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Michel Foucault “Omnes et Singulatim”

Foucault, Michel 2000. „Omnes et Singulatim”: Toward a Critique of Political Reason. – Michel Foucault. Power: Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984, vol. 3. New York: The New Press, 298-325.

I think we have to refer to much more remote processes if we want to understand how we have been trapped in our own history. (300)

[Hebraic texts on the shepherd]:

1)      The shepherd wields power over a flock rather than over a land. (301)

2)      The shepherd gathers together, guides, and leads his flock. (301) […] the sheperd’s immediate presence and direct action cause the flock to exist. (302)

3)      The shepherd’s role is to ensure the salvation of his flock. (302)

4)      […] shepherdly kindness is much closer to „devotedness”. Everything the shepherd does is geared to the good of his flock. That’s his constant concern. When they sleep, he keeps watch. […] He pays attention to them all and scans each one of them. He’s got to know his flock as a whole, and in detail. (302-303)

[Plato]: Plato did admit that the physician, the farmer, the gymnasiarch, and the pedagogue acted as shepherds. But he refused to get them involved with the politician’s activity. […] In short, the political problem is that of the relation between the one and the many in the framework of the city and its citizens. The pastoral problem concerns the lives of individuals. (307)

[ancient Christian texts on the shepherd]:

1)      […] the shepherd must render an account – not only of each sheep, but of all their actions, all the good or evil they are liable to do, all that happens to them. (308)

2)      […] the shepherd-sheep relationship as one of individual and complete dependence. […] If a Greek had to obey, he did so because it was the law, or the will of the city. […] In Christianity, the tie with the sheperd is an individual one. […] This means that it is not, as for the Greeks, a provisional means to an end but, rather, an end in itself. (309)

3)      Christian pastorship implies a peculiar type of knowledge between the pastor and each of his sheep. This knowledge is particular. It individualizes. (309) [The shepherd] must know what goes on in the soul of each one, that is, his secret sins, his progress on the road to sanctity. (310)

4)      All those Christian techniques of examination, confession, guidance, obedience, have an aim: to get individuals to work at their own „mortification” in this world. Mortification is not death, of course, but it is a renunciation of this world and of oneself, a kind of everyday death – a death that is supposed to provide life in another world. […] It is a part, a constitutive part of Christian self-identity. (310-311)

[…] political practices resemble scientific ones: it’s not „reason in general” that is implemented but always a very specific type of rationality. (313)

[Reason of state]:

1)      Reason of state is regarded as an „art”, that is, a technique conforming to certain rules. These rules do not simply pertain to customs or traditions, but to knowledge – rational knowledge. (314)

2)      […] the art of governing is rational, if reflection causes it to observe the nature of what is governed – here, the state. (315)

3)      The aim of such an art of governing is precisely not to reinforce the power a prince can wield over his domain: its aim is to reinforce the state itself. […] It is bound up with a new historical outlook; indeed, it implies that states are realities that must hold out for an indefinite length of historical time – and in a disputed geographical area. (316)

4)      [The reason of state] presupposes a certaint type of knowledge. (316) Knowledge is necessaty – concrete, precise, and measured knowledge as to the state’s strength. The art of governing, characteristic of reason of state, is intimately bound up with the development of what was then called either political „statistics” or „arithmetic”, that is, the knowledge of different states’ respective forces. (317)

[Police is] a governmental technology peculiar to the state […] (317)

[The police in Turquet]:

1)      The „police” appears as an administration heading the state […] Yet, in fact, it embraces everything else. Turquet says so: „It branches out into all of the people’s conditions, everything they do or undertake. Its field comprises justice, finance, and the army.” (318)

2)      The police includes everything. But from an extremely particular point of view. Men and things are envisioned as to their relationships: men’s coexistence on a territory; their relationships as to property; what they produce; what is exchanged on the market. It also considers how they live, the diseases and accidents that can befall them. What the police sees to is a live, active, productive man. Turquet employs a remarkable expression: „The police’s true object is man.” (319)

3)      First, the police has to do with everything providing the city with adornment, form, and splendor. […] Second, […] to foster working and trading relations between men, as well as aid and mutual help. […] As a form of rational intervention wielding political power over men, the role of the police is to supply them with a little extra life – and, by so doing, supply the state with a little extra strength. This is done by controlling „communication”, that is, the common activities of individuals (work, production, exchange, accommodation). (319)

[Police in De Lamare’s Treaty on the Police]: In short, life is the object: the indispensable, the useful, and the superflous. That people survive, live, and even do better than just that: this is what police has to ensure. […] „The sole purpose of the police is to lead man to the utmost happiness to be enjoyed in this life.” (321)

[Police in von Justi’s Elements of Police]: The police, he says, is what enables the state to increase its power and exert its strength to the full. On the other hand, the police has to keep the citizens happy – happiness being understood as survival, life, and improved living. He perfectly defines what I feel to be the aim of the modern art of government, or state rationality, namely, to develop those elements constitutive of individuals’ lives in such a way that their development also fosters the strength of the state. (322)

Polizeiwissenschaft is at once an art of government and a method for the analysis of a population living on a territory. (323)

There is no power without potential refusal or revolt. (324)

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