Discipline And Punish By Michel Foucault

1640 Words 7 Pages
In Michel Foucault’s book Discipline and Punish, he writes of the dramatic increase in military effectiveness as a result of changes in the methods of discipline. These changes “increases the skill of each individual, coordinates these skills, accelerates movements, increases fire power, broadens the fronts of attack without reducing their vigour, increases the capacity for resistance” (210). Foucault also states that before these changes, military discipline was merely a device used as a means of “preventing looting, desertion or failure to obey orders among the troops” (210). What Foucault does not describe is the particular methods of discipline that were employed to allow for this increase in effectiveness. Historically, during the 17th …show more content…
They communicated this to the historical equivalents of non-commissioned officers who then relayed it to their soldiers. So, long as it did not affect their skill in battle it was not a massive concern. In modern militaries, many of the officers came from humble backgrounds with officers in the soviet union often being educated men from peasant backgrounds. They had more interaction and integration with their troops during their day to day lives. As a result, issues that may be ignored by an 18th century officer would aggravate them. The red army during WW2 was notorious for being especially brutal to offending soldiers. They were often put in penal battalions which were given suicide missions against deeply hardened enemy positions and were even forced to clear minefields by running across them. The differences between historical and modern warfare forced officers and NCOs to be far more brutal and unforgiving to offenders as line infantry became replaced with smaller platoons and squads. As modern weaponry could decimate bunched-up infantry, armies had to scatter their resources. This gave way for more opportunities for desertion, looting, and general disobedience. As a result discipline had to change to be more individual and less group focused. The importance of each individual soldier was considerable greater as modern weapons allowed his …show more content…
What was arguably most revolutionised was war, mankind's oldest method of settling disputes. Every technological change necessitated a fundamental change in the way soldiers fought war. It is this fundamental change in warfare which is the change in discipline. With WWI came trench warfare. The advent of weapons the such as the machine gun 20-30 years earlier made line infantry completely obsolete. A new, far slower method of war had to be created. The whole concept of trench warfare sought to minimise the potential damage of these new devastating weapons. What was unique about WWI is that many of the officers were veterans of much earlier and more traditional wars. The trench warfare system was just often just as alien to them as it was the young conscripts. Officers were often exceptionally stubborn, sending soldiers across no-man's land on dangerous missions that would claim the lives of millions. Europe’s armies counteracted this new discipline in warfare through the advent of poison gas. When the shell hit the trenches, the heavier than air chlorine gas would sink and fill in every nook and cranny. The gas was devastating against infantry who were previously relatively safe. The war had to evolved yet again to counteract this devastating weapon. By 1917, gas masks were standard issue to the soldiers of most of the warring nations. It was inventions such as the gas mask which

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