The Birth of Territory


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Book review: The Birth of Territory

All of society was enmeshed within this process including the prince ruler himself, thus a century later government became political and collaborative with economy modern political science as its 'rational' spokesman and its partnership with political economy. Political means the institutions that are governing the rest of society; government covered by legal institutions which gives both the political electorate, political executive and political legitimacy, [6] [7] Foucault traces this practice to the ancient Greek text from the Pythagoreans known as nomas meaning the law according to which the shepherd is the lawmaker directing the flock, indicates the right direction and says how the sheep must mate to have good offspring.

These technologies of power, Foucault claims, were introduced into the 18th century emerging prison system which migrated into the modern surveillance society through the infamous system that Jeremy Bentham tried to introduce, the Panopticon , [11] the modern internal and external surveillance system that modern society experiences as 'self watch' and 'self government'.

Accomplishing the unintended axiomatic affect of unaccountability, while the full focal point of a ruler is often presented unchallenged to the populace as a system of unimaginable alterations, self-perpetuation and self regularity among those who inhabit the system , where clearly defined roles are defined and repeated right throughout the system through norms. This was accomplished, according to Foucault, rather paradoxically from other institutions in order to analyse them from the point of view of other technologies to form new systematic institutions as new knowledge objects.

Foucault traces this original practice to government practices of the Middle Ages, where the term government meant an entirely different definition from now: in 'enough wheat to govern Paris for two years', it refers to control of one's body, soul and behaviour, conduct, diet, the care given to an individual, which Foucault very often refers to as 'governmentality', self conduct or self-government; this tactic could be traced back to the early eastern civilizations Mediterranean East, Egypt, Assyrian Empire, Babylonian etc.

Foucault situates this type of pastoral power squarely onto the new founded Christian Church where an organized religion ruled an entire society politically for years and caused constant battles of supremacy over men and their souls. The Church rapidly colonized this type of new power between 11th and 18th century and, peculiarly according to Foucault, laid claim to the daily government of men in their real lives on the grounds of their salvation. He then derives from this that all the wars of religion were fundamentally struggles over who would actually have the right to govern men, and to govern men in their daily lives and in details and materiality of their existence; they were struggles over who has this power, from whom it derives, how it is exercised, the margin of autonomy for each, the qualification of those who exercise it, the limits of their jurisdiction, what recourse is possible against them, and what control is exercised over each.

Book review: The Birth of Territory

The Protestant Reformation traversed this relationship of pastorate power and what resulted from the reformation, although an historical event, was a formidable reinforcement of the pastorate system of religious power political power in modern societies. The reorganization of religious power also encroached on the sovereigns ruler political power, and it wasn't a smooth transition as is often portrayed. Foucault refers to these revolts as revolts against conduct, the most radical of which were the Protestant reformation, and concludes that this political process can be traced to the general context of resistances, revolts and great insurrections of conduct Peasants' Revolt of for example.

The new economic and consequently political relations which the old feudal structures were unable to manage and lacked any effective framework, were outside the traditional institution's reach. Foucault notices that the pastorate communities took charge of a whole series of everyday questions and problems concerning material life, property, education of children: this led to a re-emergence of philosophy as the compass for everyday life, in relation to others, in relation to those in authority, to the sovereign, or the feudal lord, and in order to direct one's mind in the right direction, to its salvation, but also to the truth.

Philosophy took over on the until then religious function of how to conduct oneself.


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With the advent of the 16th century western society entered the age of forms of conducting, directing, and government. Foucault then considers the great upheavals of Medieval Europe as the translation of the shift from god to men, political institutions and the political order. This takes place between 13th century and the 18th century, and from the 16th century the subject starts to take the form of a perpetual peace proposal, which primarily belonged to the church in the Middle Ages, taking the form of a 'balance of power'.

The solution to the problem of democracy was the incorporation of the populace within the machinery of the state that had to govern. Under the auspices of the Renaissance was not primarily concerned with legitimacy, but survival of the state.

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Foucault then tries to show only when the problem of population and security starts taking effect amongst the different practices that the consideration of population becomes a worry. Foucault then notices a point of departure pointing out the idea of sedition and revolt starts to enter texts, but 'the people' proved elusive to define all around Europe, and never entered popular discussion, at first point of juncture was the privileged titled nobles appointed and rewarded through the honours system created by the monarch and sanctioned through the legal system of the day; the entire Nobility knight's, barons, dukes, earl's and their rivals began to become seen and known as 'the people'.

Foucault considers the breakthrough of "this governmental reasoning" of the population as a substantial event in Western history and society comparable to the scientific revolution of the 16th century.

This change took place in the 16th century and continued right through into the 19th century. It is not the absolute number of the population that counts, but its relationship with the set composition of forces: the size of the territory, natural resources, wealth, commercial activities and so on.

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From Fleury's point of view, according to Foucault, the more there are of men, the stronger the state and the prince will be. So, according to Fleury, it is not expanse of land expansion of the territory that contributes greatness of the state but fertility and the number of men. Foucault then introduces into his Ontogenetic and, Phylogenetic investigations the concept of ' police ' see also miasma theory of disease ; not the police of the criminal justice system as we know it today, but as concept known at that time as urbanisation of the territory and administrative concern; which means making the kingdom, the entire territory into a large industrious town.

Foucault then considers how Mercantilism played a big role in this new context of European balance of power; these are the mercantilist requirements: every country should try to have the largest possible population, second; the entire population be eligible for working and be able to be put to work, third; wages given to the population be as low as possible, fourth; the cost price of goods at the lowest price as possible.

Police according to Foucault consists of a sovereign exercise of royal power over individuals who are therefore subjects.

What Foucault means by the governmentality of the sovereign is the mind of the police runs through all of the populations, collective consciousness therefore, reducing criminality not its complete elimination, for political and economic reasons see Discipline and Punish , not through fear, but the knowledge of the police as a system with its own structural objective as laws, judicial, legislative operating as a microcosm of the societal body, which ultimately represents the sovereigns will.

And finally, the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle; the western political system of consent of the governed. This system at least gives the rationale of why it was necessary to have on board a widely disparate atomized populace; and its use, through the not widely known and little understood function of the Royal Prerogative [41] [42] [43] The origin of which can be traced back to the Middle Ages from where the western system of political power gets its central idea, from the point of view and simple justification of consent of the governed, legitimacy and political power.

This legitimacy, which is exercised through the use of Parliamentary democracy see also Greek government debt crisis , National unity government , European sovereign debt crisis , was essential to the western system of political power and modern government;"The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government","The people" identifies the entire body of the citizens of a jurisdiction invested with political power or gathered for political purposes'" or "Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power".

All of this Foucault calls the political technology of biopower. What Foucault reveals is that the original police had a different function as we know it today; for example one of their primary function was to administer the state in the guise of statisticians, allocating resources, supervision of grain in times of crisis, ensuring circulation of goods and men, secure the development of the state's forces.

This bought in two types of police; administrators who formed the Polizeiwissenschaft ; the science of police or the science of government of the state, the other type would become known as what we know and associate the term today criminal justice system , Law enforcement , Forensic science and the modern uniformed police Polizeistaat police state, translated into English as policing of the state.

Stuart Elden

The future administrators for the future modern nation state system with many functions; such as bureaucrats , civil servants , Think tanks , public policy makers, economists all from the university system. For Foucault obedience was a vital mechanism of salvation of the government, not in the form of blind loyalty, but in the form of political salvation of the state see Oath of Allegiance for example.

This led to political theorists of the day juxtaposing theories concerning state, government, body politics, and political power; these theorists dare not call these laws divine or God-made law, but instead refer to them as 'philosophical'. For Foucault, politics is not above this process which it cannot be afforded, therefore, is not something that has to fall within a remit of legality or a system of laws.

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Politics, according to Foucault's use of the term, is concerned with necessity, necessity of the state which puts to an end to all privileges in order to make itself obeyed by everyone. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. The Birth of Territory Stuart Elden Abstract This book provides an account of the emergence of the concept of territory in Western political thought. More This book provides an account of the emergence of the concept of territory in Western political thought.

Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication. Stuart Elden, author More Less. Print Save Cite Email Share. Show Summary Details. Subscriber Login Email Address. Library Card. View: no detail some detail full detail. Front Matter Title Pages Acknowledgments. Isbn: Andrew Cole. The Birth of Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, John Zammito. Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology. Michael D. ISBN Charles Lyell. Principles of Geology, First Edition, Vol. I, with a New Introduction by Martin J.

Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, Bowler - - British Journal for the History of Science 25 3 Photography and Cinema From Birth to Death. Damian Sutton - - Film-Philosophy 5 1. What is the Good Life? Sharon M. Wolfe, Cary.

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