Foucault on Population and Governance

Topics: Life, Biology, Ancient Rome Pages: 2 (546 words) Published: May 12, 2013
Michel Foucault- Right of Death and Power over Life
The concept is important. Don’t get to the details.
* In ancient Roman times, power of the sovereign over his subjects could be exercised in an absolute and unconditional way. The king had the authority to directly expose the life of his subjects in times of war and thus he held an indirect power over them of life and death. * During the classical age in the West, this death that was based on the right of the sovereign was not manifested as simply the reverse of the right of the social body to ensure, maintain and develop its life. Wars that were fought in the name of the sovereign were not fought on behalf of the whole population in the country or territory. No longer is it the juridical existence of a sovereign; at stake is the biological existence of the population. * For instance, genocide is an example of how power is situated and exercised at the level of life. * So starting from the 17th C, power over life evolved in two basic forms; the first centered on the body as a machine- its disciplining, optimization of its capabilities, increasing its usefulness- all this was ensured by the “anatamo-politics of the human body”. * The second focused on the species body, the body imbued with the mechanics of life and serving as the basis of biological processes- births and mortality, health, life expectancy etc. Their supervision was effected through an entire series of interventions and regulatory controls: a bio politics of population. * The bio power was an indispensible element of capitalist development; the latter would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production and the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic progress. * Post French Revolution, western man was gradually learning what it meant to be a living species, to have a body, conditions of existence probabilities of life. For the first time in history,...
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