Re: [Foucault-L] Nazi dictatorship - intentionalist v functionalist and 1976 course

Foucault's power analysis inbetween 1970 en 1977 is rather functionalistic, look how he always pictures power as a technology or mechanism.
But, in 1975 and 1976 he explicitly made clear that such an approach does not exclude a - non subjective - intentionalistic analysis (see very explicit in The Will to Knowledge IV-2, the fourth proposition (French version: p. 124-125)). This is very obvious to me, since any technological approach entails both functional and intentional elements.
So, the point is that Foucault is shifting here from a technical mechanistic approach of power to a definite technological one, including design, calculation, strategy and explicit objectives. I think that this was a move in order to counter the critique on his discipline model of power as some all encompassing deterministic power mechanism.
In his Cours of 1976 he is constantly trying out altenative non-disciplinary power models; the war model is the best known example and his analysis of the biopower politics of the Nazis follows this line of reasoning.
But, finally, that is to say at the end of 1976, the war model is rejected or rather put into the technological model as a particular case , see his discussion of the war model (as a particular coding) in The Will to Knowledge on the page (123) foregoing his proposition on the intentional, non subjective character of power relationships.
So I think that Kerrshaw is right. But, instead of 'a mix' of intentional and functional I woul like to call it an entanglement of both of them.
Phrased in another way, the either-or oppostion of intentionalist and functionalist analysis is a false one, kept alive by philosophers and historians who believe in a hermeneutical subject.

machiel karskens

At 19:11 26-8-2010, you wrote:
It seems there is a general historical debate regarding the nature of
the Nazi regime, the
intentionalist v functionalist debate. Intentionalists argue that the
Holocaust was a result of a grand master plan that Hitler had from the
beginning, whereas functionalists argue that the Holocaust was an
improvised, last minute war scheme devised by the lower ranks of the
regime and that Hitler himself was a weak dictator. Ian Kershaw, a
very prominent Hitler scholar (regarded among the best today) seems to
argue for a mix of both but more or less aligining with the latter
broadly. He thinks that while Hitler and Nazi ideology had these
general racialist and social darwinist themes, their implementation
was not organized or regular but rather a result of competing
bureaucracies and structures working underneath Hitler. He thinks that
Hitler only made broad policy outlines and those who worked
subserviently for him carried them out in a wide variety of haphazard
ways, thus going against the idea that Nazi Germany was a disciplined,
organized "totalitarian" state. The holocaust, therefore, was not a written-down
"master plan" but rather a culmination of the competing policies of
various Nazi agencies guided by Hitler's ideas.

Where do you think this leaves the account given by Foucault in his
1976 course? What historical examples could better serve his
state-race arguments as opposed to what he mentioned regarding the
Nazis? Does his description of the Nazis fit too much along an
intentionalist line or could it accomodate the ideas of the
functionalists. I admit its not something I've ever given much thought
about, considering how much we take the "Nazis as organized racialist
totalitarians" narrative for granted.
Chetan Vemuri
West Des Moines, IA
"You say you want a Revolution! Well you know, we all want to change the world"
Foucault-L mailing list

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

[Foucault-L] Nazi dictatorship - intentionalist v functionalist and 1976 course, Chetan Vemuri
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