In which I scoop Foucault-l!
I posted a notice here back in June on the Australian High Court justice Crennan and her attempts to deal with postmodernism and Foucault (see here). Now Foucault-l has the same post: sorry guys, I was there first!
Seriously though, Clare O’Farrell in response offers a link to a previously very hard to obtain interview with Foucault that touches on the same kinds of power issues.
Foucault: What I was explaining was the field of values within which I situate my work. You asked me before if I was not a nihilist who rejected morality. I say: No! And you were asking me also, in effect, “Why do you do the work that you do?”
Here are the values that I propose. …
I think that the modern theory of the subject, the modern philosophy of the subject, might well be able to accord the subject a capacity for innovation, etc., but that, in actuality, modern philosophy only does so on a theoretical level. In reality, it is not capable of translating into practice this different value which I am trying to elaborate in my own work.
Question: Can power be something open and fluid, or is it intrinsically repressive?
Foucault: Power should not be understood as an oppressive system bearing down on individuals from above, smiting them with prohibitions of this or that. Power is a set of relations. What does it mean to exercise power? It does not mean picking up this tape recorder and throwing it on the ground. I have the capacity to do so—materially, physically, sportively. But I would not be exercising power if I did that. However, if I take this tape recorder and throw it on the ground in order to make you mad, or so that you can’t repeat what I’ve said, or to put pressure on you so that you’ll behave in such and such a way, or to intimidate you—well, what I’ve done, by shaping your behavior through certain means, that is power.