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Knowledge and Its Affect on the Society and Its Spontaneous - Essay Example

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The paper describes the never-ending cycle of the disempowered local body fighting for participatory rights, which must retain the “disempowered” position forever to contest their causes forever. Subversion through participation is always contained, maintains its own identity by being subversive…
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Knowledge and Its Affect on the Society and Its Spontaneous
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Centre, power, normal, self, knowledge, Ideology and narrative have become epistemologically and discursively challenged or re-defined. The oldest proverb "Knowledge is power", may sound ironically problematic under the light of Foucault's (The Archaeology of Knowledge, 1969) analysis of power, where he connects the two interminably, by saying that power and knowledge are interdependent. Knowledge is transmitted through language and that is again transmitted by different 'centre' producing such ideological bases. Nevertheless, how does it affect the society and its "spontaneous" thought processes or cultural set-up
To answer this Althusser (1978) coined the term "Ideological State Apparatuses" and "Repressive State Apparatuses", gives that necessary epistemological break, more analytically than Gramsci (1971), in his theory of social "hegemony". In contrast to Bordieu's concept of habitus1, the Ideological State Apparatuses consist of social institutions like school, university etc that help spread a particular discourse of thought-process and archetypal pattern of understanding in a particular way (like Christian concept of good and evil). The Repressive State Apparatus are agents of repression, like the Police, that teach by force and thus maintain the necessary consensus. While the institutions teach through the medium of language that is itself colored with discursive power to subjugate a subject in the given hegemony almost without any conflict or force. Lacan (1968)2 explains this linguistic paradox in his theory of language where he says that the stage when s subject enters the realm of the "symbolic" sphere, the self/consciousness becomes a complex site where one loses the capability to express beyond that given medium of language, which is finite and a complex site of power play. Language is not neutral, but an agent of defining this ideological and hegemonic base. Thus, Foucault's idea of the 'panopticon' interestingly fit this puzzling question, whether subversion is possible. Quite pessimistically, the answer has been given as no. Since, the state is a billion-eyed monster keeping a watch on its subject (imagine Orwell's 1984), the state apparatuses reach out adventitiously even to the furthest grass-root level and teach by force or by apparently 'neutral' force to form subjects who cannot escape this 'interpellation' (Althusser). This confirms the absence of an objective or outside position from where one can revolt or overview this discursive enemy, because the absolute nature of the subjects ideological constituency is unavoidable. Foucault's analysis of Madness in western Civilization (Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, 1961), also help understand the concept of participatory power-play and limits of social-power and how the pattern of judgment and punishment was internalized by the victim whose conformity was at question and thus conceived and contracted as madness. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault3, somewhat questions the objective and absolute ends of Truth, which is more of a strategic weapon that is supported by a said and unsaid network of sign systems everywhere. Thus the Marxist base and superstructure are essentially constituted by one another and this "polymorphic tactics" (Society Must Be Defended (1975-76)4, history becomes the site of contest because it reveals this power struggle between dominant and marginalized ideology that fought to usurp the right to "central" represesntation by successful or unsuccessful propaganda. Thus participatory methodologies that constitute "local-knowledge" may not be an isolated "pure" body beyond the manipulations of discursive knowledge/power, since as explained above, the marginalized resides in direct communion with the periphery and their identity is constituted in relative position to the dominant group and bound in a complex binary, which if subverted results in the collapse of identity of the smaller body and transforms them to the dominant ideological centre, thereby erasing all traces of their identity, which they must retain and ironically which exists by virtue of it's inferiority as imposed by the macro-body.
Hence, there is never-ending cycle of disempowered local body fighting for participatory rights, which must retain the "disempowered" position forever to contest their causes forever and not achieve any end. Thus, subversion through participation is always contained, not as part of the greater discourse, but maintains its own identity by being subversive and therefore, an alternative and marginalized body representing the "Other"5.
Works Cited
1. Althusser. 1978. Lenin and Philosophy. (Trans. By Ben Brewster). New York: Monthly Review Press.
2. Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks, Lawrence and Wishart, 1971
3. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge University Press.
4. Foucault, M. The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), publ. Routledge, 1972
5. Foucault, M. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage, 1977.
6. Lacan, Jacques, Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis. Trans. with Notes and Commentary by Anthony Wilden. Johns Hopkins, 1968.
7. Said, Edward W. Orientalism (New York: Penguin, 1995) Read More
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