Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

‘I Drove this Exact Truck’ How the War on Terror Came Back to Haunt America
Iain Overton
Byline Times, 4 June 2020

Iain Overton reports on how US counter-terrorism equipment is being deployed at home with an inevitable rise in militarisation, mortality and force over-reach

n Wednesday 4 February 1976, the French academic Michel Foucault addressed his students at the Collège de France in the Latin Quarter on Paris’s South Bank. The title of his lecture was provocative: ‘Society must be defended’.

In his talk, the social theorist turned his focus onto the thorny issue of colonialism. He explained how colonies were often the testing ground for a series of legal, political or social experiments, and the results of these experiments often rebounded, over time, back to the colonisers. He called it the ‘boomerang effect’ and outlined how the systems and application of power were “brought back to the West, and the result was that the West could practice something resembling colonization, or an internal colonialism, on itself.”

In essence, violence had a habit of eventually contaminating the very countries that exported it.

It is an observation that could easily be made when witnessing the lines of police officers in the United States at the moment. We see, nightly, lines of black-booted and heavily shoulder-padded white men facing down black protestors. They arrive in armoured vehicles, they often wear camouflage, don bullet-proof vests, strap on gas masks and carry M4 rifles. The term ‘warrior cops’ is all too apt, if it wasn’t so heroic.

Such images point to an uncomfortable truth that, in an age of healthcare shortages, you never see An American riot policeman without adequate protective equipment.

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