How and why is it that we in the West, in our arduous and incessant search for truth, have also built into and around ourselves intricate and powerful systems intended to manage all that we know and do? This, arguably, was the key problem to which Foucault applied himself. Central to his critical, historical ontology of Western, and especially Enlightenment, reason is an investigation of the constitutive relations between the operation of power relations, the production of knowledge, and ways of relating ethically to oneself and others. This article examines Foucault’s account of the relations of power which are said to underpin contemporary thought and to regulate and subject modern individuals. Contrary to the belief that Foucault’s conception of power is dogmatic and all-encompassing, leaving no room for progressive resistance or change and flowing over into the realm of theory such that truth itself becomes questionable, it is argued here that Foucault offers us an analysis of relations of power as ‘strategies of governance’ which depend for their operation on the existence of free subjects capable not only of resistance but of positively producing effects of truth in reality.
Michel Foucault on Power
Norbert Elias on Globalization
Globalization presages an important new stage in the centuries-old 'civilizing process,' which Norbert Elias analyzed with such clarity and in such depth. At the root of the fundamental transformations of our world of nation-states are combined integrating and disintegrating tendencies, or centralization and individualization, which manifest themselves in a steady monopolization of the means of violence and taxation, an interventionist human rights discourse, and war as a means of democratizing and pacifying the planet. Elias' 'historical social psychological' approach offers new categories of analysis with which to both explain the effects of globalization and indicate how international interdependence fosters both control and resistance, both democratization and radicalization, and both integration and disintegration.
Dirck Coornhert's Boeven-tucht and the Rise of Discipline
Dirck Coornhert (1522-90) was a Dutch humanist whose seminal 1587 book, Boeven-tucht, redefined issues of poverty, charity, development and crime. A transitionary document, Boeven-tucht lies on the cusp of what Michel Foucault called the 'great confinement', which took place between about 1600 and 1750 and which was the common response by local and national authorities to the social disorder concomitant upon population expansion, a widening gap between rich and poor, religious discord and war. Inspired by Boeventucht, the Amsterdam Rasphuis and Spinhuis were the European prototypes of houses of correction which sprang up all over Europe, intended to apply 'a punishment more bitter than death' to all 'criminal idlers'. This introduction to the first-ever English translation of Boeven-tucht situates Coornhert's text in the space between unmediated absolutist sovereignty and full-blown modern discipline, when disciplinary techniques were as yet only gradually emerging from the monasteries and lay fraternities in which they had been incubated, and before they spread into all facets of modern society.
Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, by Michael Ignatieff. Edited and introduced by Amy Gutmann, with comments by K. Anthony Appiah, David A. Hollinger, Thomas W. Laqueur and Diane F. Orentlicher, and a response by Ignatieff. Princeton University Press: Princeton and Oxford, 2001. ISBN: 0691114749.
Empire, by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. ISBN: 0674251210.
Empire’s New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri, edited by Paul A. Passavant & Jodi Dean. New York: Routledge, 2004. ISBN: 0415935555.
Roger Deacon, Ben Parker, Herman C. Waetjen and Lasse Thomassen
Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9-11, Iraq, 7-7..., by Ted Honderich Roger Deacon
The Struggle for Meaning: Reflections on Philosophy, Culture and Democracy in Africa, by Paulin J. Hountondji Ben Parker
The Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz by Pauline Phemister Herman C. Waetjen
The Divided West by Jürgen Habermas Lasse Thomassen
Jason M. Costanzo, Caroline Walsh, Fazel Khan, Douglas Farland and Roger Deacon
Introduction to German Philosophy: From Kant to Habermas, by Andrew Bowie
Global Justice and Transnational Politics: Essays on the Moral and Political Challenges of Globalization edited by Pablo de Greiff and Ciaran Cronin Caroline Walsh
Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror by Mahmood Mamdani Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali Fazel Khan
An Introduction to Contemporary Meta-Ethics by Alexander Miller Douglas Farland
The New Wars by Herfried Münkler Roger Deacon