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Philosophy of Human Nature: Society Must Be Defended

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Philosophy of Human Nature: Society Must Be Defended


        In the book Society Must Be Defended (1976), Michael Foucault offers important insight on human nature. Michael especially focuses on the constant battle between internal and external powers within human nature and living. For practicality, Foucault cites politics as a continuation of war. To him, war is a result of the constant battle for dominion which results in power. Thus, he establishes that power is a commodity that people die to protect and others fight to have. In the contemporary world, the government continually assumes dominance, power, over its people although the sovereign power. The power by the government is a juxtapose given that power belongs to the law that defines right and wrong. The definition of right and wrong justifies the oppression of the citizens by the government. The government has continually adopted means that disregard the principals of sovereignty such as illegal listening of private communication.

        Foucault establishes that power has no limits and the existing barriers are artificial; thus, prone to challenge by higher power. For example, death is a powerful dictator that takes life at its convenience. However, in the case of Franco, his death did not end his dictatorship (Foucault 248). The continuation of Franco’s dynasty best illustrates the continual war between the forces of power for which the best win. The winners of the war determine the limits of power. In Franco’s case, the war was between the power of sovereignty and regularization of life as humans know it (Foucault 249). The victory of either of the two powers relied on the power of imposition. Imposing of power allowed the power of sovereignty to win, thus allowing the continuation of Franco’s dictatorship. Further, the victory redefined the limits of power so that death did not stop Franco’s power and influence.

        Sovereign power is defined in various aspects of life in view of its limits to quality and quantity of life. Foucault admits that sovereign power has assumed control over life and the human body (287). However, even the sovereign power has limits but which are not clear to the dominated individuals. Sovereign power seeks to ensure protection of life through taking of another life (Foucault 287). The practical definition of sovereignty introduces a paradox since killing of individuals is against the first condition; to protect life. Sovereignty, therefore, cannot take the definition of protecting life into practicality because it functions to balance life by taking life. The protection of life and taking of life is not specific on citizenry and human rights. Sovereignty only seeks to ensure the protection of life irrespective of the perpetrators’ rights. In this way, sovereignty self-destroys since it cannot guarantee life.

        While sovereign power has limits, it often assumes dominion that implies excess sovereignty. The excess in sovereignty stems from the development in the power to kill (Foucault 254). Sovereignty is continually developing into a monster that destroys the people it seeks to protect. Foucault introduces the various principles upon which sovereignty was established; “to improve life, to prolong its duration, to improve its chances, to avoid accidents, and to compensate for failings,” (Foucault 288). However, contemporary sovereignty has redefined its principles and limits to; “political power to kill, to call for deaths, to demand deaths, to give the order to kill, and to expose not only its enemies but its own citizens to the risk of death,” (Foucault 254). Sovereignty continually redefines the term threat in both internal and external regions so that it has evolved into a paranoid power. The paranoia of imminent threat has further stretched the limits of sovereign power so much that it does not differentiate citizens from foreigners.

        Sovereignty in the contemporary world is, therefore, similar to dictatorship only that it utilizes technology. Technology is an efficient tool towards the realization of the subconscious control and dominance of people by the administrative entities. Foucault illustrates the development of political dominance using technology initiatives. Technology incentives allow the politicians to assume dominance over their subjects (Foucault 46). Technology also allows the development of power among the politicians. The creation of power among the politicians is directly related to the knowledge in technology and its manipulation techniques. Technological expertise integrates education which translates to wealth, thereby demonstrating the finding that secrets in technology are a source of power (Foucault 179). Technological knowledge fostered the development of generalised information with the specific knowledge limited in its distribution (Foucault 180). Control over information, its acquisition and transfer allows administrative bodies power over their subjects. The information controlled varies in its effects, hence, the government seeks to regulate the development of little knowledge.

        The book Society Must Be Defeated (2003) focuses on the theme that knowledge equals to power. Politicians are well aware of the impact of specialized knowledge among the citizens. Sovereignty awards citizens equality in access and manipulation of the information and governance based on constituted limits. Administrative power that supersedes the limits is termed as oppression (Foucault 17). The government tries to control access, manipulation and transfer of information among the citizens which equals to oppression. Technological knowledge within the government body allows the government to assume dominion and control over the citizens without regard to the effects. Such ambitions by the government are justified by the provision that sovereignty seeks to protect life (Foucault 287). The protection of life, however, is at the expense of rendering sovereignty oppressive to its beneficiaries. In theory, the protection of the citizens should be prioritised but the constitution assumes practicality in awarding privacy rights.

        Normalization, decentralization, centralization and hierarchicalization of knowledge are the most efficient tools the government utilizes to disregard any credible knowledge among the audience. The 18th Century featured the first signs of control of information in regards to its type, its credibility and admission of its credibility (Foucault 180). To realise control of information, the government required the various academic fields to ensure control measures in place. The control measures required that information be classified in various categories and its release to the public follow the same categories (Foucault 181). Secrecy in scientific information was as a result of disciplinarization, which developed acceptable and unacceptable information (Foucault 184). To ensure efficiency in control of information, the government further established principles which regulated access and distribution of the information. The control of access to information aimed at protecting the public from accessing information that the government perceived as a risk.

        Control of access, utilisation and relevance of information has metamorphosed in the contemporary world. Technology has allowed the government to revolutionise its control of information access and distribution. The State government has since sought to ensure access to private information and secrets. The first step in accessing credible information by the government is to ensure classification of knowledge based on its effects (Foucault 184). Information acquired is classified based on its economic effects to the state and the perceived cost among the citizens. Such qualification allows disqualification or elimination of the information and subjects associated with it (Foucault 180). Control of access to information seeks to protect individuals from death and associated factors while at the same time it places individuals at the risk of death (Foucault 253). Individuals are at the risk of being killed as a result of the illegal use and access of personal information. However, such access is justified when the information leads to saving lives.

        Saving life is the primary goal in sovereign administration and governance. Foucault, however, finds fault in the current intrusive administration that swore to access private communication channels. Politics and science have become mutual partners in the contemporary ruling systems allowing for unjust sovereignty (Foucault 212). The control of flow of information allows governments continued domination and oppression (Foucault 17). Citizens are constantly at war with the administration, although in dominance-oppression perspectives (Foucault 17). The oppressive government is legitimate; thus its governance is accepted while it maintains subconscious control of information among the citizens. The victims seek to further their access to information while the government ensures minimal access. To protect the citizens, the sovereign power creates legitimacy in the eyes of the citizens. However, the power is illegitimate since it utilizes illegal means to access the truth and to protect life. As a result, the public suffers public tragedy in the face of justice.


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