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Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, Du droit à l’émancipation. Sur l’État, Foucault et l’anarchisme

Séminaire ETAPE n°19

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Séance à partir d’un texte de Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, sociologue et philosophe, auteur notamment de : La dernière leçon de Michel Foucault. Sur le néolibéralisme, la théorie et la politique (Fayard, 2012), L’Art de la révolte. Snowden, Assange, Manning (Fayard, 2015) et Juger. L’État pénal face à la sociologie (Fayard, janvier 2016)

Rapporteur « compréhensif » : Manuel Cervera-Marzal, docteur en science politique
Rapporteur « critique » : Rafael Perez, doctorant en histoire de la philosophie et co-fondateur des éditions libertaires Albache
Rapport compréhensif contribution Phillippe Corcuff

Du droit à l’émancipation. Sur l’État, Foucault et l’anarchisme
Geoffroy de Lagasnerie

La réflexion que je voudrais proposer porte sur la question du pouvoir, de la théorie du pouvoir et, plus spécifiquement, du problème de l’Etat. Je voudrais réfléchir sur la place que la théorie critique et la théorie de l’émancipation doivent accorder à l’Etat et sur l’image de l’Etat que, pour nous aider dans cette tâche, nous pouvons tirer des analyses de Michel Foucault. C’est une réflexion que j’ai été amené à conduire dans le cadre de mon dernier livre sur le système pénal et l’appareil répressif, puisque réfléchir sur le Jugement, la forme-Tribunal, la peine, c’est nécessairement rencontrer la problématique de l’Etat, du droit et du pouvoir d’Etat.

Je voudrais essayer de dire pourquoi, alors que j’ai longtemps pensé mon travail comme « anarchiste », je le suis de moins en moins – ou autrement dit comment écrire et réfléchir pour moi a consisté à m’éloigner de l’anarchisme et à renouer avec une certaine croyance dans l’Etat et dans le droit.

Cependant, contrairement à ce que pourrait laisser penser une lecture rapide, cela ne signifie en aucun cas que l’Etat soit absent de la vision de Foucault. L’idée selon laquelle le pouvoir vient d’en bas ne conduit pas à de désintéresser de l’Etat ou à l’éliminer comme objet de la théorie. Au contraire, la vision foucaldienne est solidaire d’une certaine image de l’Etat, d’une certaine conception de l’Etat dans ses rapports aux pouvoirs.

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Jodi Sita and Marco Amati, The Panopticons are coming! And they’ll know when we think the grass is greener, The Conversation, August 22, 2016

Eye-tracking technology helps us understand how people interact with their environment. This can improve policy and design, but can also be a tool for surveillance and control.


[…]we asked park users in the City of Melbourne to view films of walks.

We used eye tracking – a technology that allows us to look deeply into exactly what you are looking at or paying attention to. Eye trackers follow your gaze as you look naturally around a scene. We see where your eye dwells and what things you skip over.


French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that a panopticon ably maintains social and power imbalances while using that most passive method of control: observation. As governments and private corporations increasingly use eye-tracking data, everyone can act as observers, recorders and the observed – whether they intended to or not.

In this sense we could argue that the increasing development of eye tracking could usher in the age of the mass panopticon. Yet, the relationship between a selfie society, an “all-seeing, all-knowing” culture and the future of eye tracking in open domains remains to be “seen”.

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Robin Rymarczuk, The Heterotopia of Facebook, Philosophy Now, Issue 107, August/September 2016

The other spaces and faces of Michel Foucault by Alex Lawrence Foucault images © Alex Lawrence 2015 Please visit preposterous.carbonmade.com

The other spaces and faces of Michel Foucault by Alex Lawrence
Foucault images © Alex Lawrence 2015 Please visit preposterous.carbonmade.com

Robin Rymarczuk is Michel Foucault’s ‘friend’.

Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard University room-mates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. What started out as an on-campus online ‘hot or not’ tool resulted in the registration of a billion users by 2012. Its rapid growth and perpetually expanding corporate power, as well as its part in the ‘digital privacy’ controversy, has attracted many seeking to explain its remarkable popularity as well as peoples’ discontent with it. Although interesting and important, these studies focus predominantly on what users do on Facebook, leaving underexposed what Facebook does to the user.

Facebook possesses properties that can be construed not just in terms of globalized online networks, but also in terms of a type of space. In these terms, Facebook is a world within the world that attracts or repels people by its geography as much as by its social life. So what kind of space is Facebook? I claim that it’s what philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) ingeniously called “un espace autre” – “an other space”; better known as a heterotopia. As I will elaborate, understanding Facebook as a heterotopic space offers a style of critical thinking that invites moral reflection on digital culture and its relation to other spaces in our everyday lives.

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Kojiro FUJITA, Comment la philosophie de Foucault voyage-t-elle ?
Ici et ailleurs, Association pour une Philosophie Nomade, 14 juin 2016


La question qui m’intéresse particulièrement est : « comment la philosophie, les théories et les concepts voyagent-ils ? » ; plus précisément, « la philosophie, les théories et les concepts occidentaux peuvent-ils se transférer à l’Orient sans y apporter aucune domination coloniale ou commerciale ? » Or, moi, chercheur extrême-oriental, je travaille depuis longtemps sur une philosophie occidentale, la pensée de Michel Foucault : après l’avoir étudiée en France pendant longtemps, j’ai soutenu l’année dernière ma thèse portant sur un aspect théorique des travaux foucaldiens (1) et c’est avec ce résultat de recherche que je suis récemment retourné à mon pays d’origine, le Japon, pour développer cette philosophie occidentale dans notre contexte oriental. Ainsi, dans mon cas, il conviendrait de spécifier la question ainsi : « comment la philosophie de Foucault voyage-t-elle ? » ; plus précisément, « peut-elle se transférer au Japon sans colonisation ni commercialisation ? »

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Sam Kriss, Flat-Earthers Have a Wild New Theory About Forests – The AtlanticSEP 9, 2016

What it means to believe that “real” trees no longer exist.

Something tremendous is happening; over the last few weeks, without too many of its globe-headed detractors noticing, a surprisingly vast community on the tattered fringes of intellectual orthodoxy is in turmoil. A bizarre new theory has turned the flat earth upside down. The flat earth is still flat, but now it’s dotted with tiny imitations of the truly enormous trees that once covered the continents, and which in our deforested age we can hardly even remember.

Against both the panpsychicism of hippie ecology, the bleary-eyed invocations of some dismally all-encompassing Mother Earth, and the pedantic materialism of most sciences as they’re actually practiced, ‘No Forests on Flat Earth’ proposes a kind of hylothanatism, a pessimism for our own weary age: this world was once alive, everything was once beautifully connected, but not any more. This earth has been dead for millennia; what we think of as progress is just the rot spreading through the cadaver of the world.

There are mythic assonances here—beyond the familiar world-trees of Norse cosmogony, the notion of a world built on a corpse has always fascinated people; Babylonian mythology, for instance, has the entire universe butchered out of the body of Tiamat, the primordial mother. Its mode of argument—‘this thing looks like this other thing, therefore they’re the same thing’—is also familiar. In The Order of Things, Foucault describes the medieval episteme: “It was resemblance that organized the play of symbols, made possible knowledge of things visible and invisible, and controlled the art of representing them.” The world was configured as one single text, a great chain of being explicable to those who knew how to read the signs. Bestiaries would record not just the physical characteristics of various animals, but their symbolic attributes. If a plant resembled a part of the human body, it could be used to treat its diseases; the map of the cosmos is also a map of the human body, and the pattern of the stars is also a horticultural manual. Foucault quotes Crollius: “Just as each herb or plant is a terrestrial star looking up at the sky, so also each star is a celestial plant in spiritual form, which differs from the terrestrial plants in matter alone.”

Foucault himself has a very ‘No Forests’ sadness for the loss of this world of interlinking resemblances in the 16th century, lamenting that “there is nothing now that still recalls even the memory of that being. Nothing, except perhaps literature.” The experience of modernity is one of a lost unity, and with an emerging capitalism came a world no longer required to be explicable, only fungible. But this lost world is not just something that falls away with modernity—as Freud points out, the formation of the conscious mind is similar: the ego is a “precipitate of lost objects.”

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Johanna Oksala, Foucault, Marx and Neoliberal Subjects, Theory, Culture and SocietyFebruary 16, 2015

Daniel Zamora’s edited volume Critiquer Foucault: Les années 1980 et la tentation néolibérale, published in November 2014, has been the subject of a heated debate recently on the philosophical blogosphere. Many Foucault scholars have been puzzled and surprised by the stir it has caused. Verena Erlenbusch (2015) suggests that the controversy has more to do with Zamora’s interview with Jacobin Magazine, provocatively titled “Can We Criticize Foucault?” than with the book itself because many of the arguments presented in it are neither as revolutionary nor as provocative as the interview would make it seem. Stuart Elden (2014) notes that Zamora’s ‘revelations’ are not in fact based on any new material that would have come to light recently and that Foucault’s relationship with neoliberalism has already been subject to critical scrutiny for a number of years by a host of thinkers.

Source: Johanna Oksala on Foucault, Marx and Neoliberal Subjects

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Life at the Nowhere Office

New Republic, September 6, 2016

Today’s workplace design asks us to be permanently on call—and demands that we vanish at a moment’s notice.

If we want to get any work done, we can only do so on the terms afforded by technology, which includes our ever-dispersing workspaces.

Gilles Deleuze envisioned a transition from Michel Foucault’s enclosed disciplinary societies to “societies of control” that superficially appeared more open and amenable to free movement. Power is no longer only exercised through the top-down power structures, but is increasingly manifested in the cloud’s capacity to include or exclude. In an excellent analysis of round-the-clock capitalism, Jonathan Crary argues that while indeed now that our lives are organized by machines, a perfect storm awaits us; rather than one evil (technological determinism) replacing another (the boss), Deleuze’s society of control actually enhances Foucault’s disciplinary society and accelerates us towards a hyper-monitored world, where the all-seeing, all-knowing managerial dashboard keeps us in check by making use of computerized panopticons.

Jen Pan astutely notes that the cost of having a flat, or bossless, work environment is that the work of management (and attendant surveillance) spreads throughout the workforce; when no one is the boss, everyone is. The office as a cyberized version of Hotel California: You can clock-in anytime you like but you can never clock-out.

Miya Tokumitsu is a lecturer of art history at the University of Melbourne and a contributing editor at Jacobin. She is the author of Do What You Love. And Other Lies about Success and Happiness.

Joeri Mol is a senior lecturer of organization studies at the University of Melbourne.

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