I read an article the other day about Michel Foucault, one of the most hated of the French pomo bogeymen.
Appearances aside, Foucault was a perceptive dude and a deep thinker who wasn't afraid to reconsider his own views. If your only impression of him is as an unhinged looney-Left Marxist relativist, you've missed the interesting part of the story.
Foucault found himself almost excommunicated from the left by the late 70s, after he threw his support in with the neoliberal "economic right" of the time.
And that's not all. He had some ideas on freedom and tyranny that may as well have been the oracle's own prophecy with our state of affairs up here in 2021 AD.
Ever since WW2, we've entered a new phase of politics
The purpose of the state is to promote life, at any cost. The State's bureaucracy and its approved experts know better than you do about what's for your own good. And they'll take any measures necessary to give it to you good and hard.
If that means suspending your freedoms, morally and legally granted rights, and putting you under the control of anointed scientists and health experts, then that's what we'll do. Life is precious. Life must be protected at any price.
That all sounds familiar.
Foucault called this biopolitics
Politicians, bureaucrats, and managers acting in the name of life and science would be a greater threat to freedom than any tyrannical dictator.
All for your own good, you see.
Moral rules, universal principles, and even the rule of law itself wouldn't be enough to fight against the juggernaut of the Total Welfare Society which acts in the name of The Science! and Life!
I don't know if any intellectual's social theory has ever been so vindicated. If Foucault had lived to see 2020 he'd best be buying Lotto tickets.
What can you do about it?
If morals, rights, rules, and even laws don't stop the busy-bodies from beating the health into you, what can you do?
Foucault saw only one remedy to the unchecked overreach of healthocrats:
You've got to be ready to risk death.
A people who do not fear death cannot be governed.
That checks out, too.
The cops beat the crap out of orderly crowds of people who violate the decrees of public health.
When the burn-it-all down bomb-throwers show up, ready to brawl and willing to get violent, the cops stand down.
That tells you a whole lot about the policies in play.
It tells you exactly where the limits are.
Bullies can bully the compliant. An unruly ride or die mob will send them running.
Foucault got this 100% right.
Choosing to revolt and risk death takes courage
And not just that:
This whole thing with the "liberal democracy" we keep hearing about... that's not about the rules, the universal principles, and legal mechanisms and all that junk. That's just words. Today's bureaucrat loves to write things down and make decrees. The thing about a decree is that nobody cares unless there's real enforcement.
The secret ingredient of free societies ain't the rules and laws.
It's the courage to back up those rights and freedoms by the willingness to revolt against the bureaucrats.
Without the courage to back up the rights and freedoms that we've taken for granted, they will be taken away.
Liberal democracy depends on the virtues of its citizens.
A beaten people without the courage to say "no" – up to the risk of their own lives – cannot be a free people.
It's a shame that a French ex-Marxist understood that truth with more clarity than almost any leaders today.
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