File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9806, message 33

Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 03:34:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Different problems, different solutions

On Sun, 7 Jun 1998, na.devine wrote:

> and in thinking of the establishment of apartheid in 
> South africa, yes that is how it worked - until the Broederbond came up 
> against the Judiciary, which was still constructed in the knowledge of a 
> different kind of justice and righteousness - and the resistance, 
> definitely there a subjugated knowledge, most horribly subjugated - was 
> able to call on its own geneology as it were in the form of world-wide 
> notions of freedom and liberality, as well as the forms of justice 
> enshrined in law, distinct from statute law, which the govt had got hold 
> of. 
> And yet this way of thinking about power seems somehow contradictory to 
> what he says elsewhere about power being implicit in networks and 
> individuals and institutions.

Well, the head of the king ought only to be chopped of in political theory
once the king himself is no longer posing a real political problem.  When
Foucault says we need to cut off the head of the king in political theory,
"we" refers to "we contemporary (well-off) Westerners", for whom
sovereigns and states and whatnot no longer pose the biggest problems.  In
situations like that in South Africa, where the sovereign *is* the
problem, the traditional liberal solutions--appealing to human rights,
natural law even--are more appropriate than Foucauldian analysis.
Foucault readily concedes this:  "Generally, it can be said taht there are
three types of struggles:  either against forms of domination (ethnic,
social, religious); against forms of exploitation which separate
individuals from what they produce; or against that which ties the
individual to himself and submits him to others in this way.... I think
that in history, you can find a lot of examples of these three kinds of
struggles, either isolated from each other, or mixed together.  But even
when they are mixed, one of them, most of the time, prevails....
[N]owadays [and in the developed countries, I would add], the struggle
against the forms of subjection--against the submission of
subjectivity--is becoming more and more important, even though the
struggles against forms of domination and exploitation have not
disappeared.  Quite the contrary" ("The Subject and Power", in Dreyfus and
Rabinow, _MF: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics_).  So, three kinds of
problems with three kinds of solutions:  liberal solutions for problems of
straightforward domination on the model of sovereignty; Marxian solutions
for problems of economic exploitation; Foucauldian genealogical and
ethical solutions for problems of subjectivation.

----Matthew A. King------Department of Philosophy------McMaster University----
     "The border is often narrow between a permanent temptation to commit
     suicide and the birth of a certain form of political consciousness."
-----------------------------(Michel Foucault)--------------------------------


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