Tag Archives: Foucault

The TRC as biopolitical imperative (Part 1: Indemnity)

Now that 20 years have passed since the TRC undertook the complex task of promoting national unity and reconciliation, it is an opportune moment to reflect on its legacy. In an as yet little known book, The Impossible Machine: a genealogy of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, published in 2013, Adam Sitze targets much…

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Foucault and the courage of truth

The last course that Michel Foucault presented at the Collége de France in 1984, when he was already quite weak (he died in June of that year, and taught until March), was on The Courage of Truth – later published with that title (Palgrave Macmillan 2011; Kindle edition). Although I cannot do justice to it…

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Bravo Greece!

The outcome of the Greek referendum on whether to accept the stringent conditions for another “bailout”, laid down by its creditors, should be applauded as an unambiguous manifestation of the democratic public spirit that refuses to continue allowing the neoliberal economic regime to put money before people. It also testifies to historical amnesia on the…

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The Rhodes statue, erasing the past and importance of memory

The Czech writer Milan Kundera begins his unforgettable novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Perennial Classics, 1999), with the following words: “In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square. That was…

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Ethics always comes too late for power

If there is one lesson I have learned from Foucault, it is this: Ethics always comes too late for power. What I mean by this is that human beings – even philosophers – have a tendency to rationalise, in ethical or moral terms, about the actual decisions and choices one makes in the world, and…

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Are we facing an ethical vacuum today?

In Living in the End Times (Verso, 2010, p. 324), the man who has been described as the “most dangerous philosopher in the West” (New Republic), Slavoj Žižek, makes the following remark: “The task [today] is to restore civility, not a new ethical substance. Civility is not the same as custom (in the strong sense…

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Drones: Panopticism intensified

Panopticism has just been ramped up a few notches. Panopticism is a Foucaultian concept (employed in Discipline and Punish) that encapsulates the paradigmatic condition of our society, namely that there is a pervasive tendency to subject all social life to modes of surveillance and judgement for purposes of disciplining the populace and ensure its economic…

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The discursive forces that shape our lives

The 21st-century world, and with it, our lives, are shaped by powerful discursive forces that are distinct from one another, but are nevertheless interrelated in complex ways. Sometimes they intertwine and reinforce one another, and sometimes they conflict, and the clash between discourses often spills over into the lives of ordinary (and sometimes high-profile) individuals…

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Is social equality an illusion?

Some people evidently thought that in my last post I was writing approvingly about Plato’s division of the community/society into three classes (philosopher-kings/queens — yes, he did allow for women in this category; protectors, and producers). Actually, I was not (as my response to Enough Said about classes indicated), although I admire Plato’s wisdom concerning…

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Marikana: From Foucault’s ‘bio-power’ to Agamben’s ‘Homo Sacer’

Readers of Michel Foucault will know that when he turned to Greek and (especially) Roman antiquity in his genealogical investigation of human sexuality, he found there admirable personal ethical practices, conducive to a high degree of autonomy under the rubric of “the care of the self”. In earlier genealogical studies, however, the picture that emerged…

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