The Right to Revolt

A schematic dichotomy between rich and poor no doubt already existed, and it divided perceptions of society in the Middle Ages, just as it did in the Greek Polis.  But [seventeenth century England (w/ the Levellers and the Diggers)] is the first time a binary schema became something more than a way of articulating a grievance or a demand, or of signaling a danger.  This was the first time that the binary schema that divided society into two was articulated with national phenomena such as language, country of origin, ancestral customs, the density of a common past, the existence of an archaic rights, and the rediscovery of old laws.  …. a binary schema which justifies rebellion not simply on the ground that the situation of the most wretched has become intolerable and that they have to rebel because they cannot make their voices heard … [but] a call for rebellion begin formulated as a sort of absolute right: we have a right to rebel not because we have not been able to make our voices heard, or because the prevailing order has to be destroyed if we wish to establish a fairer system of justice.  The justification for rebellion now becomes a sort of historical necessity.  It is a response to a certain social order.  The social order is a war, and rebellion is the last episode that will put an end to it.

The logic and historical need for rebellion is therefore inscribed within a whole historical analysis that reveals war to be a permanent feature of social relations.  War is both the web and the secret of institutions and system of power. … we are not talking about right, and we are not talking about sovereignty; we are talking about domination, about an infinitely dense and multiple domination that never comes to an end.  There is no escape from domination, and there is therefore no escape from history.  Hobbes’s philosophico-juridical discourse was a way of blocking this political historicism, which was the discourse and the knowledge that was actually active in the political struggles of the seventeenth century.”

–Foucault, Society Must Be Defended p 109-110.

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