We still have not cut off the head of the king (Antony, 1999, 23); this is a common phrase used in political analysis. It was original brought up by Michael Foucault, a French philosopher. The statement refers to conception of political power among members of the society.

Essay on “We still have not cut off the head of the king” a phrase by Michael Foucault

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In most cases people develop an assumption edubirdie.com review that political power lies on the head of state and flows down to other structures of government. In other words people have conceived power in a top down manner (Atkinson, 1976, 22). Therefore when it comes to political power and politics, there is a need to cut off the head of the king.

The understanding of this statement by Foucault can provide insights into how the modern law operates (Atkinson, 1976, 12). In the modern law, the structure of the system is arranged in a manner that involves representation of power. This means that the law is controlled by specific institutions such as executive bodies.

These institutions have an influence in the way the law operates and at the same time they are in full control of other institutions. The law according to Foucault operates in a manner that only prevents people from performing certain actions (Atkinson, 1976, 34). This is where executive bodies that control the law also control such small institutions such as families and individuals (Reza and Max, 2000, 56).

The law is supposed to create a balance in all the powers of the society including: political, social, military, legal, economic and cultural. The law is also supposed to bring freedom to members of the society and cause them to enjoy their freedom by being secured (Reza and Max, 2000, 67).

Besides these roles, law in the modern society is structured in way that the regulators of the law or the institutions controlling the law cannot be controlled or regulated by the law. This is why Foucault makes the statement that we still have not cut of the head of the king.

The society focuses their thoughts on the law rather than legality, the state rather than sovereignty, and freedom rather than will. Power according to Foucault, is established by technique and not by right, by normalization and not by the law, and by control and not through punishment.

Philosophy ?

All of these methods of establishing power do not necessarily have to be employed at the top most level of the state but can also be employed in the diffused levels of the society (Roger, 1995).The point is that power must have a conception in the minds of the people that do not focus on the king.

Therefore there is a need to see power in the different aspect of the society. By putting all focus of power on the top most office, makes the society fail to realize a lot of reality that surrounds it (Reza and Max, 2000).

In conclusion, the phrase by philosopher Michael Foucault implies a thought or a conception in the minds of people in the society towards political power. The phrase can easily be edubirdie legit understood through the understanding of the modern law. The structuring of the legal system is such that the law only prevents people from doing certain things. However it cannot regulate the executive bodies that control the law.

The phrase proposes that there is need to kill the head of the king. When this is done, the law will be perceived from individual point of view rather than regulating specific institutions in the society. This also implies assuming political responsibility in all the daily realities that surrounds each member of the society.


Anthony E. ed., 1999. The Blackwell Reader in Contemporary Social Theory.

Atkinson J.M. and Drew P., 1976. Order in Court: The Organization of Verbal Interaction in Judicial Settings.

Reza B. and Max T., eds., 2002. An Introduction to Law and Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roger C., 1995. Law’s Community: Legal Theory in Sociological Perspective. New Havens: Yale University Press.