Foucault states that power is knowledge, instead of the common thought that knowledge is power. When speaking about power, he would be referring to the individuals who hold a large amount of authority and credibility giving them a higher social status in society. His claim that power is knowledge assumes that these figures of authority use this power, intentionally or unintentionally, to add credibility to their already high position in society while influencing the rest of society- the lower class individuals. In Capitalism, Marx saw the association between the power of the upper class citizens and social relations through a societies means of production and political power of the state. The same economic class, the upper class, of individuals controlled both using force. Foucault agreed with Marx’s original analysis, but thought it was too restrictive. He added insight of the existence of an ideological state apparatus as a show of force such as institutions of education and politics. These powerful, wealthy institutions use their credibility to portray their claims to be the universal truth, which most individuals believe without questioning. This is seen within our social structure and social relations among one another in the United States.
Money is the means of our production, making it possible for capitalism to thrive. The richest one percent in the world own more of the means of production than the combined ninety-nine percent of the rest of the population. This gives the one percent the control over the structure of our society, not just the means of productions, exercising this power in the form of discourse and knowledge. This is the same at a national level as well as a international one. Individuals with the most money in our society are the same individuals who claim to have a certain amount of expertise within a subject (for example, science) and this expertise is given to the rest of the population, which is immediately accepted due to the social position or status of the individual stating the scientific evidence. New discoveries are made often in science by people with degrees, but there are also people with degrees that hold social power that portray certain knowledge to be true that is not or we simply don’t have enough evidence to prove. A great example of this could be the show Ancient Aliens. On this show many people with degrees in various subjects discuss the possibility of alien life as it is a fact, relating all successes of previous civilizations to the existence of extraterrestrial life forms. It’s been exceedingly clear since I began college when I was 17 that they speak with no real evidence. They look at certain features of a particular culture and tie it into their theory to try to prove it. Their theory that they are trying to prove is the existence of aliens. They are doing this by devaluing past civilizations and using their power to create false knowledge and generalizations about previous cultures.
In our society we have the tendency to let the individuals with power determine our knowledge. We blindly trust those who seem older, wiser, and educated and ignore those who are young and have not yet graduated with a degree. I am not saying that we should not trust these individuals with titles, but to be aware that knowledge can be interpretations based on the context of the individual’s life and beliefs spreading the knowledge; for instance, the educated degree-holders on Ancient Aliens. As individuals we should feel personally responsible to learn the knowledge our world holds for us; therefore, we should seek answers ourselves and not immediately trust the first person in a position of power to tell us the objective truth.