In the History of Sexuality Foucault writes about "power over life". What is "power over life"? Do you agree with Foucault that this is how power manifests itself today? Can you feel its influence in your own life?
"The History of Sexuality" by Michel Foucault had many key points in discussing the progression of power. The question do I agree with Foucault definition it depends which time period we are discussing. In the 17th century I do agree with Foucault that "privileges of sovereign power was the right to decide life and death" (Foucault 200). I do not think that definition can be used today to describe power.
The main reason I do not agree with the 17th century definition of power over life because in American society we do not individually own people like slavery, and we do not believe we have defend ourselves, or go to war because we feel that our power is threaten. However, people have tried to exercise this right and have failed and some have been incarcerated. An example I can think of is the recent Trayvon Martin case. The aggressor George Zimmerman thought it was his neighborly duty to pursue the young man and gun him down because he looked suspicion in the neighborhood. As pieces to the puzzle have been added many activist and normal people in the community believe that this is a horrific event. They believe that nobody has the right to kill another person. So we can see that this definition does not suit the modern society.
As time has progress, the definition has changed and I do agree with Foucault's modern definition. He uses the term bio-power to refer to "numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugation of bodies and the control of populations, marking the beginning of an era" (194). What Foucault means by this is that we no longer try to authorize our power over life by to kill or not to kill but we use our power to prolong death and keep people alive. From this we can say that we create laws to make norms but we pick the power. We pick power by choosing the method. The text states, " A power has to qualify, measure, appraise, and hierarchize, rather than display itself in its murderous splendor" (196). He later says that power over live has given rise to capitalism.
I do think it may be a little extreme to say that power over life has given rise to capitalism. I do see the influence of power over life today. I see it expressed in modern debates over birth control debates and abortions. The reason that I see it in these debates is because mainly an outsider "government" is dictating whether or not your action as a woman to get an abortion or use birth control is your right or morally right. The government has created these laws to be normal and has stigmatized a woman that has had an abortion as a bad person. If she cannot provide necessary nutrient, clothing, and a home for her child then she is a bad mother. If she uses birth control she is affecting her reproductive system causing her to not care about her future family. So then this leads to the question who is regulating the population? So yes I see Foucault definition prevalent today .