The works of Machiavelli andFoucault have similar ideas when it comes to punishment. However, they bothhave very different methods of how punishment should be carried out which willbe discussed further in the paper. Machiavelli believes in using cruelty onlyonce, whereas Foucault believes discipline should be used routinely. The objectI have chosen to compare Machiavelli and Foucault to is Guantánamo Bay.
In the news article, the detainees at Guantánamo Bay are on a hunger strike and are being denied basicmedical care. Accordingto the news report about Guantánamo Bay, “prisoners say U.S. military officials havethreatened to stop force feeding them and denying them basic medical care” (Guantánamo Prisoners onHunger Strike, 2017). Human rights lawyers claim it is implemented totorture. The prisoner’s lawyers also state “they oppose the sudden suspensionof feedings and medical care” (Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike, 2017).
Thisis due to the fact “their clients’ health is precariously declining and suchcare may mean the difference between life and death” (Guantánamo Prisoners onHunger Strike, 2017). One of the many prisoners’ hunger striking, KhalidQassim writes “they have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead. …Now as each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning. When willmy organs fail? When will my heart stop? I am slowly slipping away and no onenotices” (GuantánamoPrisoners on Hunger Strike, 2017). The prisoners are beingencouraged to continue their hunger strike “until their organs fail, until theyget serious mental illness, until they go blind” (Guantánamo Prisoners onHunger Strike, 2017). Once the prisoners get to the point of beingphysically or mentally ill, “they will start force feeding them to stop themfrom actually dying. They wait until they’re half-dead and then keep themhalf-alive” (GuantánamoPrisoners on Hunger Strike, 2017).
Another prisoner by the name of Ahmed was sold to the U.S. and was knownas a bad guy. He was taken away from his family, went on a hunger strike in2013 and has been force fed for 4 years. Ahmed weighs only 92 pounds and lookslike a shadow of who he used to be. According to medical literature, “once youare 30% below your normal body weight, that’s when you’re in real danger ofdying” (GuantánamoPrisoners on Hunger Strike, 2017). Ahmed is unable to make sensibledecisions due to his loss of thiamine. In order to achieve justice during theprotest, there is the urge for supporters to “join the solidarity hunger strikewith the detainees including British Labour Party MP Tom Watson and Pink Floydco-founder Roger Waters” (Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike, 2017).
Ahmed wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to use the $500 million peryear on soldiers, his people, the poor people and natural disaster rather thanat Guantánamo Bay. Accordingto Machiavelli, “I believe that this follows from severities being badly orproperly used. Those may be called properly used, if of evil it is possible tospeak well, that are applied at one blow and are necessary to one’s securityand are not persisted in afterwards” (Machiavelli, 2006)). Machiavelli is famous for writing”The Prince” which is a guide on how to acquire and maintain political power.Machiavelli is power politics. By definition, a Machiavellian uses sweepingpower to exert absolute control over others. This relates to Guantanamo Baybecause the U.
S. military officials are using their power to stop force feedingthe prisoners and denying them access to basic medical care. He believes thegovernment steers the way society is structured. Machiavelli also believed in aRepublican form of government and probably would have been a supporter ofTrump. He viewed cruelty as being allowed if used once, and it must not be usedto take advantage of others for personal enjoyment. Machiavelli also meditatedthe fact that disorders are unacceptable. He also believed that it is importantto inspire fear and avoid hatred, but it is more important to be feared thanloved. He states “therefore, it is unnecessary for a prince to have all thegood qualities I have enumerates, but it is very necessary to appear to havethem” (Foucault, 1995).
Further, Machiavelli supports the idea of punishment inorder to gain power however, the punishment should only be carried out once. Foucaultoffers enlightenment of reason, power and society and critiques the way otherpeople think. According to Foucault, “the plague gave rise to disciplinaryprojects” (Machiavelli, 2006).
He hadthe idea that it is right to treat people different that do not fit in. In thecase of Guantánamo Bay,prisoners do not fit in to society and that is why they are in jail. Also,Foucault has a theory that knowledge and power go hand in hand. Foucault picksup on the exclusions of deviants and criminals and notices some people do nothave a say. In relation to Guantánamo Bay, the prisoners are striking because nobody isable to hear their voices.
He believes discipline was invented as a way to dealwith dangerous populations and that it is acceptable to “experiment” and trydifferent punishments on prisoners. Foucault published a book called Disciplineand Punish: The Birth of a Prison in 1975. When executions and torture became popularin the late 18th century, there were petitions to end it because criminaljustice should punish- not have revenge on a person’s wrongdoing. Also, itwould be appropriate for the punishment to match the nature of the crime. Theart of punishment was created to find a punishment medium in hopes of deterringall crime. Further, Foucault believed in exerting power over others anddisciplining prisoners similar to Machiavelli. Machiavelliand Foucault both believe in power and punishment. However, Machiavelli firmlybelieves that the punishment should occur one time and should not bepersistent.
Machiavelli focuses directly on political power and Foucaultgeneralizes the concept of power. Machiavelli makes wise choices, clarifies hisideas and expands on his thoughts by using examples. For instance, he states”yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, tobe without faith, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but notglory” (Machiavelli, 2006).
Whereas Foucault believes punishment should be usedto gain power. For example, Foucault states “hence the major effect of thePanopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanentvisibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” (Foucault, 1995). Myown position relating to Guantánamo Bay, Foucault and Machiavelli are very differentfor each source.
Relating to Guantánamo Bay specifically, the article shouldhave had more detail and been written better because it was difficult to followat some points within the article. Moreover, it would have been beneficial tohear more from the inmates and what their thoughts were on the hunger strike. Iencourage the idea that was mentioned regarding supporters to take part in thehunger strike with the detainees. Also, I believe it would be sufficient forPresident Trump to spend the money put into Guantánamo Bay each year elsewherein the U.
S. Additionally, I do not support what the guards are doing to theprisoners because it is inhumane and a violation of human rights. Some of theprisoners placed at Guantánamo Bay are not even convicted of crime and areforced to deal with maltreatment- this proves that the contemporary has changeddramatically. I canconfidently say I agree with Machiavelli more than Foucault because he believescruelty is allowed once and it must be deserved. The part of that statement Idisagree with is that it should be allowed once- punishment should be routineif misbehavior continues. Also, I disagree with Foucault because he focusesmainly on power and has no regard for people. Both Foucault and Machiavelliwould disagree with me because power is most important to them, whereas Ibelieve the treatment of people is more important. Inconclusion, the beliefs of punishment from Foucault and Machiavelli arepracticed by the U.
S. military forces in Guantánamo Bay. Machiavelli believesthat punishment is acceptable if used only once.
On the other hand, Foucaultbelieves that it is acceptable to experiment on prisoners and try variouspunishments.