The Foucauldian Discipline of Knowledge – Part Two
Answers to the Problems of the Centralisation of Knowledge and the Power Thereof
In my last paper I discussed Foucault’s discourse on how knowledges were categorised and centralise in order to restrict these knowledges for reasons of power and of restricting social mobility. I then went on to explain how this operated in both public knowledge, and private, secret State knowledge – in other words, how State secrets were controlled and withheld from public knowledge and discourse. What I did neglect to cover, and I am grateful to certain colleagues for pointing this out to me, is how we, as a society, are to open up all the knowledges for our benefit. To whit, how is society outside of the control of governments going to make all sources of knowledge, and the economic and societal wealth they bring, to as many people as possible that do not have access to a university education.
As I said in my last piece, knowledge is power, but what I neglected to talk about is how the spreading of these knowledges further afield increases the power of the people to determine their own futures despite the predations of the State and the Elites.
I could have added all this to the end of my last paper, ‘The Foucauldian Discipline of Knowledge: Categorising Knowledge as a means of Controlling its Dissemination’, but this means I would have had to republish it and disseminating it to those people who are kind enough to host the PDFs on their web sites, and they would have had to redo the work that they had undertaken of their own volition. So I felt it better to write a second paper as an addendum to the first, and publish it separately.
So let us now examine the points raised by colleagues in their replies to my first paper.
One thing that came up in discussion is how a certain sector of the modern artisan class are getting around the limited economic opportunities by becoming multi-disciplinary in their approach to their working lives – in other words, they are cultivating multiple skill sets which are suitable for a whole multitude of work situations. They are literally becomming the jacks of all trades and the masters of none.
Many of these people are self-taught the skills outside of those which they were formally taught in State schools, colleges and universities, meaning that the monopoly of disciplines is being broken on virtue of the fact that they can learn through alternative sources.
This smart, adaptable, artisan class is terrifying to the powers that be, simply because they are outside of the State-controlled universities and outside of the Foucauldian War on the Citizen in the Economic Sphere. There is no point blacklisting such people within one trade if they can just take their skillsets to another.
This new artisan class do not need to depend upon the State-controlled universities, and this terrifies the State. The rise of the internet and of free on-line universities (mostly provided by rich philanthropists from countries like India and the United Arab Emirates) is a direct challenge to the monopolies of State-controlled universities. These virtual universities are both free as in beer as well as free as in speech, to use an open source analogy.
We are not quite at the stage of free open-source knowledge to a level commiserate with the State-controlled universities, but Wikipedia and Wikisource are both baby-steps along that route, and as the concept of free knowledge for all grows within the public consciousness – especially with the rebellions against rising tuition fees for universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and mainland Europe – we may begin to see western virtual universities rise within the same model of the Indian and Arabic ones. It may come to the point whereby the Open University would have to join completely with this open-sourcing of education or become an anachronism that only a few would be willing to pay for.
Many of the Anonymous collective have dreams of building such open-source universities online, myself included, but until we can get retired or redundant professors and lecturers on board to help create the material all these virtual universities need, we will not be able to progress very far with these dreams. This will cost both serious money and serious good will. As for formal accreditation, many of the traditional universities might have to offer an examination / accreditation service for between £500-£1,000 GBP per degree in order to protect their revenue streams in the future. Alternatively, these virtual universities could possibly offer the same service for less, thus making them self-funding.
Regardless, this crowd-sourcing of information and open-sourcing of university level education is anathema to States, because it destroys their monopolies on knowledges, and who has access to them. This is the real reason why there is a war over the nature of the internet – data piracy is just a ruse in order to manufacture consent for the State to grab control of the internet from the people, and to destroy its ‘wild west’ potential.
As for hidden, occult, knowledge, the infowar is already well and truly engaged with sites like Cryptome, Wikileaks, Britleaks, Open Leaks, and various other similar sites disclosing state secrets and embarrassing government information. Also, the hactivists within the Anonymous meme or collective are often engaged in the leaking of sensitive government information themselves, but these leaks do not quite get the same exposure as, say, those by WikiLeaks or Cryptome. Anonymous will have to learn to work with these sites more closely in the future.
I hope that this shorter addendum answers some of the questions I have been asked by my colleagues, and that it offers further food for thought.