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Review: Lectures on the Will to Know -- 1970-1971

This post examines the "Lectures on the will to Know" by Michel Foucault during his time at the College De France between 1970 and 1971. I will focus on a particular part of the lectures -- The chapter on the "Institution of Money" and its ramifications for the world throughout history and the making of the post-modern era.







Greek measurement and practice of assessment, quantification, the establishment of equivalences, the the search for appropriate proportions and distributions has been ingrained in Western consciousness and how introducing such measures is linked to the problem of peasant indebtedness, the transfer of agricultural properties, payment settlements, and a host of other factors. As groups of peasants gradually took off from the subsistence economy around the Mediterreanean we bore witness to the birth of money and the development of a market economy. The growth of terrestrial and maritime commerce had further made the use of a recognized monetary standard necessary -- a metal fragment weighted and authenticated with a stamp -- private in the beginning but later falling under State control.


The principal first uses of money in the Greek cities appeared to be taxation, the distribution of money by tyrants, the assessment of wealth and the classification of citizens in a hierarchical manner according to their wealth with their political rights being distributed as such. The big takeaway however is that Foucault noticed that money was not instituted "in the exchange of products" but rather it was "developed" in it as he pointed out this observation by Marx. Furthermore, Foucault states that money is intrinsically linked to the exercise of power -- but not because the one who possesses money acquires power rather those who took power out of necessity had to institutionalize money. Those who took it were not the wealthy property owners at the expense of the peasants as they already had power but rather it was an alliance between a peculiar type of property owner and the majority of poor peasants and artisans. By intervening in the regime of property along with the interplay of debts and settlements -- money became linked to the constitution of a new type of power.


In summary, money was designed in line with the monetary institutions witnessed throughout the world. It permits the double political violence inherent in excessive wealth and excessive poverty to be avoided by allowing the ppor to pay their debts along with offering them work to give them a wage. At the same time, it enables the rich to avoid major political and social upheavals while allowing them to keep the greater part of their lands and wealth.Therefore, it is he who institutes money is who is able to regulate social conflicts and thus holding the shiled between the various parties preventing them from fighting.




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