Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76: Society Must Be Defended


Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76: Society Must Be DefendedLectures at the College de France, 1975-76: Society Must Be Defended by Michel Foucault

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Foucault is always hard to get into, but once you eventually get a grip of the assumptions and definitions he comes in with, the ideas he presents and the stories he describes are mindblowing. I borrowed this from the local library and read it over a couple of months - but have now ordered my own copy.

There is a loose agenda in this series of lectures, but it's not always very precisely defined, coherent, or entirely thoroughly backed up. But what Foucault does well - as in Discipline and Punish - is use history to shed light on certain movements today. Perhaps this is how history should have been taught at school.

In these lectures, Foucault addresses the link between war and politics - is either an extension of the other, but through different means? In asking the question, he delves into the history of power struggles in France, England and Europe over the last 800 years or so, and traces the use of stories and knowledge through this time to show how the balance of power has changed.

In short, a fascinating read - and one that asks many more questions than it does provide answers, especially as the lectures are now 35 years old, and working out how they apply to modern politics and technology is a challenge in itself. I wanted my own copy to delve into these questions more, as I'd probably rack up dozens of fines if I had to keep getting this out of the library.



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