For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The history of sexuality: An introduction, volume I

by Foucault, Michel (1978)

Key Passage

In any case, in its modern form-relative andlimited-as in its ancient and absolute form, the right of lifeand death is a dis symmetrical one. The sovereign exercisedhis right of life only by exercising his right to kill, or byrefraining from killing; he evidenced his power over life onlythrough the death he was capable of requiring. The rightwhich was formulated as the "power of life and death" wasin reality the right to take life or let live. Its symbol, afterall, was the sword. Perhaps this juridical form must be referredto a historical type of society in which power wasexercised mainly as a means of deduction (prelevement), asubtraction mechanism, a right to appropriate a portion ofthe wealth, a tax of products, goods and services, labor andblood, levied on the subjects. Power in this instance wasessentially a right of seizure: of things, time, bodies, andultimately life itself; it culminated in the privilege to seizehold of life in order to suppress it. (p.136)


Foucault, Sexuality, Repression, Power, Resistance, Postmodernism, Poststructuralism


History of Sexuality, Foucault Citations

Links to Reference



How to contribute.