[eDebate] 'the soft fibres of the brain'

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Wed Jul 15 11:16:28 CDT 2009

or, cap bad foucault-style.


wanted to add an excerpt from 'discipline and punish' to the ones already
cited above relating the respective projects of foucault and marx. pages

"If the economic take-off of the West began with the techniques that made
possible the accumulation of capital, it might perhaps be said that the
methods for administering the accumulation of [workers] made possible a
political take-off in relation to the traditional, ritual, costly, violent forms
of power, which soon fell into disuse and were superseded by a subtle,
calculated technology of subjection. In fact, the two processes - the
accumulation of [workers] and the accumulation of capital - cannot be
separated; it would not have been possible to solve the problem of the
accumulation of [workers] without the growth of an apparatus of
production capable of both sustaining them and using them; conversely,
the techniques that made the cumulative multiplicity of [workers] useful
accelerated the accumulation of capital. At a less general level, the
technological mutations of the apparatus of production, the division of
labor and the elaboration of the disciplinary techniques sustained an
ensemble of very close relations (cf. Marx, Capital, vol. I, chapter XIII
and the very interesting analysis in Guerry [sic] and Deleule). Each makes
the other possible and necessary; each provides a model for the other.
The disciplinary pyramid constituted the small cell of power within which
the separation, coordination and supervision of tasks was imposed and
made efficient; and analytical partitioning of time, gestures, and bodily
forces constituted an operational schema that could easily be transferred
from the groups to be subjected to the mechanisms of production; the
massive projection of military methods onto industrial organization was
an example of this modeling of the division of labor following the model
laid by the schemata of power. But, on the other hand, the technical
analysis of the process of production, its 'mechanical' breaking-down,
were projected onto the labor force whose task it was to implement it:
the constitution of those disciplinary machines in which the individual
forces they bring together are composed into a whole and therefore
increased is the effect of this projection. Let us say that discipline is
the unitary technique by which the body is reduced as a 'political' force
at the least cost and maximized as a useful force. The growth of a
capitalist economy gave rise to the specific modality of disciplinary
power, whose general formulas, techniques of submitting forces and
bodies, in short, 'political anatomy', could be operated in the most
diverse political regimes, apparatuses or institutions."

in other words, capitalism spawns disciplinary techniques which then
can take on a life of their own (e.g., be transposed to other areas of
social life). a disorderly multitude enters at point A, and the panoptic
schema turns out an organized multiplicity (an army, a workforce, or
whatever) at point Z. it's the capitalist imperative that made the need
for this process so urgent: "each makes the other possible and necessary;
each provides a model for the other". bottom-line: discipline cuts costs.
why crack skulls when you can control what's inside them?

'A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true
politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas;
... this link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made
and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the
bonds of iron and steel, but they are powerless against the habitual
union of ideas, they can only tighten it still more; and on the soft fibres
of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest of Empires'
: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Michel_Antoine_Servan (1767)

p.s., gu?ry and deleule's 'the productive body' (1972) hasn't yet made
it into english, though there's a forthcoming translation on the way.

Insert movie times and more without leaving Hotmail?. 
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