The Alliance between Science and Hierarchy

  • Henrik Paul Bang
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


The irony of making democracy rely for its maintenance and development on the legal and legitimate domination of the sovereign state is that the more legal and legitimate the sovereign authority is generally believed to be, the better and the more smoothly disciplinary subjection, as a tactics and strategy for making people wont to obey without further questions, functions. In Madness and Civilization Foucault shows how the use of physical coercion, which otherwise had been considered normal and necessary for coping with ‘madmen’, in the nineteenth century was replaced by the exercise of a modern authority based on new techniques of surveillance and a new, more humane morality. These provided the doctor in the asylum with a new role, strategy and tactics for governing and treating the mad. He gives an example from a textbook from that time (MC: 251):

[The author] suggests this personage, when he tells the story of a maniac subject to seizures of irrepressible violence. One day while he was walking in the garden of the asylum with the keeper, this patient suddenly entered a phase of excitation, moved several steps away, picked up a large stone, and made the gesture of throwing it at his companion. The keeper stopped, looked the patient in the eyes; then advanced several steps toward him and ‘in a resolute tone of voice … commanded him to lay down the stone’; as he approached, the patient lowered his hand, then dropped his weapon; “he then submitted to be quietly led to his apartment.” Something had been born, which was no longer repression but authority.


Liberal Democracy Political Community Political Authority Discursive Practice Network Governance 
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Copyright information

© Henrik Paul Bang 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik Paul Bang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Governance and Policy AnalysisUniversity of CanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenDenmark

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