Re: [Foucault-L] Governmentality

Dear Scott,

thank you very much;
so we agree on the second point

as to the first point: The following is a section of my article on Biopower (which is in review and not yet acepted)

2.2 Foucault?s denial of war
Foucault himself, however, does not discuss this obvious inconsistency either in the Cours of 1976, or in La volonté de savoir. He also never drew that conclusion in words or writing afterwards ? perhaps The Subject and Power can be read as an exception (see below).
Right at the beginning of his Cours of 1978, however, he just completely drops (or rejects) the war model. Power is a set of procedures and mechanisms, he says, which are neither ?autogenetic?, nor ?autosubsistent.? Herewith, again and now once and for all, Foucault disconnects power from sovereignty. His topic is the politics of truth, so Foucault continues, therefore, the imperative moment of power only takes effect at the level of discourses. In other words, he concludes, the relation between truth and struggle (lutte) remains within (the domain of) theoretical discourse.[1] Any connection of power with physical influence or violence is denied here, but this is not explicitly stated. Finally, he says: ?With all these [remarks] I would like to propose only one imperative, which is categorical and unconditional: never get involved into politics.?[2] After that, Foucault starts the course, and does not pay any attention any more to war or continuous battle, to the reversal of sovereign power into biopower, and to the physical or violent impact of power. In fact, he turns his back on politics and political power here.

By the end of 1978, Foucault explains in an indirect way why he dropped the war model. Discussing the issue of polemics, he criticizes ideological discussions because they ?get carried away necessarily by the war model.? [3] The idea of ideological fight (lutte) is rejected as an overblown, not serious and even dangerous way of presentation of ?little disputes?; and he continues: ?I shall tell you: I find this <model of war> not only a little bit ridiculous, but rather dangerous,? because, from the moment on that you are in power (forza) or in a situation of real war, the opponent could really be seen and treated as an enemy.[4]
It was only in 1981 or 1982, in the retrospective overview ?The Subject and Power?, that Foucault explained conceptually the ?distinction?, as he calls it, between power and physical influence, which is defined as ?that which is exerted over things and gives the ability to modify, use, consume, or destroy them.? That distinction actually proves to be a real distinction between power, defined as ?action upon (possible) actions?, and physical influence or violence, being an ?objective capacity? ?inherent in the body or relayed by external instruments.? [5] These statements make clear that the analytic of power or genealogy is separated from any - I would like to say: body-political - analysis of the impact of power on people and populations, including the material conditions of their way of living. However, power and physical influence[6] are not separated domains; Foucault calls them different ?types of relationships which ? overlap, ? support ? and use each other mutually?[7] No trace of war can be found anymore in power. It is true that a power relation is called ?agonistic?, being ?at the same time reciprocal incitation and struggle?, but Foucault connects this point with the principle of resistance (see (5.1)), and definitely not with war.[8]
Both explanations are rejection of the war model of power with hindsight. The question remains, however, why in the early part of 1978, Foucault was so very dissatisfied with the war model that he rejected it and kept it dark? According to Michel Senellart, the editor of the Cours of 1978 and 1979, it was Foucault?s rift with the radical left and especially with the terrorism of the Rote Armee Fraktion by the end of 1977. He felt himself forced, by Gilles Deleuze[9] among others, to support the request for asylum by Klaus Croissant, the lawyer of the RAF, but refused to support anyhow the RAF and the ideology of armed resistance.[10] It is that rejection of violence and armed resistance in power and politics, so I would like to suggest, which is gradually elaborated during the Cours of 1978 and most of all in the Cours of 1979, as we shall see in § 4.
The inconsistency of the war model with Foucault?s positive model of power, however, is so obvious that he could not ignore it. According to Foucault?s conceptual framework, that inconsistency ultimately boils down to the contradiction between two concepts of death: on the one hand, death against life or death as the fatal end of life, which is entailed in violence and war; on the other hand, death as an intrinsic element of normal(ized) life of a population as a factor in demography, morbidity, social security, (life)insurances and so on. The former conception of death is used in biopower, as we shall see in the following section. I contend that the latter conception is the fundamental principle of normalization, as has been argued in § 1; it is this conception too, which is presupposed in the art of governing and in the art of living.

[1] Cours of 1978, respectively: pp.4, 5, 5-6.
[2] My translation, ibid. p. 6: ?Je ne proposerai donc en tout ceci qu?une seul impératif, mais celui-lá sera catégoriquement et inconditionnel: ne faire jamais de politique?; also see the comment of the editior (note 2, p.25).
[3] Right at the end of the interview by Trombadori (of 1978): ?è necessariamente tracinati dal <modello della guerra>? (Il Contributo p 83), the French translation (DE IV, p. 95) is not literal.
[4] ibid. p. 83-84: ?le dirò: questo <modella della guerra> lo trovo non solo un pò ridiculo, ma anche piuttosto pericoloso? (in DE this sentence is not translated); also see the same line of reasoning in ?Polemics, Politics and Problematizations? including the point that ?the very existence [of the enemy] constitutes a threat? (Foucault Reader p. 383, DE IV, p. 591), which will be discussed in § 3 (7.2).
[5] ?The Subject and Power?, quotations are taken from the original English edition p. 217 (French translation in DE IV, no. 306).
[6] Communication is discussed in the same context as a third type of interaction.
[7] Ibid. p. 218.
[8] Ibid. p. 221-222.
[9] See Gilles Deleuze ?Le pire moyen de faire l?Europe? in Deux régimes de fous. p. 134-137, esp. p. 137. In an interview of 1986 Deleuze himself imputes his estrangement with Foucault to their different conceptions of society: ?you are right: society [to me] is a fluid or ? a gas. To Foucault it is an architecture? (my translation), ibid. p. 261.
[10] Cours of 1978, p.385-386.

At 11:02 6-3-2008, you wrote:
Hi machiel,

note my responses in parentheses [ ] below

----- Original Message -----
From: "M. Karskens" <mkarskens@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Mailing-list" <foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 7:33 PM
Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] Governmentality

> In my opinion bio-issues are of course also topics of govenrmental
> power, but they are not any more the exclusive topics. My main
> objections, however, to you construal are:
> - From 1978 on Foucault does not connect governmental power any more
> with the power on life and death or some reversal of that power; he
> even rejects that connection (lateron in an explicit way, see 'The
> Subject and Power' )[Could you please elaborate on this?]

> - The invention of statistics as governmental technique is more than
> pure Fordism; following the idea of examination in Discipline and
> Punish, statistics normalizes, and in doing so it always is as well
> focused on the individual, as on some idea of <normal>
[I completely agree and that is one reason why I am arguing that Foucault's
Governmentality analytic remains relevant - disciplinary normalisation is an
ongoing concern]
> yours
> machiel karskens
> At 11:06 5-3-2008, you wrote:
>>Hi everyone,
>>I am looking at Foucault's work on Governmentality this semester. My
>>reading of his Governmentality lecture and other references within
>>his 1978 lecture series "Security, Territory & Population" is that
>>this analytic can be applied even when the prevailing political
>>rationality changes, the state as a technology of government and its
>>constituent elements (e.g., organising mechanisms,mix of private &
>>public) changes, or indeed the technologies and practices of
>>government change. In other words, because Governmentality's key
>>features are the governance of individual conduct and management of
>>population bio-issues(births, deaths, health etc), the ends continue
>>to be the concern of government even when the means of achieving
>>these ends (e.g., GDP growth) changes. In this sense, I am
>>responding to a recent claim that Foucault was "the great theorist
>>of Fordist Discipline"and is at risk of becoming depasse, by
>>arguing among others things both that:(1) his Governmentality analytic!
>> can accomodate epochal shifts from Fordism to Post-Fordism
>> provided that the focus of government remains both the governance
>> of individual conduct and the management of populations life issues
>> (biopolitical concerns if you will); and (2) the Disciplinary
>> society still exists.
>>I am curious to know if anyone disagrees with this construal of the
>>relevance of Governmentality?
>>Any and all responses are welcome
>>Scott Nicholas
>>Foucault-L mailing list
> Prof. Machiel Karskens
> social and political philosophy
> Faculty of Philosophy
> Radboud University Nijmegen - The Netherlands
> _______________________________________________
> Foucault-L mailing list

Foucault-L mailing list

Prof. Machiel Karskens
social and political philosophy
Faculty of Philosophy
Radboud University Nijmegen - The Netherlands

[Foucault-L] Governmentality, Scott Nicholas
Re: [Foucault-L] Governmentality, M. Karskens
Re: [Foucault-L] Governmentality, Scott Nicholas
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