The more cultured the bourgeois state, the more subtly it lied when declaring that schools could stand above politics and serve society as a whole. In fact the schools were turned into nothing but an instrument of the class rule of the bourgeoisie. They were thoroughly imbued with the bourgeois caste spirit. Their purpose was to supply the capitalists with obedient lackeys and able workers.
The subsumption of the worker under capital is no longer merely formal: the fact that he works for someone else, under alien command and alien supervision. Nor is the situation any longer merely as it was in the case of simple cooperation, where the worker cooperates with many others, performing the same work with them at the same time… to satisfy exceptional requirements, as with harvesting, road-building, etc.
… With the transformation of his labour capacity into what is merely a function of part of the complete mechanism … he has altogether ceased to be the producer of a commodity… He is thus … an accessory to capital through the manner of his work … only a link in a mechanism which confronts him as the presence of capital…
Thus he is now subsumed under capitalist production, has now fallen under the control of capital, no longer just because he lacks the means of labour, but because of his very labour capacity, the nature and manner of his labour; now capital has in its hands … the conditions under which his labour continues to be labour at all.
Foucault insists on the importance of the techniques of interpretation. It’s possible that in the actual idea of interpretation is something which goes beyond the dialectical opposition between “knowing” and “transforming” the world. Freud is the great interpreter, so is Nietzsche, but in a different way. Nietzsche’s idea is that things and actions are already interpretations. So to interpret is to interpret interpretations, and thus to change things, “to change life.” What is clear for Nietzsche is that society cannot be an ultimate authority. The ultimate authority is creation, it is art: or rather, art represents the absence and the impossibility of an ultimate authority. From the very beginning of his work, Nietzsche posits that there exist ends “just a little higher” than those of the State, than those of society. He inserts his entire corpus in a dimension which is neither historical, even understood dialectically, nor eternal. What he calls this new dimension which operates both in time and against time is the untimely. It is in this that life as interpretation finds its source. Maybe the reason for the “return to Nietzsche” is a rediscovery of the untimely, that dimension which is distinct both from classical philosophy in its “timeless” enterprise and from dialectical philosophy in its understanding of history: a singular element of upheaval.
- Interviewer: Is there a fantasy body corresponding to different types of institution?
- Michel Foucault: I believe the great fantasy is the idea of a social body constituted by the universality of wills. Now the phenomenon of the social body is the effect not of a consensus but of the materiality of power operating on the very bodies of individuals.