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Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 7, Issue 1, 2004

Biopolitics and Racism

Todd May
Pages 41-58

War in the Social and Disciplinary Bodies

In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault offers a history of the rise of discipline in its application to the body. Foucault suggests, although he does not develop this suggestion, that the politics of discipline is war carried on by other means. The lecture series “Society Must Be Defended” can be seen as a development of this suggestion. In these lectures, Foucault offers a way of thinking about the society and its politics in terms of war, as well as a way of thinking about war. If this concept of war is integrated into the thought of Discipline and Punish, the work that that text does can be extended in several ways. First, we are offered an analysis of the social body that fractures the holism in the name of which penal reform is offered. Second, the disciplinary body can be seen not merely as the confluence of a series of power effects, but as the site of a contestation of power. Finally, the possibility of resistance, which has often been found lacking in Foucault’s genealogical works, appears as a live possibility.

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