen ones. Would it be fair to conclude that religion creates thus
islands of personal power dynamics within the rizomatic power structure?


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