A Robot or a Soldier?

In the “Docile Bodies” reading that we had for class this past week by Foucault was one that truly made me begin to think about our army system. In the reading, Foucault described these docile bodies that are known as soldiers, and how there was a shift in the thoughts of these individuals. At the time of the king, up to the 17th century, individuals were born soldiers. This title of a soldier was gifted to you by God. However, the shift in this mindset occurred during the 1800s and continues to present day. This shift of thought was that the body of a soldier is no longer gifted to someone by God; this body can now be made from anything. It also became known in this shift that one can break down the human body so that all parts of the individual are stripped and rebuilt.

Foucault also stated that a docile body is one that is able to be manipulated; it is a body that can be transformed. Through this manipulation and transformation, one can control the docile body. This is done so that the soldier cannot turn on the person in charge; therefore, those in charge control the soldier. It was also stated in this reading that the body becomes more useful the more obedient it becomes.

As mentioned before, this class reading really made me think about America’s current army system and how many individuals are seen as these current docile bodies. In an article from the “Socialist Worker,” members of the United States army gave statements regarding their feelings on war and being a solider itself. Specifically, a US sergeant explained why he is among the many who refuse to fight. He stated, “I went to Iraq and was an instrument of violence, and now I have decided to become an instrument of peace. The Iraqis don’t want us there. We don’t want to be there. We’re getting killed there” (Socialist Worker, 2004). This article can be found here.

I agree with Foucault that soldiers become these sort of docile bodies upon entering basic training. These men, and now women, are stripped of everything they once knew and completely rebuilt, but to army standards. Truthfully, I believe that this is both good and bad. This is good because it is helping to build strong individuals to fight for our country. This is bad, however, because we are training people to become weapons of mass destruction. Call me a quaker, but I never believe that violence is the answer.




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