Omnes et Singulatim: Towards a Criticism of Political Reason: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, de­liv­ered at Stanford University, October 10th and 16th, 1979.

— Foucault, Michel. Omnes et Singulatim: Towards a Crit­i­cism of Po­lit­i­cal Reason.” In The Tanner Lectures on Hu­man Values, by S. McMurrin, Vol. II, 225-254. Univ. of Utah Press, 1981.

The ti­tle sounds pre­ten­tious, I know. But the rea­son for that is pre­cisely its own ex­cuse. Since the nine­teenth cen­tury, Western thought has never stopped labour­ing at the task of crit­i­cis­ing the role of rea­son – or the lack of rea­son – in po­lit­i­cal struc­tures. It’s there­fore per­fectly un­fit­ting to un­der­take such a vast pro­ject once again. However, so many pre­vi­ous at­tempts are a war­rant that every new ven­ture will be just about as suc­cess­ful as the for­mer ones – and in any case, prob­a­bly just as for­tu­nate. Under such a ban­ner, mine is the em­bar­rass­ment of one who has only sketches and un­com­pletable drafts to pro­pose. Philosophy gave up try­ing to off­set the im­po­tence of sci­en­tific rea­son long ago; it no longer tries to com­plete its ed­i­fice. One of the Enlightenment’s tasks was to mul­ti­ply rea­son’s po­lit­i­cal pow­ers. But the men of the nine­teenth cen­tury soon started won­der­ing whether rea­son weren’t get­ting too pow­er­ful in our so­ci­eties. They be­gan to worry about a re­la­tion­ship they con­fus­edly sus­pected be­tween a ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion-prone so­ci­ety and cer­tain threats to the in­di­vid­ual and his lib­er­ties, to the species and its sur­vival. In other words, since Kant, the role of phi­los­o­phy has been to pre­vent rea­son go­ing be­yond the lim­its of what is given in ex­pe­ri­ence; but from the same mo­ment – that is, from the de­vel­op­ment of mod­ern states and po­lit­i­cal man­age­ment of so­ci­ety – the role of phi­los­o­phy has also been to keep watch over the ex­ces­sive pow­ers of po­lit­i­cal ra­tio­nal­ity – which is rather a promis­ing life ex­pectancy. Everybody is aware of such ba­nal facts. But that they are ba­nal does not mean they don’t ex­ist. What we have to do with ba­nal facts is to dis­cover – or try to dis­cover – which spe­cific and per­haps orig­i­nal prob­lems are con­nected with them. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion and the ex­cesses of po­lit­i­cal power is ev­i­dent. And we should not need to wait for bu­reau­cracy or con­cen­tra­tion camps to rec­og­nize the ex­is­tence of such re­la­tions. But the prob­lem is: what to do with such an ev­i­dent fact? Shall we try” rea­son? To my mind, noth­ing would be more ster­ile. First, be­cause the field has noth­ing to do with guilt or in­no­cence. Second, be­cause it’s sense­less to re­fer to reason” as the con­trary en­tity to non-rea­son. Last, be­cause such a trial would trap us into play­ing the ar­bi­trary and bor­ing part of ei­ther the ra­tio­nal­ist or the ir­ra­tional­ist. Shall we in­ves­ti­gate this kind of ra­tio­nal­ism which seems to be spe­cific to our mod­ern cul­ture and which orig­i­nates in Enlightenment? I think that that was the way of some of the mem­bers of the Frankfurter Schule. My pur­pose is not to be­gin a dis­cus­sion of their works – they are most im­por­tant and valu­able. I would sug­gest an­other way of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the links be­tween ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion and power:

  1. It may be wise not to take as a whole the ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of so­ci­ety or of cul­ture, but to analyse this process in sev­eral fields, each of them grounded in a fun­da­men­tal ex­pe­ri­ence: mad­ness, ill­ness, death, crime, sex­u­al­ity, etc.
  2. I think that the word rationalisation” is a dan­ger­ous one. The main prob­lem when peo­ple try to ra­tio­nalise some­thing is not to in­ves­ti­gate whether or not they con­form to prin­ci­ples of ra­tio­nal­ity, but to dis­cover which kind of ra­tio­nal­ity they are us­ing.
  3. Even if the Enlightenment has been a very im­por­tant phase in our his­tory, and in the de­vel­op­ment of po­lit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, I think we have to re­fer to much more re­mote processes if we want to un­der­stand how we have been trapped in our own his­tory.

This was my ligne de con­duite” in my pre­vi­ous work: analyse the re­la­tions be­tween ex­pe­ri­ences like mad­ness, death, crime, sex­u­al­ity, and sev­eral tech­nolo­gies of power. What I am work­ing on now is the prob­lem of in­di­vid­u­al­ity – or, I should say, self­i­den­tity as re­ferred to the prob­lem of individualising power”. Everyone knows that in European so­ci­eties po­lit­i­cal power has evolved to­wards more and more cen­tralised forms. Historians have been study­ing this or­gan­i­sa­tion of the state, with its ad­min­is­tra­tion and bu­reau­cracy, for dozens of years. I’d like to sug­gest in these two lec­tures the pos­si­bil­ity of analysing an­other kind of trans­for­ma­tion in such power re­la­tion­ships. This trans­for­ma­tion is, per­haps, less cel­e­brated. But I think that it is also im­por­tant, mainly for mod­ern so­ci­eties. Apparently this evo­lu­tion seems an­tag­o­nis­tic to the evo­lu­tion to­wards a cen­tralised state. What I mean in fact is the de­vel­op­ment of power tech­niques ori­ented to­wards in­di­vid­u­als and in­tended to rule them in a con­tin­u­ous and per­ma­nent way. If the state is the po­lit­i­cal form of a cen­tralised and cen­tral­is­ing power, let us call pas­tor­ship the in­di­vid­u­al­is­ing power. My pur­pose this evening is to out­line the ori­gin of this pas­toral modal­ity of power, or at least some as­pects of its an­cient his­tory. And in the next lec­ture, I’ll try to show how this pas­tor­ship hap­pened to com­bine with its op­po­site, the state. The idea of the de­ity, or the king, or the leader, as a shep­herd fol­lowed by a flock of sheep was­n’t fa­mil­iar to the Greeks and Romans. There were ex­cep­tions, I know – early ones in Homeric lit­er­a­ture, later ones in cer­tain texts of the Lower Empire. I’ll come back to them later. Roughly speak­ing, we can say that the metaphor of the flock did­n’t oc­cur in great Greek or Roman po­lit­i­cal lit­er­a­ture. This is not the case in an­cient Oriental so­ci­eties: Egypt, Assyria, Judaea. Pharaoh was an Egyptian shep­herd. Indeed, he rit­u­ally re­ceived the herds­man’s crook on his coro­na­tion day; and the term shepherd of men” was one of the Babylonian monar­ch’s ti­tles. But God was also a shep­herd lead­ing men to their graz­ing ground and en­sur­ing them food. An Egyptian hymn in­voked Ra this way: O Ra that keep­est watch when all men sleep, Thou who seek­est what is good for thy cat­tle…” The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween God and King is eas­ily made, since both as­sume the same role: the flock they watch over is the same; the shep­herd-king is en­trusted with the great di­vine shep­herd’s crea­tures. An Assyrian in­vo­ca­tion to the king ran like this: Illustrious com­pan­ion of pas­tures, Thou who carest for thy land and feedest it, shep­herd of all abun­dance.” But, as we know, it was the Hebrews who de­vel­oped and in­ten­si­fied the pas­toral theme – with nev­er­the­less a highly pe­cu­liar char­ac­ter­is­tic: God, and God only, is his peo­ple’s shep­herd. With just one pos­i­tive ex­cep­tion: David, as the founder of the monar­chy, is the only one to be re­ferred to as a shep­herd. God gave him the task of as­sem­bling a flock. There are neg­a­tive ex­cep­tions, too: wicked kings are con­sis­tently com­pared to bad shep­herds; they dis­perse the flock, let it die of thirst, shear it solely for prof­it’s sake. Jahweh is the one and only true shep­herd. He guides his own peo­ple in per­son, aided only by his prophets. As the Psalms say: Like a flock/​hast Thou led Thy peo­ple, by Moses’ and by Aaron’s hand.” Of course I can treat nei­ther the his­tor­i­cal prob­lems per­tain­ing to the ori­gin of this com­par­i­son nor its evo­lu­tion through­out Jewish thought. I just want to show a few themes typ­i­cal of pas­toral power. I’d like to point out the con­trast with Greek po­lit­i­cal thought, and to show how im­por­tant these themes be­came in Christian thought and in­sti­tu­tions later on.

  1. The shep­herd wields power over a flock rather than over a land. It’s prob­a­bly much more com­plex than that, but, broadly speak­ing, the re­la­tion be­tween the de­ity, the land, and men dif­fers from that of the Greeks. Their gods owned the land, and this pri­mary pos­ses­sion de­ter­mined the re­la­tion­ship be­tween men and gods. On the con­trary, it’s the Shepherd-God’s re­la­tion­ship with his flock that is pri­mary and fun­da­men­tal here. God gives, or promises, his flock a land.
  2. The shep­herd gath­ers to­gether, guides, and leads his flock. The idea that the po­lit­i­cal leader was to quiet any hos­til­i­ties within the city and make unity reign over con­flict is un­doubt­edly pre­sent in Greek thought. But what the shep­herd gath­ers to­gether is dis­persed in­di­vid­u­als. They gather to­gether on hear­ing his voice: I’ll whis­tle and will gather them to­gether.” Conversely, the shep­herd only has to dis­ap­pear for the flock to be scat­tered. In other words, the shep­herd’s im­me­di­ate pres­ence and di­rect ac­tion cause the flock to ex­ist. Once the good Greek law­giver, like Solon, has re­solved any con­flicts, what he leaves be­hind him is a strong city with laws en­abling it to en­dure with­out him.
  3. The shep­herd’s role is to en­sure the sal­va­tion of his flock. The Greeks said also that the de­ity saved the city; they never stopped de­clar­ing that the com­pe­tent leader is a helms­man ward­ing his ship away from the rocks. But the way the shep­herd saves his flock is quite dif­fer­ent. It’s not only a mat­ter of sav­ing them all, all to­gether, when dan­ger comes nigh. It’s a mat­ter of con­stant, in­di­vid­u­alised, and fi­nal kind­ness. Constant kind­ness, for the shep­herd en­sures his flock’s food; every day he at­tends to their thirst and hunger. The Greek god was asked to pro­vide a fruit­ful land and abun­dant crops. He was­n’t asked to fos­ter a flock day by day. And in­di­vid­u­alised kind­ness, too, for the shep­herd sees that all the sheep, each and every one of them, is fed and saved. Later Hebrew lit­er­a­ture, es­pe­cially, laid the em­pha­sis on such in­di­vid­u­ally kindly power: a rab­bini­cal com­men­tary on Exodus ex­plains why Jahweh chose Moses to shep­herd his peo­ple: he had left his flock to go and search for one lost sheep. Last and not least, it’s fi­nal kind­ness. The shep­herd has a tar­get for his flock. It must ei­ther be led to good graz­ing ground or brought back to the fold.
  4. Yet an­other dif­fer­ence lies in the idea that wield­ing power is a duty”. The Greek leader had nat­u­rally to make de­ci­sions in the in­ter­est of all; he would have been a bad leader had he pre­ferred his per­sonal in­ter­est. But his duty was a glo­ri­ous one: even if in war he had to give up his life, such a sac­ri­fice was off­set by some­thing ex­tremely pre­cious: im­mor­tal­ity. He never lost. By way of con­trast, shep­herdly kind­ness is much closer to devotedness”. Everything the shep­herd does is geared to the good of his flock. That’s his con­stant con­cern. When they sleep, he keeps watch. The theme of keep­ing watch is im­por­tant. It brings out two as­pects of the shep­herd’s de­vot­ed­ness. First, he acts, he works, he puts him­self out, for those he nour­ishes and who are asleep. Second, he watches over them. He pays at­ten­tion to them all and scans each one of them. He’s got to know his flock as a whole, and in de­tail. Not only must he know where good pas­tures are, the sea­sons’ laws and the or­der of things; he must also know each one’s par­tic­u­lar needs. Once again, a rab­bini­cal com­men­tary on Exodus de­scribes Moses’ qual­i­ties as a shep­herd this way: he would send each sheep in turn to graze – first, the youngest, for them to browse on the ten­der­est sward; then the older ones; and last the old­est, who were ca­pa­ble of brows­ing on the rough­est grass. The shep­herd’s power im­plies in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion paid to each mem­ber of the flock.

These are just themes that Hebraic texts as­so­ci­ate with the metaphors of the Shepherd-God and his flock of peo­ple. In no way do I claim that that is ef­fec­tively how po­lit­i­cal power was wielded in Hebrew so­ci­ety be­fore the fall of Jerusalem. I do not even claim that such a con­cep­tion of po­lit­i­cal power is in any way co­her­ent. They’re just themes. Paradoxical, even con­tra­dic­tory, ones. Christianity was to give them con­sid­er­able im­por­tance, both in the Middle Ages and in mod­ern times. Among all the so­ci­eties in his­tory, ours – I mean, those that came into be­ing at the end of Antiquity on the Western side of the European con­ti­nent – have per­haps been the most ag­gres­sive and the most con­quer­ing; they have been ca­pa­ble of the most stu­pe­fy­ing vi­o­lence, against them­selves as well as against oth­ers. They in­vented a great many dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal forms. They pro­foundly al­tered their le­gal struc­tures sev­eral times. It must be kept in mind that they alone evolved a strange tech­nol­ogy of power treat­ing the vast ma­jor­ity of men as a flock with a few as shep­herds. They thus es­tab­lished be­tween them a se­ries of com­plex, con­tin­u­ous, and para­dox­i­cal re­la­tion­ships. This is un­doubt­edly some­thing sin­gu­lar in the course of his­tory. Clearly, the de­vel­op­ment of pastoral tech­nol­ogy” in the man­age­ment of men pro­foundly dis­rupted the struc­tures of an­cient so­ci­ety.

So as to bet­ter ex­plain the im­por­tance of this dis­rup­tion, I’d like to briefly re­turn to what I was say­ing about the Greeks. I can see the ob­jec­tions li­able to be made. One is that the Homeric po­ems use the shep­herd metaphor to re­fer to the kings. In the Iliad and the Odyssey, the ex­pres­sion ποιμήυ λαώυ crops up sev­eral times. It qual­i­fies the lead­ers, high­light­ing the grandeur of their power. Moreover, it’s a rit­ual ti­tle, com­mon in even late Indo-European lit­er­a­ture. In Beowulf, the king is still re­garded as a shep­herd. But there is noth­ing re­ally sur­pris­ing in the fact that the same ti­tle, as in the Assyrian texts, is to be found in ar­chaic epic po­ems. The prob­lem arises rather as to Greek thought: there is at least one cat­e­gory of texts where ref­er­ences to shep­herd mod­els are made: the Pythagorean ones. The metaphor of the herds­man ap­pears in the Fragments of Archytas, quoted by Stobeus. The word υόμος (the law) is con­nected with the word νυομεύς (shepherd) : the shep­herd shares out, the law ap­por­tions. Then Zeus is called Νόμιος and Νέμειος be­cause he gives his sheep food. And, fi­nally, the mag­is­trate must be Φιλάυθρωπος, i.e., de­void of self­ish­ness. He must be full of zeal and so­lic­i­tude, like a shep­herd. Grube, the German ed­i­tor of Archytas’ Fragments, says that this proves a Hebrew in­flu­ence unique in Greek lit­er­a­ture. Other com­men­ta­tors, such as Delatte, say that the com­par­i­son be­tween gods, mag­is­trates, and shep­herds was com­mon in Greece. It is there­fore not to be dwelt upon. I shall re­strict my­self to po­lit­i­cal lit­er­a­ture. The re­sults of the en­quiry are clear: the po­lit­i­cal metaphor of the shep­herd oc­curs nei­ther in Isocrates, nor in Demosthenes, nor in Aristotle. This is rather sur­pris­ing when one re­flects that in his Areopagiticus, Isocrates in­sists on the mag­is­trates’ du­ties; he stresses the need for them to be de­voted and to show con­cern for young peo­ple. Yet not a word as to any shep­herd. By con­trast, Plato of­ten speaks of the shep­herd-mag­is­trate. He men­tions the idea in Critias, The Republic, and Laws. He thrashes it out in The Statesman. In the for­mer, the shep­herd theme is rather sub­or­di­nate. Sometimes, those happy days when mankind was gov­erned di­rectly by the gods and grazed on abun­dant pas­tures are evoked (Critias) , some­times, the mag­is­trates’ nec­es­sary virtue – as con­trasted with Thrasymachos’ vice, is what is in­sisted upon (The Republic). And some­times, the prob­lem is to de­fine the sub­or­di­nate mag­is­trates’ role: in­deed, they, just as the watch­dogs, have to obey those at the top of the scale” (Laws). But in The Statesman pas­toral power is the cen­tral prob­lem and it is treated at length. Can the city’s de­ci­sion-maker, can the com­man­der, be de­fined as a sort of shep­herd ? Plato’s analy­sis is well known. To solve this ques­tion he uses the di­vi­sion method. A dis­tinc­tion is drawn be­tween the man who con­veys or­ders to inan­i­mate things (e.g., the ar­chi­tect), and the man who gives or­ders to an­i­mals; be­tween the man who gives or­ders to iso­lated an­i­mals (like a yoke of oxen) and he who gives or­ders to flocks; and he who gives or­ders to an­i­mal flocks, and he who com­mands hu­man flocks. And there we have the po­lit­i­cal leader: a shep­herd of men. But this first di­vi­sion re­mains un­sat­is­fac­tory. It has to be pushed fur­ther. The method op­pos­ing men to all the other an­i­mals is­n’t a good one. And so the di­a­logue starts all over again. A whole se­ries of dis­tinc­tions is es­tab­lished: be­tween wild an­i­mals and tame ones; those that live in wa­ter, and those that live on land; those with horns, and those with­out; be­tween cleft- and plain-hoofed an­i­mals; be­tween those ca­pa­ble and in­ca­pable of mu­tual re­pro­duc­tion. And the di­a­logue wan­ders astray with these never-end­ing sub­di­vi­sions. So, what do the ini­tial de­vel­op­ment of the di­a­logue and its sub­se­quent fail­ure show? That the di­vi­sion method can prove noth­ing at all when it is­n’t man­aged cor­rectly. It also shows that the idea of analysing po­lit­i­cal power as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a shep­herd and his an­i­mals was prob­a­bly rather a con­tro­ver­sial one at the time. Indeed, it’s the first as­sump­tion to cross the in­ter­locu­tors’ minds when seek­ing to dis­cover the essence of the politi­cian. Was it a com­mon­place at the time? Or was Plato rather dis­cussing one of the Pythagorean themes? The ab­sence of the shep­herd metaphor in other con­tem­po­rary po­lit­i­cal texts seems to tip the scale to­wards the sec­ond hy­poth­e­sis. But we can prob­a­bly leave the dis­cus­sion open. My per­sonal en­quiry bears upon how Plato im­pugns the theme in the rest of the di­a­logue. He does so first by means of method­olog­i­cal ar­gu­ments and then by means of the cel­e­brated myth of the world re­volv­ing round its spin­dle. The method­olog­i­cal ar­gu­ments are ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing. Whether the king is a sort of shep­herd or not can be told, not by de­cid­ing which dif­fer­ent species can form a flock, but by analysing what the shep­herd does. What is char­ac­ter­is­tic of his task? First, the shep­herd is alone at the head of his flock. Second, his job is to sup­ply his cat­tle with food; to care for them when they are sick; to play them mu­sic to get them to­gether, and guide them; to arrange their in­ter­course with a view to the finest off­spring. So we do find the typ­i­cal shep­herd-metaphor themes of Oriental texts. And what’s the king’s task in re­gard to all this? Like the shep­herd, he is alone at the head of the city. But, for the rest, who pro­vides mankind with food? The king? No. The farmer, the baker do. Who looks af­ter men when they are sick? The king? No. The physi­cian. And who guides them with mu­sic? The gym­nast – not the king. And so, many cit­i­zens could quite le­git­i­mately claim the ti­tle shepherd of men”. Just as the hu­man flock’s shep­herd has many ri­vals, so has the politi­cian. Consequently, if we want to find out what the politi­cian re­ally and es­sen­tially is, we must sift it out from ‘the sur­round­ing flood’, thereby demon­strat­ing in what ways he is­n’t a shep­herd. Plato there­fore re­sorts to the myth of the world re­volv­ing round its axis in two suc­ces­sive and con­trary mo­tions. In a first phase, each an­i­mal species be­longed to a flock led by a Genius-Shepherd. The hu­man flock was led by the de­ity it­self. It could lav­ishly avail it­self of the fruits of the earth; it needed no abode; and af­ter Death, men came back to life. A cru­cial sen­tence adds: The de­ity be­ing their shep­herd, mankind needed no po­lit­i­cal con­sti­tu­tion.” In a sec­ond phase, the world turned in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. The gods were no longer men’s shep­herds; they had to look af­ter them­selves. For they had been given fire. What would the politi­cian’s role then be? Would he be­come the shep­herd in the gods’ stead? Not at all. His job was to weave a strong fab­ric for the city. Being a politi­cian did­n’t mean feed­ing, nurs­ing, and breed­ing off spring, but bind­ing: bind­ing dif­fer­ent virtues; bind­ing con­trary tem­pera­ments (either im­petu­ous or mod­er­ate), us­ing the shuttle” of pop­u­lar opin­ion. The royal art of rul­ing con­sisted in gath­er­ing lives to­gether into a com­mu­nity based upon con­cord and friend­ship”, and so he wove the finest of fab­rics.” The en­tire pop­u­la­tion, slaves and free men alike, were man­tled in its folds.” The Statesman there­fore seems to be clas­si­cal an­tiq­ui­ty’s most sys­tem­atic re­flex­ion on the theme of the pas­torate which was later to be­come so im­por­tant in the Christian West. That we are dis­cussing it seems to prove that a per­haps ini­tially Oriental theme was im­por­tant enough in Plato’s day to de­serve in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but we stress the fact that it was im­pugned. Not im­pugned en­tirely, how­ever. Plato did ad­mit that the physi­cian, the farmer, the gym­nast, and the ped­a­gogue acted as shep­herds. But he re­fused to get them in­volved with the politi­cian’s ac­tiv­ity. He said so ex­plic­itly: how would the politi­cian ever find the time to come and sit by each per­son, feed him, give him con­certs, and care for him when sick ? Only a god in a Golden Age could ever act like that; or again, like a physi­cian or ped­a­gogue, be re­spon­si­ble for the lives and de­vel­op­ment of a few in­di­vid­u­als. But, sit­u­ated be­tween the two – the gods and the swains – the men who hold po­lit­i­cal power are not to be shep­herds. Their task does­n’t con­sist in fos­ter­ing the life of a group of in­di­vid­u­als. It con­sists in form­ing and as­sur­ing the city’s unity. In short, the po­lit­i­cal prob­lem is that of the re­la­tion be­tween the one and the many in the frame­work of the city and its cit­i­zens. The pas­toral prob­lem con­cerns the lives of in­di­vid­u­als. All this seems very re­mote, per­haps. The rea­son for my in­sist­ing on these an­cient texts is that they show us how early this prob­lem – or rather, this se­ries of prob­lems – arose. They span the en­tirety of Western his­tory. They are still highly im­por­tant for con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety. They deal with the re­la­tions be­tween po­lit­i­cal power at work within the state as a le­gal frame­work of unity, and a power we can call pastoral”, whose role is to con­stantly en­sure, sus­tain, and im­prove the lives of each and every one. The well-known welfare state prob­lem” does not only bring the needs or the new gov­ern­men­tal tech­niques of to­day’s world to light. It must be recog­nised for what it is: one of the ex­tremely nu­mer­ous reap­pear­ances of the tricky ad­just­ment be­tween po­lit­i­cal power wielded over le­gal sub­jects and pas­toral power wielded over live in­di­vid­u­als. I have ob­vi­ously no in­ten­tion what­so­ever of re­count­ing the evo­lu­tion of pas­toral power through­out Christianity. The im­mense prob­lems this would raise can eas­ily be imag­ined: from doc­tri­nal prob­lems, such as Christ’s de­nom­i­na­tion as the good shep­herd”, right up to in­sti­tu­tional ones, such as parochial or­gan­i­sa­tion, or the way pas­toral re­spon­si­bil­i­ties were shared be­tween priests and bish­ops. All I want to do is bring to light two or three as­pects I re­gard as im­por­tant for the evo­lu­tion of pas­tor­ship, i.e., the tech­nol­ogy of power. First of all, let us ex­am­ine the the­o­ret­i­cal elab­o­ra­tion of the theme in an­cient Christian lit­er­a­ture: Chrysostom, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, and, for monas­tic life, Cassian or Benedict. The Hebrew themes are con­sid­er­ably al­tered in at least four ways:

  1. First, with re­gard to re­spon­si­bil­ity. We saw that the shep­herd was to as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity for the des­tiny of the whole flock and of each and every sheep. In the Christian con­cep­tion, the shep­herd must ren­der an ac­count – not only of each sheep, but of all their ac­tions, all the good or evil they are li­able to do, all that hap­pens to them. Moreover, be­tween each sheep and its shep­herd Christianity con­ceives a com­plex ex­change and cir­cu­la­tion of sins and mer­its. The sheep’s sin is also im­putable to the shep­herd. He’ll have to ren­der an ac­count of it at the Last Judgement. Conversely, by help­ing his flock to find sal­va­tion, the shep­herd will also find his own. But by sav­ing his sheep, he lays him­self open to get­ting lost; so if he wants to save him­self, he must needs run the risk of los­ing him­self for oth­ers. If he does get lost, it is the flock that will in­cur the great­est dan­ger. But let’s leave all these para­doxes aside. My aim was just to un­der­line the force and com­plex­ity of the moral ties bind­ing the shep­herd to each mem­ber of his flock. And what I es­pe­cially wanted to un­der­line was that such ties not only con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als’ lives, but the de­tails of their ac­tions as well.
  2. The sec­ond im­por­tant al­ter­ation con­cerns the prob­lem of obe­di­ence. In the Hebrew con­cep­tion, God be­ing a shep­herd, the flock fol­low­ing him com­plies to his will, to his law. Christianity, on the other hand, con­ceived the shep­herd-sheep re­la­tion­ship as one of in­di­vid­ual and com­plete de­pen­dence. This is un­doubt­edly one of the points at which Christian pas­tor­ship rad­i­cally di­verged from Greek thought. If a Greek had to obey, he did so be­cause it was the law, or the will of the city. If he did hap­pen to fol­low the will of some­one in par­tic­u­lar (a physi­cian, an or­a­tor, a ped­a­gogue), then that per­son had ra­tio­nally per­suaded him to do so. And it had to be for a strictly de­ter­mined aim: to be cured, to ac­quire a skill, to make the best choice. In Christianity, the tie with the shep­herd is an in­di­vid­ual one. It is per­sonal sub­mis­sion to him. His will is done, not be­cause it is con­sis­tent with the law, and not just as far as it is con­sis­tent with it, but, prin­ci­pally, be­cause it is his will. In Cassian’s Coenobiticul Institutions, there are many ed­i­fy­ing anec­dotes in which the monk finds sal­va­tion by car­ry­ing out the ab­sur­dest of his su­pe­ri­or’s or­ders. Obedience is a virtue. This means that it is not, as for the Greeks, a pro­vi­sional means to an end, but rather an end in it­self. It is a per­ma­nent state; the sheep must per­ma­nently sub­mit to their pas­tors: sub­diti. As Saint Benedict says, monks do not live ac­cord­ing to their own free will; their wish is to be un­der the ab­bot’s com­mand : am­bu­lantes alieno ju­di­cio et im­pe­rio. Greek Christianity named this state of obe­di­ence άπάθεια.. The evo­lu­tion of the word’s mean­ing is sig­nif­i­cant. In Greek phi­los­o­phy, άπάθεια de­notes the con­trol that the in­di­vid­ual, thanks to the ex­er­cise of rea­son, can ex­ert over his pas­sions. In Christian thought, πάθος is willpower ex­erted over one­self, for one­self. Απάθεια de­liv­ers us from such wil­ful­ness.
  3. Christian pas­tor­ship im­plies a pe­cu­liar type of knowl­edge be­tween the pas­tor and each of his sheep. This knowl­edge is par­tic­u­lar. It in­di­vid­u­al­izes. It is­n’t enough to know the state of the flock. That of each sheep must also be known. The theme ex­isted long be­fore there was Christian pas­tor­ship, but it was con­sid­er­ably am­pli­fied in three dif­fer­ent ways: the shep­herd must be in­formed as to the ma­te­r­ial needs of each mem­ber of the flock and pro­vide for them when nec­es­sary. He must know what is go­ing on, what each of them does – his pub­lic sins. Last and not least, he must know what goes on in the soul of each one, that is, his se­cret sins, his progress on the road to saint­hood. In or­der to en­sure this in­di­vid­ual knowl­edge, Christianity ap­pro­pri­ated two es­sen­tial in­stru­ments at work in the Hellenistic world: self-ex­am­i­na­tion and the guid­ance of con­science. It took them over, but not with­out al­ter­ing them con­sid­er­ably. It is well known that self-ex­am­i­na­tion was wide­spread among the Pythagoreans, the Stoics, and the Epicureans as a means of daily tak­ing stock of the good or evil per­formed in re­gard to one’s du­ties. One’s progress on the way to per­fec­tion, i.e., self-mas­tery and the dom­i­na­tion of one’s pas­sions, could thus be mea­sured. The guid­ance of con­science was also pre­dom­i­nant in cer­tain cul­tured cir­cles, but as ad­vice given – and some­times paid for – in par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances: in mourn­ing, or when one was suf­fer­ing a set­back. Christian pas­tor­ship closely as­so­ci­ated these two prac­tices. On one hand, con­science-guid­ing con­sti­tuted a con­stant bind : the sheep did­n’t let it­self be led only to come through any rough pas­sage vic­to­ri­ously, it let it­self be led every sec­ond. Being guided was a state and you were fa­tally lost if you tried to es­cape it. The ever-quoted phrase runs like this: he who suf­fers not guid­ance with­ers away like a dead leaf. As for self-ex­am­i­na­tion, its aim was not to close self-aware­ness in upon it­self, but to en­able it to open up en­tirely to its di­rec­tor – to un­veil to him the depths of the soul. There are a great many first-cen­tury as­cetic and monas­tic texts con­cern­ing the link be­tween guid­ance and self-ex­am­i­na­tion that show how cru­cial these tech­niques were for Christianity and how com­plex they had al­ready be­come. What I would like to em­pha­sise is that they de­lin­eate the emer­gence of a very strange phe­nom­e­non in Greco-Roman civil­i­sa­tion, that is, the or­gan­i­sa­tion of a link be­tween to­tal obe­di­ence, knowl­edge of one­self, and con­fes­sion to some­one else.
  4. There is an­other trans­for­ma­tion – maybe the most im­por­tant. All those Christian tech­niques of ex­am­i­na­tion, con­fes­sion, guid­ance, obe­di­ence, have an aim: to get in­di­vid­u­als to work at their own ‘mortification’ in this world. Mortification is not death, of course, but it is a re­nun­ci­a­tion of this world and of one­self: a kind of every­day death. A death which is sup­posed to pro­vide life in an­other world. This is not the first time we see the shep­herd theme as­so­ci­ated with death; but here it is other than in the Greek idea of po­lit­i­cal power. It is not a sac­ri­fice for the city; Christian mor­ti­fi­ca­tion is a kind of re­la­tion from one­self to one­self. It is a part, a con­sti­tu­tive part of the Christian self-iden­tity. We can say that Christian pas­tor­ship has in­tro­duced a game that nei­ther the Greeks nor the Hebrews imag­ined. A strange game whose el­e­ments are life, death, truth, obe­di­ence, in­di­vid­u­als, self-iden­tity; a game which seems to have noth­ing to do with the game of the city sur­viv­ing through the sac­ri­fice of the cit­i­zens. Our so­ci­eties proved to be re­ally de­monic since they hap­pened to com­bine those two games – the city / cit­i­zen game and the shep­herd / flock game – in what we call the mod­ern states.

As you may no­tice, what I have been try­ing to do this evening is not to solve a prob­lem but to sug­gest a way to ap­proach a prob­lem. This prob­lem is sim­i­lar to those I have been work­ing on since my first book about in­san­ity and men­tal ill­ness. As I told you pre­vi­ously, this prob­lem deals with the re­la­tions be­tween ex­pe­ri­ences (like mad­ness, ill­ness, trans­gres­sion of laws, sex­u­al­ity, self-iden­tity) knowl­edge (like psy­chi­a­try, med­i­cine, crim­i­nol­ogy, sex­ol­ogy, psy­chol­ogy), and power (such as the power which is wielded in psy­chi­atric and pe­nal in­sti­tu­tions, and in all other in­sti­tu­tions which deal with in­di­vid­ual con­trol). Our civil­i­sa­tion has de­vel­oped the most com­plex sys­tem of knowl­edge, the most so­phis­ti­cated struc­tures of power: what has this kind of knowl­edge, this type of power made of us? In what way are those fun­da­men­tal ex­pe­ri­ences of mad­ness, suf­fer­ing, death, crime, de­sire, in­di­vid­u­al­ity con­nected, even if we are not aware of it, with knowl­edge and power? I am sure I’ll never get the an­swer; but that does not mean that we don’t have to ask the ques­tion.

II I have tried to show how prim­i­tive Christianity shaped the idea of a pas­toral in­flu­ence con­tin­u­ously ex­ert­ing it­self on in­di­vid­u­als and through the demon­stra­tion of their par­tic­u­lar truth. And I have tried to show how this idea of pas­toral power was for­eign to Greek thought de­spite a cer­tain num­ber of bor­row­ings such as prac­ti­cal self-ex­am­i­na­tion and the guid­ance of con­science. I would like at this time, leap­ing across many cen­turies, to de­scribe an­other episode which has been in it­self par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in the his­tory of this gov­ern­ment of in­di­vid­u­als by their own ver­ity. This in­stance con­cerns the for­ma­tion of the state in the mod­ern sense of the word. If I make this his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion it is ob­vi­ously not in or­der to sug­gest that the as­pect of pas­toral power dis­ap­peared dur­ing the ten great cen­turies of Christian Europe, Catholic and Roman, but it seems to me that this pe­riod, con­trary to what one might ex­pect, has not been that of the tri­umphant pas­torate. And that is true for sev­eral rea­sons: some are of an eco­nomic na­ture – the pas­torate of souls is an es­pe­cially ur­ban ex­pe­ri­ence, dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile with the poor and ex­ten­sive rural econ­omy at the be­gin­ning of the Middle Ages. The other rea­sons are of a cul­tural na­ture: the pas­torate is a com­pli­cated tech­nique which de­mands a cer­tain level of cul­ture, not only on the part of the pas­tor but also among his flock. Other rea­sons re­late to the so­ciopo­lit­i­cal struc­ture. Feudality de­vel­oped be­tween in­di­vid­u­als a tis­sue of per­sonal bonds of an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent type than the pas­torate. I do not wish to say that the idea of a pas­toral gov­ern­ment of men dis­ap­peared en­tirely in the me­dieval church. It has, in­deed, re­mained and one can even say that it has shown great vi­tal­ity. Two se­ries of facts tend to prove this. First, the re­forms which had been made in the Church it­self, es­pe­cially in the monas­tic or­ders – the dif­fer­ent re­forms op­er­at­ing suc­ces­sively in­side ex­ist­ing monas­ter­ies – had the goal of restor­ing the rigor of pas­toral or­der among the monks them­selves. As for the newly cre­ated or­ders – Dominican and Franciscan – es­sen­tially they pro­posed to per­form pas­toral work among the faith­ful. The Church tried cease­lessly dur­ing suc­ces­sive crises to re­gain its pas­toral func­tions. But there is more. In the pop­u­la­tion it­self one sees all dur­ing the Middle Ages the de­vel­op­ment of a long se­ries of strug­gles whose ob­ject was pas­toral power. Critics of the Church which fails in its oblig­a­tions re­ject its hi­er­ar­chi­cal struc­ture, look for the more or less spon­ta­neous forms of com­mu­nity in which the flock could find the shep­herd it needed. This search for pas­toral ex­pres­sion took on nu­mer­ous as­pects, at times ex­tremely vi­o­lent strug­gles as was the case for the Vaudois, some­times peace­ful quests as among the Freres de la Vie com­mu­nity. Sometimes it stirred very ex­ten­sive move­ments such as the Hussites, some­times it fer­mented lim­ited groups like the Amis de Dieu de l’Ober­land. It hap­pened that these move­ments were close to heresy, as among the Beghards, at times stir­ring or­tho­dox move­ments which dwelt within the bo­som of the Church (like that of the Italian Oratorians in the fif­teenth cen­tury). I raise all of this in a very al­lu­sive man­ner in or­der to em­pha­sise that if the pas­torate was not in­sti­tuted as an ef­fec­tive, prac­ti­cal gov­ern­ment of men dur­ing the Middle Ages, it has been a per­ma­nent con­cern and a stake in con­stant strug­gles. There was across the en­tire pe­riod of the Middle Ages a yearn­ing to arrange pas­toral re­la­tions among men and this as­pi­ra­tion af­fected both the mys­ti­cal tide and the great mil­lenar­ian dreams. Of course, I don’t in­tend to treat here the prob­lem of how states are formed. Nor do I in­tend to go into the dif­fer­ent eco­nomic, so­cial, and po­lit­i­cal processes from which they stem. Neither do I want to analyse the dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tions or mech­a­nisms with which states equipped them­selves in or­der to en­sure their sur­vival. I’d just like to give some frag­men­tary in­di­ca­tions as to some­thing mid­way be­tween the state as a type of po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion and its mech­a­nisms, viz., the type of ra­tio­nal­ity im­ple­mented in the ex­er­cise of state power. I men­tioned this in my first lec­ture. Rather than won­der whether aber­rant state power is due to ex­ces­sive ra­tio­nal­ism or ir­ra­tional­ism, I think it would be more ap­pro­pri­ate to pin down the spe­cific type of po­lit­i­cal ra­tio­nal­ity the state pro­duced. After all, at least in this re­spect, po­lit­i­cal prac­tices re­sem­ble sci­en­tific ones: it’s not reason in gen­eral” that is im­ple­mented, but al­ways a very spe­cific type of ra­tio­nal­ity. The strik­ing thing is that the ra­tio­nal­ity of state power was re­flec­tive and per­fectly aware of its speci­ficity. It was not tucked away in spon­ta­neous, blind prac­tices. It was not brought to light by some ret­ro­spec­tive analy­sis. It was for­mu­lated es­pe­cially in two sets of doc­trine: the rea­son of state and the the­ory of po­lice. These two phrases soon ac­quired nar­row and pe­jo­ra­tive mean­ings, I know. But for the 150 or 200 years dur­ing which mod­ern states were formed, their mean­ing was much broader than now. The doc­trine of rea­son of state at­tempted to de­fine how the prin­ci­ples and meth­ods of state gov­ern­ment dif­fered, say, from the way God gov­erned the world, the fa­ther his fam­ily, or a su­pe­rior his com­mu­nity. The doc­trine of the po­lice de­fines the na­ture of the ob­jects of the state’s ra­tio­nal ac­tiv­ity; it de­fines the na­ture of the aims it pur­sues, the gen­eral form of the in­stru­ments in­volved. So, what I’d like to speak about to­day is the sys­tem of ra­tio­nal­ity. But first, there are two pre­lim­i­nar­ies: (1) Meinecke hav­ing pub­lished a most im­por­tant book on rea­son of state, I’ll speak mainly of the polic­ing the­ory. (2) Germany and Italy un­der­went the great­est dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting es­tab­lished as states, and they pro­duced the great­est num­ber of re­flex­ions on rea­son of state and the po­lice. I’ll of­ten re­fer to the Italian and German texts. Let’s be­gin with rea­son of state. Here are a few de­f­i­n­i­tions: BOTERO: A per­fect knowl­edge of the means through which states form, strengthen them­selves, en­dure, and grow.” PALAZZO (Discourse on Government and True Reason of State, 1606) : A rule or art en­abling us to dis­cover how to es­tab­lish peace and or­der within the Republic.” CHEMNITZ (De Ratione Status, 1647) : A cer­tain po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion re­quired for all pub­lic mat­ters, coun­cils, and pro­jects, whose only aim is the state’s preser­va­tion, ex­pan­sion, and fe­lic­ity; to which end, the eas­i­est and promptest means are to be em­ployed.” Let me con­sider cer­tain fea­tures these de­f­i­n­i­tions have in com­mon.

  1. Reason of state is re­garded as an art”, that is, a tech­nique con­form­ing to cer­tain rules. These rules do not sim­ply per­tain to cus­toms or tra­di­tions, but to knowl­edge – ra­tio­nal knowl­edge. Nowadays, the ex­pres­sion rea­son of state evokes arbitrariness” or violence”. But at the time, what peo­ple had in mind was a ra­tio­nal­ity spe­cific to the art of gov­ern­ing states.
  2. From where does this spe­cific art of gov­ern­ment draw its ra­tio­nale? The an­swer to this ques­tion pro­vokes the scan­dal of nascent po­lit­i­cal thought. And yet it’s very sim­ple: the art of gov­ern­ing is ra­tio­nal, if re­flex­ion causes it to ob­serve the na­ture of what is gov­erned – here, the state. Now, to state such a plat­i­tude is to break with a si­mul­ta­ne­ously Christian and ju­di­ciary tra­di­tion, a tra­di­tion which claimed that gov­ern­ment was es­sen­tially just. It re­spected a whole sys­tem of laws: hu­man laws; the law of na­ture; di­vine law. There is a quite sig­nif­i­cant text by St. Thomas on these points. He re­calls that art, in its field, must im­i­tate what na­ture car­ries out in its own”; it is only rea­son­able un­der that con­di­tion. The king’s gov­ern­ment of his king­dom must im­i­tate God’s gov­ern­ment of na­ture; or again, the soul’s gov­ern­ment of the body. The king must found cities just as God cre­ated the world; just as the soul gives form to the body. The king must also lead men to­wards their fi­nal­ity, just as God does for nat­ural be­ings, or as the soul does, when di­rect­ing the body. And what is man’s fi­nal­ity? What’s good for the body? No; he’d need only a physi­cian, not a king. Wealth? No; a stew­ard would suf­fice. Truth? Not even that; for only a teacher would be needed. Man needs some­one ca­pa­ble of open­ing up the way to heav­enly bliss through his con­for­mity, here on earth, to what is hon­es­turn. As we can see, the model for the art of gov­ern­ment is that of God im­pos­ing his laws upon his crea­tures. St. Thomas’s model for ra­tio­nal gov­ern­ment is not a po­lit­i­cal one, whereas what the six­teenth and sev­en­teenth cen­turies seek un­der the de­nom­i­na­tion reason of state” are prin­ci­ples ca­pa­ble of guid­ing an ac­tual gov­ern­ment. They aren’t con­cerned with na­ture and its laws in gen­eral. They’re con­cerned with what the state is; what its ex­i­gen­cies are. And so we can un­der­stand the re­li­gious scan­dal aroused by such a type of re­search. It ex­plains why rea­son of state was as­sim­i­lated to athe­ism. In France, in par­tic­u­lar, the ex­pres­sion gen­er­ated in a po­lit­i­cal con­text was com­monly as­so­ci­ated with atheist”.
  3. Reason of state is also op­posed to an­other tra­di­tion. In The Prince, Machiavelli’s prob­lem is to de­cide how a province or ter­ri­tory ac­quired through in­her­i­tance or by con­quest can be held against its in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal ri­vals. Machiavelli’s en­tire analy­sis is aimed at defin­ing what keeps up or re­in­forces the link be­tween prince and state, whereas the prob­lem posed by rea­son of state is that of the very ex­is­tence and na­ture of the state it­self. This is why the the­o­reti­cians of rea­son of state tried to stay aloof from Machiavelli; he had a bad rep­u­ta­tion and they could­n’t rec­og­nize their own prob­lem in his. Conversely, those op­posed to rea­son of state tried to im­pair this new art of gov­ern­ing, de­nounc­ing it as Machiavelli’s legacy. However, de­spite these con­fused quar­rels a cen­tury af­ter The Prince had been writ­ten, rea­son of state marks the emer­gence of an ex­tremely – al­beit only partly – dif­fer­ent type of ra­tio­nal­ity from Machiavelli’s. The aim of such an art of gov­ern­ing is pre­cisely not to re­in­force the power a prince can wield over his do­main. Its aim is to re­in­force the state it­self. This is one of the most char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­tures of all the de­f­i­n­i­tions that the six­teenth and sev­en­teenth cen­turies put for­ward. Rational gov­ern­ment is this, so to speak: given the na­ture of the state, it can hold down its en­e­mies for an in­de­ter­mi­nate length of time. It can only do so if it in­creases its own strength. And its en­e­mies do like­wise. The state whose only con­cern would be to hold out would most cer­tainly come to dis­as­ter. This idea is a very im­por­tant one. It is bound up with a new his­tor­i­cal out­look. Indeed, it im­plies that states are re­al­i­ties which must needs hold out for an in­def­i­nite length of his­tor­i­cal time – and in a dis­puted ge­o­graph­i­cal area.
  4. Finally, we can see that rea­son of state, un­der­stood as ra­tio­nal gov­ern­ment able to in­crease the state’s strength in ac­cor­dance with it­self pre­sup­poses the con­sti­tu­tion of a cer­tain type of knowl­edge. Government is only pos­si­ble if the strength of the state is known; it can thus be sus­tained. The state’s ca­pac­ity, and the means to en­large it, must be known. The strength and ca­pac­i­ties of the other states must also be known. Indeed, the gov­erned state must hold out against the oth­ers. Government there­fore en­tails more than just im­ple­ment­ing gen­eral prin­ci­ples of rea­son, wis­dom, and pru­dence. Knowledge is nec­es­sary; con­crete, pre­cise, and mea­sured knowl­edge as to the state’s strength. The art of gov­ern­ing, char­ac­ter­is­tic of rea­son of state, is in­ti­mately bound up with the de­vel­op­ment of what was then called ei­ther po­lit­i­cal sta­tis­tics, or arith­metic; that is, the knowl­edge of dif­fer­ent states’ re­spec­tive forces. Such knowl­edge was in­dis­pens­able for cor­rect gov­ern­ment. Briefly speak­ing, then: rea­son of state is not an art of gov­ern­ment ac­cord­ing to di­vine, nat­ural, or hu­man laws. It does­n’t have to re­spect the gen­eral or­der of the world. It’s gov­ern­ment in ac­cor­dance with the state’s strength. It’s gov­ern­ment whose aim is to in­crease this strength within an ex­ten­sive and com­pet­i­tive frame­work.

So what the sev­en­teenth- and eigh­teenth-cen­tury au­thors un­der­stand by the po­lice” is very dif­fer­ent from what we put un­der the term. It would be worth study­ing why these au­thors are mostly Italians and Germans, but what­ever! What they un­der­stand by police” is­n’t an in­sti­tu­tion or mech­a­nism func­tion­ing within the state, but a gov­ern­men­tal tech­nol­ogy pe­cu­liar to the state; do­mains, tech­niques, tar­gets where the state in­ter­venes. To be clear and sim­ple, I will ex­em­plify what I’m say­ing with a text which is both utopian and a pro­ject. It’s one of the first utopia-pro­grammes for a po­liced state. Turquet de Mayenne drew it up and pre­sented it in 1611 to the Dutch States General. In his book Science in the Government of Louis XIV, J. King draws at­ten­tion to the im­por­tance of this strange work. Its ti­tle is Aristo- Democrutic Monarchy; that’s enough to show what is im­por­tant in the au­thor’s eyes: not so much choos­ing be­tween these dif­fer­ent types of con­sti­tu­tion as their mix­ture in view to a vi­tal end, viz., the state. Turquet also calls it the City, the Republic, or yet again, the Police. Here is the or­gan­i­sa­tion Turquet pro­poses. Four grand of­fi­cials rank be­side the king. One is in charge of Justice; an­other, of the Army; the third, of the Exchecquer, i.e., the king’s taxes and rev­enues; the fourth is in charge of the po­lice. It seems that this of­fi­cer’s role was to have been mainly a moral one. According to Turquet, he was to fos­ter among the peo­ple modesty, char­ity, loy­alty, in­dus­tri­ous­ness, friendly co­op­er­a­tion, hon­esty.” We rec­og­nize the tra­di­tional idea that the sub­jec­t’s virtue en­sures the king­dom’s good man­age­ment. But, when we come down to the de­tails, the out­look is some­what dif­fer­ent. Turquet sug­gests that in each province, there should be boards keep­ing law and or­der. There should be two that see to peo­ple; the other two see to things. The first board, the one per­tain­ing to peo­ple, was to see to the pos­i­tive, ac­tive, pro­duc­tive as­pects of life. In other words, it was con­cerned with ed­u­ca­tion; de­ter­min­ing each one’s tastes and ap­ti­tudes; the choos­ing of oc­cu­pa­tions – use­ful ones: each per­son over the age of twenty-five had to be en­rolled on a reg­is­ter not­ing his oc­cu­pa­tion. Those not use­fully em­ployed were re­garded as the dregs of so­ci­ety. The sec­ond board was to see to the neg­a­tive as­pects of life: the poor (widows, or­phans, the aged) re­quir­ing help; the un­em­ployed; those whose ac­tiv­i­ties re­quired fi­nan­cial aid (no in­ter­est was to be charged) ; pub­lic health: dis­eases, epi­demics; and ac­ci­dents such as fire and flood. One of the boards con­cerned with things was to spe­cialise in com­modi­ties and man­u­fac­tured goods. It was to in­di­cate what was to be pro­duced, and how; it was also to con­trol mar­kets and trad­ing. The fourth board would see to the demesne”, i.e., the ter­ri­tory, space: pri­vate prop­erty, lega­cies, do­na­tions, sales were to be con­trolled; mano­r­ial rights were to be re­formed; roads, rivers, pub­lic build­ings, and forests would also be seen to. In many fea­tures, the text is akin to the po­lit­i­cal utopias which were so nu­mer­ous at the time. But it is also con­tem­po­rary with the great the­o­ret­i­cal dis­cus­sions on rea­son of state and the ad­min­is­tra­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion of monar­chies. It is highly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what the epoch con­sid­ered a tra­di­tion­ally gov­erned state’s tasks to be. What does this text demon­strate?

  1. The police” ap­pears as an ad­min­is­tra­tion head­ing the state, to­gether with the ju­di­ciary, the army, and the ex­chec­quer. True. Yet in fact, it em­braces every­thing else. Turquet says so: It branches out into all of the peo­ple’s con­di­tions, every­thing they do or un­der­take. Its field com­prises jus­tice, fi­nance, and the army.”
  2. The po­lice in­cludes every­thing. But from an ex­tremely par­tic­u­lar point of view. Men and things are en­vi­sioned as to their re­la­tion­ships: men’s co­ex­is­tence on a ter­ri­tory; their re­la­tion­ships as to prop­erty; what they pro­duce; what is ex­changed on the mar­ket. It also con­sid­ers how they live, the dis­eases and ac­ci­dents which can be­fall them. What the po­lice sees to is a live, ac­tive, pro­duc­tive man. Turquet em­ploys a re­mark­able ex­pres­sion: The po­lice’s true ob­ject is man.”
  3. Such in­ter­ven­tion in men’s ac­tiv­i­ties could well be qual­i­fied as to­tal­i­tar­ian. What are the aims pur­sued? They fall into two cat­e­gories. First, the po­lice has to do with every­thing pro­vid­ing the city with adorn­ment, form, and splen­dour. Splendour de­notes not only the beauty of a state or­dered to per­fec­tion; but also its strength, its vigour. The po­lice there­fore en­sures and high­lights the state’s vigour. Second, the po­lice’s other pur­pose is to fos­ter work­ing and trad­ing re­la­tions be­tween men, as well as aid and mu­tual help. There again, the word Turquet uses is im­por­tant: the po­lice must en­sure communication” among men, in the broad sense of the word. Otherwise, men would­n’t be able to live; or their lives would be pre­car­i­ous, poverty-stricken, and per­pet­u­ally threat­ened. And here, we can make out what is, I think, an im­por­tant idea. As a form of ra­tio­nal in­ter­ven­tion wield­ing po­lit­i­cal power over men, the role of the po­lice is to sup­ply them with a lit­tle ex­tra life; and by so do­ing, sup­ply the state with a lit­tle ex­tra strength. This is done by con­trol­ling communication”, i.e., the com­mon ac­tiv­i­ties of in­di­vid­u­als (work, pro­duc­tion, ex­change, ac­com­mo­da­tion). You’ll ob­ject: but that’s only the utopia of some ob­scure au­thor. You can hardly de­duce any sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences from it! But I say: Turquet’s book is but one ex­am­ple of a huge lit­er­a­ture cir­cu­lat­ing in most European coun­tries of the day. The fact that it is over-sim­ple and yet very de­tailed brings out all the bet­ter the char­ac­ter­is­tics that could be rec­og­nized else­where. Above all, I’d say that such ideas were not still­born. They spread all through the sev­en­teenth and eigh­teenth cen­turies, ei­ther as ap­plied poli­cies (such as cam­er­al­ism or mer­can­til­ism), or as sub­jects to be taught (the German Polizeiwissenschaft; don’t let’s for­get that this was the ti­tle un­der which the sci­ence of ad­min­is­tra­tion was taught in Germany).

These are the two per­spec­tives that I’d like, not to study, but at least to sug­gest. First I’ll re­fer to a French ad­min­is­tra­tive com­pendium, then to a German text­book. 1. Every his­to­rian knows Delamare’s Compendium. At the be­gin­ning of the eigh­teenth cen­tury, this ad­min­is­tra­tor un­der­took the com­pi­la­tion of the whole king­dom’s po­lice reg­u­la­tions. It’s an in­fi­nite source of highly valu­able in­for­ma­tion. The gen­eral con­cep­tion of the po­lice that such a quan­tity of rules and reg­u­la­tions could con­vey to an ad­min­is­tra­tor like Delamare is what I’d like to em­pha­sise. Delamare says that the po­lice must see to eleven things within the state: (1) re­li­gion; (2) morals; (3) health; (4) sup­plies; (5) roads, high­ways, town build­ings; (6) pub­lic safety; (7) the lib­eral arts (roughly speak­ing, arts and sci­ence); (8) trade; (9) fac­to­ries; (10) manser­vants and labour­ers; (11) the poor. The same clas­si­fi­ca­tion fea­tures in every trea­tise con­cern­ing the po­lice. As in Turquet’s utopia pro­gramme, apart from the army, jus­tice prop­erly speak­ing, and di­rect taxes, the po­lice ap­par­ently sees to every­thing. The same thing can be said dif­fer­ently: Royal power had as­serted it­self against feu­dal­ism thanks to the sup­port of an armed force and by de­vel­op­ing a ju­di­cial sys­tem and es­tab­lish­ing a tax sys­tem. These were the ways in which royal power was tra­di­tion­ally wielded. Now, the po­lice” is the term cov­er­ing the whole new field in which cen­tralised po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive power can in­ter­vene. Now, what is the logic be­hind in­ter­ven­tion in cul­tural rites, small-scale pro­duc­tion tech­niques, in­tel­lec­tual life, and the road net­work ? Delamare’s an­swer seems a bit hes­i­tant. Now he says, The po­lice sees to every­thing per­tain­ing to men’s hap­pi­ness; now he says, The po­lice sees to every­thing reg­u­lat­ing so­ci­ety (social re­la­tions) car­ried on be­tween men.” Now again, he says that the po­lice sees to liv­ing. This is the de­f­i­n­i­tion I will dwell upon. It’s the most orig­i­nal and it clar­i­fies the other two; and Delamare him­self dwells upon it. He makes the fol­low­ing re­marks as to the po­lice’s eleven ob­jects. The po­lice deals with re­li­gion, not, of course, from the point of view of dog­matic truth, but from that of the moral qual­ity of life. In see­ing to health and sup­plies, it deals with the preser­va­tion of life; con­cern­ing trade, fac­to­ries, work­ers, the poor and pub­lic or­der, it deals with the con­ve­niences of life. In see­ing to the the­atre, lit­er­a­ture, en­ter­tain­ment, its ob­ject is life’s plea­sures. In short, life is the ob­ject of the po­lice: the in­dis­pens­able, the use­ful, and the su­per­flu­ous. That peo­ple sur­vive, live, and even do bet­ter than just that, is what the po­lice has to en­sure. And so we link up with the other de­f­i­n­i­tions Delamare pro­poses: The sole pur­pose of the po­lice is to lead man to the ut­most hap­pi­ness to be en­joyed in this life.” Or again, the po­lice cares for the good of the soul (thanks to re­li­gion and moral­ity), the good of the body (food, health, cloth­ing, hous­ing), wealth (industry, trade, labour). Or again, the po­lice sees to the ben­e­fits that can be de­rived only from liv­ing in so­ci­ety. 2. Now let us have a look at the German text­books. They were used to teach the sci­ence of ad­min­is­tra­tion some­what later on. It was taught in var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties, es­pe­cially in Gottingen, and was ex­tremely im­por­tant for con­ti­nen­tal Europe. Here it was that the Prussian, Austrian, and Russian civil ser­vants – those who were to carry out Joseph IIs and the Great Catherine’s re­forms – were trained. Certain Frenchmen, es­pe­cially in Napoleon’s en­tourage, knew the teach­ings of Polizeiwissenschaft very well. What was to be found in these text­books? Huhenthal’s Liber de Politia fea­tured the fol­low­ing items : the num­ber of cit­i­zens; re­li­gion and morals; health; food; the safety of per­sons and of goods (particularly in ref­er­ence to fires and floods) ; the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice; cit­i­zens’ con­ve­niences and plea­sures (how to ob­tain them, how to re­strict them). Then comes a se­ries of chap­ters about rivers, forests, mines, brine pits, hous­ing, and fi­nally, sev­eral chap­ters on how to ac­quire goods ei­ther through farm­ing, in­dus­try, or trade. In his Precis for the Police, Willebrand speaks suc­ces­sively of morals, trades and crafts, health, safety, and last of all, of town build­ing and plan­ning. Considering the sub­jects at least, there is­n’t a great deal of dif­fer­ence from Delamare’s. But the most im­por­tant of these texts is Von Justi’s Elements of Police. The po­lice’s spe­cific pur­pose is still de­fined as live in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in so­ci­ety. Nevertheless, the way Von Justi or­gan­ises his book is some­what dif­fer­ent. He stud­ies first what he calls the state’s landed prop­erty”, i.e.,its ter­ri­tory. He con­sid­ers it in two dif­fer­ent as­pects: how it is in­hab­ited (town vs. coun­try), and then, who in­habit these ter­ri­to­ries (the num­ber of peo­ple, their growth, health, mor­tal­ity, im­mi­gra­tion). Von Justi then analy­ses the goods and chat­tels”, i.e., the com­modi­ties, man­u­fac­tured goods, and their cir­cu­la­tion which in­volve prob­lems per­tain­ing to cost, credit, and cur­rency. Finally, the last part is de­voted to the con­duct of in­di­vid­u­als: their morals, their oc­cu­pa­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, their hon­esty, and how they re­spect the Law. In my opin­ion, Von Justi’s work is a much more ad­vanced demon­stra­tion of how the po­lice prob­lem was evolved than Delamare’s Introduction” to his com­pendium of statutes. There are four rea­sons for this. First, Von Justi de­fines much more clearly what the cen­tral para­dox of po­lice is. The po­lice, he says, is what en­ables the state to in­crease its power and ex­ert its strength to the full. On the other hand, the po­lice has to keep. the cit­i­zens happy – hap­pi­ness be­ing un­der­stood as sur­vival, life, and im­proved liv­ing. He per­fectly de­fines what I feel to be the aim of the mod­ern art of gov­ern­ment, or state ra­tio­nal­ity: viz., to de­velop those el­e­ments con­sti­tu­tive of in­di­vid­u­als’ lives in such a way that their de­vel­op­ment also fos­ters that of the strength of the state. Von Justi then draws a dis­tinc­tion be­tween this task, which he calls Polizei, as do his con­tem­po­raries, and Politik, Die Politik. Die Politik is ba­si­cally a neg­a­tive task. It con­sists in the state’s fight­ing against its in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal en­e­mies. Polizei, how­ever, is a pos­i­tive task: it has to fos­ter both cit­i­zens’ lives and the state’s strength. And here is the im­por­tant point: Von Justi in­sists much more than does Delamare on a no­tion which be­came in­creas­ingly im­por­tant dur­ing the eigh­teenth cen­tury – pop­u­la­tion. Population was un­der­stood as a group of live in­di­vid­u­als. Their char­ac­ter­is­tics were those of all the in­di­vid­u­als be­long­ing to the same species, liv­ing side by side. (They thus pre­sented mor­tal­ity and fe­cun­dity rates; they were sub­ject to epi­demics, over­pop­u­la­tion; they pre­sented a cer­tain type of ter­ri­to­r­ial dis­tri­b­u­tion.) True, Delamare did use the term life” to char­ac­terise the con­cern of the po­lice, but the em­pha­sis he gave it was­n’t very pro­nounced. Proceeding through the eigh­teenth cen­tury, and es­pe­cially in Germany, we see that what is de­fined as the ob­ject of the po­lice is pop­u­la­tion, i.e., a group of be­ings liv­ing in a given area. And last, one only has to read Von Justi to see that it is not only a utopia, as with Turquet, nor a com­pendium of sys­tem­at­i­cally filed reg­u­la­tions. Von Justi claims to draw up a Polizeiwissenschuft. His book is­n’t sim­ply a list of pre­scrip­tions. It’s also a grid through which the state, i.e., ter­ri­tory, re­sources, pop­u­la­tion, towns, etc., can be ob­served. Von Justi com­bines statistics” (the de­scrip­tion of states) with the art of gov­ern­ment. Polizeiwissenschuft is at once an art of gov­ern­ment and a method for the analy­sis of a pop­u­la­tion liv­ing on a ter­ri­tory. Such his­tor­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions must ap­pear to be very re­mote; they must seem use­less in re­gard to pre­sent-day con­cerns. I would­n’t go as far as Hermann Hesse, who says that only the constant ref­er­ence to his­tory, the past, and an­tiq­uity” is fe­cund. But ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me that the his­tory of var­i­ous forms of ra­tio­nal­ity is some­times more ef­fec­tive in un­set­tling our cer­ti­tudes and dog­ma­tism than is ab­stract crit­i­cism. For cen­turies, re­li­gion could­n’t bear hav­ing its his­tory told. Today, our schools of ra­tio­nal­ity balk at hav­ing their his­tory writ­ten, which is no doubt sig­nif­i­cant. What I’ve wanted to show is a di­rec­tion for re­search. These are only the rudi­ments of some­thing I’ve been work­ing at for the last two years. It’s the his­tor­i­cal analy­sis of what we could call, us­ing an ob­so­lete term, the art of gov­ern­ment. This study rests upon sev­eral ba­sic as­sump­tions. I’d sum them up like this:

  1. Power is not a sub­stance. Neither is it a mys­te­ri­ous prop­erty whose ori­gin must be delved into. Power is only a cer­tain type of re­la­tion be­tween in­di­vid­u­als. Such re­la­tions are spe­cific, that is, they have noth­ing to do with ex­change, pro­duc­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, even though they com­bine with them. The char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­ture of power is that some men can more or less en­tirely de­ter­mine other men’s con­duct – but never ex­haus­tively or co­er­cively. A man who is chained up and beaten is sub­ject to force be­ing ex­erted over him. Not power. But if he can be in­duced to speak, when his ul­ti­mate re­course could have been to hold his tongue, pre­fer­ring death, then he has been caused to be­have in a cer­tain way. His free­dom has been sub­jected to power. He has been sub­mit­ted to gov­ern­ment. If an in­di­vid­ual can re­main free, how­ever lit­tle his free­dom may be, power can sub­ject him to gov­ern­ment. There is no power with­out po­ten­tial re­fusal or re­volt.
  2. As for all re­la­tions among men, many fac­tors de­ter­mine power. Yet ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion is also con­stantly work­ing away at it. There are spe­cific forms to such ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion. It dif­fers from the ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion pe­cu­liar to eco­nomic processes, or to pro­duc­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­niques; it dif­fers from that of sci­en­tific dis­course. The gov­ern­ment of men by men -whether they form small or large groups, whether it is power ex­erted by men over women, or by adults over chil­dren, or by one class over an­other, or by a bu­reau­cracy over a pop­u­la­tion – in­volves a cer­tain type of ra­tio­nal­ity. It does­n’t in­volve in­stru­men­tal vi­o­lence.
  3. Consequently, those who re­sist or rebel against a form of power can­not merely be con­tent to de­nounce vi­o­lence or crit­i­cise an in­sti­tu­tion. Nor is it enough to cast the blame on rea­son in gen­eral. What has to be ques­tioned is the form of ra­tio­nal­ity at stake. The crit­i­cism of power wielded over the men­tally sick or mad can­not be re­stricted to psy­chi­atric in­sti­tu­tions; nor can those ques­tion­ing the power to pun­ish be con­tent with de­nounc­ing pris­ons as to­tal in­sti­tu­tions. The ques­tion is: how are such re­la­tions of power ra­tio­nal­ized? Asking it is the only way to avoid other in­sti­tu­tions, with the same ob­jec­tives and the same ef­fects, from tak­ing their stead.
  4. For sev­eral cen­turies, the state has been one of the most re­mark­able, one of the most re­doubtable, forms of hu­man gov­ern­ment. Very sig­nif­i­cantly, po­lit­i­cal crit­i­cism has re­proached the state with be­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously a fac­tor for in­di­vid­u­al­i­sa­tion and a to­tal­i­tar­ian prin­ci­ple, Just to look at nascent state ra­tio­nal­ity, just to see what its first polic­ing pro­ject was, makes it clear that, right from the start, the state is both in­di­vid­u­al­is­ing and to­tal­i­tar­ian. Opposing the in­di­vid­ual and his in­ter­ests to it is just as haz­ardous as op­pos­ing it with the com­mu­nity and its re­quire­ments. Political ra­tio­nal­ity has grown and im­posed it­self all through­out the his­tory of Western so­ci­eties. It first took its stand on the idea of pas­toral power, then on that of rea­son of state. Its in­evitable ef­fects are both in­di­vid­u­al­i­sa­tion and to­tal­i­sa­tion. Liberation can only come from at­tack­ing, not just one of these two ef­fects, but po­lit­i­cal ra­tio­nal­i­ty’s very roots.