Friday, January 16, 2009

Foucault on the "Eye of Power" in the Power/Knowledge Reader

I've been reading DeCerteau with great interest, and its easy to see how much of his work on tactics/strategy is drawn directly from Foucault, while building on what Foucault has to say. In this short excerpt from the interviews, Foucault further expands upon what he thinks of Bentham's panopticon, using the notion as a metaphor to launch a few well placed lobs against those who would be obsessed with class struggle:

"Struggle is the word used most often...are to be analyzed as episodes in a war?...the affirmation of a struggle can't be the beginning and end of all explanations in the analysis of power relations"

The point here seems to be that a struggle presumes two already fixed or monolithic forces already existing around which and through which resistances are organized and play. So when Foucault says the "good old logic of contradiction is no longer sufficient" to unravel actual processes, the argument seems to be that juxtaposition and division on the basis of separation helps to constitute existing social processes and structures, not bring them into a levelling light that exposes their "true character". In searching for the "right" struggle and alignment, analysis which presumes that there is a struggle in the first place is a lens which means one focuses on the supposed structures involved in the struggle and not their formulation.

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