Michele Foucault Biopower

Topics: One-child policy, Political philosophy, Michel Foucault Pages: 5 (2131 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Michel Foucault wrote a book called History of Sexuality. In Part five of the book Right of Death and Power over Life, he discusses about the historical “Sovereign Power” where one is allowed to decide who has the right to live and who has the right to die. The sovereign uses his power over life through the deaths that he can command and uses his authority to announce death by the lives he can spare. Foucault then moves on to Disciplinary Power where he came up with the “Panopticon” where one is to believe they were under surveillance at all times. Such surveillance is still used in our everyday life such as schools, prisons, offices, hospitals, and mental institutes. Later in his life, Foucault discovered Bio-power. This bio-power is a technology of power where the government has total control of the population and characteristics and sexuality of the human being. It allows the government to have power over of the ideal characteristics, epidemiology, economic statistics, productivity level and the population size. China’s one child policy will fall into place with the power of bio-power. This policy consisted of an act where it allowed each family to have only one child. Author, Maurizio Lazzarato publishes two articles after Foucault called, Biopolitics/Bioeconomics: a politic of multiplicity and From Biopower to Biopolitics where he discusses the works of Michel Foucault. In the Biopolitics/Bioeconomics: a politic of multiplicity he explains the economy and politics, liberalism as the government of heterogeneous dispositifs of power, populations/classes, discipline and security, and vitalpolitik. He specifies the genealogy of government and liberalism and recognizes the relation among economy and politics. Sovereignty was the power where the sovereign had the right to decide life and death. This came from the ancient Roman law “Patria Potestas” where the father of a Roman family was given the option to choose whether or not his children and his slaves were able to live or not as he is the one to give life to them. Sovereign power of right of life and death eventually disappeared and this power was no longer allowed to be exercised towards his people of interest. It was only allowed when the sovereign became threatened and felt that his life was in jeopardy or if he felt like he was going to be over thrown that he can then “expose their life” without “directly proposing their death”. If one was to go against him and his laws, the sovereign can then apply a direct power over his life and the punishment will result in death. Foucault emphasizes that in this structure, power is applied according to the form of “deduction, a subtraction mechanism, a right to appropriate a portion of the wealth, a tax of products, goods, and services, labor and blood, levied on the power” that “culminated in the privilege to seize hold of life in order to suppress it”. (Foucault) He then makes annotations to how wars have come to an end and carried out in the name of an individual ruler but rather for the protection and endurance of the whole population. He stressed that contemporary states uses power in this approach, emphasizing life as they expose their victims to death. Foucault states “that the ancient right to take life or let live was replaced by a power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death. (Foucault, p. 138) Since power can apply its manipulation over life, he notes that “death is power’s limit”. (Foucault, p. 138) Foucault then goes on about “power over life evolved in two basic forms; these forms were not antithetical, however; they constituted rather two poles of development linked together by a whole intermediary clusters of relations” where the first pole is “centered on the body as a machine” where you will find in the military, education, workplace, and reaches out to generate a more closely controlled population, and the second is “focused on the species body, the body imbued with the...
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