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arvard Univcrsity rcss
Cambridgc, NassaUusctts
and London, Lngand
Copyright 1988 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
Originally published as Les microbes: guerre et paix suivi de imiductions,
copyright 1984 Editions A. M. Metailie, Paris.
Translation of this book has been aided by a grant from the
Georges Lurey Charitable and Educational Tru
First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 1993
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Latour, Bruno.
[Microbes. English]
The pasteurization of France IBruno Latour ; translated by Alan Sheridan
and John Law.
p. cm.
Rev. translation of: Les microbes : guerre et paix ; suivi de,
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
Contents: War and peace of microbes-Irreductions.
ISBN 0-674-65760-8 (lib. bdg. : alk. paper) (cloth)
ISBN 0-674-65761-6 (paper)
1. Microbiology-France-History-19th century. 2. Microbiology
Social aspects-France. 3. Pasteur, Louis, 1822-1895. I. Latour,
Bruno. Irreductons. English. 1988. II. Title.
QR22.F8L3813 1988
306'A5/0944-dc19 88-2670

To Michel Serres and to all
of those who are crossing
his Northwest Passage
Jhchrst part otthis book, 'Var and cacc otNicrobcs," was
transatcdby Aan 5hcridan, andthc sccondpart, '!rrcductions,"
was transatcd by|ohn Law. Jhc Lngish vcrsions wcrc thcn rc-
viscd and cxpandcd by mc. ! thank|ohn Law tor his paticncc and
thc Lcoc ^ationa 5upcricurc dcsNincs otaris tor its support.
"s/Cas. wssaJ"sscsojMcooss
!ntroduction. Natcrias andNcthods
1. 5trong Nicrobcs and Vcak ygicnists
2. You Vi c Pasteurs oI Nicrobcs!
3. Ncdicinc at Last
4. Jransition
"s/1ao. IsJc/oas
1. rom Vcakncss to otcncy
2. 5ocioogics
3. Anthropoogics
4. !rrcduction oI 'Jhc 5cicnccs"
1 1 1
Iurl Cuc
War and Pcacc
Materials and
From War Machines to War and Peace
nctobcr 6, I8IZ, Kutuzov, gcncraotthcKussiantroops, won a
maorbattcinJarutinoovcrthc Grande Armee cdby^apocon.At
whoottcrcdKutuzov a diamond star, his chict otstatt, cnningscn,
diamonds and a hundrcd thousand roubcs in cash, and promotion
to many ot his othccrs. !t was aso thc imprcssion gathcrcd by thc
rcnch, who took this brict cncountcr with thc Cossacks ot rov-
Dcnissov as a maor dctcat. Jostoy, who writcs about thc battc in
War and Peace, is not guitc surc that it took pacc at a. c is surc,
howcvcr, that Kutuzov did not want to hght it, rathcr hc tricd to
dcay it tor scvcra wccks. 'Dcspitc a his supposcd powcr, his in-
tccct,his cxpcricncc and his knowcdgc otmcn, Kutuzov . . . coud
no ongcrrcstrainthc incscapabc movctorward,andgavcthc ordcr
tor what hc rcgardcd as usccss and mischicvous-gavc his asscnt,
thatis, to thc accompishcd tacts" p. I I/5) . '
Lvcn attcr acccpting thc tait accompi and signing thc command,
4 War and Peace of Microbes
ot an hour| 'Jhc dispositions as drawn by Jo wcrc pcrtccty sat-
istactory. |ust as tor thc battc ot ^ustcritz it was statcd-though
andthatway, thc sccond coumnwi procccd to this pacc andthat
pacc,`andsoon. . . . Lvcrythinghadbccnadmirabythoughtout, as
dispositions aways arc, andasis aways thc casc not asingccoumn
rcachcd its obcctivc at thc appointcd timc" p. I I/6). 'Jhat's how
things aways arc with us-thc cart bctorc thc horsc| " p. II8J) .
!ndccd,no onc during thc battc kncw tor surcwhichwas thchorsc
andwhich thc cart, thc action continuay dritting awaytrom what
was intcndcd. n ctobcr Z, attcr Kutuzov had bccn torccd to act
againsthisbcttcr udgmcnt, his signcdordcrkcptbcingdivcrtcd.Jhc
young othccr who hcd it got ost and coud not hnd thc gcncras,
cvcntuay hc arrivcd atc at night at a mansion bctwccn thc tront
incs whcrc, to his surprisc, thc high statt wcrc carousing. Vhcn in
thc morning Kutuzovgot upto hght a battc hcdidnotwantto hght,
hc discovcrcd to his tury that not a singc sodicr was prcparcd. ^o
othccr had rcccivcd any marching ordcrs. n thc whoc, howcvcr,
Jostoyconsidcrcdthatthc battc-thoughnotpanncd,notdccidcd
upon, and not tought-was a succcss trom thc Kussians` point ot
vicw. '!twoudbcdithcutand cvcnimpossibctoimagincanyissuc
otthatbattcmorc opportunc than its actua outcomc.Vith amin
imumotcttort and atthccostottrihingosscs, dcspitcamostuncx-
ampcd muddc thc most important rcsuts ot thc whoc campaign
wcrc obtaincd" p. I I 84) .
Vhat isthis tak about attribution otrcsponsibiity, mutitudc ot
pcopc, and missing ordcrsr Arc wc nottaking about stratcgy-thc
thc most ordcrcd systcm ot dircction thcrc isr !ndccd wc arc, but
ot command. '!t in thc accounts givcn us by historians, cspcciay
rcnch historians, wc hndthcir wars and battcs contormingto prc-
accounts arc not truc" p. I I 84).
5owhat concusion shoudwcdraw whcnwchcarhistorians, cs-
pcciay rcnch historians, dcscribc not thc victoryor dctcat ot^a-
microbcsr n |unc Z, I88I, in thc ittc viagc ot ouiy-c-ort in
caucc, Louis astcur dctcatcd a tcrribc discasc ot shccp and cows,
Introduction 5
cacdanthrax. A tricnd otastcur`s givcs this account. 'ouiy-c-
ortis as tamoustodayas anyothcr battchcd. Nonsicur astcur, a
thanthatchidotpoctrywoudbc. !naprogramaidoutinadvancc,
simpy ookcd ikc audacity, tor hcrc thc orac

was pronounccd by
scicncc itsct, that is to say, it was thc cxprcssion ota ong scrics ot
cxpcrimcnts, otwhich thc unvarying constancy otthc rcsuts provcd
withabsoutcccrtaintythctruthotthcawdiscovcrcd"oucy. I88J,
p.4J) . Jhcstratcgywasconccivcdcntircyinadvancc,astcurcon-
coctcd itandhadcvcrydctaihgurcdout, itwcnt accordingto pan,
toowing a strict ordcr otcommand trom astcur to thc shccp by
wayothis assistants andthc carctakcrs. oowingJostoy`s advicc,
wc can say that such an account has to bc tasc. Vc do not know
whathappcncd, but wc can bc surc that amutitudc otpcopc took
part in thc workand that a subtc transation, or 'dritt," ot thcir
intcntions cd thcm to thc ittc viagc in ordcr to watch vaccinatcd
andunvaccinatcd shccp withstand tcsts.
Vc woud ikc scicncc to bctrcc otwar and poitics. At cast, wc
woud ikc to makc dccisions othcr than through compromisc, dritt,
and unccrtainty. Vc woud ikc to tcc that somcwhcrc, in addition
to thc chaotic contusion otpowcr rcations, thcrc arc rationa rca-
tions. !n addition to Jarutino, wc woud havc ouiy-c-ort. 5ur-
roundcd byviocncc and disputation, wc woud ikc to scc ccarings
-whcthcrisoatcd orconncctcd-tromwhichwoudcmcrgcincon-
trovcrtibc, cttcctivc actions. Jo this cndwchavc crcatcd, in asingc
movcmcnt, poitics on onc sidc and scicncc or tcchnoscicncc on thc
othcr 5hapin and 5chattcr. I85) . Jhc Lnightcnmcnt is about cx-
tcnding thcsc ccarings unti thcy covcrthc word.
cwpcopc sti bcicvc in such an Lnightcnmcnt, tor at cast onc
rcason.Vi(hin thcsc cnightcncd ccarngs wc havc sccn dcvcoping
thcwhoc arscnaotargumcntation,viocncc, andpoitics. !nstcadot
diminishing, this arscna has bccn vasty cnargcd. Vars ot scicncc,
comingontopotwarsotrcigion,arcnowthcragc. 'Jhanatocracy"
isthcword that Nichc 5crrcs hadtotorgcto namc our disappoint-
mcntin thc rcdccming virtuc otscicncc. cw pcopc sti bcicvc in
thcadvcntotthc Lnightcnmcnt, butnobodyhasyctrccovcrcdtrom
this oss ot taith. ^ot to bcicvc in it is to tcc that wc havc bccn
thrown back into thc DarkAgcs.
Vc cannot count on cpistcmoogy to gct us ovcrthis disappoint-
6 War and Peace of Microbes
mcnt. Athough cpistcmoogics havc varicd ovcr timc, thcy havc a-
ways bccnwar machincs dctcnding scicncc againstits cncmics-hrst
gcncratcd by too much optimism in scicncc itsct, sti atcr against
scicntihc inguiry, and hnay against thc abuscs ot scicncc distortcd
scicncc is and shoud bc arc convcnicnt to hght thc barbarians and
kccp thcm at arm`s cngth, thcy arc otno avai tor dcscribing what
cm is no ongcr to dctcnd scicncc against rcigion, abuscs, brown-
shirts, or dcvious corporatcintcrcsts. Jhc probcmwcnowtaccisto
undcrstandthat obscurc mixturc otwar and pcacc in which abora-
Agnosticism in mattcrs ot scicnccis thc ony way to start without
bcing trappcd on onc sidc ot thc many wars bcing tought by thc
guardians otscicncc`s bordcrs.
Lvcn it tcw pcopc sti bcicvc ii: thc naivc vicw, couragcousy
dctcndcd by cpistcmoogists, that scts scicncc apart trom noisc and
disordcr, othcrs woud sti ikc to providc a rationa vcrsion ot sci-
cntihcstratcgy,toottcrccar-cutcxpanations othowitdcvcopsand
why it works. Jhcy woud ikc to attributc dchnitc intcrcsts to thc
sociagroupsthatshapc scicncc, to cndowthcmwithcxpicitbound-
rostructurcs to thc hnc grain ot scicncc. Lvcn itwc havc to givc up
our bcicts in scicncc, somc ot us sti wish to rctain thc hopc that
anothcr scicncc, that ot socicty and history, might cxpain scicncc.
Aas,as Jostoyshows us, wc do notknowhowto dcscribcwarand
poitics any bcttcr than wc know how to cxpain scicncc. Jo ottcr
wc-conccivcdNachiavcian stratcgicsto cxpainscicnccisasmcan-
ingcssasto writc 'Dic crstc Coonncmarschicrt, diczwcitc Coonnc
marschicrt." ur probcm in simutancousy dcscribing wars ot sci-
cncc, rcigion, and poitics comcs trom thc tactthatwc havc no idca
howto dcscribc anywarwithoutaddingto itthc rcsut otascicncc.
stratcgy, history, socioogy,thcoogy, or cconomics.
Joundcrstandsimutancousyscicncc and socicty,wc havc to dc-
scribc war and pcacc in a dittcrcnt way, withoutourscvcs waging
anothcrwar or bcicving oncc againthat scicnccottcrs amiracuous
Introduction 7
ot thc rcigious wars, 5pinoza had to bccomc agnostic as tar as thc
bibicatcxtwasconccrncdandto dcviscncwwaysotundcrstanding
thcshockingmixturcotcvangcicamcssagcs andmassacrcs.isncw
tyc otbibica cxcgcsis inhis Tractatus Theologico-Politicus points
to a soutiondittcrcnttromthoscottcrcdbybcictsinrcigion orthc
scicnccs bcthcy natura or socia).` crc ! dca with scicntihc wars
tatus 5cicntihco-oiticus," instcad ot ccary dividing scicncc trom
thc rcst ot socicty, rcason trom torcc, makcs no a-priori distinction
amongthc various aics that arc summoncd intimcs otwar. Kccog-
is invovcd in a rcation ot torccs but that ! havc no idca at a ot
prcciscywhat a torcc is.
Jomakc this ncwtack pcrtccty ccar, ! takc ittwicc. !nthc hrst
battc. !n thc sccond part, ! work out thc principcs to show how
othcrpoiticoscicntihc mixturcs can bc studicd in thc samc way. Jo
usc outdatcd tcrms, thc hrst part otthc book is morc cmpirica, thc
sccond part morc thcorctica. Jo usc morc appropriatc words, thc
hrst part pcrtains to thc itcrary gcnrc ot socioogyor sociahistory,
thc sccond to that otphiosophy. !nstcad otdividing thc rcam into
thosc who cmpiricay study scicncc in thc making and thosc who
caim to guard thc bordcrs or cstabish thc toundations otscicncc, !
combincthc two, and itistogcthcrthatthcy shoud stand or ta.
How Are We to Dispute an Indisputable Science?
somcthingwoudbcmissingandthcskywoudtaonourhcads. Jo
show that thc sky hods up pcrtccty wc on its own, wc havc to bc
abc to provc in a particuar scicntihc discipinc that bcict in thc
scicnccs,ikcthcodbcictin God, is a'supcrtuoushypothcsis."Vc
morc adcguatcy by an anaysis ot thc rcations among torccs and
that thcy bccomc mutuay incxpicabc and opaguc whcn madc to
stand apart.
Jhc onywayto dcmonstratcaprootthatmightwin conscntis to
takc an cxampc that is as tar rcmovcd as possibc tromthc thcsis !
8 War and Peace of Microbes
am trying to provc. Vc havc to takc a radica, unchacngcabc sci-
cntihc rcvoution, onc that has protoundy transtormcd socicty and
yct owcs it vcry ittc. Jhcrc arc a numbcr ot rcasons tor bcicving
thatthcrcisno bcttcrcxampcthanthatotthcrcvoutionintroduccd
into mcdicinc, bioogy, and hygicnc bythc work otLouis astcur.
!irst, this rcvoution took pacc at thc high point otthc scicntihc
rcigion. !ndccd, tor somc dccadcs bctwccnthc !ranco-russianVar
and Vord Var nc, it sccmcd rcasonabc to cxpcct thc scicnccs to
ciminatcpoitica disputc. 5ccond,no onc-cxccptcxtrcmccynics-
can doubt thc vauc otastcur`s discovcrics to mcdicinc. A otthc
othcrtcchnoogica congucsts havc thcir cmbittcrcd critics and ma-
vcnt chidrcn tromdying tromtcrribc discascs has ncvcrbccn sccn
as anything othcr than an advantagc-cxccpt, otcoursc, bythc mi-
crobcsotthosc discascs. Up to our owntimcbioogyhasdcrivcdits
socia sccurity systcm) . Jhird, in no othcr scicntihc or tcchnoogica
innovationhas thcrc bccn so short a routc bctwccntundamcnta rc-
scarchand its rapid, tar-rcachingappication-so much sothatit is
rcasonabc to wondcr whcthcr this is not thc ony cxampc, which
has bccn cxaggcratcdinto agcncra aw. Athcothcr scicnccs cithcr
inhucncc ony scctions otsocicty orrcguirc such aong-tcrm mcdia-
and ast, it sccms impossibc to dcny that astcur`s rapid succcsscs
had bccn ctt too ong to pcopc goping in thc dark. Nost pcopc
bind struggc against an invisibc cncmy, rcvcas a convincing sci-
cntihcmanncr, trcc ot compromisc, tinkcring, and controvcrsy. !n
sum, it is an indisputabc casc and and thcrctorc a pcrtcct cxampc
tormy argumcnt.
utwhat docs 'cxpaining" this cxampc mcanr Jo cxpain docs
not mcan to conhnc thc anaysis to thc 'intucnccs" cxcrtcd 'on"
astcur or to thc 'socia conditions" that 'accccratcd" or 'sowcd
otascicncc, kccpingonIyitssociaI'cnvironmcnt."|ustaswccannot
cxpain amyth, a ritua, ora custom conncctcdwithhunting simpy
byrccopyingor rcpcatingit, sowc cannotcxpain ascicnccbypara-
phrasing its rcsuts. !n othcr words, to cxpain thc scicncc ot thc
Introduction 9
astcurians,wcmustdcscribcitwithoutrcsortingto anyoIthctcrms
oI thc tribc."
utwhcrc canwc hndthc conccpts, thcwords, thc toosthatwi
admit that thcrc is no cstabishcd stock oIsuch conccpts, cspcciay
not inthc so-cacd human scicnccs, partcuary socioogy. !nvcntcd
at thc samc pcriod and bythc samc pcopc as scicntism, socioogy is
powcrcss to undcrtand thc skis Irom which it has so ong bccn
scparatcd. IthcsocioogyoIthcscicnccs!canthcrcIorcsay,'rotcct
mc Irom my Iricnds, ! sha dca with my cncmics," Ior iIwc sct out
to cxpain thc scicnccs, it may wc bc that thc social scicnccs wi
suIIcr hrst. Vhat wc havc to do is not to cxpain bactcrioogy in
socioogica tcrms but to makc thosc two ogoi oncc morc unrccog-
!n ordcr to makc my casc, ! sccm to bcputting myscI in an in
in thc history oIthc scicnccs without bypassing its tcchnica contcnt
and without rcIusing thc hcp that thc socia scicnccs might ikc to
oIIcr. Jhc conditions oIIaiurc, at cast, arc ccar cnough. ! shaIai
inthrcccascs. iIthis anaysis bccomcs a socioogizingrcduction oIa
scicnccto its 'socia conditions," iIitoIIcrsasatisIactoryanaysisoI
or iIit has rccoursc to notions and tcrms bconging to thc Iokorc
oI thc pcopc studicd tcrms such as 'prooI," 'cIhcacy," 'dcmon-
stration," 'rcaity," and 'rcvoution") .

A Method fOf Composing OUf World

Vhat wi wc tak aboutr Vhich actors wi wc bcgin withr Vhat
intcntions andwhatintcrcstwiwcattributcto thcmr

! uscdocs not rcguircusto dccidcin advancc on aistoIactors and
possibc actions. !I wc opcn thc scicntihc itcraturc oIthc timc, wc
hndstoricsthat dchncIoruswho arcthcmainactors,whathappcns
to thcm, what trias thcy undcrgo. Vc do not havc to dccidc Ior
^or do wc havc to know in advancc what is important and what is
ncgigibc and whatcauscs shiIts inthc battc wc obscrvc around us.
5cmiotic studics oIthctcxts oIthctimcwidothcob oIinterdef
nition Ior us. Jakc, Ior instancc, this articc by Jynda. 'Considcr
10 War and Peace of Microbes
a thc is that thcsc Ioatingparticcs havc intictcd on mankind, in
historicandprchistorictimcs . . . Jhisdcstructivcactioniscontinuing
today and continucd tor ccnturics, withoutthc sightcst suspicion as
to its causcs bcingpcrmittcdto thc sickword. Vc havcbccnstruck
by invisibc scourgcs, wc havc tacn into ambushcs, and it is ony
today that thc ight otscicncc is rcaching thosc tcrribc opprcssors"
I8//,p. 800) . '
Vithout any othcr prcsuppositions, wc can takc this scntcncc as
dchncs actors. Arc thcy humanornonhumanr ^onhuman. Vhatdo
thc bcginning ot timc. Vhat has happcncdr An cvcnt. thcy havc
bccomc visibc. Vhathas madcthcmvisibcr 5cicncc,anothcractor,
whichmustin turn bcrccordcd and dchncd by its pcrtormanccs.'
Jhc tactthatwcdo not knowinadvanccwhatthcwordismadc
up ot is not a rcason tor rctusing to makc a start, bccausc other
storytccrssccmtoknowandarcconstanty dchningthc actors that
surround thcm-what thcywant, what causcs thcm, andthcwaysin
which thcy can bc wcakcncd or inkcd togcthcr. Jhcsc storytccrs
attributc causcs, datc cvcnts, cndow cntitics with guaitics, cassity
actors. Jhc anayst docs not nccd to know morc than thcy, hc has
onyto bcgin at any point, byrccordingwhat cach actor says otthc
othcrs. c shoudnottry to bc rcasonabc and to imposc somc prc-
by thc writcrs

studicd. Jhc ony task otthc anayst is to toow thc

!orinstancc, an anonymous cditoria, writtcn ust attcr thc!ranco-
russianVar, statcs. !t is scicncc andthc scicntihcspiritthathavc
congucrcd us. Vithout a compctc rcsurrcction ot thc grcat !rcnch
scicnccottormcrtimcs,thcrcisnopossibcsavation" I8/Z,p. I0Z).
!sthisanidcoogica"rcndcringotwhatrcay causcdthc!rcnch
dctcatr' !s it a tasc" rcprcscntation otwhat happcncdr !s this a
purc cxprcssion" otatc ninctccnth-ccntury scicntismr Jhc anayst
docs not havc to know. !n I8/Z thc cditoriaist attributcd dctcat to
thcdrihatworkinthc cditoria. Youwantrcvcngcr asksthcwritcr.
!rcnchmcn. ut what is it that watchcs ovcr hcathr Ncdicinc. And
whatdocsmcdicinc itsctdcpcndonrJhcscicnccs.Andwhatarcthc
scicnccs in turn madc up otr Noncy. And whcrc docs moncy comc
Introduction 1 1
subsidicstor rcscarch. Jhccutssparcthoscwho shoutthcoudcst,"
writcs thc cditoriaist. cncc his advicc. writc to your dcputics, so
that thc govcrnmcnt wi not cut thc budgct, so that thcrc wi bc
aboratorics, sothatthcrc wibcscicnccs,sothatthcrcwibcmcd-
icinc, so that. . . so that. . . and so that wc can wrcak our rcvcngc
at ast.Vc donothavcto knowwhatthiswritcr rcay" wants any
or Kutuzov rcay" wrotc in thcir marching ordcrs.` !t is cnough
thatthc writcr has madc up his cditoria insuch awaythat arcadcr
hisdcputyagainstbudgctcuts. Jhismovcmcntottransltion is cnough
torus.Vc had ourcycs hxcd onthcbucincotthcVosgcs."^ow
wc havc thcm rivctcd on thc shcct ot papcr arguing that Asacc wi
bc won back more quickly by mcans ot this passagc through thc
scicntihc budgct.
Jhc mcthod! uschcrc consistssimpyintoowingathcsctrans-
ations, dritts, and divcrsions as thcyarc madc by thc writcrs otthc
pcriod. Dcspitcmyscarchtorcompication,!coudhndnomorcthan
this simpcmcthod.5cmioticsprovidcsmcwithadiscipinc,butsincc
itis too mcticuous to covcr apcriod othttyycars and thousands ot
pagcs, thc scmiotic mcthod is hcrc imitcd to thc intcrdchnition ot
actors andtothcchains ottransations.
! appy thcsc simpc toos to thc anaysis otthrccpcriodicas. thc
Revue Scientifque, Annales de l'Institut Pasteur, andConcours Medi
cal. Jhc Revue Scientifque, a gcncra wccky rcvicw toundcd in thc
mid-ninctccnthccntury andwrittcn byscicntiststhcmscvcs tor awidcr
cducatcdpubic,tassomcwhcrcbctwccnScientifc American andthc
gcncra-intcrcst pagcs ot Science. ! rcad through thc whoc ot thc
ourna trom I8/0, thc ycar O !rancc`s dctcat, to II, thc datc ot
thc rcvcngc but aso ota tcrribc dctcat atthchands otinhucnza. !
did not conhnc mysct to a particuar scicncc but rccordcd a thc
rctcrcnccs madc by thc authors to discascs, bioogy, hcath, astcur,
microbcs, doctors, and hygicnc. !or cach ot thc rcIcvant articcs !
skctchcd thc intcrdchnitionotthc actors and thctransationchains,
without tryingto dchnc a priori how thc actors wcrc madc up and
rankcd. Vithout bcing cxhaustivc, ! ncvcrthccss rccordcd thc grcat
throughoutthc pagcs otthc Revue.
JhcAnnales de l'Institut Pasteur, toundcd in I88/, is thcothcia
12 War and Peace of Microbes
scicntihc ourna otthc !nstitut astcur. !n this casc a articcs trom
I88/to IIwcrc trcatcd and codihcd according to a singc spcci-
hcation that was aso borrowcd trom scmiotics. Unikc thc study ot
thc Revue, this onc invovcd rcading thc compctc corpus and thus
ottcrcd a prccisc idca otthc othcia scicntihc output ot thc !nstitut.
Jhc Concours Medical, a pcriodica pubishcd by a !rcnch mcdica
union,wasstudicd onytorthccruciaycars I885-I05.!nthiscasc
! rccordcd ony thc cxpicitalusions to astcurism, without trying,
as inthc Revue, to rctracc thc path otimpicit transations as wc.
5incc thc documcntary matcria is imitcdto thcsc thrcc ournas,
mycttort to cxpain bactcrioogy and!rcnchsocictysimutancousy
may bc udgcd socy on this basis. astcur said hc coud not caim
thchonorotbcingasurgcon, !cannotcaimthatotbcingahistorian.
Jhisundcrtaking docs notpurportto add anythingto thchistoryot
as a brain scicntist uscs a rat, cuttingthrough it in ordcr to toow
ot a scicncc and its context. !orthisrcasonthcprcscntation otthc
documcntary matcrias docs not toow thchistoricapath butrathcr
!ortunatcy, thc pcriod ottcrs us a grcat many contro groups that
rcact dittcrcnty to astcur`s cntcrprisc. ygicnists, bioogists, sur-
gcons, sanitary cngnccrs,vctcrinary surgcons,physioogstsikcCaudc
chocra, diphthcria, tctanus, ycowtcvcr,rabics, andthcpaguc, a
movcaccordingto dittcrcntpaths, ottcring us thcsort otintcrcsting
contusion that Jostoy dcscribcs in thc battcs ot his book. crc !
contrast thc dittcrcnt contro groups with onc anothcr, so thatcach
argumcntaboutcontcxtorcontcntcan bcrcpaccdbyancwinkagc
bctwccn socicty andits scicnccs.
Chuplcr !
Strong Microbes and
Is It Necessary to Speak of "Pasteur" or Even of Pasteur?
Jhc countcr-cxampc that l havc choscn to study is so obviousy
incontrovcrtibc bccausc otthc way itis habituaytormuatcd. thc
rcvoutionintroduccdinto mcdicincbyastcur."Vhatwc havc hcrc
isanattributionotcauscandtimc.Vcmightaso saythatitrcprcscnts
a dominant point ot vicw-a point otvicw that was thcrctorc vic-
torious in a battc toughtwith othcr agcnts pursuing othcr aims at
and mcdicinc in thc atc ninctccnth ccnturyr !t is not immcdiatcy
obviousthatwcdo. astcur`spositioninthisisrathcrikc^apocon`s
in that trcatisc on poitica phiosophy which Jostoy wrotc undcr
thcnamc otWar and Peace.
lnthat book, Jostoysummonsuphundrcdsotcharactcrs to givc
dcpth to what tor him is thc csscntia gucstion. Vhatcan onc man
dor Vhat docs a grcat man ikc ^apocon or Kutuzov rcay dor h
14 War and Peace of Microbes
thccttcctivcncssthatthchistoriansothisccntury paccdinthcvirtuc
or gcnius ota tcw mcn. Jostoy succccdcd, and thc whoc otrcccnt
history supports his thcorics as to thc rcativc importancc ot grcat
mcn in rcation to thc ovcra movcmcnts that arc rcprcscntcd or
appropriatcd byatcw cponymous hgurcs. Jhis istruc at castwhcrc
politicians arc conccrncd. Vhcn wc arc dcaing with scientists, wc
sti admirc thc grcat gcnius and virtuc ot onc man and too rarcy
suspcct thc importancc otthc torccs that madc him grcat. Vc may
isncccssarytodiffuse thcdiscovcricsmadcandthcmachincsinvcntcd.
by thc powcr ot his mind aonc. Vhy is it so dithcut to gain ac-
ccptancc, in thc casc otthc grcat mcn ot scicncc, tor what is takcn
as sct-cvidcnt in thc casc otgrcat statcsmcnr
!tJostoyis indignant againstthc ^apoconichagiography, what
arc wc to say otthc attributcs that thc !rcnch havc givcn to Louis
astcur tromthc outsctr c did cvcrything, hc rcgcncratcd, rcvou-
Landouzywritcs. ^cvcrwiaccnturyhavcworkcdtorthcccntury
whosc dawn you wi soon bc wccoming, as didthc ccntury otas-
tcur" I885,p.I0/) .ltisnotgivcntocvcrybodytobccomcaccntury,
town and viagc in !rancc, or to prcvcnt pcopc trom spitting, to
pcrsuadcthcm to dig drains, to gct vaccinatcd, or to crcatc scrothcr-
apy. astcur did cvcrything, by his own powcr, or at cast through
thc powcr ot his idcas. 5uch a vicw is no morc tcnabc than is thc
statcmcnt1hat Kutuzov dctcatcd^apocon. tagrcatmcn,itmust
bc said. Jhc ony conccption capabc otcxpaining thc movcmcnt
torccs otcntircy dittcrcnt kinds, a ot which arc incommcnsuratc
with thc movcmcnt obscrvcd." Jhc notion otpowcr, bc it that ot
idcas or ot poitica cout, is onc otthcsc misconccptions. 5o ong
andcrs, Luthcrs orVotaircs, and notthc historics otu//-absoutcy
u//-thosc who takc part in an cvcnt, it is impossibc not to ascribc
to individuamcnatorccwhichcancompcothcrmcntodircctthcir
activity towards a ccrtain cnd. And thc ony conccption ot such a
kindknown to historians is thc idca otpowcr" Jostoy. I8/, p.
I40) .
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists I5
!tthc whoc oturopc transtormcd its conditions otcxistcncc at
thc cnd ot thc ast ccntury, wc shoud not attributc thc cthcacy ot
this cxtraordinary cap torwardto thc grcat gcnius ot asingc man.
it at cast in!rancc). astcur`s contcmporarics,thc astcurians, and
that astcur did not do cvcrything aonc," but thcy guicky wcnt
tcntiay"orthatthcrcstwastobctoundinastcur`sidcasin potentia.
Jhcrc was a man," says oucy, onc ot astcur`s hagiographcrs,
and to tc oIthc grcat things that ! havc to rcatc, ! sha borrow
otmind" I88I, p. 546) . !ndccd,wcarctcmptcdto tadownonour
knccs in admiration, sincc thc rapid, compctc transIormation ot a
socicty is attributcd to thc thought" ot onc man. Arc you not
contoundcd,"Jrcat cxcaims, bythc torcc otthcgcniuswho coud
winsuchbattcs r` I85,p. I/0). Ycs,otcourscwcarccontoundcd-
itwc contusc thc torcc ota man with that attributed to him, itwc
contusc astcur with astcur," whom trom now on ! wi pacc
Why shoud wc sti do tor astcur`s gcnius what wc no ongcr do
tor ^apocon`s or Kothschid`sr !t wc hnd it casy cnough to dca
with thc Kussian campaign intcrms otsocioogy or cconomics, why
arc wc so rcuctant to appy socioogyto astcurian bactcrioogyr
invariaby supposc that whcrc scicncc is conccrncd, thc dittusion ot
anidca,agcsturc, atcchniguc,poscsnoparticuarprobcm, onythc
is borrowcd trom cassica mcchanics. tcchnigucs, cndowcd with in-
crtia, a rcsistancc to torcc, awaysrctainthatpropcrty, and can ony
oscitinthc coursc otsucccssivcshocks.Vithsuchamodc,wc must
attributc to astcur`siaboratory thc totality otthc torcc and rcgard
as incrt masscs a thc socia groups that arc capabc ony ottrans-
mittingthc torcc or absorbingpartotit itis said otthcm that thcy
adapt to progrcss" or rcsist"). ut it must bc ccary undcrstood
thatin sociaphysicsthcrcisno awotincrtia.Jo convinccsomconc
that an cxpcrimcnthas succccdcd, that a tcchniguc is cttcctivc, that
aproot is truy dccisivc, thcrc mustbc more than one actor. Anidca
16 War and Peace of Microbes
it,mustscizcitandmove it.lt,tocxpainthcdittusion"otastcur`s
idcas,wc hadnomingmorcthan thctorccotastcurandhis coab-
orators, thosc idcas woud ncvcr havc ctt thc was ot thc Lcoc
^ormacaboratoryandwoudnotcvcnhavcentered thcm.Anidca,
cvcnanidcaotgcnius,cvcnanidcathatisto savcmiionsotpcopc,
ncvcr movcs otits own accord. ltrcguircs a torcc to tctch it, scizc
uponittorits ownmotivcs, movc it, and ohcn transtorm it.
Jhis vision otthings poscs no particuar probcm, cxccpt that it
rcgards athcsitcswhcrcaparticuarpracticcisdittuscdas madcot
ota his charactcrs in ordcr to takc trom Cacsar thc things that arc
not Cacsar`s. 5imiary, trccdom otaction must bc givcn back to a
thcagcntsot!rcnch socictyinordcrto decompose astcur`s cthcacy.
crcicsthcprobcm.tomakcasociology otbactcrioogy,oncnccds
Whcn l bcgan to rcad thc Revue Scientifque attcr thc dctcat ot
1870, lwassurpriscdtoobscrvcthatittcissaidotastcurandcvcn
css ot his idcas. c is not yct thc intcrccssor that hc woud atcr
bccomc. is namc is not yct associatcd with anything rcating to
discasc. thcr things arc discusscd, and thc cvidcncc prcscntcd docs
not comc trom his aboratory.
The Indisputable Confict between Health and Wealth
Athoughthcauthorsotthc Revue rarcyspcakotastcurordiscuss
his idcas, thcyvicw onc idca as so indisputabc that it bccomcs thc
prcmisctora thc argumcnts to bctound inmcRevue tromthchrst
numbcr otthc ncw scrics, bcgun ust ahcr thc sicgc otaris, to thc
astnumbcrstudicd,inDcccmbcr 1919. Jhis idca,whichthcyrcgard
as ovcrwhcmingy, univcrsay sct-cvidcnt, is thc urgcnt nccd tor
ltisto thc doctors that a argcpartotthcwork otrcgcncration
tas it such work can cvcr bc carricd out, tor thc hrst condition ot
torccisthcnumbcrandvigorotthccitizcns,"writcsAgavc, dircctor
otthc Revue ( 1872, p. 102) . !rom|uy 1871 on, astcur caims, hc
was mobiizing scicncc tor thc curc ot thc russian cankcr" ( 1871,
pp. 73-77). !t was not ony !rancc, humiiatcd and dctcatcd, that
had to bc rcgcncratcd, it was aIso mankind in gcncra and, morc
particuary, thc urban masscs. ln 1 872 5tokcs sums up thc statc ot
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 17
thc ncw ritish mcdicinc, arcady highy dcvcopcd, and dchncs thc
ncw dca ot poitica action. !nstcad otarguing ovcr principcs and
sccking thc absoutc, this pcopc thc ritish], gittcd with a grcat
practica scnsc, is painstakingy crccting thc props that support thc
( 1872, p. 14) .
Vc coudnothavcabcttcrdchnitionotthcprogramotrctorms
ot socia" not poitica" rctorms, thc author insists on pointing
out-in which hrst pubic mcdicinc and thcn thc bioogica scicnccs
Vhat an opportunc momcnt to appy a thosc scicntihc torccs to
prcvcntativcmcdicinc andconscgucntyinthc sociaordcr|Jhcrcarc
hundrcds ot miions ot subcctsot thc Crown ot Lngand, whosc
and an cnormous hcd ot miscry, physica and mora dcgradation,
and aconstantsourccotdcstructionthatmaycxtcnd tothcconhncs
otmcn is to bctound" ( 1872, p. 20).
Nany historians havc insistcd onthis obscssion otthc timc with
thc rcgcncration ot man. !t scrvcs as aprcmisc tor a thc articcs in
thc Revue not ony on mcdicinc but aso, ovcr thc ycars, on gym-
nastics, coonization, intcrnationa tradc, cducation, thc cconomy,
thcgrcatcstpcrithatthc!rcnchnationhascvcrhadto tacc, atany
pcriodin its history." A thc articcs rcpcat thc vicw in onc way or
anothcr that what wc nccd arc strong mcn. Jhc hrst conccrn ot
statcsmcn today is thc rcconstitution, thc rcorganization ot human
itc. Jhc indcpcndcncc, thc vcry cxistcncc otthc countryin thc ncar
tuturc, is at stakc" Dccaisnc. 1875, p. JJ). !t shoud bc strcsscd
that a thcsc guotations arc takcn trom authors who arc cxtrcmcy
dubious about contagionist thcorics, havc hardy hcard ot ascpsia,
andarcwritingsomchttccnycars before thcsightcstappication ot
utwhat is this movcmcntitsct bascd onr Jhis gucstion, raiscd
by historians, docs nothavc to bc answcrcd bythcscmioticmcthod
! havc choscn to toow. 5incc a thc writcrs takc this basic ink
bctwccn hcath and wcath as scttcd, sincc a otthcm takc hygicnc
as thc addrcsscc" ot a thcir articcs, and sincc this charactcr was
constitutcd bctorc thc pcriod undcr considcration, ! coud movc on
18 War and Peace of Microbes
to sketch the backdrop against whiH the whole Pasteurian drama-
turgy unfolds. This sketch can be made in two successive stages. the
hrst presents an infrastjucture that eplains the energy accumulated
during the period; but the second higligts anomer science, another
group of scientists who have already prepared the ground for the
arrival of the Pasteurians.
For those who cannot accept any story unless it has an "infra-
structure," it is possible to give the "cause" ol the whole Pasteurian
adventure. !n simple terms, Frazer sums up this motive force of the
period, the "primum movens" that unleashed all those energies but
was itself moved by nothing and discussed by nobody. The conict
between health and wealth reached such a breaking point in the mid-
century that wealm was threatened by bad health. "The consumption
of human life as a combustible for the production of wealth" led nrst
in the nglish cities, then in the continental ones, to a veritable "energy
crisis. " The men, as everyone said constantly, were of poor quality.
It could not go on like that. The cities could not go on being death
chambers and cesspools, the poor being wretched, ignorant, bug-
ridden, contagious vagabonds. The revival and etension of eploi-
tation or prosperity, if you prefer) required a better-educated pop-
ulation and clean, airy, rebuilt cities, with drains, fountains, schools,
parks, gymnasiums, dispensaries, day nurseries. By the time that con-
cens us, none of this was controversial. !t was me starting point from
which hygenists set out to discover latent forces and to set up par-
ticular strategies.
The concepts of infrastructure thus regards immense energies as
being mobilized by this contradiction of healm and wealth throughout
urope. Such an upheaval of cities was seen not as a revolution but
as a harmonization, in Stokes's words, between "national health" and
"national prosperity and morality" ( 187, p. 20) . The favorite met-
aphor of the time, the difference in potential, denned a vast energy
source into whiH all the actors of the period could plug themselves
in order to advance their concens for the net nfty years. This im-
mense reservoir of energy was a force of the kind demanded by Tol-
stoy, one that was commensurate to the social body itself. !n this
infrastructure story, Pasteurians are one of the many groups that use
the same difference in potential, even if the word "Pasteur" came to
designate in France the whole of this universal movement of regen-
very time historians speak of an infrastructure that can eplain
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 19
the development of a science, the sociologist of science, devious and
suspicious, looks for what former scientinc professions have already
done to create this vast reservoir of energy. Often no study is available,
and the sociologist has to abandon the ground and believe, like anyone
else, in the idea of a preeistent social contet, at least for the period
and the science he is not studying. Fortunately, Coleman has made
an ecellent study of the period just preceding mine. In this study
we see another group of scientists, another profession, led not by
Pasteur but by Villerme, busy creating this famous "infrastructure"
and this famous conict between Health and Wealth. Before the
period under consideration we do not have a "longue duree" that
would act as a cause to push or pull the Pasteurians, but we have
Villerme and his friends constituting, throug the new profession of
scientinc hygiene and through the elaboration of national statistics,
a link between mortality and degree of wealth. This link had also to
be created, like the future link between laboratory and medicine or
between attenuated microbes and diseases.' Without the creation of
statistical bureaus and "tableau," without the application of political
economy to this sociomedical problem, the "difference in potential"
would not have eisted. The social contet of a science is rarely made
up of a contet; it is most of the time made up of a previous science.

Hygienists, the Disputed Interpreters of Regeneration
I shall say no more about this "infrastructure," since it inspired the
articles without itself ever being discussed. Yet I must say something
about the nrst translators of this great conflict between health and
wealth, the hygienists. Actually, the Revue does not denne who they
are. It speaks of hygiene, the "sender," as the semioticians say, of all
the actions on health. The boundaries of hygiene are vague, and this
vagueness is precisely what allows its practitioners to epress more
or less everyone's interesrs and, very soon, those of the Pasteurians.
Here again we must not, in our study of the tets, be more precise
than the Revue itself. For our purposes, hygienists are all those who
ca|l themselves hygienists.
Hygiene in the Revue Scientifque can be denned as a style. An
article, especially a scientinc one, is a little machine for displacing
interests, beliefs, and aligning them in such a way as to point the
reader, almost inevitably, in a particular direction. Scientihc rhetoric
often channels the reader's attention in a single central direction, like
20 War and Peace of Microbes
a valley cutting through mountains. But the rhetoric of the hygienists
does not possess this great ow. !t has no central argument. !t is made
up of an accumulation of advice, precautions, recipes, opinions, sta-
tistics, remedies, regulations, anecdotes, case studies. !t is, indeed, an
accumulation. A hygienist like Bouchardat always adds, without sub-
tracting anything at all. The reason for this style, which in the literary
criticism of an earlier day would be called "involved" or "cautious,"
is simple. !llness, as denned by the hygienists, can be caused by almost
anything. Typhus may be due to a contagion, but it may also be due
to the soil, the air, overcrowding. Mothing must be ignored, nothing
dismissed. Too many causes can be found side by side to allow for
any dennite position on the matter. verything must be considered.
"The role and variety ot the causes of typhoid make it necessary to
combat them by equally varied and numerous means" Colin. 1 882,
p. 397). !t was not out of ignorance but on the contrary out of an
ecess of knowledge that the hygienists accumulated their opinions.
Mone of them is absolutely certain, they admit, but none of them can
really be abandoned. Bouchardat makes the ingenuous admission. "!
do not speud my hours of sleep in intensely choleraic places." He
advises the use of disinfectants but adds, "they must not allow us to
ignore evidence that is not understood but is based on strict and
repeated observation" ( 1883, p. 1 78) .
To make fun of this style would be to fail to understand the nature
of an all-round combat. !f anything can cause illness, nothing can be
ignored; it is necessary to be able to act everywhere and on everything
at once. The style reects the action planned by the hygienists. Many
of the characteristics of so-called pre-Pasteur hygiene are to be e-
plained by this situation. The hygene congresses were, like Bouchar-
dat's style, an attic in which everything was kept because sometime
it might come in handy. !n 1 876, for instance, the subjects under
discussion included water, lifesavers, gymnastics, women's work,
"methods of developing among the laboring classes a spirit of thrift
and the saving habit," alcoholism, and working-class housing Anon. .
1876, p. 4OO). These congresses were a catchall, because illness could
be caused by anything and because scientists had to be ready to set
off enthusiastically in any direction.
Te consequences were predictable. Articles on hygene in the Revue
were shot through at nrst by an astonishing combination of hubris
and discouragement. Both had the same cause. Since anything might
cause illness, it was necessary to act upon everything at once, but to
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 21
act everywhere i s to act nowhere. Sometimes the hygienists give a
dennition of their science that is coetensive with reality. They
to be acting on food, urbanism, seuality, education, the army. Moth-
ing that is human is alien to them. ven the human being is too narrow
a neld, they must concern themselves also with air, light, heat, water,
and the soil Trlat: 1890, pp. 705-71 1) .
But to understand everything i s to understand nothing. So the same
articles reveal a sense of division and "abasement" Landouzy. 1885,
p. 100). Indeed, the fundamental problem of the hygienists is that
this multiplicity, so short on remedies and details, did not protect
them against failure. However much they might take precautions
against everything and observe everywhere, disease returned, as if no
ned causes could be attributed to it. On each of its returns another
cause had to be added. The surgeon Kirmission writes, after emerging
from that period. "So we accumulated all the precautions of general
hygiene, but failed to remove the purulent infection from the
wards . . . In demonstrating the inanity of all the discussions on hos-
pital hygiene as a way of preventing hospital infection, eperience
necessarily cast profound discredit on the pious wishes of the sur-
geons" ( 1888, p. 296) .
For all these reasons it was necessary to speak of "morbid spon-
taneity." This doctrine, which is ridiculed today, corresponded per-
fectly to the style, mode of action, and facts, since disease appeared
sometimes here, sometimes there, sometimes at one season, sometimes
at another, sometimes responding to 3 remedy, sometimes spreading,
only to disappear as suddenly. This strange, erratic behavior was well
recorded by statistics, the major science of the mid-nineteenth century,
which corresponded perfectly to the analysis of such impalpable phe-
In view of these problems, it was also logical that any article on
contagion, on the microbe as "eternal cause" of disease, on the law
that "a microbe equals disease," should appear so derisory. To any
argument on contagion itself a budding hygienist could always oppose
a hundred countereamples. This disproportion between the problems
of the hygienist and the simplistic character of the doctrines of con-
tagion helps to eplain how the Pasteurians had to transform the
microbe in order

to convince the hygienists. The hygienists formed

the vanguard of a huge, century-old movement which had already
transformed the British system of health and which claimed to be
spreading everywhere in order to act on all the causes of ill health.
22 War and Peace of Microbes
But by its very scope and ambition this movement remained weak,
like an army trying to defend a long frontier by spreading its forces
There was no way of concentrating the movement's orces at a few
points only. !t could not ignore me details that it had accumulated
for hundreds of years, unless it could hierarchize them in order of
importance. As soon as hygiene became moden, that is, turned the
hygene that had preceded it into "ancient" hygiene, it was by its very
"lightness" that it was recogized. As Bouchardat remarks "!f, at
the beginning of this century, we strove to understand everything in
hygiene, today we must leave to one side a mass of useless or un-
provable details" Landouzy. 1885, p. 100) .
Was it possible to denne in advance, negatively, mat ecess of!orce
which, retrospectively, hygiene seemed to lack? ! think so. What was
needed was a source of forces to eplain me astonishing variability
of morbidity, its spontaneity, and its local character. !n order to
interest the social movement of which the hygienists were the spokes-
men, a doctrine was needed that eplained the variation of the vir-
ulence in terms compauble wim me problems involved in transformIng
the towns and the living environment to which the hygienists had
devoted their attention. This was not simply an "intellectual" re-
quirement. !n the absence of such a focal point, all the energies of
the social movement uanslated by the hygenists were dissipated mroug
networks, all of them relauvely equal m size and merefore doomed
to etinction before being able to reach any of the great goals that
the movement had set itself. At the timemat is, before Pasteur had
made himself necessary to the hygienistsone thing was certain. the
doctrine of contagiousness was inadequate to fulnll me hygienists'
goals. '
The Movement of Hygiene Left to Itself
To speak of hygiene was already to take up a position. !t was to go
back. !t was to U to distinguish retrospectively what had been in-
tentionally confused. To try to see what the hygienists would have
been before they became closely involved in Pasteurism was, as it
were, to set a pyramid that had been standing on its point back on
its base. Tolstoy was right here, too. A crowd may move a mountain;
a single man cannot. !f, therefore, we say of a man that he has moved
a mountain, it is because he has been credited with or has appro-
priated) the work of the crowd that he claimed to command but that
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 23
he also followed. An enormous social movement ran through the
social body in order to reconstruct leviathan in such a way that it
could provide shelter for the new urban masscs. ' The hygienists used
this movement to attack disease on every side or, in their language,
to act "on the pathogenic terrain. " The Pasteurians, who numbered,
let us not forget, no more than a few dozen men at hrst, set out in
turn to direct and to translate the hygienist movement. !n France, the
result was such that the hygienist movement came to be identined
with the man Pasteur, and ultimately, following a very French habit,
the man Pasteur was reduced to the ideas of Pasteur, and his ideas
to their "theoretical foundations. " !n the end, then, what emerged
was that inverted world stigmatized by Tolstoy. a man moves a moun-
tain by his genius alone.
The nrst people to undergo this reversal were the readers of the
Revue Scientifque. !ndeed, it is almost impossible to discen a "pure"
hygienist movement completely separate from the epression given it
by the Pasteurians. However, even at the cost of a nction, it is crucial
to rediscover, at least in imagination, the crowds moving the moun-
tain, so that we can understand later how the Pasteurians came to be
their spokesmen and were regarded as the "cause" of the movement.
Where would the hygienist movement have gone without Pasteur and
his followers? !n its own direction. Without the microbe, without
vaccine, even without the doctrine of contagion or the variation in
virulence, everything that was done could have been done. cleaning
up the towns; digging drains; demanding running water, light, air,
and heat. ' Pettenkoffer, who swallowed cholera bacilli without be-
coming ill but made Munich a healthy city through large-scale public
works, is for everyone the eponym of this attitude in history. Verne's
Les ! UU milions de fa Begum, which contrasts Hygie, the healthy
French town, with Moson, the unhealthy "Boche" town, without the
slightest mention of a microbe, is the literary counterpart of Petten-
koffer. The fulcrum provided by bacteriology should not let us forget
that the enormous social movement was working for that miture of
urbanism, consumer protection, ecology as we would say nowadays),
defense of the environment, and moralization summed up by the word
hygiene. !f we do not restore the power ratio between the social
movement at work throughout urope and the few bacteriological
laboratories, we cannot understand the real contribution of those
laboratories, just as we cannot understand what Kutuzov did if we
attribute to him the entire movement of his army.
Mowhere is the disproportion between that hygienist movement
24 War and Peace of Microbes
and the "small group" of Pasteurians more clearly seen than in an
article of 1884 on the hygiene ehibition in London. Such ehibitions,
which were frequent at the time, "bring together," reports the jour-
nalist, "several fairly comple orders of knowledge, constituting in
short whatever may render life healthy and even comfortable" Anon. .
1884, p. 386) . There were tastings of Liebig soups Cerman chem-
istry), refrigerated meat British thermodynamics) , and pasteurized
milk French microbiology) . People admired hygienic clothes, or-
thopedic shoes, light-coIored furniture that could be dusted easily,
nlters to purify water, bidets to wash one's behind, and ushing sys-
tems to evacuate ecrement. Plans were discussed for drainage, ven-
tilators, windows, heating apparatusesanything that would allow
the four elements to circulate freely. There were life-sized models of
hygienicthat is, airy and cleanhouses, hospitals, ambulances,
stretchers, crematoriums, classrooms, and even desks.
Bacteriology was indeed present in the ehibition, in an interesting
way. To beginwim, it was dispersed throughout several sections. the
Chamberland nlter, from Pasteur's laboratory, was placed in the series
of nlters proposed by industrialists, pasteurized milk was part of the
new milk circuit, the incubator, deriving from "the eperiments of
Koch, Wolugel, and Pettenkoffer in Cermany, and Vallin in France,"
had been developed by industrialists and was part of the legal dis-
infection departments, each of which had its own stand. Disinfectants
also had their place. "Te current cholera epidemic has given new
vigor to the study of disinfectants, a study that so far has given far
from satisfactory results and in which we will now have to take greater
account of the physiological and morbid properties of the specinc
organisms of contagious diseases" p. 394). "To take greater account
oI' that says everything. The products of bacteriology were added
to hygiene like some spice that increased its local euectiveness.
But this science was present in another way, too. `In the middle
of the main room are found the objects sent by M. Pasteur, by the
laboratory at Montsouris run by Miquel, a microbiologist], and by
me municipal chemistry laboratory of the city of Paris." The author,
of course, tries to reduce the whole of the ehibition to this section,
because he is a scientist and a nationalist. This laboratory, he writes,
"has made many people say what has been said aloud by an American.
'There was more hygiene in the French section than in the rest of the
exibition put together' " p. 397) . This patriotism and bacterio-
centrism are honorable enough, but they contradict the whole of the
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 25
article. Pasteur's laboratory was only one among many others, and
it was surrounded by the ehibits of innumerable industrialists, re-
formers, leagues for the propagation of this or that, professions, and
skills. It could not be reduced to that proliferation of ehibits, but
neither could the entire ehibition be reduced to the laboratory.
To reconstruct Pasteurism, it has to be said, even with a certain
degree of eaggeration, that what the hygienist movement did with
Pasteur it would have done anyway without him. It would have made
the environment healthier. The vague words "contagon," "miasma,"
and even "dirt" were enough to put urope in a state of siege, and
it defended itself by cordons sanitaires against the infectious diseases.
Of course, terrible diseases got through the cordons, but sometimes
there were victories, and that was no small achievement. This way of
isolating hygiene and trying to discover where it was going on its own
was not so arbitrary, since, after all, there is still a good deal of
controversy about the causes of the remarkable improvement in the
health of uropeans between I8/I and I40.'The improvement is
still being attributed to new causes and new agents whenever a new
group sets out to weaken the position of medicine or the role of science
in medicine or to redistribute in a different way the respective roles
of therapy and prevention. The general rise in the standards of living
and nutrition, combined with "elementary" hygiene, would be enough
for some to eplain most of the astonishing therapeutic successes that
the Pasteurians had attributed to the science founded by Pasteur.
ven if this conict does not concern us here, one thing is clear. It
is the hygienist movement that denned what was at stake, prescribed
the aims, posed the prcblems, demanded that others should solve
them, distributed praise or blame, and laid down priorities. It is also
the hygienist movement that galvanized people's energies, found the
money, and offered those who served it troops, goals, problems, and
energy. This is a crucial point, for it allows us to etract from the
magic circle of "science" much of what we rather hastily call "its
contents." The subjects that are studied and the problems that are
given priority make up, as we know, most of a discipline. The Pas-
teurians were to arrive on the scene like players in a game of Scrabble.
The "triple" words a
d "double" words werc already marked and
laid down. The Pasteurians translated these stakes and rules into their
own terms, but without the hygienists, it is clear that very little would
have been heard about them. The Pasteurians would have done some-
thing else.
26 War and Peace of Microbes
If that penultimate sentence seems dubious, we have only to read
the British or American histories of the period. Bacteriology, com-
mon in these works, is far from being the source and cause of hygiene;
it is merely a ripple on the surface, an aspect, doubtless a crucial
support ot social hygiene, but no more than that. In these histories
Pasteur himself is merely one bacteriologist among others, and they
emphasize not so much Pasteur's ideas as certain practical applications
considered by the authors to be particularly important, such as meth-
ods of culture, incubation, and inoculation.
The Hygienists BeIieved Pasteur without Question
The Revue Scientifque reveals nrst of all the size of the social move-
ment for regeneration, indicates the translator of this movement, hy-
giene, and shows how uncertain and controversial the hygienists were.
It also shows, but less clearly, the disproportion that eisted between
the hygienists and the Pasteurians. Finally, study of the Revue eplains
why it is so difncult to decide how much should be attributed to each
group, or even to avoid the impression of a revolution.
It we recall the way in which different authors place Pasteur when
they begin to talk about him in the early I&&Os, we are struck by one
overwhelming fact. they do not argue over him; they trust him en-
tirely. We may of course attribute this trust to the quality of the
evidence produced by Pasteur, to the efncacy of the treatments pro-
posedin short, to the truth of Pasteurian science. But this is quite
impossible, nrst because, when others were presented with the same
evidence, it was regarded as disputable and second because the trust
accorded to Pasteur was so great that it must have been based on
something else.' If we convince someone of something, we must share
the efncacy of that conviction with the person whom we have con-
vinced. But if someone catches on at once, takes over what we have
said, and immediately generalizes it, epands it, and applies it to omer
things than those we originally had in mind, then we must attribute
a greater efncacy to the person who has understood than to the one
who has been understood. For Pasteur's arguments in the Revue Scien
tifque were not eposed to sarcasm and doubt; they were seized on
avidly and etrapolated well beyond the few results that he himself
was defending. The avidity of those who seized on what he said gives
us some idea of the etent of the social movement whose main outlines
I have been tracing. Let us look at it more closely.
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 27
In I8/I Chauveau writes in the Revue on the contagious diseases.
"We are already pressing forward, overtaking one another on the
road that leads to the most useful conquests of modern science" I8/I,
p. J6Z) . In I 8/6,well before the nrst studies on rabies, Tyndall con-
siders that the revolution carried out by Pasteur is already complete.
"It is only a question of time. " His conndence is such that he looks
to the future "with the interest of a man who sees a principle spreading
and becoming established that is destined to deliver medicine from
the reproach of empiricism, to raise it to the rank of a true science,
and to deliver to the doctors those invisible enemies, as the celebrated
Cohn called them, who hide in the air we breathe and the water we
drink." He adds. "I doubt whether in ten years from now there will
remain in ngland a single doctor willing to support the ideas that
they thought nt to advance against Pasteur in denying contagion] "
I8/6,p. 560) . The year I886was not a bad prediction. But Tyndall
did not have to be a prophet to propose such a date. It was a matter
of elementary technological forecasting on the basis of a research
program that had already been initiated; all that had to be done was
to wait and pick the fruit.
The British were of course more advanced than the French, but
Pasteur's compatriots were not lagging behind. ven the prudent Bou-
chardat did not hesitate to write on the subject of the plague that it
would be necessary "to isolate and cultivate the microorganism as
Pasteur would have done" I8/,p. I8) . Richet, editor of the Revue
and a convinced Pasteurian, supported in I880the project for a na-
tional award for Pasteur, "so that Monsieur Pasteur may give to his
researches into the contagious diseases of animals all the developments
it potenrially has" I880, p. J5) .
This was written i n I880. How could Richet know how many
developments the few laboratory cases would have? If someone bet
a token and someone else immediately bet a hundred, how are we to
understand the conndence of the second bettor? The prodigious de-
velopments given by Richet and his peers to what Pasteur was pro-
posing must be attributed to them. They knew that they were going
to amplify these propositions with their own. After Pouilly-le-Fort,
Richet etends the efncacy of the vaccine without the shadow of a
doubt. "Anthra will soon be a thing of the past" I88I, p. I6I) .
Aher the cure of |oseph Meister alone, Richet eclaims. "And now
that we can cure rabies, we have only to epand and facilitate the
treatment" I886,p. Z8) . The year before, Landouzy eclaims: "Yes,
28 War and Peace of Microbes
gentlemen, the day will come when, thanks to militant, scientinc hy-
giene, diseases will disappear as certain antediluvian animal species
have disappeared I&&5, p. IO7) .
Yet no disease had disappeared. The conndence in the "way laid
down" by Pasteur must therefore derive from something other than
the facts, hard facts. The conndence was not one that came only fom
Pasteur, but one that owed back on to Pasteur and which he made
full use of. The Pasteur of the Revue Scientifque was not an obscure
hero who was nghting alone against all and who had to convince his
irremediably skeptical adversaries step by step Vallery-Radot. I9II) .
Mo, he had only to open his mouth, and others would turn his results
into generalizations about every disease. A peculiar revolution indeed!
To be sure, once Richet became its editor, the Revue was on Pasteur's
side and defended him "beyond the limit of all scientinc prudence,"
one might say. When a timid challenge is raised, Richet, his ank
guard, writes with condescension. "It is no bad thing if a discordant
voice is raised amid a concert of praise. Perhaps it will encourage M.
Pasteur to provide us with a few new discoveries as fruitful as the
previous ones" I&&2, p. 449).
That the Revue and all its authors should be so partial, so chau-
vinistic, so imprudent, shows the etent to which trust was placed in
Pasteur, eactly as money is placed in a trust fund. The reader must
now understand that, if the hygienist movement had not been pre-
sented nrst, it would have been necessary to attribute a "prodigious
efhcacy" to the eperiments of Pasteur himself. Cenerally "science"
is never to be eplained by itself. It is an ill-composed entity which
ecludes most of the elements that allow it to eist. The social move-
ment into which Pasteur inserted himself is a large part of the efncacy
attributed to Pasteur's demonstrations.
ven the Pasteurians who were most determined to spread the myth
of a Pasteur struggling alone against the shades of obscurantism are
forced to recognize the unanimity with which his eperiments were
received. Bouley, for eample, writes "Before such results [at Pouilly-
Ie-Fort], there was no longer any room for doubt, even on the part
of his most thoroughgoing opponents, who were compelled to fall
silent, and the convictions acquired were immediately epressed by
a sort of avidity for this new vaccine under the protection of which
the farms of anthra-ridden regions were impatient to place their
flocks and herds. " Bouley adds. "|ustice is often slow in coming for
inventors, often its progress is so limping that their lives are not long
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 29
enough for them to see it done. M. Pasteur, can now name him, has
been privileged enough to see it accelerated in his case" I&&I, p.
549) . It should be said that in Pasteur's case justice got carried away,
since it soon attributed to him what he did not i
fact do and paid
him the homage of the entire hygienist movement. A columnist, prob-
ably Richet, writes. "It is often difncult for contemporaries to judge
the enormous progress that is being made and to have an opinion of
a recenf discovery that will be connrmed by posterity. However, we
have, in scarcely a few months, witnessed the blossoming of a great
discovery, judged as such and on the importance of which there has
been unanimity" Anon.. I &&I, p. I29) .
On a Few Dissenters: Koch and Peter
Mothing demonstrates better the unanimity of the crowds that fol-
lowed Pasteur and seized on his results than the few people who had
what might be called the courage to oppose them. Although opponents
were numerous enough in the Academie de Medecine, where Pasteur
sought them out with a violent rhetoric, there were only two in the
Revue: Peter, the old-fashioned French physician, and Koch, the
modern-minded Cerman physician.' Although these men were en-
tirely opposed in their beliefs, they had the same criticism of Pasteur.
he generalized too hastily on the basis of a few inadequately clarined
Peter has been described as an obscurantist buffoon, but he was
the only one to put up any kind of a nght against Pasteur's medical
coup d'etat. Peter fought against the "microbic furia, " against what
seemed to him to be a "torrent," even "an intellectual cholera against
which sanitary measures must also be taken." And "that is why," he
adds, "I am for resistance. " It was he who was resisting an invasion,
not the Pasteurians, who were resisting the forces of darkness.
Contrary to what is usually said, Peter's argument is well founded.
In I&&2 he questions whether simply looking at the sheep vaccinated
at Pouilly-le-Fort can show that there is a general method, applicable
to all infectious diseases. He calls this a "hasty generalization." Mor
does he want to put an end to discussion by heroicizing Pasteur. At
the Academie he cries out. "As for the term 'wonderful' that you use
to describe the eperiment o Pouilly-le-Fort, it is no longer an apol-
ogia, but an auto-apotheosis and do not wish to have any part in
that" I&&3. pp. 55&, 56O).
30 War and Peace of Microbes
How can one deny that he is right hcre? Peter does not want to
turn a scientinc eperiment into a miraculous, divine event and to be
etended without proof to every disease. Was not scientinc method
on his side? And yet he was wrong, if not for the reason we might
think. He imagined that he was nghting against a scientist, whereas
he was nghting against someone who was already the spokesman, the
ngurehead, and the ampliner of an immense social movement that
passionately wanted Pasteur to be right and therefore made sure that
all his laboratory work proceeded with a "haste" and a "widespread
application" that were truly "prodigious." Peter claimed that the king
was naked, but others rushed up to clothe him. Peter fought bravely,
but he miscalculated the balance of forces and was therefore to sink
into ridicule.
Koch did not share the same weaknesses, and he attacked Pasteur
far from Paris and on the terrain of the new scientinc medicine. But
his criticisms intersect with tbose of the "backward-looking" Peter.
Pasteur, Koch claims, generalized much too quickly. "M. Pasteur had
already given himselt up to the most ambitious hopes. With utter
conndence he announced a forthcoming triumph in the snuggle against
infectious diseases" I&&3, p. 65) .
Koch nnds all this premature. The technical objections he raises
give us some idea of how anious everyone was to agree with Pasteur.
We cannot, Koch claims, generalize from one animal to another, nor
from animal to man, nor from one disease to another, nor from the
vaccination of a few individuals to that of all individuals. Koch chal-
lenges Pasteur to show the complete stock on which is credited the
general method that is about to eliminate all diseases and revolutionize
medicine. Mo one can deny that in I&&I this stock was etremely
limited. The immense trust in Pasteur derived partly from the work
that he had done before I &7I, which did not concern infectious dis-
eases, and partly from the social movement that needed these dis-
coveries but went well beyond mem without waiting for them to be
made. In order to create networks of sanitation and to increase the
circulation of goods and people, general laws as well as safe roads
were needed. Koch's precautions weakened and interrupted the net-
works that the hygienists wanted to etend and strengthen. The hy-
gienists cared nothing for Koch's precautions. Their trust went entirely
to the man who was enuncating a general law and a principle ot
indennite etension of the networks that they were going to command.
The critiques by Peter and Koch force us to see the disproportion
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 3I
between the forces that supported the generalizations of the Pasteur-
ians and the scanty proof that they could provide at the time. If I
insist on this point, it is because the history of the sciences is seldom
just to the defeated or even, for that matter, to the victors. It accords
too much attention to the 1atter and not enough to the former. A
juster approach would be to treat both victors and defeated sym
metrically. When Richet writes in the Revue in I&&6 about the sug-
gestion made to the Academie to set up the Institut Pasteur"We
are assured that to propose a vaccinal establishment is already to
announce its creation" I& &6, p. 2&9)we must understand what he
says as anthropologists, for it is little more than a magical invocation.
He is willing to hand Pasteur the keys of the Institut simply by sug-
gesting its possibility. A century later Canguilhem, a French historian
of science, takes up the same incantation when he writes about the
Memoire of Pasteur on the theory of germs. "This theory, which al-
ready carried within itself, through the work of Koch and Pasteur,
the promise, which was to be fulnlled, of cure and survival for millions
of men and animals to come, also brought with it the death of all the
medical theories of the nineteenth century" I977, p. 63)

We must analyze these beliefs in the power of what is in germ in
the same terms as when Koch, proposing a vaccine against tubercu-
losis at the International Congress of Medecine in I&96, is besieged
by patients from all over urope possessed of the hope of being cured.
Richet's conndence is made up of the same "credibility" as the "cre-
dulity" of the patients.' The fact that Pasteur had indeed funded his
Institut, whereas Koch had to withdraw his vaccine in confusion,
should not mislead us. In both cases Koch and Pasteur were sustained
by a wave of trust, which they used as much as the patients used
There Was a Traitor among Us
So the hygienists translated this great conflict between wealth and
health, without which their views would have interested nobody. But
because they acted in every direction, their views remained in dispute
and were little obeyed. Their various projects of sanitation were con-
stantly interrupted by what seemed to them to be the ill will of other
agents. They attributed all these diversions and decelerations to three
kinds of ill willnrst, to inertia on the part of the public authorities,
who did not do what they ought to do; second, to what we would
32 War and Peace of Microbes
now call the "sociological resistance" of the masses, ignorant of their
own interests; and last, to those diseases that appear and disappear,
whose unworthy behavior is called "morbid spontaneity." !n fact,
these three kinds of resistance were connected. The hygienists' ina-
bility to prevent the outbreak of disease justined in advance the inertia
of others. !n order to mobilize the public authorities and, indirectly,
the inert masses, they needed to be able to drive a sanitized path
through the cities that no agent could interrupt or divert. But this
was never the case.
A salesman sends a perfectly clear beer to a customerit arrives
corrupted. A doctor assists. a woman to give birth to a nne eight-
pound babyit dies shortly afterward. A mother gives perfectly pure
milk to an infantit dies of typhoid fever. An administrator regulates
the journey of Moroccan pilgrims to Meccacholera returns with
the sanctined pilgrims and breaks out nrst at Tangiers, then at Mar-
seille. A homemaker takes on a Breton girl to help the cookafter
a few months the cook dies of galloping consumption. We always
think we are doing the right thing, but our actions never turn out as
we epected and are slightly diverted from their aim. The tribunal
punishes a criminal with one year's imprisonment, but he pays for
his brief spell in the cell with his life. When a man follows a woman
to her hotel, he thinks he is settling the transaction with a coin and
ends his days in an asylum. This displacement of the best-intentioned
actions is truly discouraging. "For what ! do is not the good ! want
to do, no, the evil ! do not want to dothis ! keep on doing" Rom.
7. I9) .
But the situation is even more discouraging in that this distortion
does not always occur. A lot of beer arrives intact at the retailers,
many of those who frequent whores do not become syphilitics, many
midwives do not kill their clients' babies. !t is precisely this variation
that is disturbing. !t is the impossibility of predicting the intervention,
the parasitism, of other forces that makes the remedies and statistics
of the hygienists both so meticulous and so discouraging. Sometimes
cholera passes, sometimes not, sometimes typhus survives, sometimes
not. !ndeed, the doctrine of "morbid spontaneity" was the only really
credible one. Between the act and the intention is a tertium quid that
diverts and corrupts them, but it is not always present, and we cannot
capture it without taking everything into account at once. the heavens,
weather, morals, climate, appetites, moods, degrees of wealth, and
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 33
This corruption of the best intentions, a corruption that was all
the more disturbing in that it did not always occur, had one serious
inconvenience. It encouraged skepticism. Steps could be taken, of
course, but against what? Against everything at once, but with no
certainty of success. It was difncult to arouse enthusiasm and sustain
conndence in programs of reform and sanitation that all rested on
this inconstant constant. "Confronted by this periodically recurring
fatality, we remained powerless, unarmed, and, as the poet has it,
'weary of all, even of hope' " Bouley: I&&I, p. 549).
The skepticism led straight to fatalism. Indeed, this corruption of
intentions had altogether too much the character of the "corruption
of this world" for it not to be seen

as inevitable. Life and good health

were miracles, and neither the hygienists nor the doctors had much
to do with them. They might wish to sanitize and reform, but it was
difncult to convince the public and the public authorities to invesr
enormous sums of money over decades if the simplest programs could
be betrayed by a sort of nfth column that undermined them from
wthin. We can see the parado of the hygienist movement. on the
one hand, it was a social movement of gigantic proportions that
declared itself ready to take charge of everything, and on the othcr,
it was a succession of measures that were being quietly undermined
by unknown and erratic agents. As a result, the period showed keen
interest in identifying the corrupting forces, the double agents, the
miasmas and contagions, and accorded immediate trust to those who
might, in identifying them, be able to take measures against them. It
was at this precise point that the microbe and the revealer of microbes
Betwcen the beer and the brewer there was something that some-
times acted and sometimes did not. A tertium qud: "a yeast," said
the revealer of microbes. When you send out the beer, you send out
the barrel, the liquid, the delivery documents, and the yeast Tyndall.
I&77, pp. 7&9~&OO) . When you bring a woman to birth, you think
you are in the presence of three agentsthe midwife, the baby, and
the' motherbut a fourth takes advantage of the situation to pass
from your hands to the woman's wounds. Your interest is the life of
the woman, but the interest of that fourth agent is different. It uses
your interest to carry out its own. It proliferates; the woman dies;
you !ose a client Duclau. I &79, pp. 629635) . You organize a
demonstration of skimos in the museum. They go out to meet the
public, but they also meet cholera and die. This is very annoying,
34 War and Peace of Microbes
because all you wanted to do was to show them and not to kill them
Anon.: I88I, pp. 372377) . Trav
ling with cow's milk is another
animal that is not domesticated, the tuberculose bacillus, and it slips
in with your wish to feed your child. Its aims are so different from
yours that your child dies.
In order to understand what constituted Pasteurism up to the end
of the century, we must understand what the Pasteurians, few in
number, offered the hygienists. Working in few laboratories, they
pronounced words that were immediately regarded as truthful and
were integrated into evidence that at last allowed the hygienist move-
ment to get on with its work. The hygienists were not "credulous. "
They expected something important from Pasteurism, something even
more important in that they had been so disappointed before and
were now sustained by a wider social movement. The small group of
Pasteurian researchers created neither medicine, nor the huge body
of theories on the causes of epidemics, nor the statistics, nor the
determination of the social body to sanitize and remodel itself, nor
even the rapid understanding by others of what they said. Yet they
added something of their own, something that seemed essential to
those who adopted it in order to pursue their own projects of sani-
If we could go back to this impossible state of hygiene before
Pasteur came to be credited with the whole movement, his contri
bution might be dehned as that of a fulcrum. The Pasteurians provided
neither the lever nor the weight nor even the worker who did the
work, but they provided the hygienists with a fulcrum. To use another
metaphor, they were like the nrst observation balloons. They made
the enemy visible. Without replacing the armies, the battles, or even
the commanding ofhcers, they indicated or directed the blows. They
were both nothing and everything. Duclau, speaking of the surgeons
who were the nrst to adopt Pasteurism, puts it well. "Surgeons have
long proved that they have the noble ambition of doing good, what-
ever trouble it takes them, and they only had to be shown where the
enemy was for them to learn to rush at those innnitely small enemies
that had so often robbed them of their success and glory and that it
was to be the honor of our century to have learned to know and to
confront" I&79, p. 635) . The Pasteurians were to displace or trans-
late) the intentions of the hygienists by adopting their projects, while
adding to them an element that would strengthen both the hygienists
and the Pasteurians.
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 35
There Are More of Us Than We Thought
We do not know who are the agents who make up our world. We
must begin with this uncertainty if we are to understand how, little
by little, the agents denned one another, summoning other agents and
attributing to them intentions and strategies. This rule of method is
especially important when we are studying a period when the number
of agents was suddenly multiplied by millions. What struck all the
authors of the Revue may be summed up in the sentence. "There are
more of us than we thought." When we speak of men, societies,
culture, and objects, there are everywhere crowds of other agents that
act, pursue aims unknown to us, and use us to prosper. We may
inspect pure water, milk, hands, curtains, sputum, the air we breathe,
and see nothing suspect, but millions of other individuals are moving
around that we cannot see.
"Ignoring the danger of the microbe awaiting us, we have hitherto
arranged our way of life without taking any account of this unknown
enemy" Leduc. I&92, p. 234) . verything is in that sentence. There
are not only "social" relations, relations between man and man. So-
ciety is not made up just of men, for everywhere microbes intervene
and act. We are in the presence not just of an skimo and an an-
thropologist, a father and his child, a midwife and her client, a pros-
titute and her client, a pilgrim and his Cod, not forgetting Mohammed
his prophet. In all these relations, these one-on-one confrontations,
these duels, these contracts, other agents are present, acting, echang-
ing their contracts, imposing their aims, and redenn

ng the social bond

in a different way. Cholera is no respecter of Mecca, but it enters the
intestine of the hadji, the gas bacillus has nothing against the woman
in childbirth, but it requires that she die. In the midst of so-called
"social" relations, they both form alliances that complicate those
relations in a terrible way.
I am not using the word "agent" in any metaphorical or ironical
sense but in the semiotic sense. Indeed, the social link is made up,
according to the Pasteurians, of those who bring men together and
those who bring the microbes together. We cannot form society with
the social alone. We have to add the action of microbes. We cannot
understand anything about Pasteurism if we do not realize that it has
reorganized society in a different way. It is not that there is a science
done in the laboratory, on the one hand, and a society made up of
groups, classes, interests, and laws, on the other. The issue is at once
36 War and Peace of Microbes
much more simple and much more difncult. To make up society with
only social connections, omitting the invisibles, is to end up with
general corruption, a perverse deviation of good human intentions.
In order to act effectively between menthat is, to go to Mecca, to
survive in the Congo, to bring nne, healthy children to birth, to get
mamy regimentswe have to "make room" for microbes. As Leduc
puts it. "Science began the enslavement of the forces of nature and
placed at the service of modern societies workers in iron and nre more
powerful than all the slaves of the ancient world. But no science
imposes as hygiene does interdependence on human societies; rod
we know that it is more or less impossible to benent from the good
things that it offers if we do not etend them to our neighbors; in
other words, individual hygiene is closely dependent on public hy-
giene; a single unhealthy house in a town is a perpetual threat 1o all
its inhabitants, if we are to give those good things to one, hygiene
requires that they be etended to all" I&92, p. 233).
With what does Leduc make up his world? With "science," with
iron and nre machines, with enslaved forces, but also with contagious
diseases. The juridical "social" link is weak, but that which links all
men together by a disease is much stronger. So what can we say about
the juridical link redenned by the hygienist that must act everywhere
in order to make the whole social body interdependent?
The Pasteurians redenned their numbers, wi little regard to whether
some belonged to nature and others "to culture," as the epression
used to be. What interests them is whether they can be enslaved and
what new forces can be created with these strange allies. Armaingaud,
for instance, forms an odd alliance with the microbes. "In our struggle
against phthisis . . . we have at our disposal an element of success that
is largely lacking in the struggle against scrofula and the local tuber-
culoses. it is the motive derived from personal interest, the contagion
that makes us all interdependent upon one another, the rich as well
as the poor, the strong as well as the weak" I&93, p. 37) .
Armaingaud, a rather paternalistic reformist, uses the microbe to
redenne that celebrated "self-interest" and to link everybody together
through fear of discase. This unepected strengthening is not in itself
"reactionary," as suggested by some authors who are used to speaking
only of power and who see hygiene as a "means of social control."
The allies of the microbe are to be found on the left as well as on the
right. At the time of the

inauguration of a Pasteur Institute in Mew

Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 37
York, Cibier writes. "Later we shall see that the study of contagious
organisms, which must be at the scientinc base of hygiene, can and
must bring considerable assistance to those who, nnding that all is
not for the best in the best of all possible worlds, are trying to improve
the wretched condition of the disinherited." He speaks of "assis-
tance. " He, like a vulgar Marist, attaches bacteriology to the class
struggle. "The wretchedness of the poor distills a bitter and virulent
bile that reaches as far as the rich man's goblet and contaminates the
veins of his children" I&93, p. 722) . The poor may have no rights,
but the contagious poor can blow up the whole outnt. What is refused
to one cannot be refused to the other. The class struggle may be
stemmed at one point, only to reappear at another through contagion.
Rosenkranz shows in the case of similar reforms in the United States
the impossibility of telling whether they served the right or the leh
because the microbe rendered unpredictable interests that would be
too predictable without it.
Mo one, toward the end of the century, could do without contagion
in connecting men, plants, and animals. In an article on the role of
microbes in society, Capitan sums up his thinking. "I have just out-
lined the way in which pathogenic microbes evolve in soci-
ety . . . Society can eist, live, and survive only thanks to the constant
intervention of microbes, the great deliverers of death, but also dis-
pensers of matter" I&96, p. 292) . 1gain, it is as an anthropologist
that we must follow these new translations of what matters in the
world. Capitan distinguishes in a different way between what is be-
nencent and what is harmful, what is useful and what is useless, what
acts and what does not. He does not base society on biology, like a
vulgar contemporary; he redennes society itself, a society in which
the new agents intervene now and at all points. "We need the assis-
tance of the innnitely small," writes Loye I&&5, p. 2I4). Microbes
connect us through diseases, but they also connect us, through our
intestinal flora, to the very things we eat. "We can hardly doubt the
importance of the role played in the economy of the individual by
those table companions that help it to break down organic sub
stances" Sternberg. I &&9, p. 32&) .
"Interdependence," "assistance," "power," "help," "table com-
panions" -I have not imposed these terms; they all emerge from the
trials of strength. It is the actors that thus redenne their worlds and
decide which must now be taken into account.
38 War and Peace of Microbes
From the Science of Society to the Study of Associations
The actors whom we are studying already have many lessons to teach
us. In particular, they do not wait for the sociologist to denne for
them the society in which they live. They reorganize society with
new actors who are not all social. Sociologists of the sciences often
claim to be providing a political or social eplanation of the content
of a science, such as physics, mathematics, or biology. But the soci-
ology of the sciences is too often powerless, because it thinks it knows
what society is made up of. Faithful to its tradition, it usually dennes
society as made up of groups, interests, intentions, and conicts of
interest. So we can see why this sociology is so feeble when it ap-
proaches the eact sciences. It thinks it can eplain hard disciplines
in social terms, whereas those disciplines are almost always original
and more subtle even in their defnition of the social body than so-
ciology itself. Sociologists of sciencethink they are very clever because
they have eplained hygiene in terms of the class struggle, the in-
frastructure, and power, whereas :he agents spike our guns for us.
They go off and look for new allies to advance the cause and to terrify
the rich or poor), brandishing diseases. Which eplains the other?
Which is the more inventive?
The eact sciences elude social analysis not because they are distant
or separated from society, but because they revolutionize the very
conception of society and of what it comprises. Pasteurism is an
admirable eample. The few sociological eplanations are feeble com-
pared with the strictly sociological master stroke of the Pasteurians
and their hygienist allies, who simply redenned the so
ial link by
including the action of the microbes in it. We cannot reduce the
action of the microbe to a sociological eplanation, since the action
of the microbe redenned not only society but also nature and the
whole caboodle.
Microbes are everywhere third parties in all relations, say the Pas-
teurians. But how do we know this? Through the Pasteurians them-
selves, through the lectures, the demonstrations, the handbooks, the
advice, the articles that they produced from this time. Who, then, was
the thinl party in all these social relations at the time? The Pasteurian,
of course, the revealer of microbes. For whom must we "make room"?
For millions of omnipresent, terribly effective, often dangerous, and
quite invisible microbes. But since they are invisible, we also have to
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 39
make room for the revealer of microbes. In redenning the social link
as being made up everywhere of microbes, Pasteurians and hygienists
regained the power to be present everywhere. We cannot "eplain"
their actions and decisions by "mere" political motives or interests
which in any case would be very difncult to do.) They do so much
more. In the great upheaval of late nineteenth-century uroe, they
redenne what society is made up of, who acts and how, and they
become the spokesmen for these new innumerable, invisible, and dan-
gerous agents.
The lesson in sociology that Pasteurians and hygienists give to their
time and to sociologists of science) is that if we wish to obtain
economic and social relations in the strict sense, we must nrst etirpate
the microbe. But in order to etirpate the microbe, we must place the
representatives of the hygienists or Pasteurians everywhere. If we wish
to realize the dream of the sociologists, the economists, the psychol-
ogiststhat is, to obtain relations that nothing will divertwe must
divert the microbes so that they will no longer intervene in relations
everywhere. They and their ways must be interrupted. After the Pas-
teurians have invaded surgery, only then will the surgeon be alone
with his patient. After we have found a method of pasteurizing beer,
then the brewer will be able to have nothing but economic relations
with his customers. After we have sterilized milk by spreading
throughout all farms methods of pasteurization, then we will be able
to feed our infant in a pure loving relationship. Serres describes this
elimination of a parasite by another more powerful one.
Only after
the insulation of the second parasite can we declare ourselves safe
from the brst. At the cost of setting up new professions, institutions,
laboratories, and skills at all points, we will obtain properly separated
channels of microbes, on the one hand, and of pilgrims, beer, milk,
wine, schoolchildren, and soldiers, on the other.
To eplain bacteriology is not, then, to reduce Pasteur to the po-
sition of a social group. On the contrary, it is to follow the lesson
that bacteriology and hygiene gave to all the sociologies of the period.
"You thought you could do without the microbe. Yet the microbe is
an essential actor. But who knows it? We, only we in our laboratories.
So you must take us into account and go through our laboratories if
you are to solve the problems of society." In order to understand this
point of view, we must remember that the period was full of people
who rurned themselves into the spokesmen for dangerous, obscure
40 War and Peace of Microbes
forccs that must now be taken into account. The hygienists were not
alone in inventing new forces. There were those who manipulated the
fairy electricity, those who set up leagues for colonization, for the
development of gymnastic clubs, or for promotion of the telephone,
radio, or X-rays. The radical party, for instance, gained ground every-
where by forcing the traditional agents of me social game to take
account of the dangerous laboring classes, whose actions and inten-
tions were so little known. But it is with Freud that the resemblance
is greatest. Like Freud, Pasteur found treasure, not in the parapraes
and tries of everyday lite, but in decay and refuse. Both announced
that they were speaking in the name of invisible, rejected, terribly
dangerous forces that must be listened to if civilization was not to
collapse. Like the psychoanalysts, the Pasteurians set themselves up
as eclusive interpreters of populations to which no one else had
It does not matter that Pasteur developed an eact science, that the
radical party occupied a growing place in parliament, and that Freud
developed a science that is still controversial. It does not matter that
some denne human actors and others denne nonhuman agents. Such
distinctions are less important than the attribution of meaning and
the construction of the spokesmen who epress, for others' benent,
what is being said by the unconscious, the rabies virus, or the print
worker. Such distinctions among types of actors matter less than the
fact that they are all renegotiating what the world is made up of, who
is acting in it, who matters, and who wants what. They are all cre-
atingthis is the important pointnew sources of power and new
sources of legitimacy, which are irreducible to those that hitherto
coded the so-called political space. They cannot be reduced to a "social
or political eplanation," since they are renewing the political game
from top to bottom with new forces. If socio-logy wishes to be the
science of "social facts," then it cannot understand this period. It
thereby limits itself to the purely social, whereas all me actors are
dirtying it with something else. More seriously, sociology rema

deaf to thc lessons of the actors themselves. If we wish to learn from
this lesson and still call ourselves sociologists, we must redenne this
science, not as the science of the social, but as the science of associ-
ations. We cannot say of these associations whether they are human
or natural, made up of microbes or surplus value, but only that they
are strOng or weak.30
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 41
How to Become Indisputable
We begin to understand the general process of translation found in
the Revue Scientifque.
"We want to sanitize," say the hygienists, epressing in their own
way the forces of the period and the conicts between wealth and
"All your good intentions are diverted, confused, parasitized," say
their enemies.
"This parasite that diverts and confuses our wishes, we see it and
reveal it, we make it speak and tame it," say the Pasteurians.
"If we adopt what the Pasteurians say, seizing the parasite with its
hand in the bag, we can then go as far as we wish," say the hygienists.
"Mothing will be able to divert our projects and veaken our programs
of sanitization."
In spreading the notion of the Pasteurians as revealers of microbes,
the hygienists, who claimed to be the legislators of health, spread
themselves. By generalizing both the Pasteurian and the hygienist
everywhere, he desire ro get rich was no longer thwarted. The conict
between health and wealth was resolved to the beneht of the latter.
As McMeill suggests when discussing the millenium-long struggle
between the microparasites and the macroparasites, a struggle that
seems to him to be the motive force of history, the scale is turned in
favor of the macroparasites.' The rich and the empires will at last
be able to spread. Hitherto, especially in the tropics, they could never
go very far. Their most faithful factotems soon died. Mow, wherever
the Pasteurians and hygienists gained ground, the microparasites lost
ground. We can see why nobody, even today, can seriously question
the contribution of bacteriology. Indeed, all opinions speak with the
same voice, and everybody works together to attack the micropar-
asites. eploiters, eploited, benefactors of mankind, merchants, the
clergy, and above all the doctors, the hygienists, the army medical
corps, and at the end of the parasitical chain, the Pasteurians. The
only losers in all this are the microbes. Since no human being can
wish ro defend them, the general transformation of towns in the
nineteenth century through the elimination of microbes is indisput

The assemblage of forces that I am trying to reconstruct might be
confused with the hnal !mpression given by this assemblage if it were
not for a certain distinction. Microbes might have been discvered,
42 War and Peace of Microbes
but with no responsibility for this discovery being attributed to Pas-
teur. After all, in politics, ingratitude is more common than gratitude.
Thus, two mechanisms must be distinguished. The nrst sets up the
forces one on top of the other and enables us to eplain how a whole
period is interested nnds itself interested) in what is happening in
Pasteur's laboratory; the second mechanism attributes responsibility
for the command to one member in the crowd. When Tolstoy eplains
the Russian campaign, he describes the nrst mechanism, but he is well
aware that the second is constructed differently, since the maneuvc
are attributed to "Mapoleon's genius" and "Kutuzov's genius. " The
same goes for bacteriology. What ! call the primary mechanism shows
how bacteriology got into th end of the parasitical chain and found
itself able to epress a whole period. But the secondary mechanism
attributes the whole of the sanitational revolution of the period to
Pasteur's genius. The primary mechanism describes the alliances and
make-up oI the forces, whereas the second eplains why the forces
are mied together under a name that represents them. The nrst dennes
the "trials of strength"; the second enables us to eplain what "po-
tency" is made up of.
This is not a minor point, for it helps us to eplain two very different
things. nrst, how the hygienists or Pasteurians put themselves in a
position to translate the forces that needed them and, second, how
they initiated an investigation to denne who was responsible for the
movement as a whole. ! have said that the shift took place only
throug translation. But this translation is always a misunderstanding
in which both elements lay different bets. Once the shift has been
made, it is crucial to decide who was ultimately the cause of this
transaction. For instance, it is almost certain that the nglish bacte-
riologists arranged their laboratories in the same way as the French
biologists. So the primary mechanism was the same. But it was only
in France that responsibility was attributed entirely to bacteriology,
which was reputed to be the work of a single man, Pasteur.
This distinction between the two mechanisms is an essential one,
because the strategies that it implemented were quite different and
could vary in the same article. For eample, Richet, speaking of the
antidiphtheria serum, ends. "!t may be astonishing that ! have not
seen nt to mention the great name of Pasteur. But what is the point?
Do we not know that every discovery in the domain of bacteriology
emanates directly from M. Pasteur, just as every discovery in chemistry
emanates from Lavoisier?" I&95, p. 69). Plotinus himself would not
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 43
have endowed his Cod with enough power to make the antidiphtheria
serum to which Pasteur the man hardly contributed) emanate "di-
rectly" from him. But :he same Richet, in the same article, uses a
quite different model to establish the priorities of the discoveries about
diphtheria. "In the presence of this magnincent result, this victory
over death by science, it is of relatively secondary interest to know
to whom it is due, for we always eaggerate what is attributable to
a particular scientist in any discovery. It is, much more than his pride
supposes, due to an anonymous, perpetual collaboration and to the
echange of ideas in the air, each of which makes its useful, obscure
contribution" p. 6&) .
What? So there are "anonymous" researchers? Other researchers
than Pasteur? "Collaborations," "ideas in the air"? The Plotinus-like
emanation has become the humdrum sociology of the sciences, a
crowd of anonymous, hard-working foot sloggers. One may have
guessed the cause of this shift in metaphysics. The nrst obscure, anony-
mous collaborator was none other than Richet himself. "On Decem-
ber 6, I&9O, we carried out the 6rst serotherapic injection on a man"
J&95, p. 6&) . This double game of eplanationone creating po-
tency, the other setting out the trials of strengthmight seem no
more than an amusing oddity. But it helps us to eplain how so patent
a manipulation of all the trials of strength of a society may end up
giving the impression that a society has been revolutionized by the
purely scientinc ideas of a few men, and it even helps us to explain
how, by reduction to the secondary mechanism, we end up with the
impression that there eists a science on the one hand and a society
on the other.
Hygiene and the Obligatory Points of Passage
Let us take a look at the side of the hygienists and see why they seized
so readily on any argument about microbes to emerge from the mi-
crobiological laboratories. I said that they were at war and were
nghting on all fronts. I compared them to a small army given the task
of defending an immense frontier and therefore obliged to disperse
itself along a thin cordon sanitaire. Tbey were everywhere, but were
everyvhere weak, and we know how many epidemics, how many
outbreaks of typhus, cholera, yellow fever, got through those ill-

defended frontiers. What does the dehnition of the microbe and the
description of its habits mean to them? Precisely what in the army
44 War and Peace of Microbes
are called obligatory points of passage. Depending on its equipment,
the enemy cannot get through everywhere, but only in a few places.
They have only to concentrate their forces at those points for their
weakness to turn into strength. The enemy may then be crushed.
Take an infantile disease like the ophthalmia of the newborn, a
cause, say the statistics, of 3O percent of those born blind. Fuchs, the
author of this article, says that he believed like others in morbid
spontaneity. Anything could cause this ophthalmia. overbright light,
cold, jaundice. Then he adds, without actually citing Pasteur. "As
soon as we learned that the cause of several infectious diseases lies
in microscopic mushrooms, we were all ready to believe that herc,
too, the blame lay with the microorganisms" I&&4, p. 494).
The mere dennition of an agent is enough "to lead us to believe"~
a crucial termin a new program of research. Thanks to the prowess
of this agent, Fuchs sets about linking two hitherto unconnected sta-
tistical aggregates, the presence of disease and gonorrhoea in the
mother. He then nnds the same gonococcus in the mother's wounds
and in the puss discharging from the infants's eyes. When could the
microorganism pass from the mother's vagina to the well-closed eye
of the newbon infant? Thcre was only one answer. through the lashes
to which it adhered. This was the obligatory point of passage. the
eyelashes. But where does Fuchs strike? !n the eyes themselves. With
what? With a powerful disinfectant, silver nitrate. Fuchs was pow-
erless to prevent all the causes of a disease. He found himself in a
strong position crushing the gonococcus with silver nitrate at the
single place where it was obliged to pass. The results of this new trial
of strength were spectacular, "indisputable." In a Cerman hospital,
says the author, the ngures dropped from I2.3 percent of diseased
children to O percent. Who indeed could still argue about that? By
deploying the same forces, Fuchs gets results that bear no comparison
with earlier ones. Understandably, this reinforcement is enough to
show why so many people were "led to believe" in the presence of
Furthermore, the microbe made it possible for a reordering of epi-
demiological problems, where it seemed that the number of causes
would always defy analysis. Take, for instance, an investigation into
a cholera case at Yport, a little harbor in Mormandy. The investigator,
a certain Cibert, is confronted by a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes.
a Mewfoundlander lands with his nsh at Ste in me south of rance,
a sailor dies at Toulon; in the train a bag belonging to the dead man
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 45
travels unaccompanied; at Yport a woman washes the linen of her
sick brother; she lives in a steeply rising street; there is a public
fountain. From the only point of view known to statistics, this mis-
cellany of disparate facts can only produce the following. in I&&4
there was an outbreak of cholera at Toulon and another at Yport in
Seine Inferieure. "The doctrine of morbid spontaneity has been men-
tioned once again," the author admits.
To remedy the uncertainty, the investigator comes on the scene
with his Ariadne's thread. He imposes his preconceived certainties on
the investigation. The microbe is not an idea lloating in the head of
scientists; it is a means of locomotion for moving through the net-
works that they wish to set up and command. The microbe is a means
of action, designed for a certain use and a certain type of connection
and movement. There is a specinc microorganism; it does not jump
from one place to another; we must follow the thread. With these
certainties, a new route is both described and dug. Cibert recounts
how the sick sailor, a friend of the sailor who died at Toulon, has
his linen washed by his sister. "The day after his arrival, he had all
his clothes soaked, in two lots, in a tub, then had them hung up to
dry . . . The water from the tub was thrown out into the very steep
street and traveled over 5O meters" I&&4, p. 724). Sevn died along
that steep street! "ach new case could be connected with the earlier
cases and there was not a single one that was not eplained by con-
tagion" p. 725) .
From obligatory point of passage to obligatory points of passage,
the path emerges to eplain the variation of elements that the doctrine
of morbid spontaneity alone seemed capable of accounting for. Con-
tagionism as a general doctrine was powerless, but the Ariadne's
thread, making it possible to connect a ship, a train, a particular
topography, a system of water supply, brought together both the
traditional investigation and the new agent. Before, everything had
to be taken into account, but in a disconnected fashion; now the
hygienist could also take everything into account, but in the order
laid down by the microbe's performances. It is easy to imagine the
etraordinary enthusiasm of all the hygienists called upon to discover
the traces of an enemy that seemed so erratic as to summon up the
whole eplanation of morbid spontaneity. Without abandoning any-
thing of the past, they were becoming stronger. "If we could know
e microbe at the source of each disease, its favorite haunts, its habits,
its way of progressing, we might,
ith good medical supervision, catch
46 War and Peace of Microbes
it in time, stop it in its tracks, and prevent its continuing in its hom-
icidal mission" Trelat. I&95, p. I69) .
I have chosen on purpose three authors who were not Pasteurians,
did not mention Pasteur, or worked on diseases that the Pasteurians
had not yet dealt with. Indeed, the formidable transformation of
hygiene was effected at nrst only with the following research program.
there are obligatory points of passage; the microbe is the ^riadne's
thread that links all the points together. Of course, we may admit
that Pasteur was responsible for the certainty that specinc microbes
eisted, but he was not responsible for their medical use.
The clearest case was obviously that of surgery. In the Revue its
transformation is regarded as won from the outset. Indeed, from the
point of view of the secondary mechanism surgery is regarded as the
work of Lister and Cuerin. Pasteur is seen, at least at the beginning,
only as the occasion of a development for which the surgeons them-
selves were responsible. We understand why. Antisepsia and asepsia
may develop without the knowledge of any particular microbe, with-
out the culture, the attenuation in short, without anything to be found
in the medical program of the Pasteurians. In order to launch Lister,
all that was needed was for surgeons no longer to quesuon the e-
istence of microbes and their ability to pass everywhere, but for them
to know more or less that microbes died in heat or in the airor
absence of airunder the effects of a disinfectant. All Pasteur had to
do was to make this indisputable, and the surgeons themselves would
"apply" it, that :s, do the rest.
The enthusiasm of the surgeons shows clearly enough that we can-
not distinguish "belief" from "knowledge." The degrees that lead
from the most skeptical indifference to the most passionate fanaticism
are continuous and measure the angle of relations between the agents.
We believe that which we epect something from in return; in this
sensc belief is based, like knowledge, on the etension of safe networks
that allow things to go and come back. For instance, asepsia allowed
the surgeons to reach new places that they were unable to reach
hitherto ecept on corpses. Thus their beliefs, their knowledge, and
their skills grew at the same pace and in the same proportion.
The act of operating no longer kills: we are more or less
masters of the cuts we make, we direct them almost at will
toward immediate healing . . . The serious interventions of for-
mer times, the amputations of limbs, the hollowing out of bones,
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 47
articular resections, removal of breasts, nrst entered everyday
practice. Then the horizon widened. abdominal surgery was cre-
ated out of nothing. We cut, we resected, we sewed up the
stomach, the intestines, the liver and its biliary vesicle, the spleen,
the kidney, the pancreas itself . . . Antisepsia made this miracle
possible. complications in wounds were now the eception, and
thanks to M. Pasteur's discoveries, M. Lister has deserved the
celebrated gold statue promised by Mclaton to whoever delivered
us from purulent infection. Reclus. I&9O, p. IO4)
!t is not B question of ideas, theories, opinions. !t is a question of
ways and means. Surgeons could go into the stomach, they could
wield the lancet in the ovaries, and still hope that the living individual
on whom they were operating would not die at once. The certainty
that surgeons placed in the antiseptic method corresponded eactly
to the territories that it was opening up to them. The translation
appears quite clearly. At the cost of a rapid and inepensive detour
via the gestures of disinfection, they reached more quickly and further
to what they had been wishing to reach since antiquity.
have already cited the unfortunate Kirmisson, lamenting the pow-
erlessness of surgeons to control at once all the factors of purulent
infection. "So we had accumulated all the precautions of general
hygiene, but we had not managed to uproot from the wards purulent
infection and all the calamities of surgery." Such was the nrst program,
the nrst hygiene. He adds. "We were obviously on the wrong track,
we were looking for the cause of the accidents in the environment,
in the hygienic conditions in which we found the patient, whereas we
had to nght them and above all prevent them by the use of antiseptic
substances in the wound itself" I&&&, p. 296). The reversal was made.
The wound was enough. 1t was there that surgeons had to take pre-
cautions. The environment was of course important, but they will
never be strong enough to control it entirely. The weak became strong
simply by changing the point of application of their efforts. Protect
the wounds and not the environment. that was enough to redirect
the forces of surgery as a whole, which became almost at once stronger
than the microbes that were perverting their good intentions.
This transformation may be epressed more precisely. The surgeons
passed from a total attack to a specinc attack, or in other words, from
a full totality to a hollowed out totality. Before there was endless
discussion in the Revue about "disencumbering" the hospitals. This
48 War and Peace of Microbes
solution was typical of the "old" hygiene with its precautionary ac-
cumulatory methods. There are too many men, too many diseases,
especially in the cities. They must be cleaned out. But Kirmisson writes
again, if all we have to do is to protect the wounds, "the question at
the present time is oddly simplihed . . . We are no longer demanding,
as in the past, that the old hospitals be pulled down and new ones
built at a cost of millions. These great hospitals, imperfect as they
are, from the point of view of general hygene, are adequate to our
needs providing we practice strict asepsia" I&&&, p. 297) .
Mot only surgery was simplihed and strengthened, but hygiene as
a whole, which could vindicate its advice by concentrating its forces
on the obligatory points of passage. It was not always convenient to
follow Bouchardat's prudent advice to physicians assisting at births
to wait several days before doing so again. It was simpler to wash
their hands in a carbolic lotion after each childbirth Bouchardat.
I&73, pp. 552564) . It was epensive and ineffective to build ma-
ternity homes. Yet it was quite possible to place the women in close
proimity, providing they were surrounded by an antiseptic cordon
sanitaire I&75) . Quarantine is an inconvenient method. Why lock
people away when you let their infected linen escape? |ousset de
Bellesme asks indignantly I&76, p. 4O3) . They must simplify the
precautions to be taken. When ten years later it was

discovered that
cholera had only a hve-day incubation period, the quarantine could
safely be reduced to si days. There was controversy about the danger
of cemeteries. But since no passages were found to link the microbes
of the dead with the living, they could declare cemeteries healthy
Robinet: I&&I, pp. 779~7&2) . The same went for drains. Their smell
was pestilential, but if microbes did not pass with the smell, xhey
presented no danger.
Thus, all the great problems of hygieneovercrowding, quaran-
tine, smells, refuse, dirtwere gradually retranslated or dissipated.
ither the microbe gets through and all precautions are useless, or
hygienists can stop it getting through and all other precautions are
superfuous. The hygiene that took over the doctrine of microbes
became stronger and simpler, more structured. It could be both more
fleiblequarantine could be relaedand more infleibletotal
disinfection to I2O degrees. In a sense hygiene lost ground, since it
was no longer directed at the totality, but in another sense it gained
ground at last by striking more surely at an enemy that had become
visible. This is why the contribution of the hygienists is difhcult to
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 49
isoatc trom that otthcir aics. Jhcy changcd whatthcywantcd to
Jhcy wcrc ikc pcopc who had bcgun to sct up a road nctwork
and cndcd up buiding ony a tcw main roads. Jhc aim is sti thc
samc, to gct cvcrywhcrc, but thc program otpubic works is guitc
The Hygienists Made Their Own Time
Jhis shitt in hygicnic prcccpts, which bccamc rarcrand morc hrmy
bascd was aso to transtorm thc rcationship bctwccn hygicnc and
it sct out to cmbracc cvcrything. Lycurgus and ippocratcs wcrc
invokcd bywritcrs obscsscd bythc tcar that, in ignoring onc dctai,
thcy might bc ignoring onc otthc causcs otthosc discascs that havc
so many causcs. As soon as thcy rcdcpoycdthcir torccs, ciminatcd
a ot otknowcdgc, and structurcd thc advicc avaiabc around thc
obigatory points ot passagc, thcy coud ignorc a argc part ot thc
opinion otthc ancicnts and drop whoc arcas otwhat by this timc
had bccomc 'traditiona" hygicnc. Attcr I&&O thc styc ot thc hy-
gicnists coud bc rccognizcd at a gancc. ncc thcy had givcn thcir
advicc on cvcrything, now thcy dccdcd on a tcw things. ncc thcy
hadaccumuatcdcvcrying, nowthcyordcrcd.Jimcno ongcrmovcd
ing cvcrything, thcy rctrcnchcd, cttisoncd, and as a rcsut tctthcy
wcrc making progrcss at ast.
Itcn inhistorywhcn wc scc such dittcrcnccs otstycor thought,
wc spcak otrcvoution borrowing thc anguagc otthc poiticians),
or cvcn otcpistcmoogica brcak thistimcborrowing thc anguagc
otthc butchcr`s shop) . ut to cxpain cvcn a radica dittcrcncc by a
brcak 'intimc" isto cxpainnothingat a. !tistosupposcthattimc
passcs and datcs cxist. Vc aways say, tor instancc, that timc is ir-
rcvcrsibc.Jhis is casiy said. Jhcycar I&75, wccaim,isattcrI&7I.
ut i ti snot ncccssariy so. Jhc hygicnists aways compaincd that
!or thcm, ccrtainthings had not changcd sincc Gacn. !s timc irrc-
vcrsibc: Voud that it wcrc| n thc contrary, it is rcvcrsibc-so
rcvcrsibcthat itis possibc notto havcmadc anyprogrcsssinccthc
timc ot thc Komans. ^ow it things stagnatc, wc can hardy makc a
50 War and Peace of Microbes
distinction bctwccn I&7I and I&75, cxccpt on thc cacndar, which
docs not amount to vcry much.
!n othcr words, it was ony rcccnty thathygcnists had comcto
piccc ot advicc might havc bccn archaic, but it might bc usctu to-
morrow.Aparticuarrcmcdywasncw, butitmightonybcamcthod
mat woud bc supcrscdcd tomorrow. ^othingvas rcay without a
tuturc, butnothingrcayhadaIuturc.!nsuchastatc,nothingcoud
dividc up thc timc ot hygicnc into rccognizabc pcriods. r rathcr
somchygicnists tricdto do so, butingrcatcpochs: 'Jhcocratic with
Noscs, patrioticwith Lycurgus, naturaistic withippocratcs, mcta-
at thc instigation ot thc Koya 5ocicty oI Ncdicinc, that hygicnc]
bccamc cxpcrimcnta, that is to say, truy scicntihc, rcsting on thc
bioogica and socioogica scicnccs" Cor!icu: I&&J, p. 533) .
Jhcsc spaccs ottimc arc notcnoughtodistinguish bctwccn I&7I
and I&75 ! !n any casc, thc agcnts wcrc not in agrccmcnt asto thc
datcatwhich things bcgan to changc. IorNartinin I&&O, thc 'ncw
cra` bcgan in I&76 at thc russcs Congrcss I&&O, p. IO7I) . !or
oucy in I&&I, thctoundation othygicncdatcs,wc archardy sur-
priscd to carn, trom ouiy-c-!ort. owarc wc to distinguish bc-
twccn thc ycars andhow arcwc toproducc a bcttcr pcriodization:
Jhis is thcsamcprobcm that cach actorhastocontront.
!tthc ycars arc to bc distinguishcd trom onc anothcr and ittimc
isto goinoncdircction,wcmustcrcatcirrcvcrsibcsituations.Jhcrc
mustbcccrtainthingsthatwccannoongcrgo back on. Jimc-that
is, thc distinction bctwccn momcnts-is thc distant consequence ot
actions to makcaparticuarpositiondurabc.!tisnot, norcani1bc,
a causc. ut tor thc agcnts to makc thcir positions durabc and ir-
awayssaidthat'his principcswcrcsostrongycstabishcdthatthcy
coud ncvcr bc ovcrthrown." ut thcy wcrc thc oncs who did not
wish to bc ovcrthrown, and that is why thcy madc thc principcs so
indcstructibc: thc hrst turn ot thc ratchct. ^oson, an unhcathy,
stinkingtown, was 'supcrscdcd" and 'anachronistic." !n thc agc oI
progrcss this was anothcr tum ot mc ratchct. Jhc statistica rcsuts
otthosccttortswcrc unccrtain, butvith ncw mcthods thc rcsuts at
ast had thc ungucstioncdccrtaintyotthc scicnccsottimc: bctorc, so
many dcaths, attcr, nonc-hcrc miions ot microbcs, thcrc nonc. A
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 51
third turn ot thcratchct. Jhc achicvcmcnts wcrc piing up. !t was
arcady bccoming morc dithcut to rcvcrsc thcm. !t thc hygicnists
managcd to rccruit cnough aics, thcn thcy woud bc abc to makc
timc irrcvcrsibc. Jhcn thcy woud bc abc to bcgin to datc ycars.
as guy says in C/to. Hcncc thcir cnthusiasm. Vhat thcy rctcrto
as thc rcccnt cvcnt is a changc in thc rctmc ot timc: bctorc, this
rcgimc did not movc torward, now it docs. ctorc, thc hygicnists
coud not, without bcing immcdiatcy contradictcd, tc othcrs what
thc timc was and yc, 'You arc archaic and supcrscdcd."^ow thcy
coud do so and no onc woud contradict thcm. ^owthcy coud do
so because thcy wcrc no ongcr controvcrsia. Jhis cosurc ot thc
argumcntwas duc, inturn, to thc aics thatthcygavc thcmscvcs in
ordcrto makc thcir positions imprcgnabc.
Jo spcak ot 'rcvoution" is dithcut cnough in poitics, but it is
Vhatmakcsthchistoryotthcscicnccs-sorcspcctabc cscwhcrc-
usuay disappointingisthatitsctsouttromtimcinordcrto cxpain
thc agcnts and thcir movcmcnts, whcrcas thc tcmpora tramcwork
mcrcy rcgistcrs attcr thc cvcnt thc victory ot ccrtain agcnts. !t wc
rcaywantcdto cxpain history, wcwoud havc to acccptthccsson
that thcactors thcmscvcs givc us.|ust as thcymadc thcirsocictics,
thcyaso madcthcirownhistory. Jhc actors pcriodizcwitha thcir
might. Jhcy givc thcmscvcs pcriods, aboish thcm, and atcr thcm,
rcdistributingrcsponsibiitics, namingthc 'rcactionarics,"thc 'mod-
crns," thc 'avant-gardc," thc 'torcrunncrs," just /tkc a historian-
no bcttcr, no worsc. Vc ought to ask history to dispay thc samc
humiitythat wc havc askcd socioogy to do. |ust as wc askcd soci-
oogyto abandonits 'sociagroups" andits 'intcrcsts"andto aow
thc actors to dchnc thcmscvcs, wc ought to askhistoryto abandon
its 'pcriods," its 'high points," its 'dcvcopmcnt," and its 'grcat
historians as socioogists. 5omcthingwoud surcy bcgaincdbythis:
instcadotcxpainingthcmovcmcnts otthcactors bytimcand datcs,
wc woud cxpain at ast thc construction ottimc itscton thc basis
otthcagcnts` own transations.`
Jhcymadcthcmscvcsmodcrnby bypassing athcothcrs. !twasto
52 War and Peace 'f Microbes
by thosc who had takcn rcsponsibiity tor dirccting thc sanitization
andrcgcncration otLuropc. Jhcir most advanccd aims had bccomc
amostindisputabc. At thc cost otacccptingmicrobioogy, thc sup-
port ot its aboratorics, and cvcn thc continua praisc otthc 'grcat
astcur," thcy advanccd thcir causc morc guicky and strcngthcncd
thcir positions cvcrywhcrc by wcakcning thcir advcrsarics, whcthcr
microparasitcs or pubic authoritics. Jhc timc that thcy made was
nowworking tor thcm.
We Must Know How to Bring a Science to an End
irrcvcrsibcwastoinkthctatcotwhatthcywcrcdoingto somcthing
csc that was css disputabc. Jhc hygicnists pavcd thc way tor thc
astcurians by trusting thcm and gcncraizing what thcy said. Jhcy
wcntturthcr: thcyconsidcrcdcaryonthatmicrobioogywasacom-
pctc, dchnitivc scicncc and that all that remained was to appy it.
Jhchrstmarkcrotthis cosingopcrationisto bctoundinthcRevue
in I88J: '!rom thc daywhcnthcthcory otparasitcsthrcwight on
thc hithcrto stimystcriousctioogyotintcctiousdiscascs,wchadto
hndoutwhcthcr itwoudhcp in discovcringthctrucnaturc otthc
maaria poison" Kichard: I88J, p. I IJ) .
!rom now on, thc ccrtainty otthc thcory otparasitcs was takcn
as a prcmisc cithcr otrcscarch programs that had only to be impc-
mcntcdor otpractica mcasurcs mathad ony to bc appicd orgcn-
Vc cannot cxpain this cosing opcration by saying that microbi-
oogy was at thc timc an cxact scicncc. !ndccd, thc cxactncss ot a
scicnccdocs notcomc trom within. !t, too, comcs trom thc strcngth
ot thc agcnts with whosc tatc it has managcd to bccomc inkcd.
Astonishing as thc rcsuts arcadyaccumuatcdatthcpcriodby as-
tcurmay appcar, thcy coud not in thcmscvcs cxpain thc trust ac-
cordcd thcm by thc othcr actors, tor thc cxcccnt rcason that thc
actorsingucstionwcrcthconyoncsto sccwhatcoudbcdoncwith
trust, tor controvcrsics wcrc ust as passionatcy tought out in that
ccntury as in any othcr. Jhc rcasons thcrc wcrc no controvcrsics
shoud bc, inordcrto rcspcctthc principc otsymmctry,thc samc as
thcy coud havc donc so. Jhc abscncc or prcscncc ot a controvcrsy
Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 53
is a mcasurc ony ot thc angcs ot movcmcnt otthc actors. Jhis is
provcdbythctactthatKochorthcdoctorsotthcConcours Medical
opcncdup controvcrsics onthcvcry samcobccts, which sccmcd to
thc hygicnists to bc irrcvcrsiby coscd.
torthc trust paccd init, wc cannotcxpain this cosingopcration in
cvcry casc bythc 'rca" cthcacyotmicrobioogyorothygicnc, sincc
thisopcrationprecedes andmakes possible thcgcncraizationotthcsc
two scicnccs. Jhc bcst proot otthis shittis providcd by an cditoria
ot I&&9. Jhc atcst hgurcs .or dcaths trom intcctious discascs, says
Kichct, 'havcbccninconstantprogrcsstorthcpasttwcnty-hvcycars"
I&&9, p. 636) . Jhcschgurcsought aso, itscicnccandsocicticswcrc
oppcrian, to put into gucstion a thc cttorts otthc hygicnists and,
sti morc, thosc ot thcir astcunan aics ut this is not at a thc
casc. Kichct gocs on: 'Vc shoud not concudc trom thcsc hgurcs
that thc cttorts otthc hygicnists havc provcd usccss orthc achicvc-
mcnts ot scicncc truitcss." Anthropoogists havc shown that, in a
witchcratttria,thcrc arc awaysagcntsthatcannotbcmadcrcspon-
in tactwhataowswitchcratt torcvcasowcthctabricotsocicty.
!t is thc samc hcrc. Doubt movcs not in thc dircction otscicncc but
toward thc incrtia ot thc pubic authoritics. As Kichct continucs,
'Dcspitc thc progrcss ot scicncc, dcspitc thc advancc ot physicians
and cnginccrs, thc hygicnic cconomy ota grcat and ancicnt city ikc
aris rcmains morc or css out ot contro." Vhcn it is a mattcr ot
tormingaianccsthat arc durabccnoughto ovcrthrowthcwhocot
urban Luropc, no countcrcxampcwiprcvai against thcsc ccrtain-
tics, no accusation wi bc pointcd in thc dircction ot scicncc or thc
astcurians. 5uch statcmcnts arcmcasurcsnototthc partiaity orthc
crcduity but otthc capita ottrustthat had bccn invcstcdinrcscarch
conccrning thc microbcs.
crcwc can scc that 'trust" is ncvcr a primary tcrm. !t dcpcnds
onthc scopc otthc opcrations intowhich thchygicniststhrcwthcm-
scvcs. !ndccd, itisinthcvcrynaturcotthctranstormations thatthcy
advocatcd to havc no rcsut unti cvcrything is hnishcd. A singc mi-
crobc may cndangcr cvcrything. Jhc hygicnists arc powcrcss to u-
guatc thcintcctious discascs it thcy do notinvcst continuousy tor
scvcra gcncrations. Jo crcatc irrcvcrsibiity and to rid thcmscvcs
torcvcrotthcmicrobc,thcymustnot abandon thc buiding otdrains
54 War and Peace of Microbes
must thcy intcrrupt thc disintcction otmidwivcs` hands or thc stcr-
iizationotmik. Jhcnctworkotgcsturcsandskisthatthchygicnists
wantcdto sctup had to bcas continuousas an oi pipcinc. ccausc
thcyhadtocrcatcthatongtimc,thcRevue's authorscannotindugc
inthcsightcstdisputc conccrning astcur. Jhis wasthc onywayot
crcating thc tuturc conditions tor thc rcaization ot an cthcacious
astcurism. Jhis iswhy itispointcss to caim that astcur`s discov-
csc to put them into practice.
!n ordcr to makc thcir positionpcrmancnt, thc hygicnists had to
sct up thc grcatcst possibc 'potcntia dittcrcncc" bctwccn thc 'in-
disputabc congucsts" ot scicncc and thc 'dithcrings ot thc pubic
authoritics."Jhiswas, torthchygicnists, thconywayotsetting up
at avcrycary stagc: '!rom thc thcorctica point otvicw, in short,
hygicnc has donc its work, but it has not gonc bcyond, as tar as
practicc is conccrncd, wc arc bchind most ot thc civiizcd nations,
cvcn though wc wcrc ahcad ot thcm on thc purcy scicntihc tcr-
rain. . . Lvcrythingrcmainsto bc donc astaraspracticaimpcmcn-
tationis conccrncd, but thc soutions arc thcrc and wc onyhavc to
impcmcnt thcm with thc utmost spccd" Kochard: I88/, p. J8) .
Vc can sccthc cxtcnt to which thc notionsot'bchind" and 'im-
pcmcntation," so ottcn uscdinthc socioogy otinnovation, arcthc
rcsut ot a stratcgy to gct othcr authoritics to movc at Iast. ^o rc-
scarchcr in his right scnscs coud caim that thcrc was no morc to
carnin bactcrioogy by I 88/or cvcn that it coud bc impcmcntcd
Jhis sctup has nothing whatsocvcr to do with an 'intccctua"
conhdcnccin astcur`s rcsutsoraovcoIscicncc.Vhatthcmicrobc
andthctranstormationot microbioogy into a complete scicncc did
was to makc ong-tcrm pans ot sanitization indisputable. Jhcy ot-
paccs" as to its harmcssncss: owcvcr, as soon as thc scicntihc
argumcntwas coscd, thcy coud guarantccthcmunicipaiticsa good
rcturnonthcirinvcstmcnts. Kochardwritcs: 'Civichygicnchasbccn
thcsubcctotinnumcrabc studics and wc knowcvcrythingwc nccd
Strng Micrbes and Weak Hygienists 55
ocaitics without tcar ot making mistakcs or committing ourscvcs
to unproductivc cxpcnditurc" I88/, p. J8) . Jhchna guarantcc, at
thc cndotthc chain,wasto bctoundinthcmicrographyand micro-
bioogy aboratorics.
Vc now scc why thc hygicnists paccd so much trust in astcur,
rccctcd a controvcrsy about him, and gcncraizcd his rcsuts. Jhis
rcsut was not ncccssary. ut scicncc had to bc raiscdto thc highcst
possibccvcitthcprcscntstatc andincrtiaotsocictywcrctoappcar
'astcur" totayrcsponsibctorthcwhocotthismovcmcnt,arcsut
thatwas aso not absoutcy ncccssary. Jhcy did not conccrn thcm
scvcs with microbcs out ot poitcncss any morc than out ot a ovc
ot scicncc. t thc angc ot thcir movcmcnts had intcrruptcd that ot
thc astcurians, wc might sti bc waiting tor a astcurian 'rcvou-
tion" as has occurrcdin thc casc otthc doctors) .
and makc thc incrtia ot thc pubic authoritics sti morc scandaous,
by attributing hygicnc itsct to 'astcur." astcur was not thc onc
whoarrogantycaimcdthcncwhygicncashisownwork. !twas thc
hygicnistswhonccdcdto turn'astcur"into thcadvocatcotathcir
dccisions. Vc may disputc thc work ot a hygicnist, wc coud not
disputc 'astcur." !t thc sccondary mcchanism accordcd so much
paccto 'astcur, "itwasagainbccauscthchygicnistswantcditthat
way. 5incc thcrc wcrc morc otthcm andthcy wcrc morc inIucntia,
mc procccdings institutcd byastcur to apportion rcsponsibiitywoud
havc bccn ost it, by chancc, thcy had not agrccd.
From the New Indisputable Agent to the New Authorized
and Authoritarian Agent
instcadothcsitating, nowspokcwitha ncw authority incvcryscnsc
otthc word. Jhis is apparcntin Kichct`s cditoria ot I88J:
Lnginccrs know thc art otcnginccring. Dothcy know what
typhoid tcvcr is: Do thcy know thc mcaning otthc word con-
tagion: Do thcy rcad thc mortaity statistics tor aris: Admin-
butdothcyknowwhatismcantbyintcction, disintcction, con-
56 War and Peace of Microbes
dcat no ongcr to thc appcas otthc hygicnists, which bccomc
morcurgcntand bcttcrtoundcdcach day, thatthcyhnaygivc
thcsanitaryinstitutions otthc city otaris thc unitormity and
cmcacythatthcyshoudhavcongsinccposscsscd. Kichct: I88J,
p. ZZ5) .
Jhis i sthc purcst cxprcssion otthc gcncraizcd transation rctcrrcd
toby5crrcsinhisParasite. ytakingposscssionotastcurism,which
appcas'morcurgcnt"and'bcttcrtoundcd. "Whatdidthcydothcn:
Jhcydisplaced thccnginccrs.Jhoscobsarcours|Jhccnginccrshavc
torgottcn thc microbcs in thcir word and in thcir pans, wc, thc
hygicnists, makc room tor thcm and, thanks to this ncw authority,
thc pubic authoritics must incudc us in thcir ranks. Lvcrybody is
dispaccd, movcd, transatcd. 5omc osc thcirpaccs thc cnginccrs,
thc microbcs, thc pubic authoritics) : othcrs gain thcir paccs thc
astcurians, thc hygicnists) . Jhc pubic authoritics arc intcrcstcd in
poitics,thccnginccrsinincrt bodics, butancwanddisturbingagcnt
hasarrivcdonthc sccnc: ivingbutinvisibcbodicspuuatingcvcry-
whcrc. Jhc astcurians say thcy can scc thcm in thcir aboratorics,
thc hygicnists bcicvc thcm. As ! havc arcady suggcstcd, poitics is
madcnotwithpoiticsbutwithsomething else. crcwasancwsourcc
otpowcrwith which to congucrthc statc. !ndccd, thc cditoria gocs
on unambiguousy, thc pubic authoritics] 'must cnsurc at ast, as
tar as possibc, thc prompt cvacuation ot rctusc, thc purity ot thc
watcr suppy, thc ccanincss otdwcings, and thc dctcnsc otpubic
or pubic wcath. !n a country with such a ow birthratc as !rancc,
wc must bc morc carctu with human ivcs, as N. Kochard has ust
said, hat is at stakc is thcmaintcnancc otthc!rcnch nationaity"
Kichct: I88J,p. ZZ5) . Jhc whoc chainhas now bccn dcscribcd: at
onc cnd, !rancc, at thc othcr, thosc whoin thcir aboratorics makc
thc microbcs visibc, in thc middc, thc hygicnists who transatc thc
on, thc pubic authoritics who cgisatc on thc basis ot advicc givcn
bythisncwprotcssion, scicntihchygicnism,whichmustnowbctaxcn
into account.
Jhc compctc hybridization ot hygicnists and astcurians muti-
picd thcpowcr ot both. Jhc castprcccpt inhygicnc coud now bc

Strong Microbes and Weak Hygienists 57

researchers in laboratories were at grips with the fate of France itself.
The archetype of this alliance was not Pasteur but Chamberland, an
early collaborator of Pasteur's, a deputy, a hygienist, and the proposer
of the I&&& bill on public !ygiene. In presenting his celebrated report,
Hericourt shows clearly how the secondary mechanism worked. In-
deed, for him Chamberland's report reveals public hygiene "as it has
been transformed by the researchers of the Pasteur school." He ealts
the progress that may be epected. "From the application of all these
researchers into microbiology, the initiative for which has come from
the laboratory in the Rue d'Ulm" [Pasteur's laboratory at this time] "
I&&&, p. 245) . But this reversal of priorities is not what concerns me
here. Mo, the primary mechanism is more interesting, for it created,
using scientinc and j uridical laws, a new and hitherto unknown public
authority. The hygienists wanted to complete the new science very
quickly in order to make it indisputable, they now wanted to complete
the law in order to make certain obligations irreversible and bring
about a change in human behavior. The ratchets of scientinc law,
juridical law, and public morality must all be turned, one after the
other, in order to force the pace of social regeneration and to make
room both for the urban masses and for microbes.
Chamberland's report is interesting because it dennes eplicitly this
new authority that was taking nobody's place but was displacing
everybody by inventing a new source of "political power." As Ro-
chard writes.
Already the growing influence of hygiene is offending many
a civil servant. "Those doctors are getting everywhere," said a
minster a few years ago, somewhat irritated by all the fuss being
made about typhoid fever in learned societies and the echoes of
their discussions in the nonmedical press. We must epect to be
regarded as even more troublesome when the day comes that
we shall order instead of advising, when the competent, auton-
omous authority that we demand will force the municipalities
to take the necessary steps and force them to nnd room in their
ofncial ependiture for the sums that such steps require. I&&7,
p. 3&&)
A reader of Serres before the event, our Rochard makes full use o
his parasitology. There is a lot of talk about typhoid fever, this talk
irritates the minister, but the voice does not seem at nrst very sure of
itself, it then becomes a voice that advises, lastly it becomes a voice
58 War and Peace of Microbes
that orders. It is easy enough to see what this new assurance is based
upon. they know what they are talking about, they are talking in the
name of bacteriological science, which in turn is ralking in the name
of that invisible population of microbes which it alone can control.
Militant hygiene has begun. It must, our militant conunues, "get
people's mnds used to submitting to the tutelary yoke ot mis new
authority. "
Chamberland's report embodies this new voice that has turned up
as a third party in all political, economic, and social relations. He
roposes in effect "to establish in each department, in the prefect's
of6ces, an authorized agent of public health, who will make sure that
the laws are implemented, investigate the salubrity of various com-
munes, and indicate those where work is indispensable" Hericourt.
!&&&, p. 24&) .
A new agent to get rid of the new agents i s revealed by microbi-
ology. It's a nne set-up! For each parasite, a parasite and a half.
Wherever the microbe may 6nd itself, an authorized agent must be
therc to chase it away. If militant hygiene achieved this aim, it had
created a new source of power, a power unthinkable a few decades
earlier and one that was rapidly becoming irreversible.
Chuplcr Z
You Will Be I uslcurs
of Microbes !
How Are We To Measure the Pasteurians' Displacement?
I have spoken at such length of the hygienist movement in order to
reestablish the forces that alone were capable of eplaining the im-
mense movement of uropean society. I had to reestablish, all too
briefly, the innumerable crowds and the direction of their general
movement in order to deprive the great war leaders, Mapoleon or
"Pasteur," of the power of performing all these wonders. It would
thus be unfair to criticize me for not yet having spoken of the Pas-
teurians, since I have already described in detail the powers that were
attributed to them and on which they capitalized. I have talked as
much about them as if, in speaking of an enterprise, I had begun by
listing all those who had invested in it, the markets to which it had
decided to appeal, and even the several natures of the products that
it had decided to manufacture. Pasteurism is made up of all this credit.
This statement can surprise only those who forget the allies that 3
science must nnd in order to become eact. These allies, of which the
science is sometimes ashamed, are almost always outside the magic
6U War and Peace of Microbes
circle by which it later, after its victory, rede6nes itself. "Pasteur" or
bacteriology" are names given to crowds. Trying to write the history
of these phantasmagorias or trying to make one the produd of the
other would be like writing the history of France on the basis of the
popular press nlled with crime, se, or aristocratic weddings.
We must now try to understand what Pasteur, the man~Pasteur
without inverted commasand his team did in this movement. In
War and Peace, neither Kutuzov nor Mapoleon remains inactive, even
aher Tolstoy has reduced both to the dimensions of men among the
crowds that use them and which they in turn use. It is not a question
o denying that Pasteur and his team did something.' On me contrary,
the Pasteurian hagiography is what makes the real work of Pasteur
and his followers incomprehensible, since it conceals their own work
in a larger whole that includes what others did for them and in their
place. Once the process of attributing everything to "Pasteur" has
been dismantled, once all the forces offered him have been broken
down into their component parts, new questions arise: Did mey do
anything that was decisive? Did they win the day according to the
primary or the secondary mechanism? What precisely did they do on
their own? We remember, for eample, what Kutuzov, according to
Tolstoy, did at Borodino. He had the courage to order nothing himself,
to send out again as orders emanating from himself what me com-
manders had suggested that he do. By a patient study of both La
Revue Scientifque and the Annales de I'Institut Pasteur it is possible
to obtain a more precise idea of the work of the Pasteurians.
In order to understand their work, I could have used the word
But it is not the right word, not because it is pejorative
or too political but because it is still too rauonal to account for the
operations in question. As Tolstoy has shown us, me strategists cannot
themselves be analyzed in terms of strategy. I cannot merefore analyze
scientinc credibility by resorting to some other belief. a belief in mil-
itary leaders. It is enough to speak of "displacement." The Pasteurians
place themselves in relation to those forces of hygene that I have
described, but do so in a very special way. mey go out to meet them,
then move in the same direction, then, pretending to direct them,
deflect them very slightly by adding an element that is crucial for
them, namely the laboratory.
What the Pasteurians did poses no problem to hagogaphical his-
tory, since it imputes to the ideas of a few men me power of moving
everywhere. For a reader of Tolstoy, on the conuary, no dimsion of
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 61
a Pasteurian idea, no understanding of a Pasteurian doctrine, no ad-
vice, no vaccine, could leave the laboratory without others seizing
upon it, desiring it, having an interest in it. So we must understand
how a few men in their laboratories were accepted and believed. The
nrst rule of method common to history and the sociology of science
is to convince ourselves that this was not necessary. It might have
been saidit ought to have been saidthat this handful of scientists
was precisely no more than a handful. It mightand oughtto have
been said that they were "only theoreticians shut away Jn their lab-
oratories, without contact with the outside world. " This was not said.
Why? If we reject the hagiographical answer, we have to say that they
placed themselves in such a way that the research of their laboratories
would be taken up, as they knew, by people who had been interested
in it.
The control group was provided, even at the time, by the displace-
ment of Claude Bernard. perimental medicine was already an ap-
plication of the scientinc laboratory to the hospital, but the saccess
of the Pasteurians, it will be readily admitted, bore no relation to that
of the physiologists, who wanted a strict separation between a phys-
iology, proud of its status as an eact science, and a medicine that
was epected to change slowly. There was nothing in common be-
tween them and the Pasteurians' takeover bid of medicine, by which
the Pasteurians claimed to be able to "buy," so to speak, the whole
of therapeutics cheaply and to start !rom scratch again. The laboratory
of Claude Bernard at the Collcge de France was in serene and polite
jutaposition with the art of medicine, that of the Rue d'Ulm claimed
to dictate its solutions directly to pathology. In order to attempt such
an operation without being immediately resistedand they were not
much resistedthe Pasteurians had to know where to place them-
selves and to be sure of their allies.
The questions are now becoming clear. How can a laboratory be
made relevant when hygiene and infectious diseases are at stake? How
can the labor power of a few men make all the difference? The general
principle is simple, being the principle of any victory. you must nght
the enemy on the terrain that you master.
The only terrain in which a laboratory scientist is master is that of
eperiments, of laboratory logbooks, test tubes, and dogs. This is the
only place where he can convince the adversary, using evidence that
the adversary will not be able to dispute and which will become, as
we say rather thoughtlessly, "indisputable." But the whole problem
62 War and Peace of Microbes
is to carry out a translation, in the terrain of me laboratop, of the
eurmous problems that are in no way to be found there a priori.
Ve must be careful not to fall into retrospectivc confusion. !n I&7I
and even in I&&O there was no connection between an infectious
disease and a laboratory. To suggest one would have been as odd as
to speak in the seventeenth century of a "physics of the heavens" ,or
to speak nowadays of an anthropology of the sciences) . At the time,
a disease was something idiosyncratic, which could be understood
only on its own ground and in terms of circumstances. This could
not be put inside the walls of a laboratory. The hagographers at-
tribute to the Pasteurians powers that they could not have possessed
but omit to credit them with the only things that they did with their
little human force. What they did is much more interesung than what
they are credited for. Their "contribution," il we insist on this term,
is to be found in a certain style of movement that was to allow them
to connect "diseases" with the "laboratory." They were to succeed
by moving diseases on to the terrain of the laboratory where they,
me Pasteurians, had the upper hand. They therefore forced all those
groups that were interested in infectious diseases but epected nothing
of the laboratory to be interested in their laboratories. In order to
succeed in this operation, they had to retranslate what others wanted.
Variation in Virulence
I earlier showed in various ways what the hygienists epeded of the
new science. I spoke of a fulcrum and showed that me expectations
of a science capable of guaranteeing the hygienists' long nemorks of
sanitization over several generntions was so great that, if mis science
had not been offered to them, they would have invented it. Indeed, I
showcd that they did partly invent it, since they etended and closed
it off belore it was even operating or cven yielding results. Now let
us see from the side of those who responded to this request how they
transformed the morbid spontaneity of the hygenists into their own
terms. Let us take, for instance, the contagons or miasmas of the
hygienists. Where can one see them at work More or less everywhere.
in the statistics, in the hospitals, in the nosogaphical tables, on maps
showing the centers of the epidemic. But 3 Pasteurian would extract
this contagious ferment and move it into an cnvironment that was
new and favorable for it, where nothing else would obscure the view
of it. This environment was an ideal one for me microbe, since for
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 63
the nrst time since the existence of microbes in the world they were
allowed to develop alone.6 It was also an "ideal" condition for the
observer, since in developing so blithely, the microbe, freed from the
competition of other living beings, made itself visible by increasing
and multiplying. The Pasteurian laboratory was constructed, well
before the period under study, in order to make these invisible agents
But a laboratory microbe is not yet a "contagious ferment." It does
not have any properties that can retranslate the attributes that were
considered as part of the notion of "disease." There may be labora-
tories of micrography, like those of Miquel, which have no more than
a circumstantial relation with hygiene or medicine. A lot of people
might be interested in micrographical analyses without yet being able
to force the hygienists to go through the laboratory of the Rue d'Ulm.
But the post-I &7I Pasteur went further. He inoculated animals in
his laboratory with the microbe that had been made visible by means
of his cultures. He made them ill. He in effect simulated the epidemic.
With laboratory-made statistics he counted the sick and the dead and
those that underwent spontaneous cure. He performed on dogs, chick-
ens, sheep, what the hygienists did with the help of nationally made
statistics on real populations. But because he was operating in a lab-
oratory, the Pasteurian mastered a greater number of elements. the
purity of the contagious ferment, the moment of inoculation, and the
separation of control groups. What he had created was an "experi-
mental illness," a hybrid that had two parents and was in its very
nature made up of the knowledge of the hygienists and the knowledge
of the Pasteurians. The double movement of hygienists and laboratory
snatched the disease from its own terrain and transplanted it into
another. It is easy to understand the growing excitement of all those
inte:ested in diseases and the increasing respect with which they treated
the laboratory.
But the laboratory itself went further. It could have developed an
experimental pathology that outlasted the attention and interest of
those it had tried to captivate. Instead, it moved one more step in the
same direction as the interests of the hygienists. By varying the con-
ditions in which the microbes were grown and the conditions of
existence of the sick animals, the Pasteurians could now eproduce
variation in virulence in the laboratory. That, for the hygienists, was
the nnal takeoff point.
In line with the expectations and demands of the period, the prize
6+ War and Peace of Microbes
would go to whoever explained not contagion but variation in con-
tagiousness in terms of environmental circumstances. As long as Pas-
teur could be seen as a contagionist, his laboratory did not have
suf6cient weight either for the hygienists or for the physicians, since
their problem was to reconcile contagions and morbid spontaneity.
As soon as Pasteur, using anthrax, reproduced in the laboratop the
inuence of the environment on the virulence of a microbe, all the
power of the hygienist movement shifted and became belief in the
laboratory of the Rue d'Ulm. Pasteur was at last doing what was of
direct interest to hygienists. He 6nally synthesized two hitherto an-
tinomic points of view or, in what amounts to the same thing, linked
mo social groups so that each might strengthen the other. As he
himself said. Work in my laboratory has established that viruses are
not morbid entities, that they may affect many different physiological
forms and, above all, properties, depending on the environment in
which those viruses live and multiply. As a result, even though the
virulence belongs to microscopic living species, it is essentially mod-
i6able" I&&3, p. 673) .
It is scarcely possible to overestimate the importance, at least in
the Revue Scientifque, of two particular experiments. The reduction
in virulence of anthrax cultures by a mere current of oxygen and the
triggering of the same disease among chickens, which are not usually
sub}ect to anthrax but which contract it when they are placed in
cooler temperatures. What struck all the commentators was not the
revolutionary character of these experiments but, on the contrary, the
fact that all previous hygienists had at last been }usti6ed. Duclaux
I know nothing more striking than that double experiment,
which is interesting not only because it holds out the greatest
hopes from the therapeutic point of view, but because it brings
us the enormous bene6t of throwing new light on obscure ques-
tions that medicine has hidden behind such terms as receptive-
ness, organic predisposition, physiological aptitude. In place of
these terms and in order to explain tLe resistance of birds to
anthrax, we can state a fact. their temperature is too high and
the degree of heat most suited to the globules of their blood is
not suited to the bacillus. I&79, p. 63I)
The hygiene of the past was both }usti6ed and secured on new
bases. These experiments were the perfect exchanger bemeen the
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 65
interests of the hygienists and those of the Pasteurians. What took
place in the laboratory was what took place in real life. this was the
6rst translation. Variation in virulence was contagion plus the envi-
ronment. this was the second translation. The consequences were
enormous, eplaining the whole setup described so far. by pushing
Pasteur to his logical conclusions, hygiene both advanced and streng-
thened itself.
The Contagion Environment or the Traducing Translation
The human or nonhuman agents are interested in some other alliance
only if they see that their interests, or what they are led to believe are
their interests, are served by it. The alliance of two agents who un-
derstand one another very well is to be eplained in the same terms
as their misunderstandings or disputes. The passion of the hygienists
for Pasteur's laboratory is to be eplained in the same way as the
moderate interest of the doctors in that same laboratory. What the
alliances or disputes actually measure is the angle of their trajectories.
The hygienists accelerate by moving in Pasteur's direction, just as
Pasteur's influence grows by responding on his own terrain to others'
requests. But this does not mean that the groups understood one
another well. Translation is by dehnition always a misunderstanding,
since common interests are in the long term necessarily divergent.
Mothing better illustrates this misunderstanding between the agents,
even when they get on perfectly well together, than the retranslation
by the hygienists of Pasteur's "variation in virulence" ,itself a dis-
placement of "morbid spontaneity") . This retranslation bears me name
of "contagion environment."
For a French epistemologist used to looking for epistemological
breaks, the notion of a contagion environment is an appalling mis-
understanding of Pasteur's clear, precise notions. Bouchardat, the
"Mestor of French hygiene," as Landouzy calls him, understood per-
fectly what Pasteur was saying about his eperiments on anthrax. He
understood so completely that he considered Pasteur to be at last
taking Bouchardat's advice seriously. "Morbid ferments, the seeds,
if you 1ike, of those diseases, are there permanently and they always
hnd in the Parisian environment terrains that offer favorable condi-
tions" , I&&3, pp. I7OI7&) .
An epistemologist may deride the confusion of the agricultural
metaphor. He may say quite rightly that the relation between the seed
66 War and Peace of Microbes
and the immune system is quite distinct from Bouchardat's vague
notion. He may nnd it ridiculous to compare Pasteurian medicine
with Bouchardat's gibberish, advising in turn vaccination, "the read-
ing of Molicre to hypochondriacs," gymnastics, continence. But the
historian who is shocked by this miture will have missed the main
point. two distinct generations believed that they understood one
another and, acting on this misunderstanding, combined their forces
and increased their efncacy.
We must understand this point, which eplains both the success
of the Pasteurians and the continuous choice of their object of re-
search. We cannot at the same time admire the fact that Pasteur was
so quickly and so early understood and wish that he had been properly
understood. By giving impetus to the hygicnists' program, Pasteur
benented from the misunderstanding that enabled both groups to
declare themselves in agreement. From I88I, in an article specincally
dwelling "on the principal modes of attenuating microbes or the mor-
bid ferments of contagious diseases" I88I, p. 458),Bouchardat adopts
a protective tone toward Pasteur. Bouchardat can be seen as one of
those confused precursors whom the history of science loves to scatter
along the way leading to its heroes, but for him the case was almost
the reverse. He was the representative of a research program that was
determining the way of the Pasteurian hero, who was doing in the
laboratory what Bouchardat had wanted to do for a generation. The
movement of the Pasteurian research program could be seen as a
takeover that, as always, diverted the problem toward the place where
the Pasteurians knew they were strongest. the laboratory. Mothing
could be less revolutionary than this strategy. All the protagonists
began to move at precisely the moment when they knew that the old
hygiene was vindicated. Again on the decisive eperiment involving
anthra, the anonymous author of the Revue d'Hygiene writes. "Did
not M. Pasteur himself discover the theory of the age-old practice of
ventilation by the sanitization of the premises and objects infected?
How can he attenuate viruses if he does not subject them methodically,
in their culture media, to the action oI pure air?" I88J,p. 248). It
is Landouzy who invents the perfect hybrid, which he calls "contagion
environment." As he says to his students at the beginning of a lecture.
"Denning hygiene, the study of men and animals in their relations to
their environments with a view to preserving and improving the vi-
tality of the individual and the species, I have chosen as the subject
of my lecture the study of the contagion environment . . . This is the
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 67
environment in which the germs of contagion develop either overtly
or covertly, noisily or silently" , I&&5, p. IOI) .
The vagueness of this formulation allowed an equivalence of in-
terests to which no sensible man would have given his assent. the
macrocosm of the town, sanitized by the hygienists, and the micro-
cosm of the culture of the bacilli, sanitized by the Pasteurians. This
truly scandalous short circuit fascinated the Revue for a decade or
so, from the anthrax period to the rabies period. Public opinion was
passionately interested in the esoteric researches of the laboratory in
the Rue d'Ulm. All the great macroscopic problems of hygiene, it was
believed, had been found to be solvable by the Pasteurians on the
small scale of the laboratory. the same went for the main disinfectants,
the safety of the Paris drains, the harmlessness of the sewage farm at
Cennevilliers, problems of quarantine. In each case, thanks to this
identi6cation of the macro- and microcosm, Pasteur`s laboratory was
expected to provide the 6nal opinion that would settle the matter.
How Pasteur Himself Moved
Once again, in speaking of the Pasteurians, I have ended up speaking
of the hygienists, which is natural enough, since the 6rst had done
everything they could to bene6t from the strength and knowledge of
the second. But how could one man or a few men apply themselves
to a whole social movement, then move that alliancc in a different
direction so that they became, in the eyes of everyone, the cause of
a veritable revolution in society? This question, which is usually posed
only in politics, must also be posed in science' as soon as we realize
the forces that make up a science. The answer to this question is to
be found partly in the period of the journals under study but also
partly in Pasteur`s career before I &7I. What was peculiar to Pasteur
was a certain type of movement through the society of his time, a
certain type of displacement that enabled him to translate and divert
into his movement circles of people and interest that were several
times larger. The hagiographers always see in Pasteur's career a ne-
cessity, which they therefore omit to admire, whereas they express
wonder at the astonishing things that he did not in fact do. A man
cannot do a great deal on his own. What he can do, however, is to
move. Like the clinamen of the Ancients, this movement uses up little
energy but may, if well placed, transform various energies into a
vortex that sweeps up everything. This image suits Pasteur perfectly.
68 War and Peace of Microbes
Pasteur's career has been studied many times. The best analysts,
especially Ceison, present us with the same enigmas. Certain 1eatures
of this career have always struck historians as contradictory. Pasteur
displays a tenacious obstinacy yet at the same time is constantly chang-
ing his ob} ect of study, each time he appears as less revolutionary
than was said and at the same time delivers a profound shock to the
sciences he enters. Dubos, Dagognet, and Duclaux maintain at once
that Pasteur pursued a single sub}ect with a single method and was
constantly changing the two.
If we agree to simplify somewhat, I may throw some light on all
these difnculties by considering Pasteur's sideways movement, only
the nnal sequences of which are found in the period under srudy.
Pasteur began as a crystallographer who interested a dozen or so o
his rspectable peers and ended up as the deined "Pasteur," the man
of a century, the man who gave his name to streets all over France.
In fact, what is constant in Pasteur is his movement, regardless of the
problems dealt with. Whenever we expect him to pursue the devel-
opment of a science in which he will have some success, Pasteur
chooses not to pursue this fundamental research but to step sideways
in order to confront some difncult problem that interests more peoplc
than the one he had }ust abandoned. The new problem always appears
to be more "applied" than the nrst one but~and this is the second
law ol Pasteurian movement~he transforms the "applied" problem
into a fundamental prob
em, which he resolves with the means ac-
quired in the discipline that he has }ust abandoned. By this peculiar
displacement he constitutes each time a new discipline in which he
has "some success." He abandons the new discipline in turn in the
same sideways movement, and so on. Dubos criticizes Pasteur pre-
cisely for interrupting the direction of the fundamental research that
he could have carried out. Crystallography, biochemistry, immunol-
o, for instance, are }ust a few of the disciplines he began and did
not continue himself, turning his attention to problems that each time
were of concern to a greater number of people.
Pasteur abandoned crystallography but found himself, in the prob-
lem of ferments, at the heart of a famous quarrel among the chemists
and also at the heart of the beer-, vinegar-, and wine-producing in-
dustries, whose economic weight was out of all proportion to that of
a few colleagues in crystallography. Yet he did not abandon the lab-
oratory methods acquired in crystallography.

Above all, he trans-

formed into a laboratory problem a crucial economic question and
You WilBe Pasteurs of Microbes 69
captured an entire industry that was directly concerned by his e-
periments. Yet he did not continue his work in micrography, leaving
it to others. He moved right into the middle of a quarrel about spon-
taneous generation. There again he brought onto the laboratory ter-
rain problems that had not previously been there and capitalized on
the attention of an educated public that was already much larger than
the industrialist public. But he was not interested in developing a
fundamental biochemistry. He was put in charge of a new economic
problem, that of the silk-worm industry, and there again he trans-
ferred all the means of analysis developed in earlier eperiments to a
new object, disease, which he had not yet confronted. He moved again,
and so on, according to a distinctive pattern ,see 6g. I,p. 267). Crosses
on the horizontal lines show the disciplines that he took over and
was to populate retrospectively with clumsy "precursors") , continu-
ous lines represent the disciplines retranslated by Pasteur, and dotted
lines, the disciplines that he left to others to continue. Vertical lines
symbolize the sideways steps that took him to a new subject. Con-
centric circles represent the ever-larger groups that each time he took
with him, comprising at 6rst only a few colleagues and becoming in
the end what it is no eaggeration to call "the entire world."
As shown in this simpli6ed schema, we can rightly say that Pasteur's
career was rectilinear, providing we consider the oblique line that
always leads in the same direction. We can also rightly say that he
was faithful to a single problem, that of distinguishing the agents
involved, for the bent that led him to a new discipline was always
the same. Finally, we can rightly say that he was unjust to his "pre-
cursors," he rushed into previous bodies of knowledge with labora-
tory practices that were different enough to render irrelevant

colleagues who were already engaged in those disciplines. Such a
schema also reveals that miture of audacity and traditionalism found
in this strange revolutionary. As Dagognet says, Pasteur innovated by
linking together. This ability is not enough for1he hagiographer thirst-
ing for genius, but for the historian or sociologist it is essential.
In the period under study this movement of Pasteur became so
accelerated and so determined that it eventually took on the regularity
of a strategy' Letus look at the speed with which he moved. Scarcely
had he made a connection between a contagion and a disease than
he stopped in his tracIs, leaving othersKoch, for instancewith
the job of classifying and describing microbes and their relationship
with particular diseases. He set out immediately to 6nd a way of
70 War and Peace of Microbes
making an experimental disease in the laboratory. But he did not
develop an experimental pathology, as perhaps the more prudent
Claude Bernard would have done. He immediately looked for a way
of attenuating the microbe. Yet microbic physiology as a whole was
not what interested him, but the possibility of producing an animal
vaccine. As soon as he had this vaccine, he did not connne his attention
to experiments which, though interesting, would remain in the lab-
oratory. He immediately set out to extend the methods of his labo-
ratory to the whole of stock-rearing. He could have stayed in veterinary
medicine, but this would have gone against the transversal strategy
that seemed to become ever more imperious as he reached the end of
his course or what seems to us a century later as the end of his
course) . to work on the whole of society.
In order to move from the animal to man, from veterinary medicine
to human medicine, he chose a disease whose agent, a virus, was to
remain invisible until the I93Os and could be cultivated by none of
the methods that he himself had developed. Furthermore, after tests
on dogs, he passed very quickly to experiments on man. Moreover,
he expermented on nrst one child then two children, he generalized
the method, and his next step was toward the vaccinal institute nec-
essary to carry out the research that this general method required and
to practice mass inoculation.
As Dagognet rightly insists, none of these stages was a necessary
one. To nnd self-evident the conversion of two cases of cured rabies
into millions of gold francs, which were then turned into a laboratory
for fundamental research, is not to do justice to the work of Pasteur,
the man. All these things were scattered at the time. To link them
together would require work and a movement. They were not logically
connected. In other words, they did not lay down a particular path.
Pasteur could have stopped at any moment and continued himself the
work in the fundamental discipline that he was to leave to others. It
was even in that direction that all the professional training in the
sciences of the time must have urged him. He could have "llinched"
at the point where he arrived at human medicineindeed he did
hesitate. He could haveought to havenot chosen rabies as his
nrst disease, he could haveought to haveconsidered the case of
|oseph Meister as inadequate to demand the setting up of a research
institute. This was certainly what people as different as Peter and
loch criticized him for. Yes, he ought to have done these things, but
that type of movement, that audacity, was precisely what denned him,
Pasteurwhat, indeed, was his particular contribution.
You WilBe Pasteurs of Microbes 71
It would be pointless to say that there was, on the one hand, Pasteur
the man of science, locked away in his laboratory, and on the other,
Pasteur the politician, concerned with getung what he had done known.
Mo, there was only one man, Pasteur, whose strategy was itself a
work of genius. I am using the word "genius" without contradicting
myself, for I am attributing to him nothing that a single man on his
own could not do. Let us not forget Tolstoy's lesson. Without any
doubt, Mapoleon and Kutuzov were at the "head" of their troops.
Once the comple of forces that set them in motion is broken down,
we have to recognize what those great men did and why Bonaparte
and not Stendhal, or Kutuzov and not Miloradovich, entered Moscow.
Pasteur placed his weak forces in all the places where immense social
movements showed passionate interest in a problem. ach time he
followed the demand that those forces were making, but imposed on
them a way of formulating that demand to which only he possessed
the answer, since it required a man of the laboratory to understand
its terms. He began as a crystallographer in Paris and Strasbourg, he
ended with "divine honors." Such a metamorphosis does not come
about solely by one's own efforts. If he had stayed in Strasbourg,
working at crystallography, even his hagiographers have to agree that
others would have been accorded the divine honorseven if, as Dubos
claims, his researches into the origin of life had been much more
important for "pure science. " In other words, Pasteur sought that
glory, and sought it well.
Mow that the notion of genius comprises nothing that is not peculiar
to Pasteur and is not eplicable by displacement and translation, we
can understand a little better its most interesting aspect. Pasteur worked
just as hard at the primary mechanism, getting allies while he moved,
as on what I call the secondary mechanism, getting himself attributed
with the origin of the movement. In practice, he always went toward
applied subjects that held the interest of a crowd of new people who
were not the usual clients of the laboratory, but as he recruited his
allies in this way, through the needs, desires, and problems that he
came in contact with, he maintained a discourse by which all the
strength of what he did came from fundamental research and the
work of his laboratory. On the one hand, he threw his net as far as
he could, on the other, he denied that he had allies and pretended
with the active support of the hygienists and many other groups that
needed to take shelter under such a cause in order to advance their
own cause more quickly) that everything he did proceeded from "Sci-
ence." This double strategy bears the stamp of genius, for it amounts
72 War and Peace of Microbes
to translating the wishes of practically all the social groups of the
period, then getting those wishes to emanate from a body of pure
research that did not even know it was applicable to or comprehen-
sible by the very groups from which it came. The "application" be-
came a miracle in the religious sense of the term. It was because of
this double strategy that the example I have set out to analyze seemed
so indisputable. With this double endeavor~recruitment of allies,
negation of their efhcacywe end up indeed with the impression that
a revolution was emerging from Pasteur's laboratory and spreading
into society, which it then tuned upside down.' The very formulation
of what Pasteur did was imposed on his contemporaries in rance
at least) by Pasteur himself. I have one more reason for admiring this
strategy, which is that a hundred years later it is still at work in more
than one philosopher of science. To remain indisputable for so long
is surely a lasting victory. Scientinc leaders, it must be admitted, are
more skillIul than military ones. Whereas nobody regards Danton or
Lenin as revolutionaries any more, everybody, even in the suburbs,
thinks that Archimedes, Calileo, or instein carried out "radical rev-
olutions. "'
The Laboratory as an Indisputable Fulcrum
Having reached this point, we still have explained nothing. Pasteur
moved in the way I have described. But nothing proves that in trans-
lating into laboratory terms what hitherto bore other names, a person
gains enough strength to reinforce both his own position and those
of the people who depend on him. In other words, we can wish to
do whatever Pasteur wished and still fail miserably. The organization
called the Work of Tuberculosis in the same period provides a control
group that appeared from time to time in the Revue. ' This association
was attacking an innnitely more important disease than rabies but
complained, through its
ounder Verneuil, to be eating up its capital
while the Institut Pasteur was being built. 'J4,000 francs are ob-
viously inadequate and the legitimate agitation about rabies has no
doubt done something to make people forget this" Anon. 1887, p.
444) . Like Pasteur, Verneuil was trying to assemble scattered allies
who had nothing to make them agree. Meither rhe success of the one
nor the failure of the other was due to the spinelessness of their allies.
Verneuil even had in his pocket the so-called Koch bacillus. In spite
of this asset, he failed to gather together many interests to struggle
You Wil Be Pasteurs of Microbes 73
against this scourge, which everybody admitted was of the greatest
importance. Verneuil's failure reminds us that Pasteur must have done
something himself to bring his heterogeneous allies together under
his banner. We now come to the heart of the problem, or rather to
what has become, by virtue of Pasteur's strategy, the heart of the
problem. the microbiology laboratory nrst of the cole Mormale and
then of the Institut Pasteur.
Methodologically it was crucial for us not to set out from this
place. To begin with, the laboatory that was itself the result of a
succession of positionings, combinations, and moves would have been
sure to give a miraculous vision of its results.' We must arrive at the
laboratory as the many different actors who found themselves "trans-
lated" there arrived. We are now reaching the zone forbidden to
sociological eplanation, the area that we would like be mysterious,
where political and social conditions, which we cannot do other than
accept, are transmuted into "truths," "doctrines," and "concepts"
that elude all conditions of production and set about, by some miracle
that always moves naive souls, to "influence" society.
In fact, I have already indicated the solution, about which there is
nothing mysterious. To win, we have only to bring the enemy where
we are sure we will be the stronger. A researcher like Pasteur was
strongest in the laboratory. Once interests had been aroused in such
a way that the macroscopic problems of the hygienists and doctors
could be treated at the microscopic level of the laboratory, the pro-
cedure was simple enough. A force, even a very small one, applied to
the strategic places could bring victory. verything depended, then,
on recognizing those places where this etra force could produce
maimum effect. In the laboratory the work of a normal man is scaled
up. Pasteur always recognizes this technical fact, especially when ask-
ing the government for funds.
As soon as the physicist and chemist leave their laboratories,
as soon as the naturalist abandons his travels and collection,
they become incapable of the slightest discovery. The boldest
conceptions, the most legitimate speculations, take on body and
soul only when they are consecrated by observation and epe-
rience. Laboratory and discovery are correlative terms. liminate
the laboratories and the physical sciences will become the image
of sterility and ueath . . . Outside their laboratories, the physicists
and chemists are unarmed soldiers in the battleneld I&7I, p. J)
74 War and Peace of Microbes
When it comes to subsidies, Pasteur, as we see very clearly, was as
much a materialist as any sociologist of the sciences. The laboratory
was the soldier's weapon in the battle. We now know what battle
Pasteur was nghting, what strategy he chose to eploit his nrepower
to me full. Let us now look at the weapon itself.
Why did Pasteur gain strength in the laboratory? He did so because
tbere, as in every laboratory, phenomena are nnally made smaller
than the group of men who can then dominate them.' If this is
regarded as simplistic, it is because of not understanding the etent
to which the strategy of constructing laboratories obeys this simpli-
ncation. Rou, bent over a microscope, observing diphtheria bacilli,
is stronger than those bacilli, whereas the same microbes, if let loose
in nature, laugh at men or kill them. The difference made by the
laboratory is small yet crucial. In it the power ratio is reversed, phe-
nomena, whatever their size~innnitely great or innnitely small~are
retranslated and simplined in such a ay that a group oI men can
always control them. Wharever the size ofthe phenomena, they always
end up in transcriptions that are easy to read and about which a few
individuals who have everything within sight argue. This can be re-
garded as a miracle of thought, but as far as I am concerned, the
simplicity of the procedures by which the balance of forces is reversed
is even more etraordinary.
We shall have to understand by what mechanism and skills a hand-
ful of men, with nothing but the power of their labor, learned to tame
what for thousands of years had secretly frustrated the wishes of all
men. This play of minimum and maimum made a great impression
on their contemporaries. a microparasite could kill a bull or a man
millions of times larger than itself, a few men in their laboratories
could acquire in a generation more knowledge about microbes than
the whole of mankind from the beginning of time.
Many commentators have insisted on this double disproportion.
The innnitely small have been killing us for thousands of years, and
the application of a few men was enough to reveal all their tricks.
"This microbe of contagion, which we have seized, which we have
been able to reproduce through the artince of its culture in the ap-
propriate liquids . . . it is possible, by eerting upon it certain influ-
ences of which the eperimenter is master and which he directs as he
wishes, to rob it of its ecess of energy and to make it, after dimin-
ishing its power to the degree necessary, no longer thc agent of death,
but that of preservation" Bouley. I&&I, p. 547).
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 75
It is not I who am talking about trials of strength but Bouley and,
with him, all the scientists of the period.
Wat Makes Pasteurians Tick
Is it possible to understand the events that took place in the laboratory,
which were to have such consequences for all the agents involved?
Yes, on condition that we follow the movement of the laboratory
techniques as a whole. The contribution of the Pasteurians is easily
explained if we follow this movement backward and forward. For
convenience, I divide this movement, which I call the "spring" of the
Pasteurians, into three stages. in the nrst stage move the laboratory
to the place where the phenomena to be retranslated are found, in
the second stage move the phenomena thus transformed into a safe
place, that is, where certainty is increased because they are dominated,
and in the third stage transform the initial conditions in such a way
that the work carried out during the second stage will be applicable
This spring of Pasteurism is obviously another way of denning the
transversal development but also explains its efncacy. Without it the
movement might fail or appear as strategyperhaps a strategy of
genius, but one that would evolve only in the void. Canguilhem at-
tributes this privilege of having a grip on reality to the very nature
of the laboratory. Because the laboratory is a place where the natural
data or empirical products of the art are dislocated, a place where
the dormant or impeded causalities are freed, in short, a place where
artinces intended to make the real manifest are worked out, thc science
of the laboratory is of itself directly at grips with the technical activity"
I977, p. 73) .'
To attribute to the laboratory such power is to miss everything
that constitutes the spring of the scientinc activity. Many laboratories
have no grip on anything. Since to understand this spring of action
is essential to my purposes, I illustrate it in a simplined way with the
example of anthrax.
The nrst stage is well known. We know how Pasteur or his disciples
always visited in person distilleries, breweries, wine-making plants,
silkworm rearing houses, farms, Alexandria decimated by cholera,
and later, with the Institut Pasteur, all the colonies. ven at the end
of our period, during the Creat War, Pasteurians still moved their
laboratories to the front in order to collect new microbes. This trans-
76 War and Peace of Microbes
lation of the laboratory is crucial, since it and it alone made possible
the capture. The translation always took place on two conditions.
On the one hand, the Pasteurians moved but remained men of the
laboratory. They brought their own tools, microscopes, sterile uten-
sils, and laboratory logbooks, using them in environments where their
use was unknown. On the other hand, they redirected their labora-
tories to respond to the cause of those they visited.
It was under this double condition that anthra, 3 cattle disease,
could be redenned as a "disease of the anthra bacillus." Pasteurians
learned from people on the groundfarmers, distillers, veterinary
surgeons, physicians, administratorsboth the problems to be solved
and the symptoms, the rhythm, the progress, the scope of the diseases
to be studied. This was the only way of answering all objections
concerning the link between the new agent the microbe) and the old
agent the disease) . We should not forget that the bacillus alone might
interest a microbiologist but that it was not necessarily the "cause"
of anthra. To get the new agent to do everything that the old disease
did, the Pasteurians had to link it, in the most invincibly skeptical
minds, with all the symptoms of the disease through spectacular e-
periments. In order to make this link, Pasteur invented the impossible
eperiment: he diluted the original bacillus thousands of times, by
taking several times a drop of the culture liquid an order to start a
new culture, and still caused the complete disease with the last drop
of the last culture. He lost his hero on purpose, as Tom Thumb is
lost in the fairy story. The bacillus, too, emerged triumphant hom
the impossible trial. ven whcn innnitely removed from the animal,
the bacillus still causes the disease. It became, therefore, the sole agent
of the disease.
The result of these trials was to create a new object that retranslated
the disease into the language of the laboratory. Mow it was the animal
that became like the culture medium: "We inoculate an animal with
the bacillus in its pure state, the bacillus develops under the skin as
in a culture medium and it gradually spreads" Pasteur. I922/I939,
VI, I94) . Conversely, to grow bacilli in the laboratory is not yet to
prove that the soil of Beauce carried them naturally: "These are still
only laboratory eperiments. We must nnd out what happens in the
countryside itself, with all the changes in humidity and culture" ,Pas-
teur: I922/I939, V, 259). This movement hom the laboratory to
the neld cannot be ignored, for by this means new objects intended
for the use of future users was formed.
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 77
When Pasteur wrote a report entitled "Researches into the tiology
and Prophylaxis of Anthrax in the Department of ure et Loire.
Report to M. Teisserenc de Bort, Minister of Agriculture and Com-
merce," every word counted. he was addressing a departmental min-
ister. His bacillus would be the cause of anthrax only when it had
done everything that the Ministry of Agriculture knew about anthrax.
To inoculate the animal with a syringe and give it the disease is all
very well, but cows do not get pricked in this way. Pasteur had to
invent a way for the bacillus that was credible, so he fed the animals
with hay that was infected with cultures. This was not enough. The
animals did not die. He then added thistles, thus imitating more and
more closely the nelds that were known to give the disease. The animal
fed with the hay, the bacilli, and the thistles contracted the disease.
We should not underestimate the apprenticeship undergone by the
Pasteurians with their predecessors. Their very success, which con-
cealed their role so well, was due to the attention with which they
retranslated what those predecessors had said. "I have often heard
the knackers, whom I used to warn of the danger that they were
running, assure me that the danger had disappeared when the animal
was rotten and that one need have no fear unless it was warm. Al-
though taken literally, this assertion is incorrect, it nevertheless betrays
the existence of the fact in question the sporulation of bacteria) "
Pasteur. I922/I939, VI, 25&) . What is "betrayed" is rather the tran-
scription of practices by the new practices of bacteriology. The new
language can be adopted only if it is made equivalent to everthing
that was said in the old one.
When Pasteurians wrote to a minister, it was not enough to wave
a bacillus. they must also be able to say, for instance, what the "ac-
cursed nelds" mean. For there are many nelds that give the disease,
even many years later. This is the proof of "morbid spontaneity," to
use the language of the veterinary surgeons, or the "curse," in the
language of fhe peasants. To move everyone's belief and replace it by
the bacillus, it is not enough to make fun of peasant backwardness.
It is necessary to be stronger than the accursed neld. Koch had already
explained the temporal rhythm of anthrax by showing that the mi-
crobe could sporulate and survive for years in its dormant form. But
Pasteur pursued something that was rather like an ethnographical
investigation. He concerned himself with techniques of burying the
animals. As the animals lost blood at the moment of burial, they also
lost the bacilli, which were sporulating. This explained how the bacilli
78 War and Peace of Microbes
appeared to "survive.' Pasteur now had to eplain the appearance
of the bacilli on the surface many years later in the accursed nelds.
"The Academie will be very surprised to hear the eplanation for
this. Perhaps it will be moved to think that the theory of germs, which
has only just emerged from eperimental research, has still some
unepected revelatiot:s to make to science and its applications . . .
arthworms are the messengers of the germ and from its deep burial
place bring the terrible parasite back to the surface of the soil" I922/
I939, VI, 26O). The earthworm! Yet another unepected new agent
to be taken into account. This concern with the ncld was not the
result of friendship for the peasants or of some superfluous amuse-
ment. Pasteur knew that only a complete translation would eventually
constitute the phenomenon. The "rod bacterium" in the laboratory
was incapable of becoming the "cause" of anthra. It would become
so only when Pasteur was able to replace each element that composed
the dennition of thc anthra with his own term and thus convince
the minister, the veterinary surgeons, and the peasants, as well as
fellow microbiologists.
Through this apprenticeship alone was the microcosm, which seems
to reflect the macrocosm so well, gradually built up. And for a very
good reason! The Pasteurians constructed the laboratory in such a
way as to answer the questions asked of them, but they reformulated
them in terms that they understood. Mothing could be more false than
to imagine the Pasteurians as overthrowing the old skills with their
now clear, distinct methods. On the contrary, they learned those skills
but took from them only those elements that they could dominate.
Who taught and who learned? We do not know. That is why the nrst
stage of the Pasteurian method is also a good translation agency. a
new skill emerges from an old skill. We do not have to try to reproduce
the whole of epidemiology, but only that which teaches something
about the life cycle of microbes, nor the whole of pathology, but only
the few symptoms that will enable one to classify the animals infected
by the eperimental disease. The same process of elimination and
structuration that I described in the case of hygiene, to which was
added the fulcrum of microbes, is found here at its birth. take a few
elements from the neld, then reproduce them in the laboratory in new
conditions. The crucial element in this etraction and redennition is
to end up eplaining with the new actor all the main attributes of the
old one.'
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 79
The Return to the Laboratory
But a Pasteurian does not linger on the terrain of his hastily con-
structed laboratory. Indeed, the knowledge thus accumulated is al-
most always weaker at this stage than is that of the men in the neld,
veterinary surgeons or physicians. The whole Pasteurian strategy, now
that they have etracted a few aspects from the macrocosm, is to gain
strength by making d long detour to their central well-equipped lab-
oratory. This is the second stage. Ceographically this stage usually
takes the form of a return to Paris or a veritable shuttle diplomacy
between Paris and the provinces. It is here, of course, that the redef-
inition by Pasteurians of the questions posed by what is now "outside"
become indispensable.
Should we now suspend our analysis in terms of trials of strength
from the moment when we have at last reached the microbe "dis-
covered" by Pasteur? Have we arrived at places, methods, types of
agents that differ from those we have so far studied? Do we no-
tice, as we retrace the Pasteurian path, that we have crossed a sacred
fence? Mo, of course not, for urban microbes are made of the same
stock as country microbes. We do not know beforehand what an
agent is doing. We must try it out. This one corrupts a veal stock,
that one transforms st:gar into alcohol, the other one survives in
gelatine but is interrupted in urine. How are we to denne a shape?
Like all the others. they are the edge of trials of strength that others
subject them to. If we boil water nve degrees more, a new species
is then denned, whose "edge" is to resist the temperature of IOO.
If we deprive it of oygen, then others are denned that do not need
Since microbes saw their forms stabilized before the period under
study, it is difncult to recall the time when they were being forged
and tested, like Siegfried's sword. ' But take, for instance, this new
agent that appears on the scene, in the I &9Os, which is denned by the
list of actions it made, and which as yet has no name. "From the
liquid produced by macerating malt, Payen and Per

oz are learning
to etract through the action of alcohol, a solid, white, amorphous,
neutral, more or less tasteless substance that is insoluble in alcohol,
soluble in water and weak alcohol, and which cannot be precipitated
by sublead acetate. Warmed from 65 to 75 with starch in the pres-
ence of water, it separates off a soluble substance, which is detrin."
80 War and Peace of Microbes
Te Creek name should not make us forget the tests, for it is the
name of an action, like Indian names. Instead of He-Who-Fights-the-
Lyn, we have He-Who-Separates-Starch. The object has no other
edges, apart from these tests. The proof is that we only have to change
these tests to denne a new agent. '1 more etended contact of the
diastasis with the starch paste in turn converts detrin into a sugar,
which differs from detrin in that it is no longer precipitated by
sublead acetate" Duclau, I&9&, p. &) .
In the laboratory any new object i s at nrst denned by inscribing in
the laboratory notebook a long list of what the agent does and does
not do. This dennition of the agent is acceptable, but it runs the risk
of bringing us a new philosophical problem. Did the microbe eist
before Pasteur? From the practical point of viewI say practical, not
theorcticalit did not. To be sure, Pasteur did not invent the microbe
out of thin air. But he shaped it by displacing the edges of several
other previous agents and moving them to the laboratory in such a
way that they became unrecognizable. This point is not unimportant,
for we often say without thinking that Pasteur ' discovered" the mi-
crobes. Let us see some of these displacements which practically solve
the problem that realist philosophers often have with the history of
The nrst anthra, as I have said, had previously been denned as a
disease. Its edges had been denned by cows, wounds, corpses, accursed
nelds, veterinary surgeons, and Rosette, who had such a beautiful
hide. The earlier application of a science, which had also come from
Paris or Lyon, had already altered that disease and turned it into an
epizootic disease whose edges, this time, were a set of patches on the
map of France, where we could count its sites, follow its wanderings,
and detect its recurrences. The agent constituted by epidemiology was
rightly called "the anthra epidemic," in order to sum up all the
statistical trials that denned it. Predecessorsthose who became pred-
ecessors like Arloing or Davainehad already brought their labo-
ratory into contact with anthra. But the new actors did not become
more visible for all that. The tests did not convincc the observers.
The link between anthra and a contagion remained debatable, that
is, more or less anyone could, without great effort, make several
statements on the subject that were just as plausible as those by
Davaine or Arloing. In going to the laboratory, these authors did not
put an end to the controversy but increased it. This happened because
their laboratory, which had already become an obligatory point of
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 8 1
passage, was not capable of translating into its own language all the
phenomena associated with anthrax. Bypassing it was still easy.
To discover the microbe is not a matter of revealing at last the
true agent" under all the other, now "false" ones. In order to discover
the "true" agent, it is necessary in addition to show that the new
translation also includes all the manifestations of the earlier agents
and to put an end to the argument of those who want to nnd it other
names. It is not enough to say simply to the Academie, "Here's a new
agent. " It must be said throughout France, in the court as well as in
town and country, "Ah, so that was what was happening under the
vague name of anthrax! " Then, and only then, bypassing the labo-
ratory becomes impossible. To discover is not to lih the veil. It is to
construct, to relate, and then to "place under. "-

In this transformation of the agents, everything depends on the new
trials. Place a sterile pipette on Rosette's wound, take blood, place a
few drops of it in urinethese are the new gestures. The translation
of the agents is not intellectual or linguistic, it is found entirely in the
skill. Taking blood is no more abstract, more rational, more rigorous,
more ideal, than milking a cow. Moving from the farm to the labo-
ratory, we do not move from the social to the scientinc or from the
material to the intellectual. The difference comes from the fact that
the world of the pipette, the culture medium, and the guinea pig is a
world-to-grow-the-microbe, just as that of the farm is a world-to-
rear-cows. Indeed, the laboratory itself is constructed only out of the
movement and displacement of other places and skills. The culture
medium, for instance, is at the beginning very close to a cooking
stock. It is not transubstantiated when Duclaux manipulates it. One
obtains a culture medium by leaving for twenty-four hours, in contact
with twice its weight in water, nnely chopped lean veal. One strains
off the liquid, presses out the residue, cooks the resulting liquid for
an hour and strains it. One then adds I % peptone and O.5% sea salt
and enough sodium solution to make what is usually a slightly acid
liquid neutral" Duclaux, I &9&, p. IO5) . To make a gelatine, "one
adds a white of egg, extended by nve or six times its weight in water."
These details are not ridiculous. They are the body and soul of thc
things wc are discussing, as Pasteur himself said. Mothing could be
more wrong than to imagine that the farm is to the laboratory as the
nrst degree of reection is to the second degree, as practice is to theory,
as "praxis" is to "knowledge. " The laboratory is to the farm what
Duclaux's medium is to soup.
82 War and Peace of Microbes
But to understand more clearly the relation between the Pasteurians
and the microbes that they revealed in the laboratory, we must stress
the fact that, although the trial is new for the Pasteurian, who has
never yet had to take a microbe from a cow, it is even more so for
what will become the microbe. Or rather, the creation of culture media
is just as much a historical event for the microbe as for the Pasteurians.
There is a history of microbes that is also nlled with sound and fury.'
History is no more limited to the so-called human agents than to the
nonhuman agents. What were once miasmas, contagions, epidemic
centers, spontaneous diseases, pathogenic terrains, by a series of new
tests, were to become visible and vulnerable microorganisms. Why?
Because for the nrst time in the history ot the wotldsoIemn tone
is not out of place here), the researchers of the Rue d'Ulm were to
offer these still ill-denned agents an environment entirely adapted to
their wishes. "Urine is an excellent culture medium for the bacillus,
if the urine is pure and the bacillus pure, the latter will multiply
promptly" Pasteur. IZZ/IJ, VI, I) . For the nrst time these
agents were to be separated out from the confusion of competitors,
enemies, and parasites, which hitherto they had to take into account.
For the nrst timefor them as well as for usthey were to form
homogeneous aggregates. This was the decisive advantage of the solid
media later invented by Koch. "The gelatine medium forces each germ
to develop on the spot and to form a colony, which soon becomes
visible to the naked eye and whose form, color, growth, superncial
or profound, and action on the gelatine, are so many characteristics
ready to be consulted, some of which even, in given circumstances,
may become characteristic" Duclaux. I88, p. I04) .
Isolated from all the others, microbcs grow enthusiastically in these
media, which none of their ancestors ever knew. They grow so
quickly that they become visible to the eye of an agent who has them
trapped there. Yes, a colored halo appears in the cultures. This time
it is the man bent over the microscope who is enthusiastic. This event
completely modines both the agent, which has become a microbe,
and the position of the skillful strategist who has captured it in the
gelatine. Without this transformation's being made on the microbes,
the Pasteurian would have been without a fulcrum. He was now going
to be able to modify the culture medium, starve the microbes, kill
them with antiseptics, make them eat anything, in short, torture them
in innumerable ways, in order to learn something about them each
You Will Be Pasteurs of Microbes 83
What does "to learn" mean in such a contet? Are we to arrive at
last at that mysterious world of ideas which seems to float over the
colonies of microbes and to enable us to escape from all trials of
strength. Have we passed the line? Mo, for to learn is simple enough.
It means to note the culturings, number the Petri dishes, record times,
look things up in the archives, transfer from one page to the other of
laboratory logbooks the answers given by the tortured or, if a less
harsh word is preferred, "tested" or, an even gentler word, "eper-
imented on" objects. In inscribing the answers in homogeneous terms,
alphabets, and numbers, we would beneht from the essential technical
advantage of the laboratory. we would be able to see at a glance a
large number of tests written in the same language. We would be able
to show them to colleagues at once. If they still disputed our hndings,
we would get them to eamine the curves and dots and ask them.
Can you see a dot? Can you see a red stain? Can you see a spot?
They would be forced to say yes, or abandon the profession, or in
the end be locked up in an asylum. They would be forced to accept
the argument, ecept to produce other traces that were as simple to
readno, even simpler to read.
Although the laboratory is constituted only by displacement and
transfer, it makes an enormous difference in the end. On the farm
there are calves, cows, clutches of eggs, Perette and her milk jug and
the willows beside the pond. It is difhcult to locate Rosette's disease
or to compare it with another. It is difhcult to see anything at all if
what we are looking for is a microbe. So we are doomed to argue
endlessly about the disease. In the laboratory, the researchers have
colony no. 5, no. 7, no. 8, with control colonies no. IZ, no. IJ, no.
I5. A double-entry system with crosses and spots. That is all. We
have only to be able to read records. The argument ,if it is about
these spots) will end. A lot of things may be learned on the farm, but
not how to dehne microbes, which can be learned in the laboratory.
The issue is not that the hrst has an ontological superiority over the
second, it is simply that the laboratory draws on everythingnot
milk, eggs, hrewood, and the hand of the farmer's daughter, but sheets
of paper that can be easily moved and placed on top of one another
and can be argued about at leisure as if we were "on top of the
question. "
In the laboratory unprecedented things were now to be epressed
in written signs. Impossible superimpositions were to take place,
movements that would have required considerable energes took place,
84 War and Peace of Microbes
trom shcct ot papcr to shcct ot papcr, ovcr a tcw ccntimctcrs. Ior
ncwy dchncd microbcs. Vhcrc coud wc do such a thingr ny in
thc aboratory, oncc thc microbcs had a bccn writtcn down.
!tis csssurprisingit,inthcmiddcotathcscaccumuatcdtraccs,
cvcn crror bccomcs usctu. Jhat Chambcrandtorgot acuturc, that
astcurproposcdtoinocuatc animas withit,andthatthcscanimas
survivcd ongcr attcr ancwinocuationottrcshbactcriaarcthctypcs
ot cvcnt that coud happcn ony in a aboratory. Jhc attcnuation
bccomcs visibc ony in thc middc otwc-rccordcd contro groups.
kcpt aboratory ogbook. Jhc cvcnt, though uncxpcctcd, is norma,
sncc itis tor ust such ancvcntthata aboratory is constructcd. As
astcur might havc said: 'Chancc tavors ony wc-prcparcd abo-
ratorics." !twc makc ncwactorssimutancousy visibc, wcsccncw
things. Vc must havc our taithwc sccurcd to our bodytohndin
thing csc.
!nothcrwords, thc aboratory, dircctcdcntircytowardarcvcrsa
otthc baancc ot powcr, aso has a history. Jhc uncxpcctcd oppor-
tunity-a torgottcn cuturc-immcdiatcy bccomcs a mcthod. Lab-
oratorics convcrtchancc to ncccssity. 'Jhc mcthodotprcparingthc
attcnuatcdvirusiswondcrtuysimpc, sincc onchas onyto cutivatc
thc vcry virucnt bacius in chickcn stock at 4Z-4J" and cavc thc
cuturc attcr its compction in contact with air at this samc tcmpcr-
aturc" astcur. IZZ/IJ,V!, J4J) . Vhatwchavcto admircisnot
this tasc mystcry that caims to cudc trias ot strcngth undcr thc
prctcxtthatthcscpcopc arc wcaring whitc coats, butthcccvcrncss
otthisreversal otthc baanccotpowcr. Jhcmicrobcitsct,somcwhat
wcakcncd, scrvcs as a doubc agcnt and, by warning m advancc thc
immunitary hcd, bctrays its companions. !n ordcr notto scc invac-
cination a story otstrcngth andwcakncss,wcmustagainhavcgrcat
taith, a taith that rcsists a gucstions.
cxist bctorc astcurr Vc do not know yct. Vc aways statc rctro-
spcctivcy thc prcvious cxistcncc ot somcthing, which is thcn said to
havc bccn 'discovcrcd. "!nordcrto scparatc invcntiontromdiscov-
aittc morc. Vcnccdastcurandhiscocagucssucccsstuyto com-
pctc thc third stagc ot thcir movcmcnt. Jhc singc tcrm 'anthrax
You Will Be astcurs of Microbes 85
bacius" must bcmadctoscrvc asa transation tor cvcrything that
uscd to bc covcrcd by thc tcrm 'anthrax." Vithout this ink and
things in thc aboratory and a discasc ctt to itsct outside thc abo-
ratory, with cndcss tak hing thc gap. c woud not bc said by
thcrctrospcctivcimprcssion thatthc anthrax baciushadbccnthcrc
tromthcbcginningottimcandhadbccn covcrtyactivcbctorc!astcur
surpriscd it, !astcur had to ink cach gcsturc in thc aboratory with
thattormcothc microbc. Jodothis,thcaboratoryhadto bcmovcd
again so that it was actuay in contact with cach tria and coud
rctransatc itinto its owntcrms. !n ordcrtocarryottthis ncw coup,
!astcur had to havc morc than onc trick up his sccvc and kccp up
morc than onc nctwork.
The Theater of the Proof, or How To Become Indisputable by
the Greatest Number
Jo go trom aboratory trias back to itc-sizcd tcsts, thctrias must
thcmscvcs bcitc-sizc. !twasonthis conditionthatnotonythctcw
cocagucs and coaborators but aso a thosc who nccdcd to un-
dcrstand anthrax woud acccpt as indisputabc thc rcdchnition ot
anthrax as 'thc discasc causcd bythc anthrax bacius." !t!astcur`s
invcntcdwith thc aimotdchnitivcyconvincingthoscwhoscintcrcst
!astcur`sgcniuswasinwhatmightbccacdthctheater of the proof
aving capturcd thc attcntion otothcrs onthconypacc whcrc hc
kncw that hc was thc strongcst, !astcur invcntcd such dramatizcd
cxpcrimcnts that thc spcctators coud scc thc phcnomcna hc was
dcscribinginbackandwhitc. ^obodyrcaykncwwhatancpidcmic
was,to acguircsuchknowcdgcrcguircdadithcutstatisticaknow-
cdgc and ong cxpcricncc. ut thc dittcrcntia dcath that struck a
'asin broad dayight. "^obody kncwwhat spontancous gcncration
was, it had givcn risc to a highy contusing dcbatc. ut an ccgant,
opcn, swan-ncckcd bottc, whosc contcnts had rcmaincd unatcrabc
'indisputabc." !t is important to undcrstand this point, tor thc ha-
86 War and Peace of Microbes
giographcrshadatcndcncyto scparatcwhat!astcur`sgcniusbrought
togcthcr. c had to pcrtorm such tcing cxpcrimcnts bccausc hc
wantcd to convincc thc outsidc torccs that hc had rccruitcd at thc
outsct. Asoucysays. 'cis not onc otthoscwhoscvirtuc rcmains
idc whcn thcy havc to makc thcir opinion prcvai" I88I, p. 54) .
Jo say thc cast| !astcur did not wait tor his idcas to cmcrgc my
c gavc thcm a ot othcp. Jhc grcatcr thc groups that hc wantcd
to convincc attcr capturing thcir attcntion, thc hardcr hc hit. A
commcntators agrcc about his viocncc in argumcnt. Lvcn thc ha-
giographcrs uscphrascs to dcscribc !astcur`s rhctorica activity that
might bc bcttcr suitcd to thc much-dcspiscd poiticians. 'Mastcr ot
whathc kncw to bc thctruth, hcwantcd-hc kncw-how to imposc
it by thc cvidcnt carity ot his cxpcrimcnta dcmonstrations and to
torcc most otthosc who had provcd to bc most unwiingtodo so
athrstto sharc it with him" oucy, I88I, p. 54) .
Jo 'torcc" somconc to 'sharc" onc`s point otvicw, onc must
indccd invcnt a ncw thcatcr ot truth. Jhc carity ot !astcur`s cxpo-
sitionsis not what cxpains his popuar succcss, onthccontrary, his
movcmcnt to rccruit thc grcatcstpossibc numbcr ot aics cxpains
thc choicc ot his dcmonstrations and thc visual guaity othis cxpcr-
imcnts. '!n thc ast instancc," as onc uscd to say, thc simpicity ot
thc pcrccptua udgmcnt on which thc sctting up ot thc proot cu-
minatcdiswhat madc thc dittcrcnccand carricd conviction. !astcur
and discussion on a tcw cxtrcmcy simpc pcrccptua contrasts. ab-
scncc/prcscncc, bctorc/attcr, iving/dcad, purc/impurc.
tcoursc,thcaboratoryaso accumuatcs aargcnumbcrottrias
and data that rcmain unknown to thcpubic. !astcur is ncvcrthccss
to myknowcdgcthconyrcscarchcrwhowasabcto intcrcstaargc
cducatcdpubicinthc wc-nigh daiy drama othiscxpcrimcnts. Lct
usnottorgctthattor amost adccadcthcRevue Scientifque toowcd
wcck bywcckthc rcscarch bcing carricd outinthc Kuc d`Um. Jhis
situation was a ong way trom that ot thc aboratory isoatcd trom
socicty whosc bcnchts woudatcr takcthc tormottcchnica rcsuts.
^o, thc vcry gcncsis ot thc data was toowcd stcp by stcp. l havc
contagion cnvironmcnt madc itpossibcto idcntity macroscopic hy-
gicnc and thc aborato
y-but ! must now show how intcrcst was
maintaincd on thc part ot thc !astcurians by cvcr morc astonishing
You WilBe astcurs of Microbes 87
cxpcrimcnts. Jhc cttcct was a thc morc powcrtu inthat thc abo-
ratory, on thc basis ot its own probcms and proccdurcs, was pro-
ducingrcsutsthatcachtimcustihcd, simpihcd, or strcngthcncdthc
taskotthc hygicnists.Vithoutthisdoubcmovcmcntotintcrcstand
havc rcmaincd undiscusscd bccausc thcy intcrcstcd nobody or, ikc
thoscotDavainc, havcbccndiscusscdbutrcmaincd disputabc.Vith
his capturcotintcrcsts,onthconchand, andhisthcatcrotproot, on
thcothcr, itwo

ud bcuntair notto grant him gcnius.

was not cxccptiona, it was spccihcd. !ndccd, cvcn itthc !astcurians
dcvcopcd a bioogy in thc aboratory, thcy did not practicc a labo
ratory bioogy. Jcy didnotcavcto othcrs, asapparcntyhappcncd
in Lngand, thc ob ot using or appying thcir rcsuts, contcnting
thcmscvcs with 'purc scicncc." ^o, thcy wcnt on winding up a
thc oppositc dircction. !n this third stagc thcy sct out to transtorm
thc hcd trom which thcy had comc according to aboratory spccih-
cations, in such a way as to rctain thc baancc ot powcr that thcy
had bccn abc to rcvcrsc in thc sccond stagc. Jhc third stagc is thc
mostspcctacuar, and 'thc wondcrtu cxpcrimcnt ot!ouiy c !ort"
isthcarchctypcotitinthcpagcsotthcRevue Scientifque. Asoucy
writcs. '!ouiy-c-!ort, as tamous today as a thc battchcds . . .
Nonsicur !astcur, a ncw Apoo, was not atraid to dcivcr oraccs,
morc ccrtain ot succcss than thc son otpoctry woud bc" I88J,p.
Vhat has not bccn writtcn about !ouiy-c-!ort| Yct itwas ony
thc hna cpisodc in this thcatcr otproot, thc drcss rchcarsas wcrc
mcdia. !astcurprcdictcdthat a ototunvaccinatcdshccpwouddic.
'Jhc samc numbcr ot animas, which had bccn covcrcd with thc
paadium otthc ncw vaccinc, rcmaincd invuncrabc to tata inocu-
ation, and wcrc shown, vcry much aivc, surroundcd by corpscs"
oucy. I88I, p. 548) . Jhcrcwas tak otmiraccs, but wc havc to
undcrstand what givcs thc impression ot a miracc. !twc torgct thc
othcrtwo stagcsinthc!astcurianstratcgy,thcnindccdhisprcdiction
88 War and Peace of Microbes
with thc onc that many phiosophcrs havc tirccss!y cccbratcd, thc
adequatio rei et intellectus. Jhcprcdictionsotthcaboratoryhavcan
appication in rcaity. Yct in practicc, thc prcdiction is at oncc css
cxtraordinary and morc intcrcsting. Lvcn oucy, thc chictthuritcr,
is obigcd to admit as much. '!n a program aid out in advancc,
cvcrythingthatwastohappcnwas announccdwithaconhdcnccthat
simpy ookcd ikc audacity, tor hcrc thc oracc was rcndcrcd by
scicnccitsct,that is to say, itwas thc cxprcssion ota ong scrics ot
cxpcrimcnts, otwhich thc unvaryingconstancyotthcrcsutsprovcd
with absoutc ccrtainty thc truth ot thc aw discovcrcd" I88I, p.
548) . Jhc imprcssion ot a miracc is providcd by thc grcat brcak
bctwccn thc 'aboratory," in which scicntihc tacts wcrc madc, and
thc 'outsidc," whcrc thcsc tacts wcrc vcrihcd. Jhc imprcssion dis-
appcars, according to oucy, it onc considcrs thc ong, continuous
in which cascthcrc is nothingto gct cxcitcd about, o:itwas not, in
whichcasc it was a gambcthatmighthavcgoncwrong.!astcur, as
aways, says much morc about this than his admircrs. !n a tamous
passagcthat is rarcy guotcdinits cntircty, !astcur constructs aruc
! admit, had thc bodncss otprophccics that ony a dazzing succcss
coud cxcusc. 5cvcra individuas wcrc kindcnoughtopointthis out
to mc, adding B tcw criticisms conccrning my scicntihc imprudcncc.
owcvcr,thcAcadcmic must undcrstandthatwchavcnotdrawnup
such a programwithout a soid basis in caricr cxpcrimcnts, though
!ndccd, chancctavors prcparcd minds, anditisinthisway, !bcicvc,
that onc must undcrstand thc inspircd words otthc poct. audentes
fortuna juvat" IZZ/IJ,V!, J48) . Jhc scopcthatwasto bcgivcn
to thc cxpcrimcntwas not cxacty a guarantcc. Convcrscy, thc cx-
pcrimcntwas notcntircy without guarantcc. Jhcrc was arisk. Jhis
riskwas contrary to scicntihcprudcncc. ut !astcur was wc awarc
that thc cpistcmoogy ottasihcation was tasc. that ony thc victor
ustitythcrisky crossing otthc bridgc atArcoc. Jhc audacitythatis
ony an 'appcarancc," accordingtooucy,is on thc contrary rca,
hc was trying to wind up. sct out trom thc tarm and rcturn to it a
victor, but without bcing too ccrtain otit, cxpccting !ortunc to do
You Will Be astcurs of Microbes 89
thc rcst, that cxtra bitwhich coud bring thc ittc aboratorytothc
itc-sizcd tarm. Vc know that hc was ncrvous, wc can scc why L.
Ducaux, I86/IZ0, L.^ico, I/4) .
Lct ustoow thc cavacadc again. Jhc aboratory hrst movcd to
atarminordcrtocapturcthcbacius hrststagc).Jhcninthcccntra
aboratory thc bacii cuturcs wcrc movcd, purihcd, and inocuatcd
on an cntirc cxpcrimcnta tarmyard, thcrc, too, thc bactcrium was
wcakcncdandthc animas` bodics wcrc strcngthcncdbyvaccination
sccond stagc). Lasty, attcr thc transtormation ot a tarm in such a
way thatit party obcycd thc conditions ota aboratory cxpcrimcnt
andmaintaincd thc rcvcrsa otthcbaanccotpowcr, thccxpcrimcnts
carricdoutinthc ccntra aboratorywcrc rcpcatcd third stagc).Jhc
whoc otthc !astcurianarcis indccd dazzing, butthc cxpcrimcnt ot
!ouiy-lc-!ortinthccontcxtotthc arcisnotmiracuous. !tisbcttcr
thanthat. !t has chcck.
!n thc coursc otthis third stagcis toundthc samcphcnomcnonot
ncgotiation as in thc hrst. !ndccd, thc account ot thc cxpcrimcnt
discusscd with thc 5ocictc d`Agricuturc at Ncun is cacd a 'con-
vcntion program. "|ust as somc ccmcnts otthc hcd wcrc takcn to
thc aboratory, so ccrtain ccmcnts ot thc aborato
y wcrc takcn to
otthis vaccinc it thc tarm was notto somc cxtcnt transtormcd into
a aboratory anncx. !or instancc, thc vaccinatcd animas had to bc
scparatcd trom thc nonvaccinatcdoncsandmarkcd by a hocinthc
car, cvcry day thcir tcmpcraturcs had to bc chcckcd and rccordcd,
syringcs hadto bcstcriizcd, andmorc andmorccontrogroupshad
known to !crcttc and Koscttc had in turn to bc movcd so that thc
dctcatcd microbcs coud this timc bccomc visibc thcrc. !or a this,
ncgotiations had to bc carricd out with thc organizcrs so that thc
rcsuts otthc aboratory coud bc transtcrrcd. Jhc ncgotiationswcrc
dcicatc, torit!astcurimposcdtoomanyconditions,hisvaccincwoud
rcmaininthcaboratoryandbccomcimmovabc, onthcothcrhand,
it hc dcpartcdtoo much trom 'prcvious cxpcrimcnts," thc cttcct ot
hisvaccinc mightrunthc risk otno ongcr bcingdctcctabcand thc
whocthingcoud turn into a hasco.
ncc !ortunc had smicd on thc bravc man who had addcd U
scicntihcprudcncc a itc-sizcdcxpcrimcntthcrsutsotwhichcoud
not bc guarantccd, !astcur appicd this doubc stratcgy. n thc onc
hand, hc constructcdthc whoc otthc arcthatwoud cnabchim to
90 War and Peace of Microbes
mcchanism) , but on thc othcr hand, hc imputcd or ctt othcrs to
imputc a thc prcdictions to '5cicncc" thc sccondary mcchanism).
Jhat thc truth otthc aboratory coud bcappicd atouiy-Ic-!ort
thcnbccamc a miracc, acccptcd by a as such, otwhichhcbccamc
thc prophct. Jhis doubc movcmcnt was admirabc butnotmagica.
!or mc, thc most incomprchcnsibcthingaboutthcunivcrsc is that
anyonc shoud rcgard as incomprchcnsibc thc ncvcrthccss simpc
way bywhich wc makc it comprchcnsibc.
From the Micro- to the Macrocosm
Athcastcurian 'appications" wcrc 'dittuscd," aswcsay, onyit
it was prcviousy possibc to crcatc in situ thc conditions ot a abo-
ratory. Jhc pastcurization ot bccr or mik, hcrmcticay conccacd
containcrs, htcrs, vaccincs, scrums, diagnostic kits-athcscscrvcd
as proot, wcrc dcmonstrativc and cthcacious, onyinthcaboratory.
!tthcsc appicationswcrctosprcad,thcopcratingroom,thchospita,
thcphysician's othcc, thc vinc growcr's wincry, hadto bc cndowcd
with aaboratory. t coursc, thc cntirc aboratoryinthcKuc d'Um
didnot havcto bc movcd orrcproduccd, ustcertain otitsccmcnts,
ccrtain gcsturcs, ccrtain proccdurcs, which wcrc practi
cdony thcrc
and wcrc indispcnsabcto maintaining in cxistcncc thcphcncmcnon
in gucstion. !ndccd it was by hoding to this ast stagc ot thc work
that thc astcur !nstitutc and its subbranchcs wcrc to havc a asting
mcans ot occupying thc hcd.
!tastcurhadwrittcn aworkonthc socioogyotthc scicnccs, hc
might havc cntitcd it 'Givc mc a aboratory and ! sha raisc thc
word" Latour. I8Jb) . As with Archimcdcs' cvcr, thc tucrum ot
thc aboratory on domcsticatcd microbcs madc possibc a real dis
placement otthc word. Jhc casc otanthrax shows why: ouiy-lc-
!ortmighthavc rcmaincd an isoatcd casc, an intcrcsting prototypc
with no tuturc. ut astcur did not wait tor thc tuturc, hc rccruitcd
it. ouiy-c-!ort was a argc-scac thcatcr within whichwith ovcr-
whcming argumcnts hc coud convincc cguay cnormous socia
govcrnmcnt ministcrs. !ndccd, thc third stagc was notyct compctc.
n|unc I, I882, thc aboratory`s hcdotactionwas gcographicay
cxtcndcdtothccxtcntthatJ00,000 animas, incudingZ5,000cows,
wcrc vaccinatcd. According to thc statistics, thc mortaity ratc tc
You Will Be astcurs of Microbes 91
trompcrccntto0. 65pcrccnt.Jhccditoriacontinucs. 'Controntcd
bysuchhgurcs, wccannoongcrdoubtthccthcacyotthcvaccination
against anthrax" Anon. . I88Z, p. 80I) .
5owchavc rcturncdtothc macrocosm, tostatistica data, to thc
odcpidcmioogy,to prcciscythattromwhichwc sctoutandwhich
showcd onthc maps, thc crratic cxpansionotthc ccntcrs otanthrax
intcction. ^ow thc samc statistica apparatus was uscd by thc !as-
tcurians as a grcat account book to toow, itc-sizc, that vast abo-
ratory cxpcrimcnt onthc scac ot!rancc itsct, bywhichthcratc ot
thc dcath otvaccinatcd animas was comparcdwith that otnonvac-
avcwcrcturncdcxactyto ourstartingpointr ^o,torthcrcwas
anothcrmovcmcnt. !nthctabcsthcrcarcnowtwoparaccoumns.
bctorc vaccination and attcr vaccination !astcur: IZZ/IJ, V!,
J8J) . Jhis iswhy ! spokcotthccvcr. !hias otvaccincproduccd in
!astcur`s aboratory wcrc distributcd undcr supcrvision to a tarms
act as a parasitc on shccp, thus, wc, thc mcn who arc thc parasitcs
otshccp, coudusc thc domcsticatcd microbc, thatis, thc attcnuatcd
thc tarmcr and us. Lvcryonc aong thc parasitic chain gains, cxccpt
thc anthrax.
adwc not toowcd simutancousy !astcur and his aics, thcrc
woud havc bccn, on thc onc hand, a scicncc and, on thc othcr, a
amiracc. !twc toowa otthcm, wcarc abcto scc acontinuityin
thc trias otstrcngth bascd at hrst onthc homc ground, thcn movcd
to thcaboratory, thcn rcvcrscd, thcn uscdto movc thctcrraintrom
which thcy startcd. Jhc rcsut ot such an arrangcmcnt, such a twist,
is that a minimum otcttort-a man, a tcw bactcria, a tcw ycars ot
work-has in thc cnd thc maximum cttcct. Jhc intcrcst in this way
ot sccing things is that wc avoid thc crror with which wc sct out.
!astcur`sworkdocsnot'cmcrgcinsocicty"to 'inhucncc"it. !twas
arcady in socicty, it ncvcr ccascd to bc so. Jhc vcry cxistcncc ot
on ahrstscicncc, statistica cpidcmioogy. Jhis anthraxwasnomorc
'outsidc" than !astcur`s anthrax. !t was simpy in thc othccs otthc
Ninistry ot Agrcuturc, obtaincd by movcmcnts ot civi scrvants,
rcscarchcrs, and inspcctors, which madc it possibc to obtain thc
mortaty hgurcs and, in a singc spot, thc statistics. Jhis cvidcncc is
92 War and Peace of Microbes
nor thc cthcacy ot !astcur's vaccinc as a nationa savation woud
havcbccnvisibcwithoutthishrstmeasuring apparatus, thcstatistics
otthc NinistryotAgricuturc, whosc historymustbcwrittcn in thc
samc tcrms.
Jhcsamcgocs torthc 'cthcacy" ot!astcurismas torthc 'discov-
cry"otthcmicrobcsortorthc 'prcdictions"ot!ouiy-c-!ort. Jhcy
wcrc miraccs it wc torgct that thc !astcurians crcatcd in advancc
nctworks in which thcy coud rcvcrsc thc baancc ot torccs. !t is a
gcncra ructhatwc ncvcr obscrvc in 'scicncc" or 'tcchnoogy" thc
cmcrgcncc ot a rcsut, a proccss, a tcchniguc, or a machinc. Jhc
'outsidc" ot such nctworks woud bc so unprcdictabc, so unorga-
nizcd,thatthc aboratoryrcsuts woud bconccagaininconscgucnt.
Jhcywoudhavc thc owcr hand, thcy woudbccomcdisputabc.
nctwork guaity ot scicncc, hc has ony to ook at thc pocmics in
which !astcur cngagcs onthc subcctotcxtcnding thc appicationot
thc anthrax vaccinc. Jhcrc again !astcur knows vcry wc that thc
!nthcscssions otthcAcadcmic, Coinis!astcur'swhipping boy,tor
hc doubtsthccthcacyotthcanthraxcuturcs.!astcurrcpicsthathis
doubtdcpcndsonhis hands:
Colin: Jhis iguid was activc at thc bcginning, ! havc watchcd it
ki rabbits and cvcn a shccp, but attcr a tcw months it no ongcr
broughtonanthrax. Vhy it bccamc incrt l don'tknow.
Pasteur: ccausc it had bccomc impurc in your hands.
Colin: ut it had ncvcr bccn incontactwith thc air.
Pasteur: ow did you uncork itr
Colin: !tookathcprccautionsindicatcdbyNonsicur!astcurand
his assistants to draw it out otthc apparatus and to rccosc it. . .
Pasteur: !n tact, aow mc to say that you nccd to study thcsc
gucstions a good dca morc. . .
Colin: jJhcgcrmcorpusccs] wcrcto bctoundthcrcinargcnum-
bcrs and with thcir origina charactcristics.
Pasteur: lhavcarcadytodyouthatthatisimpossibc. . . utyou
donotknow how to withdraw this organism in such a way as not
tointroducc a ncwimpurity into thc tubc. ow doyou cxpcct usto
givc any crcdcncc to your asscrtionsr You arc sti sccking not thc
truthbut contradiction. !astcur. IZZ/IJ,V, J5/)
You Will Be astcurs of Microbes 93
Lvcrythingisthcrc: 'owdidyouuncorkitr"Coinisthcidcaist.
c is thc onc who bcicvcs that thcrc arc idcas in scicncc. ut no,
onc gains crcdit with onc`s hngcrs. !hcnomcna rcmain ony as ong
as onc maintains thcm within thc trias ot strcngth. A bacius is
prcscntonyasongasa sctotgcsturcsthatguarantccitspurity,ust
cscapc trom thc nctworks that makc thcm. !t ottcn sccmcd tor in-
bordcr." owcvcrmuchittricdto bc'univcrsa,"itrcmaincdoca.
!astcur had to insistthatthcpracticcsothis aboratory bcrcpcatcd
cxactyitthc vaccinc wcrc to travc.
Jcchnigucs arc ncithcr vcrihcd nor appicd, thcy can ony bc rc-
pcatcd and cxtcndcd on condition that thcirmovcmcnt is prcparcd
Jhcrc is nothing cxtraordinary in this. A thcatcr otproot, ikc thc
ordinarythcatcr, nccds a its acccssorics. Jhc shapc otthc microbc
isonythcrcativcystabctrontotthctrias towhichitissubcctcd.
varicsintcmpcraturc,thcphcnomcna disappcar, thatis, thcychangc
thcirdchnitions. !romthis point otvicwthc !astcuriansarc ikcthc
thcydccarc to bc madc indisputabc on a points.
'Vc, Nistcr Know-!t-A, did !astcur discovcr thc causc otan-
thrax ornotr"
^ow! shoud ikc to rcpy at astin thc athrmativc. utthis at-
hrmativc is aso accompanicd by a ot ot acccssorics. ncc thc sta-
tistica apparatus that rcvcas thc dangcr otanthrax and thc cthcacy
ot thc vaccinc, has bccn stabiizcd, oncc at thc !nstitut !astcur thc
proccdurcstorwcakcning, conditioning, andscndingthcvaccincmi-
crobchavc bccn stabiizcd, oncc!astcurhas inkcdhis bacius with
cach otthc movcmcnts madc by thc 'anthrax," thcn and ony thcn
is thc doubc imprcssion madc: thc microbc has bccn discovcrcd
and thc vaccinc is distributcd cvcrywhcrc." Jhis doubc procction
in timc and spacc is not tasc, it ony takcs ong, ikc any procc-
tion in thc cincma, to construct, to tocus, and to tunc. ! woud bc
prcparcd to say that !astcur had 'rcay discovcrcd" thc truth ot
thc microbc atast,itthcword'truc"woudaddmorcthan contu-
94 War and Peace of Microbes
The Style Is the Pasteurian
aving dcscribcd!astcur`s sidcways movcmcnt and thcvcryspccia
strcngththatcnabcdhim to hodtogcthcrwhatsccmcddisointcd,!
wi bccomc aittc morc ambitious and dchnc with somc prccision
whatwasmcantto bca!astcurianinthispcriod. !graspitas atcrm
otstle. |ustasthcrcwas ahygicniststyc,thcrc was astyc thatcoud
bc rccognizcd at hrst gancc as !astcurian. A scicntihcarticcis not
ot coursc a dcscriptionor a distraction. !t is a mcans otprcssurc on
to do, orwhatthcywantto bc. !nordcrto construct thoscpathsthat
himsct with cvcrything that may tcnd to support his point otvicw
and to makc his concusions as indisputabc as thc coursc ot a rivcr
throughaV-shapcd vaIcy. Jhismuch is gcncra. Jhc particuartca-
turc ot thc !astcurian articcs is that thcy oricnt thc rcadcr aong a
sopc, but this sopc cncountcrs ordcrs otprcoccupauon absoutcy
aicn to onc atiothcr. Jhis charactcristic cnabcs thc !astcurians to
'tic" togcthcr thc torccs that thcy capturc, to usc thcm, and thus to
incrcascthcwcak torccs that thcy throwinto thc battcs otthc timc.
Jo takcanothcrmctaphor,thc!astcurianscrossdiagonally thctront
ot thc advcrsc torccs and, by this movcmcnt, bccomc thcir cadcrs,
dctccting thcir movcmcnt through thc hcp thcy hnd in cach ot thc
othcr groups. Jhc subtcty and ccgancc ot this styc ot action may
bc shown, astonishingy cnough, in a singc articc as wc as in thc
tota corpus ot thc Annales de I'Institut Pasteur. Jo bcgin with, ct
us takc an articc writtcn byYcrsin, cntitcd 'Jhc ubonic !aguc at
ong Kong" I84, p. 66J).

Ycrsin bcgins by summarizing thc contribution ot a ccntury-od

scicncc, cpidcmioogy, onc ot whosc aims was to throw back thc
microscopic'barbarians" bcyondthc tronticrs otthcwcstcrnword.
'At thc bcginning ot ast Nay, thcrc brokc out at ong Kong an
cpidcmicot bubonic pagucthatprovcd dcadyto thcChincscpop-
uation otthatcity.Jhc discaschadbccnragingtoravcryongtimc
in an cndcmic statc on thc high patcaus ot Yunnan and trom timc
to timc had appcarcd guitc ncar thc tronticr ot our !ndo-Chincsc
posscssions at Ncng-tsu, Lan-Chow, and !ci-hai." 5inccthctimc ot
thcKcnaissancc, thc contradiction has awaysbccnthc samc. to cx-
tcndcommcrciaroutcs was to aow microbcs to mutipy. 'Laisscz
tairc, aisscz passcr" prohtcd not ony thc mcrchants. 'Jhc grcat
You WilBe astcurs of Microbes 95
commcrcia movcmcntbctwccn Canton and ong Kong,onthc onc
hand, and bctwccn ong Kong and Jonkin, on thc othcr, and thc
guarantinc makcs thc !rcnch govcrnmcnttcarthat!ndochinawibc
nvadcd by thc cpidcmic."
Jhcrc is sti nothing origina about thc bcginning otthis articc,
which contorms to a thc canons ot hygicnc. Jhc statc dctcnds its
tronticrs with sodicrs against argc-scac cncmics and with doctors
against sma-scaconcs. !n Jonkin thc !rcnch go ony as tar as thcy
arc aowcd to bythc puuation otparasitcs and microbcs that sc-
crctyundcrmincnotonythccooniaothccrs butasothcJonkincsc
and, ot coursc, thcir dogs, cats, and buttaocs: '! rcccivcd trom thc
Ninistry ot1hc Coonicsthc ordcr to go to ong Kong andto study
thcnaturc otthc scourgc, thc conditions inwhich it sprcads, and to
scck thc most cttcctivc mcasurcs to prcvcnt it rcaching our posscs-
sions."Jhcpaguc coudswccpaway'posscssions," ust as anthrax
coud dccimatc !rcnch ivcstock. Jhcrc, too, a ministcr cntrustcd a
Jhcccntury sawinnumcrabc grcat missions otinguiryinto ways ot
protcctingparasitcs whitc-skinncdmacroparasitcs) againstparasitc>
microparasitcs in thc torm ot miasmas or ccntcrs ot intcction). At
this point, howcvcr, thc articc takcs a guitcdittcrcntturn: '!sct up
my aboratory in a strav hut that ! had buit, with thcpcrmissionot
thc ritish govcrnmcnt, insidcthcwas otthcmainhospita. "
Athoughhcwas a cooniaphysiciansccondcass, Ycrsin didnot
by thc hostic Lngish doctors) . Jhis was thc hrst dispaccmcnt. Jhc
sccond dispaccmcnt was thc tact that athough hc was insidc thc
hospita, hc was in his aboratory. Jhc third dispaccmcnt was that
hc brought with him his aboratory that hc had buit attcr many
horrors, itwas thc aboratory thatwas givcn hrst priority.
Jhc articc thcn takcs up thc rcsuts ot a dittcrcnt scicncc, not
cpidcmioogy but cinica mcdicinc. Ycrsin is no ongcr discussing
ccntcrs otintcction or goba gcography, but symptoms. c is dis-
cussing an abstract paticnt, whosc scmioogica tabc hc sums up.
Jhcrc canbc no doubtthat what hc is controntcd with is 'bubonic
paguc": 'crc arc thc symptoms ot thc discasc: suddcn outbrcak
attcrtourandahattosix day`s incubation, torpor,prostration.Jhc
paticntsuddcny has a high tcvcr, ottcn accompanicd by dcirium."
96 War and Peace of Microbes
At thc cnd otthc cinica picturc, hc sums up in a word anothcr
sctotdata, whichthis timc comc tromhospitastatistics: 'Nortaity
isvcry high: about 5" in thc hospitas| " At this stagc Ycrsin has
hc compctcy changcs rcgistcr and movcs into what wc might ca
urban hygicnc. Jhc city considcrcd as a sick body is studicd as a
whoc: `hisintcrcstingtoobscrvcthat, inmostotthccitywhcrcthc
cpidcmicbrokcoutin thc hrstpacc andcauscdmostdcvastation, a
ncw systcm ot drains had ust bccn instacd." Jhc circuation ot
microbcs and otdirtywatcr orcxcrcmcntis as contradictory as that
ot cmpircs and cpidcmics. ow can onc dcsign drains so that thcy
cvacuatc rctusc without contaminating,hcn thosc Iows ot watcr,
cxcrcmcnt, and microbcs do not movc in thc samc wayr Jhis is a
hadno troubc dcmonstratingthcbaddcsignotthc drainsthatcvac-
uatcd somcwatcr but aowcd thc microbcs to proitcratc.
c thcn passcd to a ncw sct ot conccrns, which might bc cacd
tyingotthc soi tubs, 'whosc contcnts, attcrundcrgoing somc prcp-
aration, is uscd to tcrtiizc thc innumcrabc Chincsc gardcns that
bordcr thc Canton rivcr." A thcsc dctais mattcr whcn wc arc con-
sidcring a city as a cuturc mcdium ikcy to cncouragc or attcnuatc
thc action ot a microbc.
utso tar Ycrsin issummingup whathchascarncdtrom othcrs.
c adds nothing to it. c docs not curc anyonc, hc docs not atcr
thchygicnc otthccity, hc docsnotrcarrangcthcdrainagcsystcm, hc
docs notadd any ncwsymptomto thc cinicapicturc. Distrustcd by
thcLngishauthoritics and compctingwiththc|apancscbactcrioo-
gists, hc crosscs through a thcsc intcrcsts. lt is thc samc whcn hc
passcs through what might bc cacdthc socia gucstion: 'Jhc odg-
ings occupicd by Chincsc otthc poorcr casscs arc cvcrywhcrc hthy
hovcs, which onc hardy darcs to cntcr and in which an incrcdibc
numbcrotindividuas arc crammcd. . . nccanundcrstandthcrav-
agcs wrought by an cpidcmic whcn it takcs root in such a tcrrain,
and thc dithcuty thcrc must bc in ciminating it|"
Jhc sociagucstionissccnbyYcrsin

tor thc cpidcmic. c is not thcrc to wccp ovcr thc 'poor casscs,"
any morcthanhc is thcrc to trcatthcsick.Jhisdocsnotprovcthat
hcwas 'hcartcss,"ony thatthc program onwhichhcwas working
You Will Be astcurs of Microbes 97
mcdicinc orhygicnc. Jhis astcurianprogram rcguircd himtocross
through a thcsc discipincs as tast as possibc.
5o tar, Ycrsin sccms to supcrimposc disparatc ccmcnts. ut thc
ink bcgins to cmcrgc, a ink that ony a astcurian coud considcr
attcctcd. Norcintcrcstingysti, hcwritcs: 'JhcscLuropcanhouscs
arc ncvcrthccss not cxcmpt trom a dangcr, tor onc ohcn hnds in
thcmdcadrats, indubitabccucsto thc coscproximityotintcctious
gcrms. "Vc may comparc ccntcrs otcndcmic discascs with ccntcrs
ot cpidcmics, wc may comparc thc various districts in thc city ac-
cording to racc, housingconstruction,wcath, agricutura practiccs,
anddrainagc systcms. ut abovc a-andthisis an addition that a
hygicnist woud not makc-wc may bcgin to comparc thc various
animas that havc tacn sick trom thc paguc. Jhcy do not a dic,
butthcy arc a attcctcd in a dittcrcnt way. crc again Ycrsin, ikc
astcur, carns trom thc knowcdgc ot his prcdcccssors: 'Jhc phy-
sicians otthc Chincsc customs who had had thc opportunity otob-
scrving thc cpidcmics at ci-hai and Licn-Chu in thc provincc ot
CantonandN. Kochcr !rcnch consuatNcng-tsu,hadarcadyno-
ticcdthatthc scourgc,bctorcstrikingmcn, bcganbykiingottargc
numbcrs otmicc, rats, and buttao. "Jhis curiosity otthc obscrvcrs
is rctransatcd byYcrsin into 'variation otvirucncc. "Jhc districts,
way. Jhat which woud bc an indcciphcrabc puzzc tor any othcr
protcssion is prcciscy what cnabcs Ycrsin to say with somc satis-
taction: 'Jhcparticuarsusccptibiityotccrtain animasto contract
thc paguc aowcd mc to undcrtakc in good conditions an cxpcri-
mcnta study ot thc discasc." Jhis scntcncc is not markcd by any
cynicism.Jhcpagucprcscnts itsctwctothccyc otthc rcscarchcr:
to thc astcurian tactics arc a transatcd into thc singc anguagcot
thcvariation otvirucncc ota singc organism intcrms ottcrrain.
Ycrsin nowhasto dchncthc organismthatwircpaccthc socia
gucstionasithasrcpaccdcinicamcdicincorcpidcmioogy: 'Lvcry-
in thc paticnt`s bood and in thc bubonic tumors." ack in his ab-
tocapturcthc microbchcrcturns immcdiatcytohisaboratory.Jhc
tumor is no ongcr a symptom otcinica mcdicinc. !t is what must
8 War and Peace of Microbes
hcdwithavcrtabc purcc otashort, thicksctbacius,withroundcd
thc ccntcr sothat itottcn prcscnts a ight spacc inthc middc."
lt is no ongcr bctwccn Lan-Chow and ci-hai that a ccntcr ot
paguc intcction is dchncd, itis no ongcr bctwccn thc tcvcrandthc
tumor that thc symptoms ot thc paguc arc dchncd, it is bctwccn
aniinc, Gram`s mcthod, and thc microscopc. ^cw trias producc a
ut again Ycrsin docs notstop at this actor. c docs notwritc to
thc ministcr to dcscribc thc bacius, soon to bc known as 'Ycrsin`s
bacius. "c docsthingstoitinthccuturcmcdiumthatmustimitatc
what thc bubonic virus docs on thc body otthc paticnt: 'Jhc pup
otthctumor, whcn sownongcosc, dcvcops whitc,transparcntco-
onics, wth irridcsccnt cdgcswhcn cxamincd undcrrchcctcd ight."
ln prcscnting a bacii cuturc, a rcccnt advcrtising hcadinc ran:
'Jhcncw !rcnch coonics. " lt was intcndcd as a okc, it was aso
corrcct. Jhc Ninistcr otthc Coonics was to takc an cxtraordinary
intcrcstinYcrsin`scoonics.lsoatcdinhis aboratory, hcworkcdon
microscopic coonics in an cttort to transtorm thosc ot thc macro-
parasitc whosc 'posscssions" wcrc thrcatcncd.
!oowing aastcurianprogram, Ycrsinimmcdiatcymodihcdthc
cuturc mcdium, tor hc was no morcintcrcstcd inthc cuturc than in
thcbaciusitsct: 'Jhccuturcdocs cvcn bcttcrongyccrizcdgcosc.
Jhc bacius aso grows on coaguatcd scrum. ln thc mcdium thc
baciushas avcry charactcristic appcarancc,vcryrcminisccntotthc
crysipcascuturc: a ccar iguid,with curds aongits was andatthc
cnd ot thc tubc."
ltisathcrc.Vccansccthcccntcrs onthcmap otChina,wccan
scc thc poor casscs in thcir hovcs, wc can scc thc tumors on thc
armpits ot thc sick, wc can scc thc dcad rats in thc houscs ot thc
thc Chincsc nor thc sorcs northc dcad nor thc rats butthc coonics
undcra microscopc.
to Y crsinthanwas any othcr stagc. Vhathcwantcdwasto givcthc
paguc back to thc animas. c wantcdtorccnactan cpidcmicinhis
aboratory, which woud imitatc thc onc raging outsidc thc abora-
You Wil Be Pastcurs of Microbes 99
tory: '!toncinocuatcs micc, rats, or guincapigswith thc bubonic
paguc pup, onc wi surcy ki thosc animas . . . Jhc guinca pigs
dicdwithin two to hvc days on avcragc, thcmicc bctwccn onc and
thrcc days."!nocuationimitatcs contagion.AndY crsinnowinvcnts
a cinica mcdicinc that is no ongcr ooking tor symptoms in thc
paucnts ot thc hospita around him, but in thc guinca pigs that hc
dcibcratcymakcs sick. cisdoingcinicamcdicinc,butonhisown
tcrrain. 'Atthc autopsy] thc intcsttnc andthc surrcna capsucs arc
ottcn congcstcd, thc kidncyspurpish, thc ivcr cnargcd andrcd,thc
vcry tat tcmac rat ottcn shows a sort ot cruption ot tiny miiary
tubcrccs. "
cdocsnotstop atancxpcrimcnta anatomopathoogy any morc
than at any othcr otthc tcchnigucs that hc has brought togcthcr in
systcm, orracc, butbymixingthccuturcmcdia,thctypcotbacius,
andthcanimas: 'nc cancasiypassthcdiscasctromguincapigto
guincapigwiththchcp otthcratpupor bood. Dcatharrivcsmorc
guickyattcra tcwpassagcs. "Convcrscy: 'igcons donotdicwhcn
inocuatcdwith amodcratcdosc otthctumorpup, orwithacuturc
otthc paguc bacius."
!n his tcmporary aboratory, now dominating thc cpidcmic that
dominatcsoutsidc, Ycrsinconcudcs: 'Jhcpagucisthcrctorc acon-
tagious and inocuabc discasc. !t is ikcy that rats arc its principa
vchicc. "
ut scarccy has hcconcudcd than hcrushcs tothc cumination
intcrcsts: thc vaccinc. Jhc articc docs not gct so tar. Ycrsin scizcs
onyuponthcpaucnts spontancousy curcd, andhc m cdiatcypaccs
thcwcakcncdagcntthatisitscauscundcrthcmicroscopc: 'ysowing
torthrccwccks,!wasabcto obtainatcwcoonicsabsoutcydcvoid
ot anyvirucncc, cvcn tor micc."
Andhcconcudcs: 'Jhcscvcrysuggcstivctactsaowmctosupposc
woudno doubt bc capabc otgivinganimas immunity againstmc
paguc. ! havc bcgun this inc ot cxpcrimcnt thc rcsuts otwhich !
sha pubish atcr."
Vc donot havc torcad thousands otpagcs writtcn byhygicnists
100 War and Peace of Microbes
Ycrsin spcaks ot a group ot agcnts, hc immcdiatcy oricnts it aong
a procct that docs not intcrcst thc othcr agcnts. A hygicnist might
rcad thc bcginning ot this articc, but what woud hc makc ot thc
pigcons, aniinc dycs, and 'purpish" kidncysr Aphysician might bc
intcrcstcd in thc ast itcm, providing that thc kidncys bcongcd to a
man and not to a guinca pig. utwhat woud hc makc otthc ovcr-
narrow drains otong Kong, bacii in gcosc, or thc towns ot thc
high Chincsc patcaus r A socia rctormcr might bc intcrcstcd in thc
hovcs ot ong Kong, butthis docs not mcan that hcwoud cntcr a
has a ight spot in its middc, but hc woud notknowwhatto makc
ot a thc othcr agcnts, which woud sccm to him to bc guitc incon-
Ycrsin himsctwas intcrcstcd in athc scrics ot agcnts: thc mac-
roscopicagcnts gcographics, Chincscciucs) andmcmicroscopicagcnts
bacii and thcir coorings) . c toowcd thc human agcnts ust as
much as thc nonhuman oncs, broughthis attcntion to bcaron rats
aswcason ChincschovcsorLuropcanhouscs.cwasasintcrcstcd
inthc city as inuccrs. Vas hcintcrcstcdincvcrything, thcnr^o, hc
was intcrcstcd in nothing, or amost nothing, tor in cach agcnt hc
took ony what might ink it aong an obigatory passsagc that cd
him, bytorccd stagcs, to vaccination. Jhis doubc movcmcnt-using
a thc agcnts, making usc ony ot thosc that cd to vaccination-
cxpainshis sparc, ncrvous, rapid styc, whichrcstsoncvcrythingbut
ncvcr stays sti. aying on a thcprotcssions,hcisaways ahcadot
thcm, moving cach otthcm by thc combincd torcc otthc othcrs. ln
hisaboratory, bcnding ovcr thc coonics that hc has obtaincd Irom
thc uccrs otpaticntsinong Kong, Ycrsinwastoottcrthc Ministry
ot thc Coonics thc paguc bacius, ust as astcur had givcn it thc
agcnts ot anthrax or rabics. Ycrsin was not invovcd in poitics, hc
did not trcat paticnts, hc did not hcp thc poor, hc did not rcbuid
thc drains, and hc did not advisc thc Luropcans, yct hc movcd thc
positions ot hcas, rats, coonia administrators, army doctors, Jon-
kincsc, thc poorcr casscs, andbacii.
The AaaslssJsl`Iasttt"ssts
Vhcn l takc not an isoatcd articc butthc I,500 or so articcs that
thc Annales thrcw into thc battc trom I 88/ to II, l hnd oncc
againastcur`s usc otmovcmcnt and stratcgy-andYcrsin`sstyc. lt
You Wil Be Pastcursof Microbes 101
wc arc rightto considcr a scicntihc articcasamachinc,how arcwc
to dcscribc a pcriodica, thc oth
ia pcriodica ot thc Pastcuriansr
Aong with thc ccturcs that taught invcstigators trom a ovcr thc
word thc skis that wcrc indispcnsabc to thc vcry cxistcncc otthc
phcnomcna, with thcvaccincs, scrums, incubators, htcrs, diagnostic
kits, and anaysis shccts that cnabcd thc aboratory to cxtcnd its
powcr, thc ourna was thc most important ot thc !nstitut`s 'prod-
Kcading this scicntihc ourna, wc ncvcrthccss do notcavc thc
soid tcrrain ot trias ot strcngth. n thc contrary, wc arrivc at it.
Jhc so-cacd tcchnica articc docs not hoat ovcr aboratory cxpcri-
mcnts ikc somc cmpyrcan. !t is part ot thc action Calon ct a. :
I86). ltisthc actionitsct, thc actionthatconstructscrcdibiity and
makcs thc 'scicntihc tacts" disputabc orindisputabc. Jhc onydit-
tcrcncctromthc articcsotthcRevue Scientifque isthatthcAnnales
arc addrcsscd to othcr aboratorics cngagcd in thc samc tcchnigucs.
Vcmay cxpcct, thcrctorc, to scc anincrcascinwords,tcrms,abbrc-
viations, thatrctcrto thc oca tokorc and to thc tacitpracticcs ot
aprotcssiona group incrcasing in sizc and cohcrcncc.
!n tact, thc ovcra corpus otthc Annales isastonishingytaithtu
to thc astcurian spring and rcmains casiy anayzabc scc hg. Z, p.
Z68) . Jhis istruc,tobcginwith, otthcvcry cxistcncc otthc !nstitut.
astcurbcganto trcat|oscph Ncistcron|uy6, I885, onNarch I8,
I886,atthc Acadcmichc poscdthc gucstionotavaccinacstabish-
onNarch I4, I888, thcaboratoricsotthc !nstitutwcrcopcncd,thc
Annales having bcgun a ycar bctorc. as crcdibiity ottcn bccn con-
vcrtcd into capita so guicky in thc history otthc scicnccsr Dcspitc
thc ow numbcr otpaticnts attcctcd by rabics, dcspitcthc pocmics
ontrcatmcnt, thctrust otthc pubicwas convcrtcd, bythc shortcut
bc possibc to producc ncw tacts, rcvcrsc othcr baanccs ot torccs,
movcothcrsocia groups, crcatcothcragcnts,cxtcndothcrnctworks.
!n this accccration otconvcrsion wc rccognizcthc typcotdispacc-
mcnt so typica otastcur.
Jhis capitaization, it has to bc said again, was not ncccssary.
astcur coud havc cashcd in on thc pubic`s trust, hc coud havc
aoncor, onthc contrary, havc dcvotcditsocyto bioogy. lnstcad,
102 War and Peace of Microbes
wc scc in thc Annales a continuation on thc samc widc tront ot
discipincs and skis that hc had initiatcd but which coud not bc
conhncd to any dchnition in tcrms ot protcssion. !n thosc articcs
thcrc is tak otchccsc, bccr, and winc, but aso ot cnzymcs and ni-
trogcn,andotthcsourccsotthc5cinc,which containcdbactcria, and
ot phagocytcs and prccipitins, and ot thc wounds ot tubcrcuar or
diphthcriapaticnts in thc Chidrcn`s ospita, andotthc mosguitos
on thc ontinc Narshcs or otrat hcas in Nadagascar. Likc Ycrsin`s
articc, amostnoncotthc articcs in Annales stopsshortatthcho-
mogcncous sct ot agcnts. Vhcn it docs do so, thc uxtaposition ot
Jhc ourna is ncithcr mcdica nor hygicnist nor cvcn bioogica.
nc numbcrotthcAnnales mixcs conccrnsthat athcothcrprotcs-
sions scparatc and inscrts cvcrywhcrc rcsuts acguircd in thc abo-
Jhc samc issuc, tor instancc in I85, compriscs articcs on thc
disintcction ot tcccs, on diphthcria, onposon, onthc cntry otintcs-
tina microbcs into thc gcncra circuation, onthc dosagc otacoho,
on thc modcs otrcsistancc otthc owcr vcrtcbratcs to artihcia mi-
crobic invasions, on thc migration ot cacium phosphatc in pants,
and on thc practiccs ot microbic coorings, but aso a homagc to
astcur, statistics trom thc Nunicipa Antirabics !nstitutc ot Jurin,
and an articc on contagion through books.
A ourna ot hygicnc, cvcn attcr I880,woud bc conhncd to ur-
banism, or sanitation, or thc poor aws. A ourna ot cntomoogy
woudconhncitscttodcscribingthcitccyccs otmosguitos.Aour-
naotimmunoogy woud spcak ony otthc bodyanditsrcactions,
without conccrning itsct with microbcs. A mcdica ourna woud
carctuy dcscribc thc symptoms orrcmcdics otadiscasc. An admin-
thc rcmova otrctusc orthc burying ot corpscs. Jhc Annales spcaks
ot a thcsc things, passing through cvcry protcssion, and cach timc
addingcnough aboratory rcsutsto aowathcprotcssionsto con-
tinucinthcir tasks. Vcakcrthan cachprotcssion,thcastcurianwas
to bccomcstrongcrthan anyotthcm. !twasncithcrack otintccct
noracIotcouragcnor ackotaboratorycguipmcntthatimitcdthc
it was ony thc agcnt or typc ot agcnt that thcy privicgcd and thc
torm ot nctwork aong which thcy madc that agcntrun.
!n ordcr to undcrstand thc 'scicntihc" contcntotthc Annales, wc
You Will Be Pastcurs of Microbes 103
must undcrstand thc originaity, which ! do nothcsitatcto ca ' po-
numcrous, no morc briiant, no morc rigorous, and no morc cou-
ragcous than thc othcrs, but thcy toowcd a dittcrcntagcnt,thc cu-
tivatcd-microbc-whosc-virucncc-thcy-varicd. Vith such an agcnt, mcy
and it) coud ignorc thc catcgorics onwhich ninctccnth-ccntury so-
cicty hadbccnbuit.Jhchygicnistswcrcintcrcstcdprctcrabyin ex
ternal agcnts on a macroscopicscac. citics, cimatc, soi, air, and a
social agcnts, suchaspovcrty,ovcrcrowding,andthcaws govcrning
commcrcc. Jhc doctors wcrc intcrcstcd in internal and abovc a in
dividual practiccs, such as constitutions, tcrrains,humors, andwounds.
ctwccnthc cxtcrna andthc intcrna, thc crowd andthc individua,
thcrcwas ittc contact. Jhc bioogist orphysioogist was conccrncd
with intcrna agcnts that wcrc somctimcs microscopic, somctimcs
tunctiona,whichhadno ncccssaryrcationwithphysicians, sticss
withhygicnists. Jhcy spokc otorgans, otthcgycogcnic tunction ot
dircctyto dowiththc doctor-paticnt rcationship orthc sanitization
trom thc prcoccupations otonc otthcsc thrcc grcat groups to thosc
ot othcrs. t coursc, thc macroscopic or cxtcrna agcnts did not
intcrcst him as much as thcy intcrcstcd thc hygicnist, but hc coud
usc thcm to undcrstand thc movcmcnt ot a microbc in thc human
to him thanthcy wcrc to a physician, buthc coud uscsymptoms to
undcrstand thc paticnt's body as a particuar cuturc mcdium. Jhc
intcrna machincry otthc body was o

css intcrcst to him than to a

physioogist, but hc was abc to usc it to undcrstand thc dazzing
progrcss otthc microbc in its cconomy.
ymanipuatinghis agcnt,thc Pastcurianwas awayssighty dis-
paccd comparcd to his cocagucs, whosc discipinc hc rctransatcd
whcn thc physician was insidc with his paticnt, thcrc thc Pastcurian
was suddcny insidc, bcnt ovcr his microscopc, whic thc hygicnist
was contronting thc probcms otbad housing, and hc was suddcny
at thc hospita bcd trcating diphthcric chidrcn whic thc bioogist
wasisoatcdinhisaboratorycountingorcassitying bacii.Vc saw
ot microbcs into account. ut in thcsc ast ycars otthc ccntury thc
tramcwork ot socicty was rcdchncd in ordcr to make room tor thc
104 War and Peace of Microbes
microbcs. Limination ot thcm trom thc socia rcations that thcy
coud casiy rcshuttc thc cards and incrcasc thc powcr otwhat in
rcaity was a vcry modcstworktorcc.
JhisincrcascisathcmorccttcctivcinthatthcAnnales, IikcYcrsin,
rchaincd hom spcaking ot a thc agcnts that ithadinkcdtogcthcr
aongits continuous nctworks. ltwas conccrncdnotwithpovcrtyin
gcncra but with that obigatory point ot passagc which madc thc
inationotthoscaroundhim. ltwasconccrncdnotwithadministration
ingcncrabutwiththoscrcguationsthat, byordcringthcdryingup
ot stagnant watcrs, prcvcntcd mosguitos trom aying thcir cggs. lt
was conccrncd not with pathoogy in gcncraI but with tasc mcm-
brancs takcn trom chidrcn's throats that, oncc cutivatcd, woud
makc a dchnitc diagnosis possibc. lt was conccrncd not with an-
bcaringtcasto passtromthcrats thatthcyparasitcd tothcbankcts
on pcopc's bcds. Jhc articcs in thc Annales arc to bc rccognizcd
abovca,thcn,bythcir indcpcndcncc tromthcdivisionspracticcdin
socicty. Jhcymakcnodchnitivc dittcrcnccs bctwccnhygicnc,socicty,
mcdicinc,bioogy, andindustry,norbctwccnchcmistry,zooogy,and
microbioogy. ut instcad ot spcaking about cvcrything in a vast
synthcsis, thcy spcak only about thc agcnt that thcy can rctransatc
into thc anguagc ot thcir attcnuatcd microbc. Jhcy arc thus abc,
without dispcrsing thcmscvcs, to bring a thcir cttorts to thc tcw
points othygicnc, bioogy, administration, and pathoogy on which
thc aboratory aows thcm to bc strongcst. y using thc microbc
whosc virucncc may bc varicd, thcy arc abc to pass trom onc dis-
cipinc to anothcr and movc in a singc movcmcnt trom contagions
to phagocytcs, trom thcsc to chccscs, andonto diastascs and drains.
Jhcscsuddcnchangcs otscaccnabcdthcmto carryottthis doubc
coup: thcywcrc abc to rcncwmcdicinc without ever taking disease
as an object of study andtorcncwpoitics andhygicnc w'thout ever
taking the poor or social outcast as a unit of analysis.33
lndccdthccontcntsotthcAnnales incudcaargcnumbcrotarticcs
about discascs, but thcy arc a writtcn inthc particuarstycthat is
dchncd hcrc. ny tcn otthcm might bc rcgardcd as typica otmcd-
icincwithitshomogcncousagcnts. Jhosctcwarticcswcrcawrittcn
by doctors invitcd to dcscribc tor thc Annales thc symptoms ot a
discasc that was nccdcd by somc othcr astcurian to advancc his
You Will Be Pastcurs of Microbes 105
Jhc Gradual Drifts of thc Aaas|ss
Dcspitc this hdcity on thc part otthc Annales to thc spring ot thc
astcurian drama, articcs ikc thosc otYcrsin, capabc ot dcaing in
six pagcs with a discasc as compctc andtamous asthcpaguc, trom
cpidcmioogyto vaccinc, arc not common. As ! havc shown, astcur
inkstogcthcrcontingcnt ccmcnts accordingto aprincipc otmovc-
mcnt that is ustihcd ony by succcss. is succcsscs and thosc othis
discipcsshoudnot aowusto torgctthat,athough!ortuncsmicd
on thc audacious, shc scdom gathcrcd togcthcr a tavorabc sct ot
circumstanccs. Jhcrc was otcourscthc casc otrabics, butthcrcwas
aso tubcrcuosis, a vaccinc tor which did notarrivcinthc suttcring
wordunti IZ/.!twc rcadthcAnnales attcntivcy,wc scchowrarc
astcur`s bitzkricg was. !ndccd, to pastcurizc a discasc was no casy
mattcr. !t had, so to spcak, to bc aid aong a curvc cach stagc ot
whichhadto bc carricd outin turn: a ink had to bc madc bctwccn
a discasc and a microbc and somctimcs thc cinica picturc had to
bc shakcn up somcwhat) , attcr that thc microbc had to bc isoatcd,
aproccssthatwasnotawayspossibcit,torinstancc,itwasavirus) ,
thcnthc microbchadtobccutivatcdina tavorabc mcdiumin such
stagc was to hnd a aboratory anima abc to contract thc discasc,
anothcr dithcuty that coud scdom bc ovcrcomc, it was thcn ncc-
cssary to mutpy thc movcmcnts trom anima to anima and trom
cuturcto cuturcinordcrto attcnuatc orincrcascthcviocnccotthc
microbcand thus produccavaccincorascrum,ahcrthatthcvaccinc
or scrum had to bc abc to bcproduccd in argc guantitics and in a
stabc torm, asty, thc distribution otthcsc products had to bc cx-
tcndcd byscttingup or supcrvising institutions, cgisation, industry,
andthcauthoriticsncccssarytothiscxtcnsion.!nadditionto athcsc
tasks,itwasnobadthingto appythcmtoimportantdiscascs. !twas
to thc rcscarchcrs otthc!nstitutinordcrto strcngthcnthc sccondary
in a singc go may bc countcd on thc hngcrs ot two hands. 5uch
articcs dca with ittc-known anima discascs. Vhat wc hnd ovcr
and ovcr again in thc Annales arc cxampcs ot a partia astcurian
program. Jhcrc may bc a microbc, but no discasc to go with it, a
microbc and a discasc, but no mcdium to cutivatcit, acuturc, but
106 War and Peace of Microbes
no animato takcthc discasc, discascdcxpcrimcntaanimas, but no
wayotmakingascrumvaccinc. !tisasitthcdiscascsthcmscvcshad
thcirown history and didnot aowthcmscvcs to bctrappcd bythc
stratcgy otthcastcurians as casiyasthc anthraxbaciusorpaguc
bacius. 5o innumcrabc articcs arc rcguircd`to spcakotthcpartia
stagcs otmcprogram. !urthcrmorc, dctours bccomcongcrandongcr.
nc articc spcaks not otthc cuturc otthcpagucbacius but otthc
cooringmcthod, anothcr spcaks not ot animas sick withthcpaguc
Jo this dittcrcntia rcsistancc otthc discascs and this cxtcnsion ot
thc dctours that somctimcs ustihcd an cntirc carccr, wc must now
otthcccnturythcrcwasnowawhoc crowdotthcm, abroad aswc
asin!rancc, workingonthcintcctiousdiscascs. Jhis crowd brought
thc stratcgy ot a sing!c articc. Jo toow onc discasc, it was now
ncccssary to rcad dozcns ot articcs. Jhis subdivision and tragmcn-
tation had onc grcat rcsut: thc rcscarchcrs wcrc now abc, ikc thc
microbcs, to bc mutipicd in thc aboratory and makc thcir carccrs
without nccdingto pan thcir ctIorts cxpicityaccordingto thc as-
thc aboratorics was to bccomc much css ckar. A pockct ot tcch-
isoatcdtromthcothcrdiscipincs. '5cicncc"wastoappcaringrcatcr
isoation, and corrcativcy, thc anayst was to havc morc dithcuty
cxpainingit. !n spcakingotisoation, ! amnot gucstioning thcprin-
cipcs hom which ! sct out. !soation is ust as matcria and ust as
rca a stratcgy as thc astcurian movcmcnt and rccruitmcnt. !t is
simpycithcr css skitu, bccausc thc intcrcst otthcothcragcnts is
owcr, ormorcskitu, bccauscitno ongcr nccds thc othcr agcnts.
Vc may toow thc crcation otthis pockct and thc movcmcnt ot
intcrcsts bothnthc Revue Scientifque andinthcAnnales scc hg. J,
p. Z6) . Attcr diphthcria I84) and abovc a attcr thc passing ot
thc grcatawonhygicnc I0Z),thcastcurianrcvoutionnoongcr
hitthchcadincs. Jhcrcadcrwasrctcrrcdtothcinnumcrabcscicntihc
ournas thathadbccntoundcdtospcakaboutit.Jhchcadingsmu-
cinc," 'biochcmistry," 'scrothcrapy," 'socia hygicnc." Jhc grcat
authorsno ongcrwrotc dircctyinthcRevue itthcywantcdtospcak
You Wil Be Pasteurs of Microbes 107
about hygicnc. Jhc short circuit otthc astcurian spring noongcr
workcd, at cast unti thc astcurian rcappcarcd as thc 5oon otthc
Jropics. A hugc pockctthat hrst crushcd thc study otintcctious dis-
cascs and thcn amost compctcy disappcarcd whcn thc parasitica
discascswcrcrcachcd. owisthispockct,whichsccmsto occupyso
much room, to bc cxpaincdr
!t thc rcadcr had admittcd that hrst astcur, thcn his discipcs,
inkcdtogcthcr intcrcsts that without thcm woud havc gonc in dit-
tcrcnt dircctions, hcwoud not bc surpriscd that thc sightcst unccr-
taintyasto thcdrcctionotthcmovcmcnt shoud immcdiatcydivcrt
thc astcuriansthcmscvcs.Championsotmovcmcntandtransation,
thcy too coud, it thcy sottcncd, aow thcmscvcs to bc intcrprctcd
and uscd. Jhis is what happcncd with Nctchnikov's work in thc
!nstitut. !t is thc story ot thc transators transatcd and thcrctorc
Jhc microbc, thc agcnt in thc drama ot intcctious discascs, was
obviousy'cvi. "utwhatwoudhappcnit,instcadotookingatthc
action ot thc cvi cntity, thcy ookcd at thc body's rcactionsr Jhc
most tamous otwhich wcrc thc phagocytcs, thc spccihc cncmics ot
microbcortoxingavcriscto coudbcbroughtonbyanything: dust,
an cycash, a chcmica product. Jhis third movcmcnt dcprivcd thc
microbc-as ithad bccn dchncd byastcur-otanyimportantroc.
!mmunoogycoud stickto bodics bctwccnhcsh and skin, givcitsct
antigcns at random, andprovidcwork, socywithinthcwas otthc
aboratory,tordozcns otrcscarchcrstorycars on cnd.Jhcrcwasno
ongcr any nccd tor microbcs, nor tor storics ot wovcs and toxcs
with rabics, nor tor poor Chincsc, nor tor disintcctant contro. Jhc
microbcs wcrc bccoming particuar cascs ot a gcncra probcm: thc
intcgrity otthc organism.
'i `
Jhismovcmcnttromthc initiaprogramisathcmorcimportant
in that cscwhcrc at thc lnstitut thc microbc and its variations in
virucncc wcrc no ongcr takcn as thc unit ot anaysis. Ducaux`s
program took thc microbc trom bcow. Jhc 'microbc" is not a dc-
hnitivc, obvious, natura agcnt. !t cxistcd tor a timc, in the absnce
of anything better, bctorc it inturnwas distortcd. Jhcsc succcssivc
distortions show ccary how wrong it is to spcak ot 'discovcrcd
108 War and Peace of Microbes
microbcs." Naking thc microbc act as a unity is, tor Ducaux, a
tcmporary arrangcmcnt ot conditions. lt is much morc intcrcsting
torhim to brcak thc microbcinto its componcnts and to makc cach
importanccinthcAnnales andcompctcdthc dcstructionotastcur`s
microbcthatimmunoogy had bcgun. Jhc Annales dcconstructthc
microbcs whosc-dcgrcc-ot-virucncc-may-bc-varicd-at-wi and con-
structwithits dismcmbcrcdccmcnts immunoogy, onthconc hand,
andbiochcmistry, onthc othcr.
Jo thcsctwo grcatmovcmcnts,whichdcprivcdthcattcnuatcdmi-
ingoutsidcthc aboratory. 1his movcmcnttookpaccsoto spcakon
thc spotand wasthcrcsutotthcvcryaccumuation otartitacts.
lt wc add up a thcsc succcsivc constraints, without ot coursc
torgcttingthc stubborn rcsistancc otthc discascs thcmscvcs, wc can
cxpainmanyotthcovcramovcmcntsotthcAnnales. Jhccompctc
astcurian program was rcspcctcd at thc bcginning, but aways par-
tiay andovcr aimitcdnumbcrotdiscascs. Jhc cassicaprograms,
bcgunbyastcur, dccincdand disappcarcd. Jhcprogramsbcgunby
Ducaux and Nctchnikov grcw, but cvcn thcy dispaycd ony trag-
oncc again inthc inc ot cassica astcurism. ln ordct`s hands, im-
munoogy bccamc a rathcr ong dctour toward ncw mcthods ot di-
agnosisandtrcatmcnt. utitwasLavcran`sprogram,which actuay
movcmcnt ot thc astcurians, by which thc cntirc panct was uti-
matcy to bccomc thc hcd ot action otthc astcurlnstitutcs.
lt wc madc a cross-scction ot thc Annales in I84 and again in
II0,wc woudhnd a thc ccmcnts otthc astcurianimpctus.ut
itwc took a cross-scction in I00, wc woud havc morc dithcuty
hnding that proitcration ot hctcrogcncous agcnts rccruitcd by thc
astcurian stratcgists.Vcwoud bc morcawarcthatwcwcrctcading
scicntihc articcs indcpcndcnt otsocia conccrns." Nctchnikov had
othcr aics, othcr aims, than astcur, hc workcd ony in thc abo-
isoatcd himsctand his studcnts. Jhc word 'isoatc" docs not havc
anyontoogicascnsc.ltdocsnottraccasacrcdboundary. ltwcspcak
You WilBe astcurs of Microbes 109
otisoation, wc must givc that word as matcria a mcaning as thc
tabrication ot an isoatc in hbcr gass or doubc gazing.
Vc can scc howpowcrcss our anaysis woudhavc bccomc itwc
had ctt to onc sidc thc 'tcchnica" articcs by astcur andothcrsin
thc Annales. Vc woud havc undcrstood nothing about thc socicty
otthctimc,noranythingaboutthccontcntitsct. Lvcnthcimprcssion
ot a scparatc contcntis duc ony to such tcchnigucs otisoation as
which imits thc numbcrotaics acguircdbyascicncctoustatcw.
Vc undcrstand aso why thc astcurians wcrc aways so virucnt
in attributing rcsponsibiity. Vith so many aics, thcy ran a grcat

workcrs, many ot whom did not cvcn wcar whitc coats. Jo crcatc
'scicncc" and'astcurianscicncc" outotthiscrowdotagcnts,noth-
ingin thc sccondary mcchanism was to bc ignorcd. 5pcakingotonc
ot astcur`s prcdcccssors, Ducaux writcs: 'Davainc did not cvcn
undcrstand his owndiscovcrics" I8/, p. 6Z) . Vhathcdid, thcrc-
torc, hc did not rcay do. owcvcr, thcrc wcrc prcdcccssors who
sccmcd indisputabc bccausc thcy had bccn born a ccntury bctorc,
such as cnncr, invcntor otthc vaccinc. Lvcn thcsc, howcvcr, might
bcrcsituatcdin timc. Vithoutastcur, thc invcntor otagcncraaw
ot whichcnncr`s vaccinc is mcrcy a particuar casc, cnncr woud
not cvcn bc a prccursor, says a discipc. !rom thc point otvicw ot
thc sccondary mcchanism, astcur is before cnncr, tor hc providcs
thctoundationtorhimasmuch astorthc GcrmanKoch, whoscroc
is cnormous in a thc non-!rcnch historics ot bactcrioogy. lt was
harshy hc rcminds Koch otthc ordcr otprimogcniturc-'you had
not bccn born to scicncc whcn l was cutivating microbcs"-and to
nd thc discussion, hc makcs usc otthc rcsut ot anothcr argumcnt
ovcrprioritywon against Listcr, withListcr`sconscnt: 'Jhcscskitu
in a rcading ot my mcmorandum onputrctaction" I88J,p. /4).
act on pcopc. Vhcn an Amcrican wrotc a history ot rcccnt dcvc-
sct up by astcur, thc Revue Scientifque pubishcd thc articc but
dcmoishcdit, rcstoringthc chronoogy andtrucrcsponsibiitics. Ki-
chctscttcsthc mattcrwith this summum otabsoutc idcaism: 'N.
astcurhasrcaybccnthcsouotathisscicncc,principium et fons,
110 War and Peace of Microbes
anditisrcaynotcnoughto saythatbctorc Kochnonamccoudbc
sct against his. !tmustbcsaid and rcpcatcdthatbctorc and attcr N.
Koch, no onc can bc comparcd with astcur" I88, p. JJ0). y a
scrics otsimiarbattcs againstthc Gcrmans, Amcricans, andritish
surgcons, but aso thc Lyonnais, bioogists, physicians, tcchnicians,
and othcr dcar cocagucs, it was possibc in thc cnd to achicvc an
isoatcd astcurian scicncc that bccamc thc causc otsocia transtor-
mations. Jhismystcriouscthcacy attributcdto thc 'scicnccs" andto
astcur's gcnius is, ikc omcr mystcrics, an intcrcsting construct, whosc
anaysis shoudprcscntno dithcuty, at castin principc.
Times Are Hard
Chuplcr 3
Medicine at Last
5o tar l havc shown thc immcnsc torccs that madc up astcurism,
and thc cvoution ot astcurism toward thc cnd ot capturing thcsc
to itsct. Ny dcmonstrationhashadthcinconvcnicnccotconsidcring
ony succcsscs. ygicnists and astcurians wcrc moving roughy in
thc samc dircction. Jostoy, my inimitabc modc, had thc ski to
hypothcscs conccrningthc makc-up otthc torccs. 5imiary,inordcr

ayto udgcthc truittuncssotmy anaysis,wcwoudhavcto hnd

contro groups whosc bchavior, during thc samc pcriod and on thc
samcgucstions,was totay dittcrcnt. nythcn woudwcsccccary
that thc 'cvidcncc ot rcason," thc 'torcc ot ogic," thc 'thrust ot
thc 'ripcncss ottimc," arc mcrcy victor`s words. Jhcy arc crics ut-
with thc crics ot 'rout" or 'victory" at orodino.
Jhc hrst way ot mutipying contro groups woud bc to tc thc
story,notbygroupsotsocia'actors"butbygroups ot'nonhuman"
1 1 1
112 War and Peace of Microbes
agcnts, and to ook a ittc at thc discascs thcmscvcs. !cw discascs
obcythc hnc ordcring ot irrcsistibc progrcss that rcndcrs thcm dc-
hnitivcy a thing ot thc 'past." Jhc symbo otthis 'rcsistancc" on
thc partotdiscascs,whosc rhythm docs not obcythatotthcgroups
whoannounccthcirdisappcarancc,isotcourscthc5panishIu Katz,
I/4). VordVarncwas,inthcopinionota,atriumphotmodcrn
hygicnc. Vithout thc bactcrioogists, thc gcncras woud ncvcr havc
bccnabcto hodonto miions otmcn tor tourycarsinmuddy, rat-
gunshadcarricdthcm ott. Jhiswarwasthc hrstinwhichonc coud
donc thc ob bcttcr. Attcr this triumph otbactcrioogy, thc 5panish
bcing abc cvcnto idcntity thc agcnt.
Jhcsamcsctbacks occurcdinanyycarchoscnatrandom,asshown
by thcwayvariousdiscascswcrc discusscdinthc Revue Scientifque.
Lct us takc, tor cxampc, thc ycar I8J, Armaingaud discusscs tu-
is, thc discasc hasbccninkcdwith Koch's bacius, buthc makcs no
attcmptto pastcurizc it. isaimisto incrcascthcnumbcrotLcagucs
tor thc Advanccmcnt ot 5anitoriums Armaingaud, I8J, pp. JJ-
4Z) . ^ownothingiscssastcurianthan a sanitorium.crc, thcn, is
a discasc that Camcttc was to takc dccadcs to catch up with and
tcvcr. Yct in thc samc ycar thcrc is a discussion ottctanus in tcrms
ot a discasc so pastcurizcd that a scrum has bccn tound tor it. ut
whcnon ApriJ0 otthat samc ycar thcrc is arctcrcncc to typhus, it
is to say that thc discasc dchcs anaysis. A convinccd astcurian,
pcrhaps cricourt, cvcn contcsscs his caning toward hcrcsy: 'Vc
ot drought, and ot humidity, ctc. Vc wi amost havc to go back,
conccrning thc inhucncc otthc stars" Anon. : I8J,p. 5J).
crc is prootthat timc docs not pass. !t hastobc madc topass,
discasc attcr discasc,socia group attcr sociagroup, without which
it ust movcs ottin thc wrong dircction.
Whcn wc spcak ot smapox, which has bccn pastcurizcd tor a
hundrcd ycars, it is to sautc thc victory in Lngand ot thc cagucs
against chocra: 'Jhc timc is past whcn wc coud hopc thatrcvac-
cination woud bccomc so common in Lngand that it nccd not bc
Medicine at Last 1 13
madcobigatory. ^otony hasthc movcmcnttorrcvaccinationbccn
stoppcd, but vaccination itsct is carricd out css and css and on a
grcatmanypointsthcawthatimposcsitisnoongcrobcycd"Anon. :
I8J,p. 6).
dircction and to turn smapox into onc otthosc grcat antcdiuvian
spccicswassotragicthattimcturncd back. Vcgo tromthcabscncc
otsmapox to thc abscncc otvaccination.!ortunatcy, I46 pcopc
dicdotsmapoxinLciccstcrwhcrcthc antivaccinationcagucswcrc
at thcir strongcst, which strcngthcncd thc wcakcncd position otthc
hygicnists in thc nick ot timc.
Jubcrcuosis and smapoxhavcthcir ownhistorics. 5o, too, docs
chocra. !n that samcycar, I8J,itwas mcntioncd ony to dcscrbc,
inthcpurcsthygicnisttradition, stcpstakcn to obscrvcthcpigrims
going to Nccca. Yct in that samc ycar thc rcsuts ottrcatmcnts tor
diphthcria wcrc pubishcd. Jhc trcatmcnts wcrc a compctc succcss.
inthcprogramthatastcurindccd coudinno wayhavcanticipatcd.
According to thc discasc undcr considcration in thc Revue, timc
or not, progrcss movcd torward orbackward. Jhcrcwashcrc avar-
iationinintcrcst andconvictionthatis asintcrcstingtor socioogists
!mitating thcir mcthod, ! sha sccct a scrics otcontro groups and
in thc ast rcsort, a!hc othcrs dcsccnd.
The Army Doctors
Jobctaithtutomyinitiaprincipcs, !shoudcxpainwith the same
arguments what stoppcd thc doctors and what madc thc hygcnists
rushin. !tispointcssto saythatthchygicnists actcdandthcdoctors
rcsistcd, thatthchygicnistswcrcmaturcandthcothcrsnot, ortousc
anothcr mctaphorthatscrvcs as a rctugc torignorancc, thatthchy-
gicnists wcrc 'opcn" and thc othcrs 'obscurantist." Vithout com-
pctingwith thc work ot|acgucsLconard I6/, I/, I8I, I86),
!woud ikctoshowthrough a study otthc Concours Meical how
thcrccctionotthcscasymmctricacxpanationscnabcsusto cxpain
1 14 War and Peace of Microbes
which attributcs thc powcr to rcvoutionizc socicty as a whoc to
astcur`s gcnius aonc, wc must, as ! havc arcady shown, attributc
morcpowcrthanto thcindividuawhoproposcsthcdiscovcry.Jhat
is why ! had to spcak so much about thc hygicnists bctorc ! coud
turnto thc contcnt otthc astcurians' programs. ut convcrscy wc
cannot cxpain why a discovcry docs not sprcad simpy by thc rc-
sistancc ot various groups. Vc must undcrstand why thcy did not
scizc upon a particuar discovcry. Jhosc who 'acccptcd" andthosc
who 'rccctcd" it arc both agcnts ot that socicty, and in ordcr to
but scck to undcrstand thc principc otthcir activity trom within.
!n ordcr to dcmonstratcthispoint, wchavconc grcat advantagc.
Vc havc at our disposa a contro group within thc contro group.
!ndccd, army doctors scizcd upon astcurism with thc samc avidity
as hygicnists. !rom I88IAixrcaizcsthctormidabccvcrthatgavc
his protcssion thc astcurian modc: 'ubicopinionisbcginningto
bc movcd by progrcss in thc scicnccs otitc." !tit was moving, wc
ownattairs aittc. Vhy was Aix so intcrcstcdr c cxpains: '!t is
impossibc to dcny that, in thc vcry ncar tuturc, mcdica gucstions
wi a bc rcsovcd by appications dcriving trom thc discovcrics ot
hygicnc, pharmaccutica thcrapy in civiian pubic mcdicinc wi ta
to avcry sccondary rank, as has arcady happcncd in miitary mcd-
icinc" I88I, p. /6I) .
!n giving astcurizcdhygicnc apush, ourAix raiscs thc status ot
his ownmcdicinc abovcthatothis civiancocagucs. !urthcrmorc,
miitarymcdicinc had arcady bccnpastcurizcd institutionay. Attcr
a, havc not barracks aways bccn anidcaaboratorywhcrc cgions
othcathyyoungmcnarcsubcctcdto aunitormrcgimcrJhcrc isno
'doctor/paticnt rcationship" with thc rccruits, who arc marchcd
through thcir mcdicas and inocuatcd in batchcs. Jhis somcwhat
otthctuturcotmcdicinc itsct. !sitsurprisingthatsomconcwho has
cvcrythingto gaintromsuchaninnovation shoudscizcuponitwith
avicw to cxtcnding its cttcctsr
to bcicvc that thcy wcrc ooking tor 'cgitimacy."Jhis vaguc word
dcrivingtrom socioogy amost aways hidcs thc rca contcnt ot ac-
tions. Jhcir csscntia probcm was that mcn dicd in thcbarracks in
Medicine at Last 1 15
pcacctimc. !twc do notuguatc cpidcmics, somconc cscwritcs, thc
'nationwi bcatraidotthcbarrackswhcrcitscndsitssonsandtrom
whcncc not a rcturn" Anon.: I88I, pp. /Z-/8) .
Jhcrc was somcthing morc scrious sti. !n wartimc, as is wc
known, thcrc arc morc dcaths trom microbcs than trom thc cncmy.
Jhc conIict bctwccn '^apocon" and 'Kutuzov" is dupicatcd, ac-
cording to Cartwright, by a conhict bctwccn 'Gcncra ^apocon"
and 'Gcncra Jyphus". 'Jhc !rcnch marchcd on Noscow without
cncountcring opposition, but typhus marchcd with thcm. Jhat army
ot I00,000mcn ost I0,000 sodicrs trom discasc, inthcwcck /-I4
5cptcmbcr aonc" I/Z,p. /). Lvcry associationistranstormcdby
this battc on scvcra tronts: '!car ot thc Kussians and ot thc vcn-
Jhc Icas trom thchovcsmovcd cvcrywhcrc, sticking to thc scams
otcothcs, hair, and broughtwiththcmthctyphusmicroorganisms"
p. Z) .
!n I80Za!rcncharmysctouttor5anDomingowith58,545mcn.
!n tourmonths 50,Z/0wcrc dcad otycow tcvcr. !n I80ony J00
otthcm rcmaincd, and thcy wcrc rcpatriatcdto!rancc. Lcmurc, an
army doctor, dcscribcs in I86 thc Nadagascar cxpcdition: 'Jhc
!ova govcrnmcnt was counting on thc tcvcr to prcvcnt our sodicrs
morc than on bucts and shcs madc in Lngand" I8b, p. 4/).
Vithout hring a singc shot, thc ovas wcrc contcnt to torcc thc
!rcnchto bivouacinthcpain: 'Jwo months wcrccnoughto rcducc
thcirnumbcrstoahatandcvcnto aguartcr,cavingsomcbattaions
cxisting ony in namc-a sick and 5,000 dcad, that`s thc baancc
shcct out ot Z4,000 mcn). Vhich provcs that thc cxpcdition was
abovc a a busincss otsanitation" p. 50) .
!tisnot!, thcauthorwithatwistcdmind,whosccstriasotstrcngth
tormcd an aiancc with miasma to win a war against thosc armcd
withriIcs and canon. !n ordcr to rcvcrsc oncc morc this baancc ot
torccs, which had arcady bccn rcvcrscdoncc,whathadto bcdoncr
Jhcy had to usc modcrn bactcrioogy. y crushing thc microbcs ot
parasitcsin thc aboratory, thcyciminatcdthc powcr otthc ovas`
aics and thcrctorc gavc thc canon and rihcs backthcir supcriority,
sincc thosc who uscd thcm woud no ongcr dic. Vhcn you arc an
army doctor, you can hardy hcsitatc.
!n war thcrc had aways bccn two cncmics, thc microscopic and
1 16 War and Peace of Microbes
thcmacroscopic. !tthc doctorsuccccdcdinuguatingthcsccond, tar
morc ctha onc, hc gaincd cnormousy in importancc and bccamc
amostthc cguaotthoscwho tought againstgcncras and canon. !n
a country ikc thc !rancc otthat timc, inspircd by idcas ot rcvcngc,
obscsscd with its taing birthratc, it soon bccamc unthinkabc that
whoc battaions shoud bc ost to microbcs against which astcur,

convcrtcd to astcurism without putting up thc sightcst rcsistancc.
Jhis dcvcopmcnt is not to bc attributcd cntircy to thc astcurians,
massivcy inthcm. Jhc army doctors inturn owcd thcir crcditto a
thosc who wantcd a strong army and ot whom thc doctors casiy
bccamc thc spokcsmcn.
The Doctors Find Pasteur Disputable
Jhcordinaryciviiandoctorsprovidcthcbcstcountcrcxampc, sincc
thcywcrcoutotstcp.As Lconardhasshown,thcdoctorswcrcskcp-
tics. Lvcn morc than skcptics, thcywoud bc cacd 'grumbcrs," it
that catcgory wcrc acccptcd in socioogy. Jhosc who wcrc dirccty
conccrncd with discascs and paticnts saw nothing cxtraordinary in
astcurism, orcvcnrccvant, at castbctorc I84.Vhcnthcyatast
in thcir own practiccs but as a way ot continuing in strcngthcncd
ways what they had always done. !inay,whcnthcyhadtuyassim-
iatcdthcintcrcst otastcurismattcrthcpassingotthcawot I0Z
onthc organization otpubic hygicnc, thc ncw mcdicinc sccmcd to
owc morc to thc od than to thc astcurian stratcgy, which hadin
thc mcantimc shittcd toward tropica mcdicinc.
Vhatthc othcr protagonists said about thc hygicnists, surgcons,
or armydoctors dchncdinabscntiathc rcasonswhyprivatc doctors
did not budgc an inch to makc usc ot astcurism. ln simpcr tcrms,
group woud do so wiingyr Jhc astcurian stratcgy amountcd to
attacking discasc by a transvcrsa movcmcnt which ncvcr took thc
individuasickpcrsonasaunity. owcoudthatbringoytoadoctor
who kncw nothing but thc sick individuar Vhat coud hc makc ot
this vision, which was both too pubic and too bioogica, without
Medicine at Last 117
cvcr tocusing on thc paticntr Vhat coud hc makc ota tcw grcat
intcctiousdiscascs,which amountcdahcratoatractionothisdaiy
work andwhich wcrc otsuch a scopc thatthcy ay guitc outsidcthc
capacityotthcocaphysicianrVhatcoudhcdowitha thosc pigs,
chickcns, dogs, horscs, bus, broods, that had so ittc to do with
mcdicinc, with ahuman taccr Vhat coudcvcn bc donc vith acurc,
spcctacuar as itccrtainy was, ikc that otrabics which conccrncd a
vcryrarc discasc andwhich, turthcrmorc, rcguircdthat apaticntgo
to aris to bccurcd by aproductthatwas absoutcy unavaiabcto
ordinary physiciansr !n short, what coud bc donc with a thosc
doctrincs and mcthodsthatwcrc thc ncgationotmcdicaworkrJhc
answcr is ccar: nothing, ornot much. And sinccthcrcwas nothing
physicians couddowith thoscdoctrincs,thcy cxprcsscdapoitcbut
uncnthusiastic intcrcst, tingcd cvcn with a ccrtainironic condcsccn-
sion. Jhis provcs nothing about thc obscurantism otthc physicians,
aics, unikc thc othcr aics, thc rightway.
Jhc Concours Medical, acorporatcourna itcvcrthcrcwas onc,
spcaks otastcur`s workwith adistancc andprudcnccthatcontrasts
starky with thc avidity ot thc hygicnists, insisting that astcur bc
absoutcy right and cxtcnd thc impcmcntation othiswork at oncc.
Jhc 'concusivc" charactcr otastcur`s cxpcrimcnts can indccd not
whattorthchygcnistswas indisputabc. tcourscthcdoctorsshowcd
'good wi` , thcy supportcd thc subscription to thc !nstitut astcur
andwcrc proud othim: 'Vctcc!dccp oy at thcidca othghtingthc
goodhghtasobscurcbutwiingsodicrs" Anon. : I888, p.J0). ut
thcy wcrc cautious: 'ta thatsowy accumuatingwork, a body
catch a gimpsc otthcway ahcadandarcadyagrcatmanytactsarc
piingup.utwc shoudmaintainaccrtainrcscrvctorthctimcbcing
and not scc bactcria cvcrywhcrc, attcr prcviousy sccing thcm no-
whcrc.Jhc ascpticmcthodinsurgcryhasarcadygivcngrcatscrvicc,
not so much by its dctaicd appications as by thc corrcct idcas ot
ikcwisc" Gosscin: I8/, p. I) .
Vcrcthcyobscurantists r Didthcyrcsistr^o,thcytookgrcatcarc
to scparatc what was cxaggcratcd trom what was usctu trom thcir
own protcssiona point ot vicw. At thc timc whcn astcur was at
tcmpting his takcovcr otmcdicinc and thc hygicnists wcrc caiming
118 War and Peace of Microbes
to havc congucrcd thc statc bccausc otthc addcd powcr ottcrcd by
thcastcurians,thcphysicianswaitcdto scchowthcywoudgct out
otavcry dithcut situation inwhich thcy hadcvcrythingto osc and
prctcrrcd to maintain thc statc ot attairs that thcy had sct up with
such dithcuty: 'Vc bcicvc that, dcspitc thc somcwhat impassioncd
attacks oINonsicur astcur, cinica mcdicinc is not guitc dcad"
Kcynaud: I88I,p. I0Z) . Jhcydctcndcdthcmscvcs,whichwasguitc
norma.Jhcycvcn tooka ccrtaindcightingiving astcurcssons in
scicntihcmcthod: 'N. astcurcndcdhiscommunicationonchocra
among chickcns) by dcducing trom thosc various tacts appications
to thcgcncra historyotcontagiousdiscascs.Vcshanottoowthc
carncd chcmist in his gcncraizations: bctorc dcducingsuch concu-
sions trom thosc tacts, whicharcccrtainyvcryintcrcsting, hc shoud
rcpcatand vary thc cxpcrimcnts" Anon. : I880, p. I//).Likc Koch
and ikc ctcr, thc physicians ot thc Concours Medical wcrc otthc
opinion that astcurrcay was cxaggcrating. ow canwc dcnythat
thcy wcrc rightr
How Were They To Defend the Doctor-Patient Relationship?
Jhchygicnistshad a grcat socia movcmcnttotransatcand a grcat
procct ot transtorming thc citics that cd thcm to a thc sourccs ot
powcr-ust ikc thc astcurians scnt by 5cicncc on thc congucst ot
microbcs, ust ikc thc surgcons who, by toowing thc antimicrobc,
ot armics by adopting astcurism. Jhc physicians, howcvcr, wcrc
pubichcathbutotamutitudcotdoctor-paticntrcationships. Jhc
contict bctwccn wcath and hcath, which drovc on a thc othcr
agcnts, parayzcdthc physicians
Jhcyhad othcr conticts to cngagc in. Jhc Concours Medical rc-
vcasin an amostcaricaturaway aproIcssionabodystruggingtor
itscxistcncc, hghting againstthcword.Jhcmcdica corps,according
tothc unionizcd physiciansotthc Concours, was at its owcstpoint.
lt was i-rcgardcd, i-paid, ovcrworkcd, and abovc a constanty
passcd, thc ourna shows ourmiitants hghtingagainstpharmacists
who prcscribcd drugs, against thc sistcrs otcharitywho, out ot rc-
igious zca, took thc brcad trom thc mouths otyoung physicians,

Medicine at Last 119

against hcath othcias` whom thc physicians had not yct succccdcd,
bctorc I8J at cast, in riddingthcmscvcs ot, againstthc 'pharma-
ccutica spcciaitics" sod in madc-up torm by industry, against thc
hcath socictics which
crsistcd in tcaching thc pubic how to bind
up wounds" Gassot: I00, p. /) , against thc bonc-brcakcrs, spir-
ituaists, and charatans who compctcd with physicians cvcn in cd-
ucatcd houschods. ^o, thc itc ot a physician was an intcrna onc,
and carving out ot Ircnch socicty a spacc whcrc it was possibc to
trcat pcopc tor moncy rcguircd a constant struggc. Jhc conhict
bctwccn hcath and wcath bccamc tor cach physician a mattcr ot
howto carn a ivingwhictrcatingpcopc.
Jhc Concours aso tought against thc armydoctors who had thc
attrontcry to takc on privatc paticnts, against paticnts who rctuscd
to pay, againstudgcs who aways gavc udgmcnt against thc physi-
cians in tavor otcithcr thcir dcbtors or thosc who accuscdthcm ot
imagc, thcrcby attracting studcnts, or an untavorabc onc, thcrcby
robbingthcmotpaticnts, againstthcrich and tashionabcphysicians
otaris who dcspiscd thcir poorcr, unknown brcthrcn, and against
thc othcr protcssiona bodics, which rctuscd to coopcratc. !n short,
physicians otthc Concours Meical hadnothing butcncmics, notto
turthcrdcprivingthcmotpaticntsAnon. : I00,p. /) andthatyoung
cocagucs, causinganothcr scanda, wcrc crowdinginto thc tacutics
and incrcasing compctition.
Again, thcphysicians' intcrcsts wcrc no narrowcr andthcir mcn-
army doctors,orastcurians. Jhcywcrchghtingto savcaprotcssion
and to rcsist uphcavas that wcrc outsidcthcircontro. !ndccd, thcy
wcrc caught up in aparadoxthatitwas dithcuttorthcmto cscapc.
Jhc aisscz tairc otunbridcd ibcraism woud, inthcirvicw, aow
aid socictics coud casiy guarantcc a young physician a hxcd saary
in cxchangc tor a monopoy. !n ordcr to prcvcnt such atakcovcr by
thcyoungphysiciantooinhiscocagucsinaunion, soastomaintain
compctition bctwccn thcm. Ior cxampIc, unions torccd thc mutua
aid socictics to rccognizc thc paticnt`s 'right" to choosc 'trccy" his
ownphysician.Iorpractitioncrs,thcchoiccwasthctoowing: cithcr
thcy did not oin thc union and 'kcpt thcir trccdom," whcrcupon
120 War and Peace of Microbes
mcdicinc as a corporatc body woud disappcar, ovcrcrowding otthc
protcssion woud sprcad, and govcmmcnt-cmpoycd physicians woud
havcamonopoyovcr cach catcgory otpaticnts-schoo,tubcrcuar,
hospitaizcd, vaccinatcd, orthcy oincdthc unionandthcrcbycttcc-
tivcy prcvcntcdthc 'trcc"-thatis,non unionizcd-physicians trom
corporation. Again, this situation is instriking contrastwiththat ot
thc hygicnists, whosc powcr gaincd hom conccntration and hom
cvcrythingto osc trom such a mcrgcr.
Vc can casiy undcrstand that with such probcms thc physician
coud havc nothing morc than a poitc but distant intcrcst in thc
what was taking pacc in thc !nstitut astcur to advanccthcir own
intcrcsts, or thcy coud not. !t thcy coud, any argumcnt, however
revolutionary it might be, woudbcundcrstood, scizcd upon, trans-
utitthcycoudnot, no argumcnt, however useful and important it
might be in thc cycs otothcrs, coud bc undc

stood or appicdcvcn
attcr a ccntury. Jhc timc otinnovation is not ikc agcncragrid on
which onc couIdpoint out thc 'rcsistanccs" or 'maturity" otsocia
groups trom ycar to ycar. Jhc timc ot innovation is thc ultimate
consequence otthc intcrcsts otsocia groups in onc anothcr and in
thcir movcmcnt. !nnovation takcs timc it thosc intcrcsts do not co-
vcry guicky whcn thc torccs arc puinginthc samc dircction, as in
thc casc othygicnc, and sowy or not at awhcnthc torccs opposc
onc anothcr. Jhc physicians providcd a pcrtcct iIustration ot this
csscntia ncgotiation ottimc. As tar as scicncc was conccrncd, thcy
rcmaincd asthcywcrc-that is, timc was suspcndcdtor thcm-unti
thc dispaccmcnt ot thc astcurian programs hnay aigncd an in-
novationwith thc intcrcsts otthc physicians struggingtorthcir sur-
viva, as inthc caricr casc otthc hygicnists.
JhcsourccotthcConcours Medical throwsadmirabcightonthis
rcvcrsa. utwc must go backto thc Revue Scientifque itwc arcto
grasp how thc other protcssions and socia movcmcnts ot thc timc
saw thc tuturc roc ot thc physicians. Athough an actor is aways
activc, as thc namc indicatcs, somc actors arc dchncd by othcrs as
bcing passivc. Jhis was thc casc with thc physicians unti I84. A
thcgroupscxprcssingthcmscvcs in thc Revue dchncd thcphysicians
Medicine at Last 121
asa passivc group rcguiring radica rcshaping, and thcy aid out in
dctai what shoud bc donc with thatprotcssion.
One Agent Turns the Other into a Patient
tcoursc, cvcrybody showcd vcrba rcspcct torthc physicians. as-
tcur aways said, 'ltl hadthchonorto bc aphysician," l wouddo
this orthat. YctthroughoutthcpagcsotthcRevue Scientifque thcrc
is nothing but contcmpt tor that ski 'bconging to anothcr agc``
contcmpt dcrivcs trom thc tact that thc physician was rcgardcd as a
chidhghting in thc dark against tiny bcings thatwcrc sccrcty

nipuatinghim. Vhocvcr is manipuatcd by a microbc unknownto
himsctmay inturn bc manipuatcd withouttoo many scrupcs with
a vicw to putting him on thc right path. Jhc Revue amost ncvcr
spokc ot thc physicians as an activc group-indccd thc physicians
thcmscvcs, unikcthc surgcons, ncvcrspokcot'us"-butaways ap
apassivcgroup. Dozcnsotarticcs sctoutto showmcdicincthcway
that it must toow, but none otthc opcrations proposcd tor it was
within thc grasp ot thc sma privatc physician. ractitioncrs wcrc
shownthcwaythatthcirart must toowinordcrto bctranstormcd,
but that art was a scicncc known ony to aboratory scicntists. nc
anonymous commcntatorwritcs naivcy: 'ln thc past, sincc wc did
not know thc causc ot discascs, thcrc wcrc ony paticnts and thc
intcrcsts otpaticnts invovcd.^owthatwcknowmccxtcrnacauscs
as a whoc, cosmic and socia, thc authority and inIucncc ot thc
physician havc naturay bcnchtcd trom such an cnargcmcnt ot his
hcd otaction 188, p. 6J0). Jhis 'naturay" isvaid ony tor thc
hygicnist, sinccthcphysiciancoud cxtcnd his hcd otaction ony by
compctcy dcnying what hc had donc hithcrto. Jhc hygicnist with
thchybridnotion otcontagioncnvironmcntcoudgo on doingwhat
hc had bccn doing whic bccoming pastcurizcd. Lvcn thc surgcon
coud carry on with surgcry whic acccpting thc prcmiscs and hrst
truitsotpastcurism. utitthcphysicianwcrcto bccomcpastcuricd,
hc woud havc to abandon his paticnt. lt so, what woud hc dor lt
woud thcn bc pointcss taking to a physician ot his 'wc-undcr-
stood" intcrcst or his 'ong-tcrm" intcrcsts. ^o agcnt can changc.
Jhcycan ony shitt sighty.
Jhc Revue Scientifque ncvcrtircdotdccaringthccnd otcurativc
122 War and Peace of Microbes
mcdicinc. !oraphysician,this vas not avcrypcasantthingtohcar.
Jhc cntirc astcuriantakcovcr otmcdicinc was aimcd at rcdchning
pathoogysothatdiscascwoudbcprevented instcadotcured. Kichct
writcs in a pocmic: 'astcur aonc . . . has madc morc progrcss in
mcdicinc than havc I0,000practitioncrs morc compctcntthanhcin
mcdicascicncc" _oussct dc ccsmc. I88Z,p. 50).Jhc rcasontor
this progrcss was simpc cnough and cnthuscd a thcauthorsotthc
Revue who wcrc tircd otmcdicinc. astcur`shygicnc 'makcs it pos-
sibcto prcvcntthcmorbidcauscs, to rcmovc discascs,so as notto
havc to curc thcm" Aix. I88Z, p. I4). Jhis caim, which was
graduayto disappcarbctorc thc cnd otthc ccntury, cutthc ground
trom undcr thc physicians` tcct. '!t is casicr to prcvcnt a hundrcd
pcopc trom taing i than to curc oncwho has bccomc so,"writcs
Kochard I88/. p. J88) . ow was a socia group, thc physicians, to
bc madc coopcrativc whicthcywcrc at thc samctimc bcingwarncd
thatthcy woud soon havc no morc paticnts to trcatr
^ot ony wcrc thc doctors dcspiscd, not ony was discasc to bc
rcdchncdby rcmovingthcpaticnt, andnotonywasthcartto which
thc physician had dcvotcd his itc apparcnty doomcd to immincnt
cxtinction, but 'thcy" cvcn wantcd him to pay a roc absoutcy
contrary to cvcrything hc had carncd and contrary to his agc-od
intcrcsts. 'Jhcy" wantcdhimto dccarcdiscascscontagious.!know
in socioogy ottcwsuch good cascs otthc rcdchnitionbyonc socia
groupotthc roc otanothcr group.
ithcrto thc physician was thc conhdant ot his paticnts and hcd
tomcdicasccrccy,whichwasuphcdbyathcrucsot aw,propricty,
and mcdica cthics. ^ow thc othcr protagonists wcrc about to turn
thcscrucsupsidcdownanddcmandthatthcphysician dcnounccthc
contagious paticnts. ^othing coud bcttcr show what is mcant by
bcing acted upon by othcrs. Jhc rcason tor this uphcava is a tun-
damcnta onc. Jhc astcurians addcd to socicty a ncw agcnt, which
compromiscd thc trccdom ot a othcr agcnts by dispacing a thcir
intcrcsts. Jhc hygicnists thcrctorc dcmandcd that microbcs bc prc-
vcntcdtrompropagatingbyintcrruptingthc chainotcontagion.Jhc
ony way to achicvc this was to isoatc thc paticntbctorc hc coud
was to intorm thc hygicnc scrviccs immcdiatcy. ny thc physician
coud do this bydccaringto thc authoritics that his paticntwas i.
utwhcrcdidthiscavcmcdica sccrccyr !twoudbcacrimctokccp
sccrctthc sourcc ota contagion. utwhatotthc physician`s rocr h
Medicine at Last 123
was now rcvcrscd. c was no ongcr a conhdant oIthcpatient, but
adccgatcdagent oIpubichcathtothcpaticnt.utwhatoIindividua
to contaminatc othcrs. ln ordcr to savc cvcryonc`s ibcrty, thc con-
inshortputoutoIharm`s way,ikcacrimina. Disease was no longer
a private misfortune but an offense to public order. lnto thc middc
oIthc stagc, which hadhithcrto bccn occupicd bythc physician and
his paticnt, thcrc now burst, as in thc counting-out rhymc, thc mi-
crobcs, thc rcvcacr oI thc microbc, thc hygicnist, thc mayor, thc
to this gcncra movcmcnt oI thc authoritics-a movcmcntthat, ikc
an carthguakc, totay subvcrtcd thc roc oI onc oI thc agcnts, thc
Jhis rcvcrsa, inwhich thc physicians wcrc actcd upon by othcrs,
istakcnasscI-cvidcntinthcRevue Scientifque butgivcsrisctohows
oI disapprova in thc Concours Medical. An anonymous physician
warns: 'You withcn know, iIyou dccarc a discasc, thc sguads oI
disinIcctors, your rooms, your Iurniturc, you yourscI wi bc car-
you and thc othcrs wi bc trcatcd ikc bcarcrs oIthc paguc, Iricnds
wi Icc you, you wi bc cIt aonc with your chora, your carboic
acid, and your paticnt, who wi gct no bcttcr Ior thcm" I84, p.
Up toI84thc Concours ncvcr ccascdtoinvcigh againstthc dan-
gcrs oInotiIying thc authoritics about discascs, whichwas rcgardcd
onaongnctwork,whoscccntcrwasinaris, sccmcdtothcmathrst
to bc thc sourcc not oI a ncw powcr but oI a ncw impotcncc. Vc
bcicvc ony what may bc oI bcncht to us. ln thc shortnctworkthat
inkcdthc individua paticntwith thc physician, onythc trust oIthc
paticnt coud bcrcturncd. lI it was ost, cvcrythingwas ost.
lt was much atcrthat aphysicianikc Vacntino coudwritc: 'lI
mcdica sccrccywcrc aboishcd, thc physicianwoudncvcrthccss bc
putin chargc oIpubic hcath andpubic hygicnc by socicty . . . hc
woudbc aowcdto ignorc thc schsh dcsidcrata oIhis cicntcc and
bccomc truy what hc oughtto bc: thc scrvant oI socicty" I04, p.
124 War and Peace of Microbes
ctwccn thcsc two guotations a rcvcrsa ot thc physicians` roc,
took pacc. !rom bcing paticnts, thcy bccamc agcnts. Jhcy became
active. Jhc trust ot thc paticnts aong a short nctwork bccamc css
thcmin rcturn to act upon paticnts.
!n ordcr to undcrstand this trcsh start, wc must undcrstand that
thosc who rcdchncdthc roc otthc physician nccdcd him. Jhcy dic-
tatcd his ncw dutics to him, thcy discusscd, withoutconsuting him,
whatstudics hc shoud toow, thcy cxpaincd to himindctaiwhat
gcsturcs hc mustmakcin diagnosingdiphthcria, butinthusinsisting
scrvant but acoopcratingagcnt. Athoughthcirwordswcrcmarkcd
by absoutc idcaism and athough thcy aways spokc ot 'progrcss"
and 'dittusion," thc hygicnists kncw vcry wc in practicc that thcy
nccdcdto torm aianccswith activc groups ita gcsturc ortcchniguc
wcrc to sprcad into cvcry corncr ot !rcnch socicty. Jhc physicians
may havc bccn dcspiscd and rcgardcd as obscurantists or incompc
tcnts, but who csc coud bc rcicd upon to sprcad hygicncr Jhcy
coud, as in Lngand, havc crcatcd a ncw protcssiona group that
might havc workcd, sidc by sidc with thc physicians, as agcnts ot
pubic hcath. ut in !rancc thc authoritics dccidcd to usc thc phy-
sicians, thc ony pcopc at hand, so to spcak, with a vicw to gcttit:g
thcm to do what hygicnc rcguircd otthcm.
!t thc physicians wcrc rctormcd, rccducatcd, and ottcrcd ccrtain
satistactions, thcy woud bc guitc capabc, according to thc authors
ot thc Revue, ot making adcguatc agcnts tor appying thc ncw sci-
thcyhadto bc taughtthc ncwscicnccs: 'Jhisisnottoo much to ask
otmcnwhoscprotcssionatraining cndcdat thc agc ottwcnty-hvc."
KochardisthchrstwritcrinthcRevue totabackonthcphysicians-
in spitc ot thcmscvcs, it sccms-as scrvants ot pubic hcath, oncc
thc iusion ot a compctc disappcarancc ot discascs bcgan to tadc.
c dchncs somcwhat dchanty a contract to bc drawn up with thc
and rocs, and whcn thc country paccs cvcr morc trust in thc phy-
sicians, it isright to dcmandinthc dcibcrating asscmbicsthatthcy
cxtcnd thcir knowcdgc" I88/, p. J0). c adds: '!twi bc abso-
utcy ncccssary to givcthcmprccisc instructions andto makc surc
thatthcydonotdcparttromthcm" p.JI) . Jhcphysiciansmaynot
havcknownwhatthcywantcd,butthcrcwcrcothcrswho sccmcdto
Medicine at Last 125
know tor thcm, andin dctai. !t thcy did not undcrstand thcir own
wcrcnot trustcd, butthcy wcrc nccdcd. Lvcn in I84Kichctwritcs:
'Jhc cary, dchnitc diagnosis ot diphthcria can bc cstabishcd ony
usc thcsc mcthods" I84, p. 4IZ) .
ity thc poor physician-his roc rcdchncd by othcrs, robbcd ot
his own dchnitions ot discascs, turncd upsidc down in his mcdica
cthics, madcthcrcprcscntativcotancwtorccthat at hrst dcnicdhis
roc and thcn tod him in thc minutcst dctai what hc had to do in
his consuting room and what mcthods hc must cmpoy. As it such
mistrustwcrc not cnough, pcopc wcrc bcingcacd upon to urgcthc
physicians to contorm to thc dictatcs ot thc !nstitut astcur. ! was
wrongto saythat onythc microbcs suttcrcd duringthis pcriod. Jhc
physicians did too.
And yct Kichct might havc rctraincd trom this utimatc sign ot
distrust. !or it was prcciscy in that ycarthat thc physicians scizcd
upon thc roc that was bcing imposcd upon thcm, rctransatcd it,
ampihcd it, and in thc cnd congucrcd thcir congucrors.
Where the Patient Becomes Agent
Jhc physicians ot thc Concours Medical wcrc wc awarc ot this
rcdchnition otthcir roc, thrust upon thcm trom abovc, which was
intcndcdto rctorm thcm through a contractthattromthcir point ot
vicwmcant that thcy woud osc cvcrything thcyhad. 5pcaking sar-
casticay ot thc rctorms proposcd by onc prctcct, an anonymous
physician writcs: 'Jhis individua is undcr thc imprcssion that, tor
a thc organizations that hc proposcs to sct up, thcrc arc coabo-
rators, awaitingordcrs, scattcrcdthroughouta argc part otthctcr-
ritory ot !rancc" I88/, p. J6Z). And this was prcciscy what thc
agcnts what thc Revue Scientifque was saying on thc sidc ot thc
dispacingagcnts. Jhc othcrs wantcd to makc thcphysicians agcnts
othygicnc, bccauscthcythcmscvcswcrcnot numcrous cnoughtobc
cvcrywhcrc at oncc. Jhc Concours ccrtainy sawthcm coming. An
anonymousournaistwritcsot'thcphysicians,whom ccrtainpcopc
havcthcaudacitytomakcthcscrvic,unpaidagcntsotaws otsocia
protcction, passcd bythc country`srcprcscntativcswithout spcnding
a sou" I00, p. /). !ti ordcr to construct thcir sanitization, thc
126 War and Peace of Microbes
hygicnists nccdcd thc dccining physicians as much as thc rising as-
tcurians. !t thcy taicd to torgct this doubc association, thcy woud
ncvcr rcaizcthcir pans.
Jhcrc is no bcttcrcvidcncc otthcphysicians' scnsc otbcing actcd
uponthanthis tabcwrittcnbyaphysician. nthconcsidc, arc sick
mcn, and onthc othcr arc thc gods, that is, thc bigbosscsinaris
hygicnists, poiticians, and astcurians: '!n thc middc arc a group
ot untortunatc bcings, tor whom thcrc 1s ncithcr rcst nor rcspitc,
cntrustcdwiththc taskotcaring torthc humans and otwarningthc
gods, thcy havc no othcr rcward tor this task thanthat ot avoiding
divincpunishmcnt, thcy hndthcmscvcscaughtbctwccnthc angcrot
thcgods, who accusc thcm otbcingtoo sow, andthchatrcdotthc
humans,whorcgardthcm asrcsponsibctorthcir mistortuncs" cr-
voucst: I84,p. Z6).Anactcd-upongroupmaycithcrrcsistbyincrtia
or, itothcr socia groupshccdit, idcntity itsctwiththcwishcsotthc
othcr groups andswitchovcrto thcottcnsivc, itsctproposing3dca.
Jhc idca ot a dca madc with thc statc, that is, with aris, pops up
morc and morc trcgucnty in thc Concours.8 !t is possibc, thc phy-
sicians writc, that thcy coud agrcc to carry out a thc ncw things
that thc statc is asking ot thcm and which thcy rctusc with such i
gracc, but ony in cxchangc tor a suitabc rcward and abovc a in
opinionsccmsittcdisposcdto takcsuthcicntaccountotthcscrviccs
rcndcrcd bythc physicians, which, ncvcrthccss, cvcrybody dcmands
otthcmas insistcnty as cvcr" Anon. : I88/, p. 40).
Jhc dca that was bcginning to cmcrgc was that thc physicians
woud scrvc thc statc, but thcstatc woud thcn rid thc physicians ot
thcirtraditionacncmics.AsrcadcrsotThe Parasite, physicianswoud
havc to say: wc wihcp thc statcto rid!rancc otparasitcs, butthc
statc must gct rid ot thosc who arc sucking our bood-thc phar-
macists, thc charatans, thc nuns, and so torth. 5crrcs: I80/I8Z).
hysicians wcrc ncithcr tor nor against 'scicncc" as such. ^othing
trom within its own intcrcsts and wishcs, that is, transatc it. Jhc
to strcngthcn this ncw dca. nc physician cxcaims: '!s it not dc-
porabcand rcvoting, attcrthc wondcrtu congucsts otmcdica and
surgica scicncc, to witncss thc truy tcrritying sprcad ot thc icga
cxcrciscotcharatanisminaitstorms" Lasac: I888, p.56Z).Jhis
physician is rcady to admirc scicncc ony in ordcr to crushthc char-
Medicine at Last 12 7
atans. Vc shoud not bamc him tor this narrowncss otvision, tor
thchygicnists did thc samc. ny thc dircction otthcir movcmcnts
'cnightcncd" and morc 'maturc" bccausc it assistcd thc victors, or
at castthoscwho appointcd thcmscvcs as victors.
to divcrt ccrtain torccs hostic to thc physicians by using thcm to
cradicatc othcr cncmics, thcphysicians woud ncvcr havcmadc usc
ot astcurism it, by an uncxpcctcd dritt, thc !nstitut had not comc
within thcir rcach. Jhc vaccinc, which was prcvcntivc, rubbcd phy-
siciansthc wrongway, sincc itdcprivcd thcm otpaticnts who coud
pay. Jhc scrum, invcntcd by Koux and his cocagucs, was on thc
contrary athcrapy that was uscdafter apaticnt had bccn diagnoscd
apushwoudasoadvanccthcirownintcrcsts.JhcConcours Meical
aows us to datc, wcck by wcck, thc movcmcnt by which a group,
hithcrto actcdupon, switchcdovcr to action bccauscthcothcrs had
movcd in othcr dircctions. Jhc astcurian shitttromvaccincs to scr-
ums via immunoogy, providcd thc physicians trom I84 onward
with a way ot continuing thcir traditiona protcssion as mcn who
trcatcdpaticntswithancthcacyreinforced byastcurism."Atthccost
andtrcatingdiphthcria, atcrribc chidhood discasc. Jhcastcurians
thchygicnistshaduscd immcdiatcyinordcrtotransatc itinto 'con-
tagioncnvironmcnt."As soon asthcywcrcabcto go ondoingwhat
thcyhadbccndoing,thcsamcphysicianswhohadbccn cacdnarrow

incompctcntimmcdiatcygotmoving, an cxcmparyproototthc
tascncss otthc dittusionistmodc.
Jhcrcvcrsaotattitudcsmaybcsummcdupintwoscntcnccs. nc
is Kichct's: 'Vc must insist that thc physician makc usc ot thcsc
mcthodsotscrothcrapy" I84,p. 4I7) . Jhiswasthc position otthc
groups that had bccomc dominant, which had had thc initiativc tor
twcntyycars andwantcdto drivcthcphysiciansinto rctormingthcm-
scvcs. !nthc Concours awcck bctorcwchnd: '5o ctusnotcnthusc
too guicky cst wc subcct N. Koux's discovcry to thc tatc ot N.
Koch'sontubcrcuinandcxamincthctactsthoroughy, abovca,ct
us convcrt our cicnts to our skcpticism and not ct ourscvcs bc
inIucnccdtoo guicky by idcas,whichthcy appcarto havcadoptcd
uncriticaytromhcir ncwspapcrs" Anon. : I84,p. 4J4).Jwo dct-
J28 War and Peace of Microbes
initionsotthcrocotphysicians,scicncc, andthcpubicarcincontict
hcrc,andthctwosidcsarc incdupwiththcRevue andthcConcours.
Vhat is at stakc is simpc cnough. ltthcpubicraiscs a huc and cry
tor thc scrum trom thc lnstitut astcur that may savc its chidrcn,
whatarcphysicians todor Kctormatastandgive into pressure, says
thc Revue; rcmain skcptica and resist pressure, says thc Concours.
Jhis is thc coision point ot two immcnsc torccs. Jhc physicians
shoud givc in and bccomc at ast thc modcrn agcnts that wc nccd,
thc physicians shoud rcsist and continuc to kccp thc pubic away
trom thcsc somcwhat unscicntihc cnthusiasms. ut thc physicians
wcrcncithcrto givcinnorto rcsist,thcywcrcto dcIcctthcircoursc.
ln ctobcr I 84 thc big story in thc Concours is noI diphthcria
scrum is mcntioncd bythc physician writcr, butstiwith 3 vicwot
counscing scicntihc prudcncc: 'N. Koux's discovcry continucs to
raisc aunanimousmovcmcntotcnthusiasm.Vcarchappytoobscrvc
this and associatc ourscvcs with it. owcvcr wc cannot but tcc a
ccrtain apprchcnsion whcn controntcd by 'univcrsa cnthusiasm. ' "
Jhc anonymous writcr adds, 'Vc must show thc word that thc
harcbraincd!rcnch arccapabc,inthcscicnccs, otprovingcvcnmorc
cautious than thc pondcrous Gcrmans thcmscvcs |" I84, p. 5I0).
Jhis scntcnccwaswrittcn duringthcFigaro subscription, atthcvcry
timc whcn thc diphthcria scrvicc, which Kichct wantcd to torcc thc
physicians to usc, was bcing sct up|
Vhocan sti spcakot'dazzing" and 'indisputabc"prootr Jhis
prudcnccinthc taccotsomuchcnthusiasmprovidcsa spcndid con-
trastwiththctcndcncyotthchygicniststo cxtrapoatcastcur'scon-
cusions cvcn bctorc hc had opcncd his mouth. ut thc physicians'
mistrust is undcrstandabc. Lct us not torgct that crcduity, trust,
skcpticism, indittcrcncc, and oppositon rctcr notto mcnta attitudcs
or virtucs but to an angc ot dispaccmcnt. Jhc samc physican our-
naist cxpains pcrtccty why thcrc is so much distrust. ln ordcr to
diagnosc diphthcria with 'ccrtainty" and to trcat it cttcctivcy, a
physician has to go physicay to thc lnstitutastcur twicc: thchrst
timc to bringinthcmcmbrancstromthcpaticnt'sthroat,thcsccond
tcst, to takc thc scrum via back to thc paticnt. Jhcrc is nothing
surprising in this, sincc it was ony in thc aboratory thatthc powcr
ot thc microbcs was rcvcrscd. ln ordcr to movc thc bacius, thc
physician had to movc himsct twicc in thc dircction ot thc lnstitut
Medicine at Last 129
aboratory, thatis, hctwicc had to dcny thc ocaworkotthc prac-
titioncr. 'Jhis systcm isabsoutcyimpossibc," thcphysician writcr
adds. hysicians coud transatc thc diphthcria scrum ony it it was
movcd to thcm and cnabcd thcm, by this ncw mcans, to do bcttcr
what thcy had bccn doing bctorc. !t it was a mattcr ot going twicc
Vhat coud bc morc naturar Jhis is not sowncss butnegotiation.
!njanuary I85thcphysicians`rcsistanccwaswcakcr.Jhcy wcrc
no ongcr compainingothastc andunivcrsacnthusiasm, but otbad
organization in thc scrum dcpartmcnt. Vhyr ccausc that organi-
zation was sct up with thc cxprcss aim otmoving the serum at last
to the physicians' consulting rooms. Jhcscopcotthismovcmcntwas
in dircct ratio with thc dccinc in thcir mistrust. !n thc ncgotiations
that wcrc takingpacc, any dittusion otthc scrum to thc consuting
rooms rcintorccd at ast thcir position as traditiona practitioncrs
ongcr intcrruptcd or ridicucd thcirwork but, having itsctbccn dc-
ow, a it rcguircd was that thc physician`s consutingroom shoud
bctranstormcdat certain points into an anncxotthcaboratorics ot
woud bccomc so widc thatthcphysicians cndcdup aigncd morcor
css in thc samc dircction as thc astcurians, who had thcmscvcs
dcIcctcd thcir rcscarchcrs trom vaccincs to scrums. !t wc had not
carctuy rcconstructcd thcsc two dispaccmcnts, it woud havc bccn
incvitabc to spcak on thc onc hand ot an incomprchcnsibc 'rcvo-
ution" and, on thc othcr, ota suddcn 'convcrsion."
Let Us Prepare for Evolution If We Are T O Avoid a Revolution
Jhc brcaking point camc in thc Concours Medical on Narch ZJ,
I85.jcannc,atuturccditorot thcourna,proposcdtohiscocagucs
that thcy movc around I80 dcgrccs. !c wantcd to switch tromthc
dctcnsivc to thc ottcnsivc. Jhis articc, astonishingy cntitcd 'ac-
tcrioogy and thcNcdicarotcssion," is guotcdhcrcin tu:
!tmaybcnottoo soonto ookahcadintothctuturc thatthc
130 War and Peace of Microbes
ot thc iustrious astcur and his schoo, has in storc tor thc
mcdica protcssion.
Vhat a distancc has bccn covcrcd sincc thc dcatcning duc
bctwccn thosc two orators inthc Acadcmic, astcur and ctcr|
Andyct it sccms ony ikcycstcrday.Jhc ardorandskiotthc
chanpion otour od cinica mcthods wcrc wastcd, tor thc ad-
vcrsary advancing against him was not a thcorctician, onc ot
thosc drcamcrs who crcatc a tashion, a passing tad, but it was
ascicntist, itwas thc cxpcrimcnta mcthod, itwas progrcss.
5o todayhisarmy hods a thc kcys otthc tortrcss.
5urgcry and hygicnc havc bccncongucrcd: thc od mcdicinc
is no ongcr abc to hght aonc tor thc tcrrain. Diagnosis, that
primordia ccmcnt otourart,wisoonno ongcr bc abcto do
without thc microscopc, bactcrioogica or chcmica anaysis,
cuturcs, inocuations, in a word cvcrything that may givc our
cinica udgmcnts absoutcyprcciscdata.
utwhatwithcn bccomc otmcdica tair, that indchnabc
somcthingthatwcbcicvctobcours, andcxpcricncc,thatguar-
antccwhichthc pubicuscdto rcguircotourwhitchairsrJhcir
vaucwi bc disputabc andwi bc morc and morc disputcd.
physicians, who ctt thc Lcoc dc Ncdicinc cvcn tcn ycars ago.
hcnthattockotpractitioncrswhonowcrowd thctacutics
sprcads outinto our provinccs and, bythatvcry tact, makcs us
trcmbc bctorc such stittcompctition,whcn thc struggc torcx-
istcncc bcgins, bctwccn us and thosc young mcn armcd with
dittcrcnt skis trom ours, with thc ardor and conhdcncc that a
scnsc ot rca vauc givcs onc, wi wc not soon bc thrcatcncd
with a crushing, irrcmcdiabc dctcatr Vithc pubicbcon our
Cocagucs, torgivc us torthiscryot aarm|
augh at bacii and cuturc mcdia. Jhosc who cutivatc thcm
arcady dcscrvc our rcspcct torthc scrviccsthatthcyhavc givcn
mankind, tor us, thc od guard otthc mcdica protcssion, thcy
must aso inspirc sautary tcarandadctcrminationto bcusctu.
Vc mustmarchwiththctimcs. Jhc comingccnturywi sccthc
bossoming otancw mcdicinc: ctus dcvotcwhatiscttotthis
ccntury to studying it.
Lct us go back to schoo, and prcparc thc ground tor an
cvoution, itwc arc to avoid a rcvoution.
Medicine at Last 131
Andi titis impossibc tormanyotusto cavc our nativc soi
torthc ccturc has and aboratorics otour youngmastcrs, ct
us scck thcir tcaching whcrc it is to bc tound,ihat is, in thc
mcdica ournas. ln our day, trcatiscs and dictionarics arc out-
ot-datccvcnbctorcthcyappcar. nythcournacantoowthc
rapid march ot progrcss and scicntihc cvoution. Lct us rcad
!n this waywcsha takcposscssionotthcthcoryotthcncw
idcas. Jhcn, throwing otti-paccd smugncss, guidcd socy by
goodtaithand a ovc ottruth, wc sha ask ouryoung compct-
itors, at thc paticnt`s bcdsidc or in consutations, to sharc thc
bcnchts otthcir rcccnt studics with us, at thc samc timc ct us
5crvicc tor scrvicc. ln thisway wc sha cstabish and makc
coscrthc bonds otprotcssionasoidarity,whichwithusmakc
thcprcciousvictoricsotscicnccavaiabctousa.|cannc: I8,
p. IJJ)
Jhis Dr. |cannc is ikc rincc 5aina in The Leopard taccd with
rcvoution Lampcdusa: I60). lt hc switchcs ovcr to thc ottcnsivc,
and to thc cncmics otmcdicinc aikc. !t is|cannc and not ! who is
strcssingthc baancc ottorccs, who dcvcopsthcmiitaryrctcrcnccs,
and who spcaks otcontract and coopcration ony in ordcr to cscapc
trom a dcspcratc situation. ln passing ovcr into action, thosc who
wcrc prcviousy sccn as inactivc wcrc obviousy to bctray what was
cxpcctcdotthcm. Jhcywcrcto shittthctunctionthathadbccn givcn
thcm that thcy had oncc stubborny rctuscd. '!n our timc socia itc
tcnds, on thc contrary, to usc mcdica knowcdgc morc and morc.
tcchnica compctcncc. Jhcrc is nothing in this tcstimony ot cstccm
tor our skis and protcssiona couragc to dispcasc us. Lct us, thcn,
acccpt thcm with good gracc. ut ct us not osc thc opportunity ot
I8, p. I44) . Jhc physicians had stoppcd draggingthcir tcct, but
thcywcrc now asking tor paymcnt that thc othcrs wcrc not wiing
to givcthcm. avingbccnmovcd, thcynow agrccdto movc otthcir
own accord, butonyincxchangctorsomcthingcscandtogowhcrc
ncw and bcttcr-paidwork awaitcd thcm. Lithcrthc groups wcrc not
132 War and Peace of Microbes
intcrcstcdand nothing voud makc thcmchangc thcir mind, or thcy
wcrc intcrcstcd, but ony in transating in a dittcrcnt way what thcy
had undcrstood.
^othing coud bcttcr show thc compctc changc ot attitudc than
thcpositionotthc Concours towardastcurianscicncc. ' Untircccnt
ycars, thc Concours Medical has vountariy abstaincd trom spcak-
yo, mico, ctc. ), or ot purc bactcrioogica studics, knowing that
practitioncrs, its usua rcadcrs, woud not carc vcry much tor that
ovcrspccuativc, ovcrhypothctica hodgc-podgc." Jhcy voluntarily
maintaincd thcir distancc trom thc astcurians. Vhat isthc point ot
carningwhat cannot bc transatcdrVhatisthc point otbcicvingin
crcdcncc to what cncouragcs thc sprcad otcncmicsr !n I85 cvcry-
thingchangcdwhcn itbccamcpossibcto scc diphthcria as away ot
saving traditiona mcdicinc. As |cannc rccas. 'ut today, bactcri-
oogyhas cmcrgcd trom thc aboratory, it has cntcrcd cinica mcd-
icinc, it has cvcn rcachcdthcrapcutics. "!t is not ! who am spcaking
ot dispaccmcnt. !t is |cannc who gaugcs thc movcmcnt otthc as-
tcurian aboratory, which hnds itsctat ast in apaccwhcrc it can
scrvc thc physician. '!rom thc bcginning it dccarcd its supcriority,
thcwhocot!rancc arcadyposscsscsavcrypowcrtuscrum against
diphthcria." c adds this hna bow. '!t is absoutcy ncccssary tor
cvcrypractitioncr to know thistrcatmcntand to bcabc to appy it.
_cannc. I85, p. I) . Vhathappcncdto thcprudcnccinvokcdin
5cptcmbcrr Vhat happcncd to thc nccd to appcar 'morc cautious
havc atcrcd thc dircction ot that 'absoutcy ncccssary." Yct thcy
wcrc thc same practitioncrs.
!nAprithcywcntturthcrsti.Jhc Concours dcmandcdas aright
thatthcphysiciango back to schooandcarn bactcrioogy: '|ust as
thcncw awsmakc aphysicians othcia agcnts otthc pubichygicnc
scrvicc, thosc agcnts must bc providcd with thc mcans ot carning
and paying thcir rocs" Anon. . I85,p. I60) . A hncword, that ot
'agcnts."Aspaticnts, physicians mockcdthcittcbcasts, asagcnts,
its mcaning. Jhc country was right to dcmandthat physicians carn
thcncw scicnccs. ut now it was a right that physicians dcmandcd
in cxchangctorwhat thc country dcmandcd otthcm.
Medicine at Last JJJ
uering Our Con
ueror and Translating Our Translators
wc can rcad in thc Concours: 'Jhc physician who dcprivcs himsct
ot microbic contro in cascs ot cxudatc that is, thc inspcction ot
paticnts` throats] woud bc as irrcsponsibc, hcartcss, and guity as
thc doctor who, in thc casc ot pumonary discasc, rctraincd trom .
using auscutation" Anon. : I85, p. J8J)
Attcr such cvidcncc can i tsti bcsaid that 'timc passcs" or that
thcrc is a timc that scrvcs as a tramc otrctcrcncc tor historyr !t was
ony now, hhccnycars attcr ouiy-c-!ort, that physicians wcrc rc-
aizingastcurian bactcrioogy had cmcrgcdtromthc aboratory. 1cy
wcrcthcrctorcdcspcratcysow.Yctwithinaycarthcsamc 'narrow"
and 'imitcd" physicianshad ovcrcomc thcir scrupcs, sothatitwas
nowcriminanotto dowhatitwoudhavcbccndangcrousto dothc
ycar bctorc. hysicians wcrc thcrctorc moving at astonishing spccd.
thcy wcrc transtorming antidiphthcriavaccinationinto somcthingas
vcncrabc,astraditional, asobviousasthcauscutationinvcntcdsixty
ycars bctorc. Jimc is ncgotiatcd: that tact is obvious cnough, yct
obvious as it may bc, it is a too ottcn torgottcn byhistorians who
cxpain socia movcmcnts by onc otthc utimatc and distant consc-
grid ot days, months, and ycars.
!ndccd,tromthcvcrydaythatphysiciansmovcdinto action,thcy
immediately altered the chronology so as to incudc astcur as onc
among othcr ccmcnts ot thc od, at ast triumphant mcdicinc. Jhc
rcarrangcmcnt ot thc sccondary mcchanism is nowhcrc ccarcr than
inanarticcbyouchardinthcRevue Scientifque. !tisthchrstarticc
inthatournainwhichphysiciansarcnowtakingikcthc surgcons,
hygicnists, and army doctors, that is, proudyand inthc hrstpcrson
pura. tastcurhcwritcs: 'utwhatcvcrthcimportanccotamcd-
ica discovcry, itdocs not supcrscdc mcdicinc, it can hnditspaccin
it." Vc arctartrom astcur`stakcovcrotthcodmcdicinc.Vho has
movcdr!tisastcurwhoisincudcdinmcdicinc,whcrcas hccaimcd
thc contrary. ouchard gocs on: 'Jhc contribution ot bactcrioogy
is strangcy rcduccd, and tor that rcason wc rcmain within thc od
hygicnists wcrc saying twcnty ycars bctorc about thc contagion cn-
IJ4 War and Peace of Microbes
vironmcnt. 'Jhis scrothrapy cxating thc tunctions by which wc
dctcndourscvcsnaturaytrommicrobicinvasionaso hndsitspacc
innaturistthcrapcutics. "ccnds by consccratingnotthcrayingot
bythcphysicians,comtortcdatast. 'Doyounotthinkthatthisgrcat
thcrapcutic progrcss, tar trom shaking thc od cdihcc, usuay docs
no morc than soicit thc cttorts ot thc od curativc naturcr" I85:
p. ZZ5) . Ascricourtsaidtcnycarsbctorc.'JhcodadagcMorborum
Causa Externa Morbus Corporis Reactio isthcrctorcastrucascvcr"
I885,p. 5JZ) .
Vhcn at ast thc physicians switchcd ovcr to thc ottcnsivc, thcy
rcdchncd thc roc and tunction ot thoscwho had hithcrto caimcd to
dchncthcm. Jhc acccptanccotaboratorymcthods wasrcncgotiatcd
according to thc tcrms ot thc od cinica mcdicinc. 'Kadiography,
bactcrioogy, scrodiagnosis arc sti wcapons ot too guick a triggcr
torordinary mortas, !mcan, torpractitioncrs ikc us. Vcmaydrcam
ot thc prccision that thcy promisc us, but wc must not torgct that
thcy somctimcs havc scrious drawbacks and wc must subcct thcm
unIinchingy to purc cinica mcdicinc. Abovc a ct us not start a
civiwar ovcr gcrms" |cannc. I00, p. I45) .
Vc sccthc cxtcntto which astcur'stakcovcrotmcdicincwas an
iusion. Jhc doctors whom hc nccdcd to cxtcnd his inIucncc wcrc
not asobigingasthchygicnists, who ccctcd himto bcthc cadcr ot
thcirmovcmcnt so as to makc thcir own conviction cthcacious. As
atc as I05 thc Concours Medical caims with accrtain supcriority.
who caim tor cinica mcdicinc a torma right otpriority ovcr thc
aboratoryandbactcroogy, andotcourscinourpcriod,whichisso
our opinion. ut, though ot sccondary importancc, thc diagnostic
mcthod providcd by thc aboratory must not bc disdaincd" u-
gucnin. I05, p. Z0Z) .
Agcncrationattcr thc cnthusiasmotthchygicnists, thcattitudc ot
physicians was simpy not to disdain thc aboratory. Lvcn bactcrio-
ogicascicncc had bccncompctcyrctransatcd.

!n I00 thc Con

cours Medical aunchcd a compctition amongitsrcadcrsto proposc
rcmcdics tor protcssionaI overcrowding, thc onytruytata discasc
tromthcpointotvicwotthcphysicians. Jhcprizcwcntto accrtain
Dr. Couthcr I00, pp. 5Z8-556). c spokc otthc bactcrioogica
scicnccs otthc grcat astcur, but hc saw thcm as a remedy tor ov-
Medicine at Last JJ5
crcrowding| ycxtcnding thc pcriod ot mcdica study, thc scicnccs
woud imit thc numbcr ot cocagucs, and it Grcck and Latin wcrc
addcd, thc rcsuts woud bc bcttcrsti. Jhis wasno act otmcanncss
onthcpartotthcourna.!nI06thcRevue Scientifque asoaunchcd
a gucstionnairc on thc 'Kctorm otNcdica 5tudics." Jouousc, thc
ncw cditor otthc Revue, bcganthis inguiry bccausc, hc cxpains, 'a
considcrabcmovcmcntiscmcrgingwhoscaimisthc aboitionotthc
so-cacd sccondary scicnccs chcmistry, bioogy, physics, parasito-
ogy) in mcdica tcaching and an oricntation toward thc training ot
cxpcricnccd practitioncrs with a thorough grasp otthc practiccs ot
thcirart" I05, p. /0Z).
dircctions as thcrc arc agcnts capabc ot making thcir positions ir-
rcvcrsibc. !t was possibc to gct rid ot bactcrioogy as guicky as
astcur got rid otmcdicinc.oth movcmcntswcrcpossibc on con-
tothc abscnccotvaccination, ustastomovctromscicntihcmcdicinc
to a mcdicinc without scicncc.
Vcnthcphysiciansswitchcdovcrto thc ottcnsivc,thcyccrtainy
took somcthing trom astcurism, but unikc thc hygicnists, thcy did
nottakc thc aboratorics,thcy took thc prcstigc attachcdto astcur.
Jhc notion ot cgitimacy is rarcy corrcct in socioogy, but it may
transatc thcir intcrcsts in ordcr to cxtcnd thcir inhucncc but that
ncvcrthccss nccd onc anothcr. !t is anothcr, simpcrtormotassoci-
ation. Agcncrainvcntory ottccsin I05 toramcdicatrcatmcnt,
whichthcConcours pubishcdinordcrtocascoutcompctition, shows
tairy ccary thc paccpaycd by astcur's scicncc in basic mcdicinc.
!or a simpc ascptic bandagc thc paticnt wi paythc priccota con-
sutation.Jhiswasastcurism otthirtyycarscaricr.Jhcpriccothvc
visitsorconsutations incudcs 'subcutancousincctionotantimicro-
bic and antitoxicscrums, incudingthctrcatmcnt otocaprcvcntivc
accidcnts." ^ttcr htty ycars ot aboratory work and thirty ycars ot
and thc cstabishmcnt ot thc ncw mcdica scicncc, ony a tcw incs
havc bccn addcd to pagcs and pagcs otwhat was donc bctorc. Jhc
radica cpistcmoogica brcak turns out to bc a thin scratch in thc
practicc otthc maority.
ut this was not truc ot thc prcstigc gaincd by this stratcgic rc
136 War and Peace of Microbes
to guarantcc mcdica supcrvision, wcrc convcrtcd at ast to this roc
andcndcdup occupyingthctcrrainthatothcrshadcttthcmbccausc
thcyhad taicd to crcatc a ncw protcssiona group. Jhosc who say
acccptcd thc roc otpoiccmcn, abandoncd that otscicntists, cxccpt
to cxtcnd thc duration ot studics and to adopt a tcw mcthods that
wcrc 'not to bc disdaincd," and thcy rctaincd thc prcstigc ot thc
agcnts who nccdcd thcm. thcrs actcd as thcir cat`s paw.
Duringthcrcstotthc pcriod,innumcrabcarticcscxprcssingsct-
satistaction wcrc pubishcd in thc Revue Scientifque. ^othing had
rcaychangcdinstycortcchniguc. nysct-conhdcncchadbccomc
thcphysician. 'Lcssabsorbcdinthcassistancctobcgivcntopaticnts,
bcgun, that ot incrcasing thc vitaity ot thc individua and thc spc-
cics . . . Chid-rcaring, brccding, 'hominicuturc`tamiy hygicnc, cd-
ucationa, psychoogica, and physica hygicnc. !s it nothing to tcach
and to practicc a thatr" I0, p. I6Z). !ndccd itwas not nothing|
Jhctotaity soughtbythchygicnistswasinhcritcdbythcphysicians,
sincc thcrc was no spcciaizcd protcssion in pubic mcdicinc. Jhc
astcurianspringitsctwasimitated bythcphysicians,who spokcot
cvcrything, butwithout addingthc aboratory at stratcgic points. !n
II4 Chauttart, in an articc cntitcd 'Var and thc cath ot thc
Kacc," dchncs thc cxtcnsion otmcdicinc.
vcr thc past htty ycars, our mcdica habits havc changcd
rcmarkaby. ncc, as physicians, wc saw scarccy anything but
thc individual to bc trcatcd,wcwcrcthcphysicianotapaticnt,
wc tricdto trcathim, to curc him, andwcthoughtthatoncchc
was curcd, wc had compctcd our task. Jhcn, as thc gcncra
oricntation ot idcas atcrcd, wc saw that thc physician had a
pacc not ony at thc paticnts' bcdsidc, but aso in advising a
tamiy, inthccounscsotsocicty,thcstatc,andthat,intact,ust
as thcrc arc individua hcaths, thcrc arc hcaths otthc nation
andhcathsotthcracc, andthcphysicianmustconccrnhimsct
with thcsc ust as much. II5, p. I8)
Jhc physician, too, had movcd. cmovcd trom thc paticnt to thc
statc. coccupicdthcpacc appointcd bythcothcrsandchangcdhis
habits as ittc as possibc. Jruy a strangc rcvoution, in which thc
Medicine at Last 13 7
supposcdy rcvoutionizcd groups movcd ony whcnthcywcrc surc
otbcing abcto carry on as bctorc and bctray thcirtransators. Jhc
rcvoutionaryhistory otthc scicnccs sti awaits its Jocgucvic.
Coercion at Last
ctwccn I8/I and IIthcvariousactors tricd through cvcry pos-
sibc rcationship to dchnchygicnc, scicncc, andmcdicincinrcation
to onc anothcr. A tcw articcs ay caim to carity and wish to bc
cxpoit an ambiguity to tusc intcrcsts and to producc ncw mixturcs.
Kichct cxcaims: 'A thc probcms othygicnc arc socia gucstions.
^owwhat coud rcsovc thcm itnot thc 5cicnccsr" I888, p. J60).
convcrgingonthis cnormous covcrcatcxchangc: thc socia gucstion
povcrty, cxpoitation, acohoism,tubcrcuosis) , thc taingbirthratc
and thc physica wcakncss ot thc !rcnch gymnastics, army, wct-
nursing) , gucstions otsanitation drains, purc watcr, poution) , thc
ink bctwccn discascs and argc-scac intcrnationa commcrcc guar-
antinc, supcrvision) , surgcryand hospita administration,thcrcsist-
anccot bodics and immunoogy, intcctious discascs, and parasitica
or tropica discascs. Jhcrc was no onc word to covcr a thcsc con-
ccrns. Norcovcr, thc fusion that cnabcd thc astcurians to movc
trom onc ordcr otconccrn to anothcr coud not ast vcryong oncc
thc actors had mixcd togcthcr, movcd position, and rcachcd thcir
'aims"-orwhat thcy had dccidcd to ca thcir aims.
ygicnc, tor instancc, that transator ot such an important socia
movcmcnt, graduay disappcars trom thc Revue. Likc thc microbc
itsct, itwas an agcntcndowcdwithunityandpcrsonaitytoronya
'scndcr" in whosc namc onc had to act. Articcs in thc rcvicw no
ongcr advocatc changcs, thcy now describe organizatons, such as
'thc aris sanitary organization" and 'thc prcscnt statc otmcthods
tor puritying watcr." !n thcsc dcscriptivc articcs thc words 'supcr-
vision," 'rcguations," and 'poicing" rccur constanty. !n II0 a
rcport otthc Acadcmic dc Ncdccinc ontyphoidtcvcrproposcs 'su
pcrvising" thccatchmcntotsprings, 'supcrvising" thcpurityingma-
chincry, 'rcguating" scwagc and 'dctccting" contagious discascs,
'thc prctcctoria authority has a duty to makc surc that thc said

War and Peace of Microbes

rcguations arc carricd out." Vhat wc now havc is routine, sincc it
is no ongcra gucstionotscttingup orcxtcndingnctworks byusing
thcAcadcmic, isa 'vauabchcp," butitisno ongcranythingmorc
thanthccrtionothygicnicpoicing, 'bysupcrvisingthchcathincss
otthcwatcrsuppy,byhcpingthcphysiciansto arrivcatadiagnosis.
!t is dcsirabc to sctup bactcrioogica stations in thc dcpartmcnts,
without such stations thc sanitary poicing ot thc municipaity and
dcpartmcntscannotbccarricdoutcttcctivcy" Anon. : II0,p.4/I).
thc socicty otthc timc was cngagcd, it was now no morc than thc
intormcr otan administration that had sprcad cvcrywhcrc, that had
congucrcd thc microbcs and thc pubic authoritics, and whosc aws
now had ony to bc implemented.12
At thc timc whcn hygicnc was disappcaring as an actor, to bc
programs ot sanitation wcrc hnay undcrway, andwhcn thc aw ot
I0Z had bccn passcd, thcrc was no ongcr any controvcrsy. ^o
onc was trying any morc to win aics tor thc sprcad ot hygicnic
prcccpts. 5cicntihc aws ratihcd by uridicia aws no ongcr ctt any
room tor argumcnt among thc groups arcady rccruitcd. r rathcr,
asmchygicnists' aicsbccamcmorcnumcrousandmorchighypaccd,
thc rcmaining cncmics coud bc dcstroycdwith css compunction. !n
I88/Kochard wants hygicnc to bc miitant, but hc aso knows that
it has to negotiate: '!t hygicnc wants to havc thc ast word and to
gctits dccisions rcspcctcd, itwi dowctomovcwithcxtrcmcmod-
cration and caution. !t it shows itsct to bc tyrannica, intcrtcring,
intransigcnt,itwiincvitabytai.!t mustbcaprotcction,notatcttcr.
ony whcn absoutcy ncccssary" I88/, p. JZ).
A tcw ycars atcr Armaingaud, spcaking onthc subcct ottubcr-
cuosis, uscs both a modc ot transation and a modc ot dittusion.
c compains thatidcas aboutthc contagion ottubcrcuosis do not
sprcad, but at thc samc timc hc ooks tor aics powcrtu cnough to
torcc thc dittusion ot a practicc. c proposcs to put up noticcs rc-
gucsting industriaists to takc carc otthcir tubcrcuarworkcrs: 'Do
you bcicvc that itwi bcpossibcto ovcrcomc a thc obstaccs put
and workshop managcrs . . . without a nationa campaign to shitt
pubic opinion and torcc thcir handsr" Jhis iusion dcnounccd by
Medicine at Last ' 139
Armaingaud was ncvcrthccss sharcd bya thosc who bcicvcd that
astcur`s discovcrics movcd through socicty otthcir own accord. As
accompany an idca ititisto bc capabc otundcrtakingthcourncy:
'ncc thcy havc bccn cnightcncd and convinccd, thc industriaists
must, itthcy arc to makc up thcir minds to act, bc torccd,with tcw
cxccptions, bythcdcmands otthcintcrcstcdpartics."Armaingaudis
so as to convincc thc bosscsthatKoch`s bacius is dangcrous. Jhis
movcisotcoursc inthc bcstintcrcstsotthc industriaists thcmscvcs,
butitthcy arc to undcrstandthcscintcrcsts, thcy nccdstrong proot:
'lt wc arc bcginning to gct thc disintcction othotc rooms impc-
mcntcd . . . it is thanks to thc pubicity arcady givcn by thc ncws-
papcrs to thc contagiousncss ot tubcrcuosis, which is making ncw
arrivas dcmand guarantccs" I8J, p. J4).
Vhat a good associoogist hc is | c knows that a proot provcs
nothing otitsct and that thc socia body has to bc workcd upon it
thcprcssistoinhucncccustomcrsto intucncc hotc-kccpcrstointu-
cnccdisintcction scrviccs to drivc Koch`s bacius out otsocicty. c
scts thc actors against onc anothcr, knowing that ony a sight dis-
paccmcnt can bcobtaincd trom cach otthcm and that a mcrc 'dit-
tusion" otthc 'truth" is notto bc cxpcctcd.
Yct atcw ycarsatcrcvcrythingchangcdoncc this scricsotpcopc
had bccn convinccd. Jhcrc was no ongcr any nccd to ncgotiatc, to
ingbutincrtbodics: 'Jhcprcvcntionotdiscascisundcrmincdbythc
pubic`s ignorancc and carccssncss and by thc irrationa rcsistancc
that it scts up against hygicnic mcasurcs" AHoing: II0, p. 48I) .
Jhcrc thcy wcrc at ast, thc 'incrt," thc 'irrationaists," and thc
'rcsistcrs. "^o onchad to bc handcd carctuy any morc. Jhc angc
ot intcrcst was not sharp cnough to makc it worth thc troubc to
ot thcm was not compicatcd cnough to nccd to scck thcir activc
connivancc. Those who took forty years to become convinced that
Pasteur was interesting andwhotookthctroubctoundcrstandhim
ony whcn thcy wcrc sure that they would be able to carry on the
same activity rcgardcdthcsowncss otothcragcntstocoopcratcwith
thcmonyasinertia. Jhcstoryishnishcd,thcrcisnoongcranysubtc
anaysisto bcmadc. Jhcpoorwcrcthconcswhowcrcnowbcsicgcd
140 War and Peace of Microbes
thcsurgcons, thc midwivcs, thcprcIccts, thc mayors, thc disinIcction
scrviccs, thc tcachcrs, thc army doctors. Lach oI thcsc groups had
thcmicrobcs.utonccaicdto oncanothcr, cingingto athc mcas-
urcs that thcy had takcn to makc thcir positions irrcvcrsibc, thcy
Jhough probaby corrcct, thcsc tcrms ony dcscribc its hna statc
Jhosc who spcak oI 'discipining" andoI 'domination" canbcgin
powcrhasno ongcr to bc 'ncgotiatcd," whcrc athatrcmains isto
convincc thoscatthc bottom oI thcaddcr. !n thc II0s,indccd, thc
triumphanthygicnistmovcmcntmusthavc sccmcdikc adiscipinary
authority. ut to imit thc anaysis to this cocrcion is to undcrstand
nothingthathappcncd bcIorc,whcnhygicncwaswcak,voicccss,and
powcrcss but aspircd to powcr. ncc it had bccomc aicd with thc
Iorccs that mattcrcd, itwas thcn possibc to Ioow its progrcss as it
thcm.Jhcrcisno shortagc oIsocioogiststo dothat. Jhcythinkthat
thcyarc dcnouncing powcr and ignorc thc dccadcs duringwhichthc
hygicnistmovcmcntwastryingto caimpowcr,withouthavingit,by
ooking in such uncxpcctcdpaccs as thc aboratory.
Portrait of the Pasteurians as Solon of the Tropics
Vhic hygicnc was bcing incorporatcd into a vast burcaucracy and
havingno othcrprobcmsthanthat oIbcingimpcmcntcd,whicthc
physicians wcrc occupyingthc tcrrain oI both thc hygicnists and thc
ncw mcdica scicnccs, without having to atcr anything cxccpt thcir
prcstigc and thc ncw roc oI sanitary poicing, whosc aocation to
thcm thcy hnay acccptcd, whic thc !nstitut astcur, making vast
point oI Iusion won caricr by astcur and sccming morc insuatcd
in its aboratorics, a ncw movcmcnt on thc part oIthc astcurians
was bcginning to rcstorc to thcm thc ccntra roc that thcy had had
inthc rcdchnition oI socicty duringthc I880s and I80s.
Jo IoowthistransIormationoIasocictybya'scicncc,"wcmust
ooknotinthchomccountrybutinthc coonics. Jhccnormouspart
paycdbytropicamcdicinc inthcproduction oIthcAnnales de l'In
stitut Pasteur rcvcacd most dirccty thc struggc bctwccn micropar-
Medicine at Last J4J
asitcs and macroparasitcs, and itwas thcrc that thc torccs thrown
into thc baancc otthc astcurian coud tip thc scacsirrcvcrsibyin
what a pastcurizcd mcdicinc and socicty arc: 'lt is ccar that cvcn
morc than thc hcat, which is at most an unpcasanttactor, tcvcr and
dyscntcry arc thc 'gcncras" that dctcnd hot countrics against our
incursions and prcvcnt ustromrcpacingthc aborigincsthatwchavc
to makc usc ot' raut: I08, p. 40Z) . '
Jhcbacks,ikcthc ovas,wcrc immunizcd. Jhcwcstcrncrswcrc
not. Jhus thc nativcs had a supcriority that compcnsatcd tor thcir
natura intcriority. lt was thcrctorc ncccssary to rcvcrsc oncc morc
thc baancc ot torccs and to rcstorc to thc wcstcrncrs thcir natura
supcriority, byovcrcomingthatrcativcayotbacksandthatcncmy
ot whitcs: 1hc parasitc. Camcttc writcs: 'ls it unikcy that Atrica
sharc ithadnotbccn counting on thcirvictoryovcr maaria" I05,
p. 4I/) .
Jo situatc thc lnstitut astcuri nthis gigantic struggc, wc do not
cvcn havc to bc crudc Narxists or to rcsort to tar-tctchcd cvidcncc.
ln an articc cntitcd 'Jhc 5cicntihc Nission otthc lnstitut astcur
andthc CooniaLxpansionot!rancc," Camcttcwritcs again: 'ltis
nowthcturnotthcscicntihccxporcrstocomcontothcstagc . . . thcir
cxporcrs arc thc gcographcrs, cnginccrs, andnaturaists. Amongthc
thc coonics, thcir nativc coaborators, and thcir domcstic animas
against thcir most tcarsomc, bccausc invisibc, cncmics" IIZ, p.
Jhis work onthcparasitcshada dircctinIucncconcoonization,
thcmacroparasitcsNc^ci: I/6).Jhcidcntihcationandmovcmcnt
ot cach parasitc madc it possibc to advancc turthcr. Jhc cxtcnt ot
thisshittintavor otthc whtcs can bcsccn guitc ccary. ltis onc ot
thoscdramaticproots bcovcd otso many scicntists. Vithcach par-
asitccongucrcd, thc coumns otsodicrs, missionarics, and coonists
bccamc visibc on thc map otAtrica and Asia, saiing up thc rivcrs
and invading thc pains, ust as, thirty ycars bctorc, thc surgcons
tackcdncw organs with cach stcp in thc progrcss otascpsia: '5o it
is thanks to thcsc two scicntists ouct and Koubaud) that wc now
I4Z War and Peace of Microbes
knowthcvariousmodcs otpropagation otthc trypanosomiascsthat
bctwccn Guinca, thcUppcr^ic, Khodcsia, andAngoa" Camcttc:
IIZ,p. IJZ).
by thc astcurians. Koux, praising thc work ot Lavcran in II5,
cxcaims: 'Jhankstothcm thcscicntists) , andsthatmaariatorbadc
to thc Luropcans arc opcncd up to civiization. !t is thus that thc
workotascicntistmayhavc conscgucnccs tor mankindthat go wc
bcyondthoscotthc conccptionsotourgrcatcststatcsmcn" II5, p.
4I0). Ycs, that`s it: thcy go beyond thosc otthc grcatcst statcsmcn,
bccausc instcad otpursuing poitics with poitics, thc scicntistswcrc
pursuingitwithother means. Jhisuntorcsccabcsuppcmcntottorcc
gavc thcm that supcrativc poitics which madc it possibc to act on
thc poor, onthc inhabitants otNadagascar, onthc surgcons, onthc
Atricans, and on thc dairics.
astcurwashaicd as a morctamous congucrorthanthatotAus-
tcritz. ^cvcrthccss, whcn hc put up torthc 5cnatc, this grcatpoi-
tician was bcatcn hoow. Jhis outcomc says cvcrything. oitica
Atrica with a dctcrmination to dominatc with powcr, and you wi
bc dcad bctorc ong and bc conhncd to thc coast. utinvadc it with
thc !nstitut astcur, and you might rcay dominatc it. Vhat was
untorcsccabcwas that thc tusion otthc astcurianaboratory, trop-
ica mcdicinc, and tropica socicty woud bc much morc compctc
than in!ranccitsct.
Jo bcgin with most ot thc discascs thcmscvcs wcrc ncw. Cinica
mcdicinc was cithcr noncxistcnt or bcing practiccd ony by army
doctors, thc hrst to bccomc pastcurizcd. Jhc astcurians, thcn, did
nothavc to dcadcicatcywith a ccntury-od cinica mcdicinc.
scascsthatcoudbcstudicdwcrc adcrivcd trom
gcrms or parasitcs. Jhc othcr discascs, which in !rancc itsct madc
up ninc-tcnths ot thc work ot thc mcdica protcssion, wcrc simpy
ignorcd. Among thc coonists thc potcntia paticnts wcrc a young
trcatcd thc nativcs, thcy did so cn massc, working on dcvastating
symptoms and spcctacuar discascs paguc, ycow tcvcr, cprosy,
sccping sickncss). !n such a situation thcrc coud bcno gucstion ot
a tamiy mcdicinc, inwhich thc paticntwascxpcctcdto pay.
Medicine at Last I4J
^o physicianwas prcparcd, by training, to bc conccrncdwithcnto-
moogy. 1hc astcurians, busycrossingthctronticrsbctwccnthcdit-
tcrcnt scicnccs, coud, without rcguiring too much rctraining, add
ncw spccicsotactors tothc swarm otmicrobianagcnts: athcgrcat
discovcrics otthis pcriod consistcd indccd in rcdiscovcring thc routc
bywhich aparasitc, an inscct, and a manwcrc inkcd. Jhc tak was
now cntircy ot hcas, mosguitos, tsctsc hics, and parasitoogy cx-
pandcd: thosc insccts wcrc thcmscvcs subcct to parasitcs thatuscd
thcm inordcrto movcorrcproducc.!twasdccidcdy agrcatpcriod,
torthc rcadcrs ot 5crrcs I80/I8Z) and thc so-cacd socia actors
sccmcdto rivainingcnuitythcso-cacd 'natura" actorsincarning
how to ovcrap, movc, and bccomc contaminatcd.
Jhctourth charactcristic otthis ncw mcdicincwas thatthcrcwas
no othcr mcdica corps on thc spot, cxccpt thc witch doctors, who
wcrc arcady hghting on a dittcrcnt tcrrain. ^othing was thcrc to
torcc thc astcurians, ottcn army doctors by training, to imit thc
scopc ot thcir activitics. Vhcrcas at homc thcy wcrc prcccdcd by
innumcrabc protcssiona groups intcrcstcd in hcath and wcrc uti
matcyswampcdbythcm,inthc coonics thcycoudconstructpubic
hcath tromscratch.Jhisisnot amctaphor.Jhcyottcnprcccdcdthc
towns, which thcy coud thcrctorc buid according to thc strictcst
rccommcndations othygicnc. At homc thcy had aways to takc into
account ccnturics otinsanitarincss and thc doubts otpubic author-
itics. !nthc tropics thc sccuararm otthc miitary authoritics was on
thcir sidc. !ta thc houscs had to bc rcbuit, thcn thcy coud bc.
Jhc htth rcason tor thc succcss ot thc ncw mcdicinc was morc
organism and its attcnuation, thcn in thc manutactirc otattcnuatcd
microbcs or scrums. ^ow thc parasitcs wcrc giants comparcd with
thc microbcs and did not aow thcmscvcs to bc grown, ct aonc
attcnuatcdorinocuatcd. Jhis taiurc, ducto ancw rusc on thc part
otthc discascs mighthavccut short athccttorts otthc astcurians.
!nstcad, thosc cttorts wcrc shittcd. 5incc thc astcurians coud not
conccntratc a thcir attcntion on thc aboratory stagc and coud in-
tcrrupt thc parasitc ony by intcrrupting his itc cycc in itc-sizcd
conditions, thcy had to obtain pcnary powcrs and aways act on a
and cavc othcrs to appy it, thc astcurians had to bc aowcd to
legislate tor thc cntircsocia body.'Naaria orycowtcvcrwcrcto
bc dcstroycd not with vaccincs but by ordcring thc coonists and
144 War and Peace of Microbes
nativcsto buidthcirhouscsdittcrcnty,to dryup stagnantponds, to
buid was ot dittcrcnt matcrias, or to atcr thcir daiy habits. Jhc
astcurianworkcd bothinthc aboratory andonadministrativcrcg-
uations, buthisactions coud no ongcrbcstudicdindistinctstagcs.
c cgisatcd ikc 5oon: 'lt has takcn thirty ycars tor scicncc to
discovcr thc naturc and origin ota thc grcat cndcmic discascs that
sccmcd to havc stoppcd civiization at thc thrcshod otthc tropica
countrics. A thc probcms havc now bccn poscd, a thc soutions
arc in sight. Jhc govcrnors ot our coonics think

as mcn otscicncc
andactasadministratorsto appythcdoctrincstowhichthc ccntury
otastcur has givcn birth. ur corps otcooniahcathiscontinuing
withits admirabcworkcvcrywhcrc" ^attan-Larricr. II5, p.J0J).
Jhcmcansbywhich administratorswcrccnabcdtoactasmcn ot
scicncc was, as aways, thc aboratorics, now cxtcndcd to a thc
coonics, at Saigon, Agicrs, Junis, Jangicrs, razzavic, Dakar. !n
ot thc Union Cooniac !ranaisc and was attachcd to thc !nstitut
astcur. !n I08 thc Bulletin de la Societe de Pathologie Exotique
was addcd to thc Annales: '!n thc !ar Last and in !rcnch Atrica,
thcn,thcrcisnoongcrany oncotourcoonicsthathasnotposscsscd
tcrioogicarcscarch andtorthcimmcdiatcappicationotastcurian
mcthodscithcrto thctrcatmcntandprcvcntionotintcctiousdiscascs
or tothcstudyotthccconomicconditionsdcpcndcntuponbioogy"
Camcttc. IIZ, p. IJJ) .
Jhc roc O! both prcvcntivc mcdicinc and thc risc otthc standard
otiving inthc dccinc otthc grcat intcctious discascs in Luropc has
bccn a mattcr ot disputc. ut thcrc has ncvcr bccn any doubt as to

!t it hadbccnpcccssary to makc coonia socicty ony with mastcrs
andsavcs, thcrcwoudncvcrhavc bccn any coonia socicty. !t had
parasitcsthatthcy transportcd. !t isnotcnoughto spcakshyyotthc
I/8). Vith onywhitcs and backs,withonymiasmicrcgions and
hcathyordangcrous cimatcs,thatCooniaLcviathanwhich sprcad
across thc gobc coud ncvcr havc bccn buit. ^or can thc coonia
mcdicinc ot thc astcurians bc cxpaincd in tcrms ot 'socicty" and
its 'intcrcsts," sincc thc astcurians wcrc capabc, oncc morc, ot
movingthcirprograms otrcscarchsuthcicntyto obtainarichcrdct-
Medicine at Last J45
Jhcastcuriansrcshuttcd thc cards bydaringto changcprotoundy
thcist otactors paying a roc inthc word, bymoditying thc trias
ot strcngth, and by inscrting thc aboratory into thc strangcst and
cast prdictabc pacc. Jhcir 'gcnius" ay in that thcy twicc suc-
cccdcd, in two dicrcnt pcriods and two succcssivc poitica situa-
uons-hrstathomcon intcctiousdiscascsduringthc I880sandI80s,
thcninthc coonicsonthcparasiticadiscascsbctorcII4-to rcor-
dcr socicty in a way that wcnt wc bcyond thc 'conccptions ot our
grcat statcsmcn."
Chuplcr +
scicncc, whoscappications aonc, outsidcthc aboratory, had apro-
digiousinIucncconvarious groups-somc opcnandmodcrn, which
adaptcd to thcm, othcrs coscd and backward-ooking, which rc-
maincd incrt. ctorc such a succcssion otmystcrics-thc mystcry ot
thcinvcntionottacts, thc mystcry otthcir dittusion, thc mystcry ot
adequatio rei et intellectus, thc mystcryotrccognition-it was pos
cvcnthc bcginningotan cxpanation. A onc coud do was to kccp
sicnt,tobccontcnt, toadmircthcorics,towritcgosscsonthcsocia,"
or worsc sti, to study nothing but thc 'symboic and cutura di-
mcnsion," thc bonc that thosc who havc givcn up thc good tarc ot
rcaityarccontcntto gnaw.
y mcans otthis ourncythrough th

wcakcncd microbcs ! think

!havcshownthatthis vision otthc scicnccsandotsocictyisamyth,
our myth, thc ony onc to which wc vho think ourscvcs so ccvcr
subscribcin simpc taith.Jhcscicnccshavc nomorccontcntthanthc
socia groups. Jhosc two symmctric phantasmagoric bcings arc ob-
to pcrccivc both its dangcr and howto tacc up to it.
Transition 147
utotthc magica combatbctwccn '^apocon" and 'Kutuzov,"
Jostoy crcatcd a battc ot crowds, which act somctimcs in grcat
masscsandsomctimcsasindividuacharactcrs.!nthc middcotthosc
crowds, acting somctimcs as crowds and somctimcs as charactcrs,
that thcy do, givc ordcrswhich arc misundcrstood, wrongy obcycd,
hourtohour,inthcmovcmcntsotrcgimcnts andcannonaboutwhich
thc intormation comcs back bcatcd, distortcd, and bctraycd. Jhc
words that thc troops givc to what is happcning aso act as sct-
'victory" or 'cach man tor himsct," this or that part ot thc tront
whathas happcncd is cndcss. Jhc storics bcgun so warmy bctwccn
!abricc and thc cantccn gir at Vatcroo cnd cody in thc archivcs
and manuas, whcrc thcy continuc to inhucncc thc history otLuropc
and to stir crowds, cnthusiasms, and rcsponsibiitics. ^owhcrc can
wccscapctromthc conscgucnccsotthctransationsandtrias,which
morc ccary.
Jhc samc gocs tor that war and pcacc ot thc nicrobcs, which !
havcrccountcdsoskctchiy, aswc wait tor somconcto turnup who
wi dcscribc thc ^atasha ot rabics and thc rincc Andrc otycow
tcvcr. ! had to givc back to thc scicnccs thc crowdothctcrogcncous
aics which makc up thcir troops and otwhich thcy arc mcrcy thc
much-dccoratcd high command whosc tunction is aways unccrtain.
! had to show that thcsc disrcputabc aics hygicnists, drains, Agar
gcs, chickcns, tarms, insccts ota kinds) wcrc an intcgrapartotso-
thctorm otvirus, bactcrium, orvaccinc. Lvcnitatthc hnavotc,thc
momcntotrccognitionbctorcthctribunaothistory, thchandingout
ot mcdas, thosc crowds count tor nothing, wc undcrstand nothing
otthc soidity ota tact itwc do nottakc into account thc unskicd
troops. Don`t bcmistakcn. !, too, ovc thc soidity ottacts,which is
why ! cannot bc contcnt with thosc cctopasms that sccm to hoat
around insidc scicntists` hcads. Jhcy havc no morc 'contcnt" than
thcyhavc socia 'cnvironmcnt.' !tisduringthc battc thatwc rcdis-
tributc thc trias ot strcngth, arbitrariy and tcmporariy, somc as
'contcnt" and othcrs as 'contcxt."Likcthccryot'victory" or 'dc-
tcat,"thisisnota dcscriptionotwhatthcastcuriansdid, butawar
148 War and Peace of Microbes
cry,to drivc back anothcradvcrsary. !twasthatwarcrywhich!was
supposcd to acccpt as thc most iustrious cxampc ot rcason abovc
thctrias ot strcngth, ot a rca scicntihc rcvoution, introduccd into
hygicncandmcdicincbyastcur`sthcory. Andthcrcwcrcpcopcwho
actuaywantcd that cry to rcmain indisputabc.
!n thc bcginning, ! caimcd that ! coud discuss that indisputabc
scicncc and providc an cxpanation otbactcrioogy bccausc ! agrccd
torccognizcittorwhatitis, ancstcdscricsotrcvcrsasinthcbaancc
ot torccs, and bccausc ! agrccd to toow it whcrcvcr it cd and to
whatcvcr groups it constitutcd, crossing as ohcn as ncccssary thc
sacrcd boundary bctwccn 'scicncc" and 'socicty.' avc ! avoidcd
thcthrcc taiurcsthat!indicatcd thcn: socioogicarcductionism,thc
cision ot tcchnica contcnt, and thc usc ot triba words to cxpain
thosc words thcmscvcsr avc ! succccdcdr
mincnomorcbutasono cssthananothcr. Vhat!cannotattributc
to thc astcurians ! do not caim to attributc to mysct. Ny proots
arcno morcirrctutabcthanthcirs, andno css disputabc. !mustgo
ooking tor tricnds and aics, intcrcst thcm, draw thcir attcntion to
what ! havc writtcn-hcrc cxtracts trom my sourccs, thcrc cuturcs
paccd undcr thcir microscopcs-and rcpy in advancc to cnough
obcctionsto convinccthcrcadcr,sothatitwithcnbcmorcdithcut
to makc a statcmcnt as probabc as thosc proposcd hcrc. Jo provc
that thcrc arc no irrctutabc proots is in no way contradictory.
!t rcadcrs considcr this comparison bctwccn thc tccbc torccs ot
thc socioogist and thc grand things otwhich ! spokc basphcmous,
ctthcmcomparcthc torccs, rcsourccs, andpaccstowhichathcsc
pathscad.Jhcrcarcnottwowaysotprovingandconvincing. Jhcrc
is no csscntia dittcrcncc bctwccn thc human or socia scicnccs and
thc cxact or natura scicnccs, bccausc thcrc is no morc scicncc than
thcrc s socicty. ! havc spokcn ot thc astcurians as thcy spokc ot
thcirmicrobcs.Vc givc voicc to thosc whoscsupportisncccssaryto
us. !aithtu transators or untaithtu traduccrsr ^othing is known,
ony rcaizcdthrough a triaotstrcngth. oitics isprobabythc bcst
modcthat wc havc to undcrstand this rcationship bctwccn torccs
or inhdcity, conviction or skcpticism-is thc angle otthc dircction
in which wc wish to go. Ny accountwi sccm convincing ony itit
aLowsrcadcrsto go tastcrinthc dircctionthatthcywantcdto go in
any casc.
Transition 149
!nrccomposingthc torccs thatmadcthosc scicntists grcat andthc
succcssivcmovcmcntsthat madc thcm admirabc, !havc notrcduccd
thcm. n thc contrary, ! havc givcn thcm back to thosc to whom
thcybcong. Vhcrcwcrcthcygoingrastcurandhistoowcrstought
against microbcs, madc towns habitabc, gavc thc nctworks ot hy-
gcnists, surgcons, and army doctorsthc continuitymatthcyackcd.

Iikcsuch acts otprowcss as much as ! ikcthchardncss ottacts. !,

too,havc wcpt, ! admit, whcn rcadingthcir articcs, waking around
thc paccs that thcy rcachcd, and sccing thc cncmicsthat thcywcak-
cncd. utwc arc no ongcr going in thc samc dircction.
!tisatthispointthatthcpath otthcrcvcacrsotmicrobcsandthc
path otpcopc ikc mc part. Vc no ongcrhavc to hghtagainstmi-
crobcs, but againstthcmistortuncsotrcason-andthat,too, makcs
uswccp. Jhisiswhywcnccdothcrproots, othcr actors, othcrpaths,
and is why wc chacngc thosc scicntists. ccausc wc havc othcr in-
unacccptabc, intocrabc, cvcn immora. Vc arc no ongcr, aas, at
thccndotthcninctccnthccntury, thcmostbcautituotccnturics,but
at thc cnd ot thc twcnticth, and a maor sourcc ot pathoogy and
mortaity is rcason itsct-its works, its pomps, and its armamcnts.
Jhissituationwas untorcsccabc, aswas, in I8/0,thcpuuation ot
naturc, scicncc, and socicty by thc tcmporary tormation otthc mi-
crobc-whosc-virucncc-onc-can-vary-in-mc-aboratory, wc must, to
survivc, rcdistributc onc morc timc what bcongs to naturc, thc sci-
cnccs, and socictics. Vhat ! oncc timidy cacd an 'anthropoogy"
or 'cthnography" otthcscicnccshasgraduaychangcditsmcaning.
!trsthadto studysymmctricayathcogicasystcms,thoscotthc
orthc!rcnch cnginccrs. utin graduay discovcringwhat madc up

thc ogca systcms and paths, anthropoogy hnay coapscd. ncc

thcshackcs thathadparayzcd socictyand scicncc wcrc brokcn, wc
coud startto think again aboutthis mostancicntobcct-subcct. thc
scicntihchistorics anda morcccntrarocthaninthcso-cacdsocia
historics. !ndccd, as soon as wc stop rcducing thc scicnccs to a tcw
authoritics that stand in pacc ot thcm, what rcappcars is not ony
150 War and Peace of Microbes
ctcrnay banishcd trom thc Critiguc. !t wc succccd in this cmanci-
pationotthcnonhumanstromthc doubcdominationotsocictyand
scicncc, it wi bc thc hncst rcsut ot that pcrhaps cumsiy bcgun
'anthropoogy otthc scicnccs."
owcvcr, in ordcr to rcach that aim, wc havc to abandon many
intcrmcdiary bcicts: bcict in thc cxistcncc otthc modcrn word, in
thccxistcncc otogic,inthcpowcrotrcason,cvcnnbcictitsctand
inits distinctiontrom knowcdgc. !havctowritc,notasasocioogist
or cvcn as a historian otthc scicnccs, but as a phiosophcr, and to
dchnc thosc trias ot strcngth ot which ! havc madc such cxtcnsivc
usc in this history otmicrobcs.Jhatisthc aimotthc sccondpart ot
this book.
Iurl 1uo
5tudics aboutscicncc and socicty, such as this onc on thc pastcuri-
zation ot!rancc, arc aways mctwith skcpticism. Critics insist that
thcrc is somcthing csc in scicncc, somcthing that cscapcs socia cx-
panation.Ahcrcncountcringthisskcpticismtorycars, lrcaizcdthat
it was not rootcd in any ack ot cmpirica studics though this may
pay somc roc) but stcmmcd trom much dccpcr phiosophica argu-
mcnts about knowcdgc and powcr. Knowing that cmpirica studics
ldccidcdto shitttromthc cmpirica and, as Dcscartcs adviscdus,to
spcndatcwhoursaycarpracticingphiosophy. lndoingso, lguicky
uncarthcd what appcarcdto mcto bc 3 tundamcnta prcsupposition
otthosc who rccct 'socia" cxpanations ot scicncc. Jhis isthc as-
sumptionthattorccis dittcrcnt inkindto rcason, right can ncvcr bc
rcduccd to might. A thcorics ot knowcdgc arc bascd on this pos-
tuatc. 5o ong as it is maintaincd, a socia studics ot scicncc arc
thoughtto bc reductionist andarc hcdto ignorc thc most important
tcaturcs otscicn. Athough, ikc thc postuatcs about parac incs
in Lucidcan gcomctry, it sccmcd absurdto dcnythisprcsupposition,
l dccidcd to scc how knowcdgc and powcr woud ook it no dis-
tinctionwcrcmadcbctwccntorccand rcason. Voudthcskytaon
our hcadsr Voudwc hnd ourscvcs unabc to do usticc to scicnccr
154 Irreductions
Voudwcbc condoning immoraityr rwoudwcbccdtoward an
irreductionist picturc otscicncc and socictyr
rcscmbcs what happcncd to Kobinson Crusoc whcn hc hnay mct
vcrsionotthcmythottcrcdtousbyJournicr I6//I/Z).is story
bows up thc powdcr magazinc and Kobinsonhnds himsctasnakcd
as hc was on his hrst day on thc isand. !or a momcnt hc thinks ot
hc dccidcs to toow !riday and discovcrs thatthcattcrivcs on an
cntircy dittcrcnt isand. Docs !riday ivc ikc a azy savagcr ^o, tor
savagcry and azincss cxist ony by contrast with thc ordcr imposcd
onthcisandby Crusoc. Crusocthinkshcknowsthcoriginotordcr:
thcibc,timckccping, discipinc, andrcgistcrs, and accountbooks.
ut!riday is css ccrtain about what is strong andwhat is ordcrcd.
Crusoc thinks hc can distinguish bctwccn torcc and rcason. As thc
onybcingonhisisand, hcwccpstromoncincss, whic!ridayhnds
otbrothcrs and chums, otwhom ony onc carrics thc namc otman.
Crusocscnscsony onctypcottorcc,whcrcas!ridayhasmanymorc
up his sccvc. lnstcad ot bcginning my phiosophica tract with a
torc start trom !riday`s point ot vcw and sct things irrcduccd and
!or such a vicw l nccd, ikc !riday, no a-priori idcas about what
makcs a torcc, tor it comcs in a shapcs and sizcs. 5omc torccs arc
cvi and uscd to bc associatcd with magic and thc dcvi. thcrs arc
Aristotcian and sccktorcaizcthc shapc thaticswithinthcm. Jhcrc
arc Nathusian orDarwinian torccs which aways want morcotthc
samc and wou!d invadc thc word with thcir cxponcntia growth it
torccs which aways want thc samc thing and travc aongthc samc
tracctorysoongasthcy arccttinpcacc. Jhcrc arc !rcudiantorccs
whichdo notknowwhatthcyusttor-dispacing, substituting, mc-
tamorphosing, orparayzingthcmscvcsasthc nccdariscs.Jhcrcarc
^ictzschcan torccs, stubbornyctpastic,wis otpowcr givingshapc
to thcmscvcs. And a ot thcsc torccs togcthcr scck hcgcmony by
incrcasing, rcducing, or assimiating onc anothcr. Jhis is why thc
ungc with its tangc ottorccs grows across thc isand.
Introduction 155
Jotoow ths argumcnt, wc shoud not dccdc apror what thc
statc ot torccs w bc bctorchand or what w count as a torcc. !t
thc word 'torcc" appcars too mcchanca or too bccosc, thcn wc
can tak ot wcakncss. !t s bccausc wc gnorc what w rcsst and
whatwnotrcsstthatwchavc totouch andcrumbc, gropc, carcss,
andbcnd,wthoutknowngwhcnwhatwctouchwycd, strcngthcn,
wcakcn, or unco kc a sprng. ut sncc wc a pay wth dttcrcnt
hcds ottorcc and wcakncss, wc do not know thc statc ottorcc, and
ths gnorancc may bc thc ony thng wc havc n common.
ncpcrson, tor nstancc, kcs to paywth wounds. c cxccsn
toowng accratons to thc pont whcrc thcy rcsst and uscs catgut
undcr thc mcroscopc wth a thc sk at hs command to scw thc
cdgcs togcthcr. Anothcr pcrson kcs thc ordca ot battc. c ncvcr
knows bctorchand tthc trontw wcakcn or gvc way. c kcs to
rcntorcc t at a strokc by dspatchng trcsh troops. c kcs to scc
hs troops mct awaybctorcthc guns andthcn scchowthcyrcgroup
n thc shctcr ot a dtch to changc thcr wcakncss nto strcngth and
turnthc cncmy coumnnto a scattcrngrabbc. Jhswomankcs to
studythc tccngs that shc sccs onthc taccs otthc chdrcnwhom shc
trcats. 5hc kcs to usc a word to soothc worrcs, a cuddc to scttc
tcars thathavcgrppcda mnd. 5omctmcsthc tcars so grcatthatt
shc w gct angry or ht thc chd. Jhcn shc says a tcw words that
dspc thc angush and turn t nto hts ot aughtcr. Jhs s how shc
gvcs scnsc to thc words 'rcsst" or 'gvcway."Jhs s thc matcra
trom whch shc carns thc mcanng otthc word 'rcaty.` 5omconc
cscmghtkcto manpuatcscntcnccs: mountngwords,asscmbng
thcm, hodng thcm togcthcr, watchng thcm acgurc mcanng trom
thcr ordcr or osc mcanngbccausc otamspaccd word. Jhs sthc
matcra to whch shc attachcs hcrsct, and shc kcs nothng morc
thanwhcnthc words startto kntthcmscvcs togcthcrsothattsno
ongcrpossbcto addawordwthoutrcsstancc tromathc othcrs.
Arc words torccs r Arc thcy capabc othghtng, rcvotng, bctrayng,
payng, or kingr Ycs ndccd, kc a matcras, thcy may rcsst or
gvc way. !t s matcras that dvdc us, not what wc do wth thcm.
!t you tc mc what you tcc whcn you wrcstc wth thcm, ! w
rccognzcyouas an atcrcgo cvcntyourntcrcsts arctotaytorcgn
to mc.
nc pcrson, tor cxampc, kcs whtc saucc n thc way that thc
othcr ovcs scntcnccs. c kcs to watch thc mxturc ot Iour and
156 Irreductions
buttcrchangingasmikiscarctuy addcdtoit.Asatistyingysmooth
pastc rcsuts, which Iows in strips and can bc pourcd onto gratcd
chccsc to makc a saucc. c ovcs thc cxcitcmcnt otudgingwhcthcr
thc guantitics arc ust right, whcthcr thc timc ot cooking is corrcct,
whcthcrthcgasispropcryadustcd.Jhcsctorccsarc ustassippcry,
risky, and important as any othcrs. Jhc ncxt pcrson docs not ikc
cooking, which hc hnds unintcrcsting. Norc than anything csc hc
ovcs to watch thc rcsistancc and thc tatc ot ccs in Agar gcs. c
ikcs thcrapidmovcmcntwhcn hcsowsinvisibctraccswithapipcttc
in thc Ictri dishcs. A his cmotions arc invcstcd in thc tuturc othis
on dishcs J5 and IZ, and his whoc carccr is attachcd to thc tcw
mutants abc to rcsist thc drcadtu ordca to which thcy havc bccn
subcctcd.!orhimthisis 'mattcr,"thisiswhcrc|acobwrcstcswith
thc Angc. Lvcrything csc is unrca, sincc hc sccs othcrs manipuatc
mattcrthat hc docs not tcc himsct. Anothcr rcscarchcr tccs happy
onywhcnhc cantranstorm apcrtcctmachincthatsccmsimmutabc
tocvcryonccscinto adisordcry associationottorccswithwhichhc
can pay around. Jhc wing ot thc aircratt is aways in tront ot thc
aicron, but hc rcncgotiatcs thc obvious and movcs thc wing to thc
back. c spcnds ycars tcsting thc soidity otthc aianccs that makc
in paticncc or angcr. Anothcrpcrson cnoys ony thc gcntc tcar ot
bcingsappcd, hndinghimscttrappcd, orsuccccding. cmaywastc
wccks mapping thc contours ot a way to attain cach woman. c
5owc do notvaucthc samcmatcrias,butwcikcto dothcsamc
thingswiththcm-that is,tocarnthcmcaningotstrong andwcak,
rcaandunrca, associatcd or dissociatcd. Vc argucconstanty with
onc anothcr about thc rcativc importancc ot thcsc matcrias, thcir
signihcanccandthcir ordcrotprcccdcncc, butwctorgctthatthcyarc
thc same sizcandthatnothingismorccompcx,mutipc, rca,pap-
abc, or intcrcsting than anything csc. Jhis matcriaism wi causc
thcprctty matcriaisms otthc past to tadc. Viththcir aycrs otho-
mogcncous mattcr and torcc, thosc past matcriaisms wcrc so purc
that thcy bccamc amostimmatcria.
^o,wc do not knowwhattorccsthcrcarc, northcir baancc.Vc
do notwantto rcducc anything to anything csc. Vc wantinstcad,
ikc!riday, to tcc thc isand and to cxporcthc ungc.
Introduction I57
Jhis tcxt toowsoncpath,howcvcrbizarrcthc conscgucnccs and
contraryto custom. hat happcns whcn nothing is rcduccd to any-
thing cscr Vhat happcns whcn wc suspcnd our knowcdgc otwhat
a torcc isr Vhat happcns whcn wc do not know how thcir way ot
rcatingto onc anothcr is changingr Vhat happcns whcnwc givcup
this burdcn, this passion, this indignation, this obscssion,this Iamc,
this tury, this dazzing aim, this cxccss, this insanc dcsirc to rcducc
Chuplcr !
From Weakness
to Potency
I. I. I ^othingis,byitsct,cithcrrcducibcorirrcducibctoanything
! wi ca this thc 'principc ot irrcducibiity", but it is a princc
thatdocsnotgovcrnsinccthatwoudbcasct-contradiction Z.6. I) .
I. I.2 Jhcrcarconytriasotstrcngth,otwcakncss.rmorcsimpy,
thcrcarc ony trias. Jhis is my point otdcparturc: avcrb, 'to try."
I. I.3 !tis bccausc nothing is, by itsct, rcducibc or irrcducibc to
anything csc that thcrc arc ony trias ot strcngth, ot wcakncss) .
Vat is ncithcr rcducibc nor irrcducibc has to bc tcstcd, countcd,
and mcasurcd. Jhcrc is no othcr way.
I. I.4 Lvcrythingmaybcmadcto bcthcmcasurcotcvcrythingcsc.
I. I.5 Vatcvcr rcsists trias isrca.
Jhcvcrb 'rcsist" is not aprivicgcdword. !uscitto rcprcscntthc
From Weakness to Potency I5
whoc cocction ot vcrbs and adcctivcs, toos and instrumcnts,
which togcthcr dchnc thc ways ot bcing rca. Vc coud cguay
wc say 'curdc", 'tod", 'obscurc", 'sharpcn", 'sidc." Jhcrc
arc dozcns otatcrnativcs.
1. 1.5.1 Jhcrcaisnotoncthingamongothcrs butrathcrgradicnts
1. 1.5.2 Jhcrcis no dittcrcnccbctwccnthc'rca" andthc 'unrca",
thc'rca"andthc'possibc",thc'rca"andthc'imaginary. "Kathcr,
thcrcarc a thc dittcrcnccs cxpcricnccd bctwccnthosc thatrcsisttor
ong and thoscthat do not, thosc that rcsistcouragcousy and thosc
that do not, thosc that know how to ay or isoatc thcmscvcs and
thosc that do not.
1. 1.5.3 ^o torcc can, as itis ottcnput, 'knowrcaity," othcrthan
through thc dittcrcncc it crcatcs in rcsistingothcrs.
!n thc oddays itwoudhavc bccn saidthattorccand knowcdgc
yicds to rcasons otthc strongcst. " ^othingis known-ony rcaizcd.
1.1.6 A shapc is thc trontinc ota tria otstrcngth that dc-torms,
itno ongcr appcars to bc a tria otstrcngth.
1. 1.7 Vhat is a torccr Vho is itr Vhat is it capabc otr !s it a
subcct, tcxt, obcct, cncrgy, or thingr ow many torccs arc thcrcr
Vo is strong and who is wcakr !s this a battcr !s this a gamcr !s
this a markctr A thcsc gucstions arc dchncd anddctormcdony in
turthcr trias.
!n pacc ot 'torcc" wc may tak ot'wcakncsscs", 'cntccchics",
'monads", ormorcsimpy'actants. "
1.1.8 ^oactanti ssowcak thati tcannot cnist anothcr. Jhcn thc
two ointogcthcr and bccomc onc tor athi1d actant, which thcy can
thcrctorc movc morc casiy. An cddy is tormcd, and it grows by
bccoming many othcrs.
160 Irreductions
!s an actant csscncc or rcationr Vc cannot tc without a tria
I. I.5.Z). Jostopthcmscvcsbcingswcptaway,csscnccsmayrcatc
thcmscvcs to many aics, and rcations to many csscnccs
1. 1.9 An actantcan gain strcngth ony byassociatingwith othcrs.
Jhus it spcaksinthcir namcs.Vhydon`tthcothcrs spcaktor thcm-
scvcsr ccausc thcy arc mutc, bccausc thcy havc bccn sicnccd, bc-
intcrprcts thcm and spcaks in thcir pacc. ut whor Vho spcaksr
Jhcm or itr Traditore-traduttore. nccguasscvcra. !tcannotbc
dctcrmincd. !tthchdcityotthc actant is gucstioncd, it can dcmon-
stratc that it ust rcpcats what thc othcrs wantcd it to say. !t ottcrs
an cxcgcsis on thc statc ot torccs, which cannot bc contcstcd cvcn
provisionay without anothcr aiancc.
1.1.10 Actasyouwish, soong asthiscannotbccasiyundonc.As
a rcsut ot thc actants` work, ccrtain things do not rcturn to thcir
origina statc. A shapc is sct, ikc a crcasc. !t can bc cacd a trap, a
word docs not mattcr so ong as it dcsignatcs an asymmctry. Jhcn
you cannot act as you wish. Jhcrc arc winncrs and oscrs, thcrc arc
dircctions, and somc arc madc strongcr than othcrs.
1. 1. 11 Lvcrythingis stiat stakc. owcvcr, sinccmanypaycrsarc
trying to makc thc gamc irrcvcrsibc and doing cvcrything thcy can
to cnsurc that cvcrything is not cguaypossibc, thc gamc is ovcr.
omagc to thc Masters of Go Kawabata: I/Z) .
1.1.12 Jocrcatcanasymmctry,anactantnccdonycanonatorcc
sighty morc durabc than itsct. Lvcn it this dittcrcncc is tiny, it is
cnoughto crcatc agradicnt otrcsistanccthat makcsthcmbothmorc
rca tor anothcr actant i. I.5) .
1.1.13 Vc cannot say that an actant toows rucs, aws, or struc-
turcs, but ncithcr can wc say that it acts without thcsc. y carning
trom what thc othcr actants do, it graduay caboratcs rucs, aws,
and structurcs. Jhcn it sccks to makc thc othcrs pay by thcsc rucs
whichit caimstohavccarncd, obscrvcd,or rcccivcd. !titwins,thcn
it vcrihcs thcm and has thcrcby appicd thcm.
!s any givcn ordcr a convcntion, a socia construction, a aw ot
Frm Weakness to Potency 161
naturc, or a structurc otthc human mindr Vc cannot say. ut in
ovc as in war a is tair in thc attcmpt to attach thc rucs to
somcthingmorc durabc than thc momcntthatinspircdthcm.
1. 1. 14 ^othing is by itsct ordcrcd or disordcrcd, uniguc or mu-
tipc, homogcncous or hctcrogcncous, huid or incrt, human or in-
human, usctu or usccss. ^cvcr byitsct, but aways by othcrs.
5ptnozasatdttongago. sotar asshapes arcconccrncd, ctusnot
bc anthropomorphtc. Lachwcakncssdistributcs a compctc rangc
otrocs. Dcpcnding on what it cxpccts trom thc othcrs, it distin-
guishcsthc stabc andthc ordcrcdtromthc shapccss andthcmov-
ing. ut sincc thc othcrs a distributc rocs as wc, a bcautitu
tangc cnsucs. 5ti, itis comprchcnsibcwhy cntccchics maymis-
1. 1.14.1 rdcr is cxtractcd nottrom disordcr but trom ordcrs.
Vc aways makc thc samc mistakc. Vc distinguish bctwccn thc
barbarous andthc civiizcd, thcconstructcdandthcdissovcd,thc
ordcrcd and thc disordcrcd. Vc arc aways amcnting dccadcncc
and thc dissoution otmoras. ad uck| Attia spcaks Grcck and
Latin, punks drcss with thc samc carc as Coco Chanc, paguc

thc gusto ota Ioppcr. ^omattcrhowtarwc go,

thcrc arc aways torms, within cach hsh thcrc arc ponds tu ot
hsh. 5omc bcicvcthcmscvcsto bcthc modswhicothcrsarc thc
rawmatcria, but this isatormotcitism.ln ordcrto cnroatorcc
wc must conspirc with it. lt can ncvcr bc punchcd out ikc shcct
mcta or pourcd as in a cast.
1.1.15 'Lvcrything is ncccssary" and 'cvcrything is contingcnt"
mcan thc samc thing-that is nothing. Jhc words 'ncccssary" or
'contingcnt" gain mcaning ony whcn thcy arc uscd in thc hcat ot
thcmomcnt to dcscribc gradicnts otrcsistancc-that is, rcaity.
Jhccngth ot Ccopatra`s nosc is ncithcrsignihcant nor insignih
cant. Circumstanccsdctcrminc, tor atimc, thcrcativcimportancc
otwhatcvcritisthatmakcsthcmup. Chanccandncccssitycannot
bc aocatcd thcir rocs in advancc.
11. 16 VhatisthcsamcandwhatisdittcrcntrVhatiswithwhomr
Vhat is opposcdoraicdorintimatcrVhatcontinucs, stops,aban-
162 Irreductions
dons, hastcns, or attachcs itsctr Jhcsc arc common gucstions, ycs,
common toatriaswhcthcrwctawn,tastc,unravc,pait,oin,crasc,
or addrcss.
1.2.1 ^othing is, by itsct, thc samc as ordittcrcnttrom anything
csc. Jhatis, thcrc arc no cguivacnts, ony transations.
ln othcrwords, cvcrythinghappcns ony oncc, and at onc pacc.
lt thcrc arc idcntitics bctwccn actants, this is bccausc thcy havc
bccn constructcd at grcat cxpcnsc. ltthcrc arc cguivacnccs, this is
bccauscthcy havc bccn buit out otbits and picccs with much toi
and swcat, and bccausc thcy arc maintaincd by torcc. lt thcrc arc
cxchangcs, thcsc arc aways uncgua and cost a tortunc both to cs-
tabish and to maintain.
l ca this thc 'principc otrcativity."|ustasitis not possibc tor
onc obscrvcrto communicatcwith anothcrmorcguickythanthc
spccd ot ight, thc bcst that can bc donc bctwccn actants is to
transatc thc onc into thc othcr. Jhcrc is nothing bctwccn incom-
mcnsurabcandirrcducibctorccs. nocthcr, noinstantancousncss.
lt is truc that this principc ot rcativity aims to rccstabish thc
incguivacncc ot actants,whcrcasthc othcr principcwas dcsigncd
to rcstorc thc cguivacncc ot a obscrvcrs. ln both, howcvcr, wc
havcto gct uscdto brcathing inthc abscncc otthccthcr. Jhcstutt
otwhich l spcakisrarc, dispcrscd, andmostycmpty. Gathcrings,
towns onthc map ot a country.
Interlude 1 : In a Pseudoautobiographical Style to Explain the
Aims of the Author
I taught at Gray in the French provinces for a year. At the end of the winter
of 1972, on the road from Dijon to Gray, I was forced to stop, brought to
my senses after an overdose of reductionism. A Christian loves a God who
is capable of reducing the world to himself because he created it. A Catholic
confnes the world to the history of the Roman salvation. An astronomer
looks for the origins of the universe by deducing its evoluton from the Big
Bang. A mathematician seeks axioms that imply all the others as corrolaries
and consequences. A philosopher hopes to fnd the radical foundation which
makes all the rest epiphenomenal. A Hegelian wishes to squeeze from events
something already inherent in them. A Kantian reduces things to grains of
dust and then reassembles them with synthetic a-priori judgments that are
as fecund as a mule. A French engineer attributes potency to calculations,
From Weakness to Potency I6J
though these come from the practice of an old-boy network. An administrator
never tires of looking for offcers, followers, and subjects. An intellectual
strives to make the "simple" practices and opinions of the vulgar explicit
and conscious. A son of the bourgeoisie sees the simple stages of an abstract
cycle of wealth in the vine growers, cellarmen, and bookkeepers. A Westerner
never tires of shrinking the evolution of species and empires to Cleopatra's
nose, Achilles' heel, and Nelson's blind eye. A writer tries to recreate daily
life and imitate nature. A painter is obsessed by the desire to render feelings
into colors. A follower of Roland Barthes tries to turn everything not only
into texts but into signifers alone. A man likes to use the term "he" in place
of humanity. A militant hopes that revolution will wrench the future from
the past. A philosopher sharpens the "epistemological break" to guillotine
those who have not yet "found the sure path of a science. " An alchemist
would like to hold the philosopher's stone in his hand.
To put everything into nothing, to deduce everything from almost nothing,
to put into hierarchies, to command and to obey, to be profound or superior,
to collect objects and force them into a tiny space, whether they be subjects,
signifers, classes, Gods, axioms-to have for companions, like those of my
caste, only the Dragon of Nothingness and the Dragon of Totality. Tired
and weary, suddenly I felt that everything was still left out. Christian, phi
losopher, intellectual, bourgeois, male, provincial, and French, I decided to
make space and allow the things which I spoke about the room that they
needed to "stand at arm's length." I knew nothing, then, of what I am writing
now but simply repeated to myself: "Nothing can be reduced to anything
else, nothing can be deduced from anything else, everything may be allied
to everything else." This was like an exorcism that defeated demons one by
one. It was a wintry sky, and a very blue. I no longer needed to prop it up
with a cosmology, put it in a picture, render it in writing, measure it in a
meteorological article, or place it on a Titan to prevent it falling on my head.
I added it to other skies in other places and reduced none of them to it, and
it to none of them. It "stood at arm's length," fed, and established itself
where it alone defned its place and its aims, neither knowable nor unknow
able. It and me, them and us, we mutually defned ourselves. And for the
frst time in my life I saw things unreduced and set free.
1.2.2 Lntccchics agrcc about nothingandcanagrcconcvcrything,
tor nothing is, in and otitsct, cithcr commcnsurabc or incommcn-
surabc. Vhatcvcr thc agrccmcnt, thcrc is aways somcthing upon
which disagrccmcnt maytccd.Vhatcvcrthc distancc,thcrcisaways
somcthing upon which an undcrstanding may bc buit. Jo put it
anothcr way, cvcrything is ncgotiabc.
'^cgotiation" is not a badword so ong as it is undcrstoodthat
164 Irreductions
otthc dccgatcs. Dccisions aso havc to bc madc on what thc nc-
what anguagc wi bc spokcn, and how whcthcr wc havc bccn
undcrstoodornotwibcdctcrmincd.Vasitabattc, accrcmony,
a discussion,oragamcr Jhis isaso amattcrotdisputc, adisputc
that continucs unti a thc cntccchics arc dchncd and havc thcm-
scvcs dchncd thc othcrs. !t is to dispay thcsc ncgotiations that !
nccd a !icd otthc Coth otGod.
1.2.3 owmanyactantsarcthcrcrJhiscannotbcdctcrmincdunti
thcyhavc bccn mcasurcd against cach othcr.
! havc not yct said how many wc wcrc: 50 miion !rcnchmcn, a
singc ccosystcm, Z0 biion ncurons, thrcc or tour typcs otchar-
actcr, a singc 'mc, !, mc, !." Vc cannot count thc numbcr ot
torccs, dccidc thatthcrc is a unguc substancc, two socia casscs,
thrcc graccs, tourccmcnts, scvcn dcadysins, ortwcvcapostcs.
Vccannotadd up a tota. !n this pccuiar arithmctic no onc cvcr
subtracts.Vc add as many subtotas asthcrcarc accountants. Jhcrc arc ncithcr whocs nor parts. ^cithcr is thcrc har-
mony, composition,intcgration,orsystcm ( 1. 1. 14) . ow somcthing
hods togcthcr is dctcrmincd onthc hcd otbattc, tor no onc agrccs
who shoud obcy andwho command, who shoud bcapartandwho
mony is poslcstabishcd ocaythrough tinkcring.
1.2.4 Vcdonotknowwhcrcanactantistobctound.Jhcdchnition
otits ocation is a primordia struggc, during which many gct ost.
Vc can ony saythat somc ocatc and othcrs arc ocatcd. Jhough paccs atc distant, irrcducibc, and unsummabc,
thcy arc ncvcrthccssconstantybroughttogcthcr,unitcd, addcd up,
aigncd, and subcctcd to ways and mcans. !t it wcrc not tor thcsc
ways and mcans, no paccwoud cad to any othcr.
1.2.5 !orccsthat aythcmscvcs inthc courscotatria arc saidto
bcdurabc. Lachcntccchygcncratcstimcstorothcrsbyayingwith
From Weakness to Potency 165
orbctrayingthcm. 'Jimc" ariscs atthc cnd otthis gamc, a gamc in
which most osc what thcy havc stakcd.
!s this momcnt bctorc or is it attcrr !s it ovcrtakcn, prophctic,
obsoctc, dccadcnt, contcmporary, provisiona, or ctcrnar Jhis
cannot bc dctcrmincd in advancc. !t has to bc ncgotiatcd. Jimcisthcdistantconscgucnccsotactorsasthcycachscck
tocrcatcatait accompi onthcirownbchatthat cannotbcrcvcrscd
I. I. I0) . !n this waytimcpasscs. Jimc docs not pass. Jimcsarcwhatarc at stakc bctwccn
torccs. t coursc, onc torcc may ovcrtakc thc othcrs, but this can
onybcocaandtcmporarybccauscpcrmancncc costs toomuch and
rcguircs too many aics. !t is ottcn said in !rancc that 'thcrc arc" rcvoutions, but
thcsc arc ony actors which takc thcir capacity to makc timc and
history trom othcr actors and thcrcby pass thc othcrs by and makc
and thus upsctthc ordcr ottimcs oncc morc.
Vho, thcn,isthcmostmodcrn-thc 5hah,Khomcini,thcNusim
trom anothcr agc, or ani-5adr, thc Ircsidcnt, who has sought
rctugc in Iarisr ^o onc knows, and this is why thcy struggc so
much to makc thcir timc. Jhc trccst ot a dcmocracics rcigns bctwccn instants. ^o
instantcan crown, crippc, ustity, rcpacc, orimitany othcr. Jhcrc
is no ast momcnt to condcmn a thosc that camc bctorc.
Jimcs arc irrcducibc, and this is why 'dcath" has aways bccn
condcmn itc.
1.2.6 5pacc and timc do not tramc cntccchics. Jhcyony bccomc
tramcworks otdcscriptiontor thoscactantsthathavcsubmittcd, o-
cayandprovisionay, to thchcgcmonyotanothcr.
Jhcrcisthcrctorc atimcottimcs and aspaccotspaccs, andsoon
unucvcghasbccnncgouatcd.omagctoIcguy`sClo II4).
1.2.7 Lach cntccchy dchncs: what ics insidc itand what outsidc,
which othcr actors itwi bcicvc whcn it dccidcswhat bcongs to it
166 Irreductions
and what docs not, and which kinds ot trias it wi usc to dccidc
whcthcror not to bcicvc thcsc rctcrccs.
Lcibnizwasrightto saythatmonadshavcncithcr doorsnorwin-
dows, torthcyncvcr comc out otthcmscvcs. owcvcr, thcy arc
thc ncgotiators wi bc, and about what thcy ought to do. As a
rcsutthcycndup ikcchimcras, unabctodctcrmincwhich isthc
door and which thc window, which is stagc ctt and which stagc
right. Jhcrc is no cxtcrna rctcrcnt. Kctcrcnts arc aways intcrna
to thc torccs that usc thcm astouchstoncs.
1.2. 7.2 Jhcprincipc otrcaityisothcr pcopc.
itsctbccauscthc rcaarcgradicntsotrcsistancc I. I.5) . An actant
thcrctorcncvcrstopsncgotiatingthcnumbcr,thc gradicnt, andthc
naturc ot thcsc dittcrcnccs, thc numbcr, thc authority, and thc
wcight ot thosc who ncgotiatc, thc numbcr, thc guaity, and thc
rciabiity otthc touchstoncs that thcy wi usc to udgc thc crcd-
ibiity otthc rctcrccs.
1.2.8 Lvcrycntccchymakcsawhocwordtoritsct.ltocatcsitsct
and a thc othcrs, it dccidcs which torccs it is composcd ot, it gcn-
cratcs its own timc, it dcsignatcs thosc who wi bc its principc ot
rcaity.lttransatcsathcothcrtorccsonitsownbchat, anditsccks
to makc thcm acccpt thc vcrsion otitsctthat it woud ikc thcmto
^ictzschc cacdthis 'cvauation," and Lcibniz 'cxprcssion."
1.2.9 ls it a torcc otwhich wc spcakr ls it a torcc that spcaksr ls
it an actormadc to spcak by anothcrr ls it an intcrprctation or thc
obcct itsctr ls it a tcxt or a wordr Vc cannot tc, bccausc this is
what wc struggc about, thc buiding ot a whocword.
Vhat thosc who usc hcrmcncutics, cxcgcsis, or scmiotics say ot
tcxts can bc said ot a wcakncsscs. !or a ong timc it has bccn
a mattcr tor intcrprctation. Vhy not acccpt that this is aso truc
cacd obccts thcmscvcsr
Frm Weakness to Potency 167
1.2. 10 ^othingcscapcsthcprimordiatrias.ctorcncgotiationwc
havc no idca what kind ottrias thcrc wi bc-whcthcr thcy can bc
thought otas conIict, gamc, ovc, history, cconomy, oritc.^cithcr
do wc know whcthcr thcy arc primordia or sccondary bctorc wc
cntcr thc arcna. !inay, wc cannot tc unti thc cnd whcthcr thcy
havc bccn ncgotiatcd or wcrc rcccivcd at birth, ctchcd into thc skin
1.2. 11 Vc must not bcicvc in advancc that wc knowwhcthcrwc
arc taking about subccts or obccts, mcn or gods, animas, atoms,
or tcxts. ! havc not yct said, tor this is prcciscy what is at stakc
bctwccn torccs: who spcaks, and otwhatr
Vc shoud not hurry to dividc'naturc"trom'cuturc." 5caops
aso hnd that naturc is a harsh taskmastcr-hostic, nourishing,
proIigatc-bccausc hsh, hshcrmcn, and thc rocks to which thcy
attach thcmscvcs havc cnds that dittcr trom thosc ot scaops.
1.2.12 ^othingis,byitsct,cithcrknowabcorunknowabc,sayabc
or unsayabc, ncar or tar. Lvcrything is transatcd. Vhat coud bc
1.2. 13 !t cvcrything wc havc to writc about is to bc dcbatcd and
wc spcak ot trias ot strcngth, wc must avoid using any tcrms that
h thc rcationship to thc advantagc ot onc sidc orthc othcr. !tthis
is not possibc, wc shoud at cast try to writc a tcxt that docs not
takc timc and spacc but providcs itinstcad.
1.3.1 A cntccchics may mcasurc and bc thc mcasurc ota othcr
cntccchics I . I . I4) . ^cvcrthccss, ccrtain torccs constanty try to
mcasurc rathcr than bc mcasurcd and to transatc rathcr than bc
transatcd. Jhcywishtoactrathcrthanbcactcdupon. Jhcywishto
bc strongcr than thc othcrs.
! havc said 'ccrtain" rathcr than 'a" as in ^ictzschc`s bcicosc
myth. Nost actants arc too tar apart or too indittcrcnt to risc to
that spcak in thcir namc, and too happy and proud to takc com-
mandotothcrs. !nthiswork!spcakonyotthoscwcakncsscsthat
want to incrcasc thcir strcngth. Jhc irrcducibc othcrs havc nccd
otpocts rathcrthan phiosophcrs.
168 Irreductions
1.3.2 Givcnthatactants arcincommcnsurabc andthatcachmakcs
aword as argc and compctcasanyothcr, howdocsithappcnthat
onc bccomcs morc than anothcrr y caiming to bc scvcra, by as-
sociating I. I.) .
1.3.3 5incc nothing is, in and ot itsct, cithcr cguivacnt, or not
cguivacnt I.2. I) , two torccs cannot associatc without misundcr-
Lntcntc, arrangcmcnt, compromisc, ncgotiation, schcmc, combi-
dcrogatory and bcicvc that thcy conhict with morc pcrtcct torms
ot association tai to undcrstand that it is ncvcr possibc to do
bcttcr, both bccausc thcrc is no cguivacncc 2.2. I) and bccausc
nothingis,byitsct,cithcrrcducibcorirrcducibcto anythingcsc
I. I. I) .
1.3.4 Athoughacntccchicsarc'cguay"activc,thcymayappcar
to bc in two statcs: dominating or dominatcd, acting on or actcd
but ony that onc torcc may act as it anothcr wcrc passivc and
obcdicnt I. I. I4). !or thc passvc torcc, ot coursc, thc point ot
obcdicncc,tcnthousandtorwishingto bcdominatcd, andahundrcd
thousand tor rcmaining sicnt-rcasons that arc ncvcr suspcctcd
by thosc who bcicvcthcy arc scrvcd.
1.3.5 5inccanactantcanbccomcgrcatcrthananothcronybybcing
thconcwho dchncsthc naturc otthc associationwithout bcing con-
tradictcd takcs contro.
Vhcrctwo torccsprocaimthcmscvcstobcunitcd, onyoncspcaks,
whcrctwo torccs makcs an cxchangcthcy dccmto bc cgua, onc
awaysdctcrmincs who dchncsthcthingcxchangcd,howcguaity
is mcasurcd, andwhcnthc cxchangc has takcn pacc.
1.3.6 5inccnothingiscguivacnt,tobcstrongistomakccguivacnt
whatwas not. lnthis way scvcra act as onc.
'Aning docs notgo."Discourscsand associations arcnotcguiv-
Frm Weakness to Potency 169
acnt, bccausc aics and argumcnts arc cnistcdprcciscy so that
onc association wi bc strongcr than anothcr. !t a discoursc
appcarsto bccguivacnt,itthcrcsccmto bc'anguagcgamcs"and
nothing morc, thcn somconc has bccn unconvincing. Jhis is thc
wcak point ot thc rcativists. Jhcy tak ony about torccs that arc
incapabc ot aying thcmscvcs with othcrs in ordcr to convincc
and win. y rcpcating 'anything gocs," thcy miss thc work that
gcncratcs incguivacncc and asymmctry I. I. II) .
1. 3.7 5inccnothingi scommcnsurabcorincommcnsurabc I. 1.4),
thc morc activc is thc onc that is abc to dchnc thc mcchanisms ot
Jhcrc arc acts otdittcrcntiation andidcntihcation, not dittcrcnccs
and idcntitics I. I. I6) . Jhc words 'samc" and 'othcr" arc thc
conscgucnccs ottrias ot strcngth, dctcats andvictorics. Jhcy can-
notthcmscvcs dcscribc thcsc inks.
Interlude II: Showing What a Relief It Is
to Stop Reducing Things
Sometimes when the sun shines on the roughened concrete of the Salk In
stitute, we stop hurrying about and using up time. We sit on our doorstep
and let each branch of the tree of times unfold as far as it can. "Nothing is
by itself either reducible or irreducible to anything else," we say of all those
who reduce, destroy, replace, deduce, permutate, explain, cause, redeem,
restore, involve, determine, exchange, and buy. The tree of tiJles, the trees
of times, the forest of trees of times. Nothing is changed, yet the position of
each force, each entelechy, each actor changes so completely that we breathe
an air that we did not know we were missing before.
At these moments it is not the being as being that reveals itself. This
business of being as being has become quite incongruous now that each
entelechy has all the differences it needs to make a whole world for itself.
The tide has changed. Before there were only things that had been reduced
and things that did the reducing, with a residual being who rattled around
in our heads like a pea in a pod. Does this mean there is fusion, ataraxia,
or lack of differentiation? No, of course not! All the differences are there.
Not a single one is missing. And all the attempts to reduce, produce, simplify,
hierarchize, totalize, or destroy them are likewise there, like so many differ
ences which add themselves to those that they wished to suppress.
Nothing pardons, makes amends for, atones, balances, succeeds, subsumes,
concludes, summarizes, or submits to itself. And yet we should indeed speak
about a state of grace. Everything is light, for nothing has the power to bring
about the dizzy fall of anything else. Yes, freedom to go, freedom to do,
170 Irreductions
freedom to pass, freedom to let go. The seagull, far from its name, far from
its species, in its own world of air, sea, and favored fsh; the fsh far from
its shoals, far from the gull and its beak, innocent in the icy water; the water
that gathers together and shapes itself, mixed by the winds, knotted by the
currents, heaving and breaking itself onto the beach; the oceanographer
tured frogman who dives into the La Jolla submarine canyon; the managing
director who produces Jaws Uafter Jaws and sells fear of the deep and the
shadow of sharks-all are innocent. Innocent? No. Neither innocent nor
guilty. Marked, inscribed, unpardonable. When the tree of times is left to
grow, the act and its consequences are separated, and each becomes the
means and the end of the other. It is thus impossible to atone for a means
with an end, for a life of crime with a prayer, for a man with his children,
for a managing director with his bank account. No equivalences, no market.
We can neither die nor conquer death. There is room for the one who has
lived, for the day of her death, for the bullet of the killer, for the inquiry
that leads to no conclusion, for the memory of those who speak of the dead
friend. Nothing sums up those places, nothing explains them, nothing justifes
them. Innocent? No, since we have gone beyond the distinction between the
innocent and the guilty made by the erection of the scaffold. Incomprehen
sible? No, since we are beyond operations that establish, day after day, what
we understand and what we do not know. The bird, far from its name, flies
from the name that I give it, but continues to fly in treatises on zoology and
the poems of St. John Perse. The gull is in its sky, irreducible to ours, but
the language of the taxonomist is in the books, itself irreducible to any gull
ever dreamed of, living or dead.
1.4.1 Ccrtainactantstcstthcirstrcngthagainstothcrs, dccarcthcm
to bc passivc, and makc an aiancc with thcm thatthcythcmscvcs
scvcs stcp bystcp trom passivc actor to passivc actor.
Vctooottcntcndtostartwith 'cxchangcs," 'cguaitics," andthc
'transtcr" otcguivacnts. utwcncvcrtak about thcprciminary
workinwhich thcsc cguivacnts arc torgcd. !t is as itwc spokc ot
roadnctworks butncvcr otcivicnginccring. owcvcr,thcrcis as
bctwccn drivingan automobic and buiding a trccway.
1.4.2 Vhcnoncwcakncss cnistsothcrs, ittormsanctworksoong
as it is abc to rctain thc privicgc otdchning thcir association.
!n a nctwork ccrtainvcry distant points can hnd thcmscvcs con-
ncctcd, whist othcrs that wcrc ncighbors arc tar rcmovcd trom
onc anothcr. Jhough cach actor is oca, it can movc trom pacc
From Weakness to Potency 171
topacc, at castasongasitisabcto ncgotiatc cguivacnccs that
makc oncpaccthcsamcas anothcr.Anctworkcanthusbc'guitc
gcncra"withoutcvcrhavingto pass througha'univcrsa. "ow-
cvcr rarchcd and convoutcd a nctwork may bc, it ncvcrthccss
rcmains oca and circumscribcd, thin and tragic, intcrspcrscd by
spacc. Vc shoud imaginc hamcntikc cntccchics, spun out and
intcrwovcn with onc anothcr I.2./),which arc incapabc othar-
mony bccausc cach onc dchncs thc sizc, thc tcmpo, and thc or-
chcstration otthis harmony.
1.4.3 ctwccnoncnctworkand anothcr, asbctwccnonctorccand
anothcr(1.2./),nothingis byitsctcithcrcommcnsurabcorincom-

mcnsurabc. Jhus wc ncvcr cmcrgc trom a nctworkno mattcr how

tarit cxtcnds.
!t is tor this rcason that onc can bc Commandant at Auschwitz,
anoivctrccatCortu,apumbcrinKochcstcr, ascaguinthc!scs
inAdcic Land, oncotKoch`s baccii at Damicttc, andso on. Lach
nctwork makcs a whoc word tor itsct, a worId whosc insidc is
nothingbutthcintcrnasccrctionsotthoscwho caboratcit.Poth-
ingcan cntcrthcgacrics otsuchanctworkwithout bcingturncd
outsidc in. !t wc thought that tcrmitcs wcrc bcttcr phiosophcrs
than Lcibniz, wc coudcomparcanctworkto atcrmitcs`ncst-so
ong as wc undcrstood that thcrc is no sun outsidc to darkcn its
gacrics by contrast. !t wi ncvcr bc possibc to scc morc ccary,
it wi ncvcr bc possibc to gct turthcr 'outsidc" than a tcrmitc,
no strongcr than a wa otcay.
1.4.4 Atorcccstabishcsapathwaybymakingothcrtorccspassivc.
!t canthcnmovcto paccsthat donotbcongto itandtrcatthcmas
itthcywcrc its own.
! am wiingto tak about 'ogic" 2.0.0), butonyitit is sccnas
is morc accuratc than to tak, ikc Lrich, ota Gcncra 5ccrctariat
tor rccision andthc 5pirit Nusi, ch. II6) .
1.4.5 Lntccchics wishingtobcstrongcr can bc saidto crcatc lines
of force. Jhcykccp othcrsininc. Jhcymakcthcmmorcprcdictabc.
172 Irreductions
Jhctcrm 'inc ot torcc" is cvcn vagucr than 'nctwork," 'way,"
gacry," or 'ogic," butthisis hnc.Jhcrcadcrshoudnotyctbc
abc to dccidc whcthcr ! am spcaking ot socia bcings, printcd
circuits, rcasons, machincs, thcatcrs, or habits. Jhis vagucncss is
cxacty thc cttcct ! am sccking, tor pcrhaps wc wi ncvcr comc
across obccts cassihcd inthis way again.
1.4.6 As soon as oncactantmanagcsto pcrsuadc othcrsto tainto
inc,itthcrcbyincrcascs itsstrcngthand bccomcs strongcrthanthosc
it aigncd and convinccd I. 5. I) . Jhis gain can bc mcasurcd in a
numbcrotways.!tcanbcsaidthatAisconnected toothcrs.Athough
to ink to A than to C. A can aso bc said to command othcrs.
thcmscvcs to bccontrocdbyit. A can aso bc saidto translate thc
wishcs otothcrs. Athough thc othcrs might wish to say somcthing
csc,thcyagrccthatwhatAsaysiswhatthcywantcdto saybutwcrc
not abc to put into words. A`s strcngth can aso bc mcasurcd by
sayingthatitcanbuy othcrs. Athoughinprincipcthcothcrs arcnot
worththcsamcamount I.2. I) , Lor!agrcctobccguivacnttowhat
A is rcady to pay. !inay, it can bc said that A explains othcrs.
Athoughthc othcrscannotrcduccthcmscvcs to A,thcyagrcc to bc
its conscgucnccs, prcdicatcs, or appications 2.0.0).
acnt mcans that A is strongcr than othcrs dcspitc thcir incommcn-
surabiity. lttransatcs,cxpains,undcrstands,contros,buys,dccidcs,
convinccs, and makcs thcm work.
5omctimcs this accumuation ot cguivacnts or tokcns is cacd
'capita," butcapitawasnotthcinitiastcp.!irstitwasncccssary
tocrcatccguivacnccs I.J./),bcndtorccs, andhodthcminpacc
tor ong cnough to bc scacd and mcasurcd. ny thcn was it
possibc to cacuatc a proht I.J. 5). Jhc markctpacc is ony a
conscgucnccotthccstabishmcntotnctworks, it docsnotcxpain
1.4.6. 1 Anabsoutctorccisoncthatwoudbccapabcotcxpaining
cvcrything, transatingcvcrything, producingcvcrything, buyingand
rcdccming cvcrything, and causing cvcrything to act. As a univcrsa
Frm Weakness to Potency 173
movcrandhrstprincipctromwhich a thc rcst coudbcgcncratcd.
5omc pcopc tak ot 'God" whcn thcy think otthc torcc that is
animatc and inanimatc, wishcs at thc bottomotits hcart, otshcp-
hcrdingusthrough thc dctoursotrovidcnccto thatwhichwca
dcsirc. ccausc nothing is by itsct cithcr rcducibc or irrcducibc
I. I. I), this absoutc torcc is aso thc absoutcy purc cxprcssion
otnothingncss. ccausc otits vcrypurity it has aways tascinatcd
mystics, warords, captains otindustry, and schoars in scarch ot
hrst principcs. 'h", thcy a say to thcmscvcs, 'grasp a singc
torcc a town, a chaicc, an axiom, a bank), and thc rcst sha bc
givcn unto us." Jo avoid thc panic ot rcduction, wc must aways
say: 'Vhat is ctt is a !ntcrudc !-!!). Jhc grcat an is dcad." An actor cxpands whic it can convincc othcrs thatit in-
andturthcrititcan sccurc actorswhohavcarcadymadcthcmscvcs
cguivacntto many othcrs.
!t has ottcn bccn said that 'capitaism" was a radica novcty, an
unhcard-otrupturc, a'dctcrritoriaization"pushcdtothcutimatc
cxtrcmc.As aways, thcDittcrcnccismystihcation.LikcGod,cap-
itaismdocsnotcxist. Jhcrc arc no cguivacnts I.2. I) , thcschavc
to bc madc, and thcy arc cxpcnsivc, do not cad tar, and do not
asttorvcryong.Vccan,atbcst,makccxtcndcdnctworks I .4.2).
Capitaism is sti margina cvcn today. 5oonpcopc wi rcaizc
that it is univcrsa ony in thc imagination otits cncmics and ad-
vocatcs !ntcrudcV!).|ust as Koman Cathoics bcicvc inthcuni-
thccncmics andsupportcrsotcapitaismbcicvcinwhatispcrhaps
thc purcst ot mystica drcams: that an absoutc cguivacncc has
bccn achicvcd. Lvcn thc Unitcd 5tatcs, thc country ot truc capi-
taism, cannot tuy ivc up to its idca. Dcspitc thc cttorts ot thc
tradc unions and thc cmpoycrs` associations, torccs swarm that
cannot bc madc cguivacnt without work J.0.0) . Ny homagc to
!crnand raudc I85) , who docs not hidc this tact and shows
how ong-distancc contro may bc achicvcd through tcnuous nct-
1.5.1 A torcc cannot bcgiven thosc torccs thatitarrays and con-
174 Irreductions
vinccs.y dchnition itcanony borrow their support I.J.4) . Pcvcr-
thccss, it wi caim what docs not bcong to it and wi add thcir
torccsto its own in a ncw torm: inthis waypotency is bor.
Vhcn an cntccchy contains othcr cntccchics which it docs not
contain, wc saythat it contains thcm 'potcntiay. "Jhc origin ot
potcncyicsinthiscontusion:it is no longer possible to distinguish
an actor from the allies which make it strong. !rom thispoint on
wc bcginto say that an axiomimpics its dcmonstration 'in po-
tcntia", wc bcgin to say ota princcthathc is powcrtu, thatthc
bcing-in-itsct contains hc bcing tor itsct, though ony 'potcn-
tiay." Vith potcncy inusticc aso bcgins, bccausc apart trom a

pp,tcw-princcs, principcs, origins, bankcrs, and dircctors-

othcr cntccchics, that is, a thc rcmaindcr, bccomc dctais, con-
scgucnccs, appications, toowcrs, scrvants, agcnts-in short, thc
rank and hc. Nonads arc born trcc I.2. 8), and cvcrywhcrc thcy
rcmain in chains. Jakotpossibiiticsisthciusionotactorsthatmovcwhic
torgctting thc cost ottransport.
roducing possibiitics is as costy, oca, and down to carth as
making spccia stccs or ascrs. ossibiitics arc bought and sod
torcxampc, 'unrca."Jhcrcis no suchthingas atrccpossibiity.
Jhc hcsotconsutants arc cxpcnsivc-askthoscwho wcntbank-
ruptbccauscthcyproduccdtoo manypossibiitics butdidnotsc
1.5.2 lt an actor contains many othcr in potcntia, it is imprcssivc
bccausc, cvcn whcn aonc, it is a crowd. Jhat is why it is abc to
cnro othcr actors and borrow thcir support morc casiy.
Athoughitstartsoutasabuttbycaimingto ownwhathasony
bccnborrowcd,itbccomcsrca.5inccthcrcaiswhatrcsists I. I.5) ,
whoi sabc to rcsistancntccchy turncdcrowdr owcrs, throncs,
grown nor movcd and arc as wcak as thosc who aow thcm to
1.5.3 owcrisncvcrpossessed. Vccithcrhavcit'inpotcntia,"but
From Weakness to Potency 175
thcn wc do not have it, or wc havc it 'in actu", butthcnour aics
arc thc oncs that go into action.
caim to criticizc. Jhcycxpainthcmastcrs` actions intcrms otthc
might ot powcr, though this powcr is cthcacious ony as a rcsut
ot compicitics, connivanccs, compromiscs, and mixturcs J.4.0)
wich arc not cxpaincd bypowcr. Jhc notion ot'powcr" is thc
dormitivc virtuc ot thc poppy which induccs somnocncc in thc
critics at ust thc momcnt whcn powcrcss princcs ay thcmscvcs
with othcrs who arc cguay wcak in ordcr to bccomc strong.
1.5.4 Jhough thcy can ncithcr count nor sumthc othcrs up tcwcr
and tcwcr torccs with nothing ot thcir own attributc thc potcncy ot
a othcr powcrs to thcmscvcs. Jhis is thc rcductio ad absurdum ot
thc whoc to nothing. rinccs who arc amost nothing act as it thc
rcst, that is, cvcrything, wcrc no ongcr anything.
Chuplcr Z
.. Sociologies
2.1.1 Arcasoningis otthc samc torm: onc scntcncc toows an-
othcr. Jhcna third asscrtsthatthcsc arc idcnticacvcnthoughthcy
do notrcscmbc onc anothcr.Jhcncctorththcsccondisuscd inpacc
ot thc hrst, and a htth athrms that thc sccond and thc tourth arc
idcntica, cvcn though. . . and so on, unti onc scntcncc is displaced
whicprctcndingnotto havcmovcd, andtranslated whicprctcnding
to havc staycd taithtu.
2.1.2 Jhcrchasncvcrbccnsuchathingasdcduction. ncscntcncc
follows anothcr,andthcnathirdathrmsthatthcsccondwasimpicity
orpotcntiay arcady in thc hrst I. 5. I) .
Jhoscwho tak otsynthctic a-priori udgmcnts dcridc thc taithtu
who bathc at Lourdcs. owcvcr, itisno css bizarrcto caim that
aconcusionicsin itsprcmiscsthantobcicvcthatthcrcishoincss
in thcwatcr.
2.1.3 Vhcn many dittcrcnt scntcnccs havc bccn madc cguivacnt,
thcy arc a todcd back into thc hrst, ot which it is said that this
Sociologies 177
'impics thcm a." Jhis singc phrasc is thcn bandicd about, and it
is caimcd that a thc othcrs may bc cxtractcd trom it 'by purc
dcduction." Jhosc who rcason in tront ot othcrs and caim to cxtract
oncphrasctromanother arcatbcstuggcrs andatworst chcats. !or

thcy havc bccn practicing thcir tricks using rabbits and hats
borrowcd trom onookcrs. nytcachcrscaimto bcabcto cxtractoncscntcncctrom
thc concusion otthc argumcnt that thcy caim to bc untoding. r-
ganizcd argumcnts carncd slowly and in disorder arc untodcd by
stagc bchind thc backboard, thc tumutuous history that cd this
proposition to bcinkcdto that onc. Jhcy ottcr thatwhich contains
inpotcntia a thc conscgucnccs torthc worship otthcir pupis, who
tcrvcnty bcicvc that thcy havc dcduccd onc thing trom anothcr.
Vithout schooing, no onc woud havc taith in this rcigion ot
dcduction.Vcmightaswcsaythatthcpropositionsot5pinoza`s _
Ethics arc 'ain" thc hrstproposition, orthatthcdcsscrtis con-
taincd in thc cntrcc. ut schooboys havc aways bccn tascinatcd
by thc absoutc cribs ottcrcd by Lapacc`s principc. to hod a
knowcdgc in thc pam ot our hand, having cxtractcd it trom thc
hcc ot our shoc.

2.1.4 Argumcntstormasystcmorstructurconyitwctorgcttotcst
thcm. Vhatr !t ! wcrc to attack one ccmcnt, woud al thc othcrs
thcn comc crowding round mc without a momcnt`s hcsitationr Jhis
is so unikcy| Lvcry cocction otactants incudc thc azy, thc cow-
ardy, thc doubc agcnts, thc drcamcrs, thc indittcrcnt, and thc dis-
sidcnts. Ycs, ! grant you that thc tcar otsccing A, ,orL comingto
thc rcscuc can so imprcss pcopc that thcy givc up. ut itthcy hod
on, thc odds arc that wi bc dissociatcd, bccausc C comcs too
sowy,Lisdcprcsscd, !isatraitor,andGwasunabctohcpbccausc
itwas trying to stop !`s bctraya.
As is wc known, an aianccbctwccnthc ogicians and thc army
cd Gcncra 5tumm to put thc soidity ot structurcs to thc tcst in
thc ibrary at Vicnna Nusi, ch. 85) . c was vcry disappointcd.
178 Irreductions
!n aris wc sti bcicvc in structurcs bccausc wc takc carc not to
tcst thcir oyaty.
2.1.5 Commcntaryisncvcrtaithtu.Lithcrthcrcisrcpctition,which
isnotcommcntary,orthcrciscommcntary,whichis saiddifferently.
ncvcrtirc otimputing gosscs to thc tcxt. Jhc tcxt isputtcd up with
a thc gosscs that it has to contain 'in potcntia" in ordcr to ustity
a thcsc rcadings.
Jcxtsarcncvcrtaithtuto oncanomcr, butaways atsomcdistancc.
2.1.6 Vc say 'whocvcr contros thc causc, contros thc cttcct," as
it thc cttcct wcrc potcntiay containcd within thc causc. owcvcr,
no word can causc anothcr. Vords follow onc anothcr in a story. !t
is ony atcrin thc story that onc charactcr is madcthc 'causc" and
anothcr thc 'conscgucncc." Jhc

ny cttcct to considcr is thc cttcct

upon thcpubic ot this or that aiancc otwords: 'Po, hc`s cx

ating," or 'it`s wc writtcn," or again, 'vcry iuminating," 'vcry
convincing," 'how tu othimsct," or 'what a borc."
2.1. 7 Jhcrc arc no thcorics. Jhcrc arc tcxts to which, ikc azy
potcntatcs, wc rcspccttuy attributc things that thcy havc not donc,
intcrrcd, torcsccn, or causcd. Jhcorics arc ncvcr tound aonc, ust as
to conncct and rcdircct. !n thcory, thcorics cxist. !n practicc, thcy do not.
Po onc has cvcr dcduccd a ot gcomctry hom thc axioms and
postuatcs otLucid. ut 'in thcory," thcy say, 'anyonc can any-
whcrc" dcrivc 'thc whoc ot" gcomctry 'at any timc" trom thc
axioms ot Lucid 'aonc." !n practicc, this has never happened to
anyone. ut no onc has cvcr nccdcd to draw this concusion, bc-
scorncd bccausc thcy arc said to bc incapabc ot

acccpting tacts
cvcn whcn tacts havc contradictcdthcm cvcry day tor c

nturics | Jhcrc is no mcluanguagc, ony intraanguagcs. !n othcr
to anothcr than buid thc towcr otabc.
Sociologies 179
thc mastcrs whch s too mpovcrshcd cvcn to transatc what s
sad n thc ktchcn. Day practcc nccds no thcorst to rcvca ts 'undcryng
structurc." 'Conscousncss" docs not undcrc practcc but s somc-
thngcscsomcwhcrc cscnanothcrnctwork.ractccacksnomng.
Where arcthcunconscousstructurcsotprmtvcmyths r!nAtrcar
!n raz r Po| Jhcy arcamongthc hng cards ot Lv-5trauss`s
othcc. !tthcycxtcnd bcyondthc Cocgc dc !rancc at thcruc dcs
Lcocs, t s through hs books and dscpcs. !tthcy arc tound n
aha orLbrcvc, ts bccausc thcy arc taught thcrc.
2.1.8 5otar astormsconccrncd Z. I. I), aargumcntsarc cguay
good. ^ that wc nccd s a scrcs otscntcnccs, andthcnwc saythat
somcarcthcsamcandothcrsdttcrcntZ. J.Z). Jhcscntcnccsarcthcn
wovcn nto pats, trcsscs, garands, wrcathcs, and wcbs. Jhs can
always bc donc, can`t tr As a rcsut, certain movcs bccomc cascr
and othcrs morc dthcut.
o onc can cassty argumcnts n tcrms otthcrformal guatcs.
!tyounsst,wcmayrankthcmntcrmsotthcrmaterial guatcs.
2.1. 8. 1 Pothngsbytsctcthcrogcaorogca.Apathaways
gocssomcwhcrc.Awcnccdto knowswhcrctgocs andwhatknd
ottrathcthas to carry. Vhowoudbc so toosh as to ca trccways
'ogca," roads 'ogca," and donkcy tracks 'absurd"r Po sct ot scntcnccs s by tsct cthcr consstcnt or ncon-
sstcnt I. I. I4) , a that wc nccd to knows who tcsts twthwhch
acsandtorhowong.Consstcncystct I. I.Z) ,itsnotadpoma,
a mcda, or a tradcmark.
2. 1. 8.3 Jhc thrcad otargument s ncvcr straght. Jhosc who tak
wovcn, or dcduccd. A buttcrty Ics n a straghtcr nc than a mnd
thatrcasons. 5

mctmcs, otcoursc, wovcnpattcrns mayrcprcscnt a

straght nc whch s prctty to ook at.) 'Kcason"sappcdtothcworkZ.5.4)otaocatngagrcc-
mcnt and
sagrccmcnt bctwccn words. !t s a mattcr ot tastc and
tccng, know-how and connosscurshp, cass and status. Vc nsut,
180 Irreductions
trown, pout, ccnch our hsts, cnthusc, spit, sigh, and drcam. Vho
An anthropoogist otbody anguagc coud skctchthc thinking ot
a Cambridgc don or a Va5trcctbankcr.
2.1.9 5incc thc amount ot idcntitics and dittcrcnccs thatwc havc
to share rcmains constant 2. 1. 8) , it is not within our powcr to bc
iogica orirrationa 2. 1. 8. 1) . 5ti,thcrc arcmanywaysto aocatc
'in conscgucnccs', 'bccausc ots', 'in contradiction withs,' and
'ncvcrthccsscs.' Po onc is morc attcntivc to 'non scguiturs' than
ogicians, wizards, or stagc managcrs. Vhcn cttccts arc to bc con-
trivcd,wc havc to chooscwhatwi toowwhatwithgrcat carc.Vc
havc to dccidc whcn thc namc ot thc traitor or thc axiom wi bc
madc known and prcparc tor thc cntry that wi most imprcss thc
audicncc.Vchavcto dctcrmincunits ottimc andpacc, caus

s, and
principcs. Vc havcto choosctowritc 'morcgcomctrico' or 'morc
popuo' as wc tastctuy sccct thc thcorcms and asidcs. !n brict,
conviction dcpcnds on thc gcnrc wc choosc.
disagrccmcnts is constant, wc cannot cleanly scparatc mythica
hctions hom scicntihc accounts. Jhis can bc donc ony in a dirty
arc proots as rigorous as wintcr and thcrc arc springikc proots,
butthcyarc a sti proots.
2.1.10 5incc nothingis inhcrcntin anything csc, thc diaccticis 3
tairy tac. Contradictionsarc ncgotiatcdikcthcrcst. Jhcy arc buit,
2. 1. 11 !t magic is thc body otpracticcwhich givcs ccrtainwords
thcpotcncyto actupon 'things,' thcnthcwordotogic,dcduction,
andthcorymust bc cacd 'magica': butitis our magic.
|ust as thc Grccks cacd thc hnc anguagcs otthc arthians, thc
Abyssinians, or thc 5armatans 'barbaric,' so wc ca thc pcrtcct
argumcnts 2. 1. 8) ot thosc who bcicvc in othcr powcrs ot dcduc-
tion 'iogica. '
Sociologies 181 '
2.2. 1 Jo saysomcthingisto sayitin othcrwords. !nothcrwords,
it is to transatc.
Awordis put in thcpacc otanothcrwhich it docs not rcscmbc.
Athirdword says thatthcy arc thc samc 2. I. I) . A is not A, but
and C. Komcisnoongcrin Komc, butin Crctc and amongthc
5axons. Jhis is cacd 'prcdication." That is to say, wc cannot
spcakpropcry,movingtrommcsame tothcsame, butonyroughy,
moving trom thc samc to thc other.
2.2.2 5inccnothingis rcducibc orirrcducibcto anythingcsc I. I. I)
and thcrc arc no cguivacnccs I.2. I), cvcry pair otwords may bc
said to bc idcntica or to havc nothing in common. Jhus, thcrc arc
no ccarways otdistinguishingitcra trom fgrative mcanings cssc:
I/4). Lvcry group otwords may bcdirty, cxact, mctaphorica, a-
cgorica, tcchnica, corrcct, or tar-tctchcd.
2.2.3 Pothingis by itsct cithcr 'sayabc" or 'unsayabc." Lvcry-
thingis transatcd I. 2. I2). 5incc oncword aways cnds its scnscto
anomcrtrom which itncvcrthccssdittcrs,itisno morc in ourpowcr
to spcak righty or wrongy than to stop thc ittc mi otthc tairy
tac trom grinding out sat.
2.2.4 Lithcrthcsamcthingissaidandnothingissaid,orsomcthing
is saidbutitis somcthing csc. Achoicc mustbcmadc. !ta dcpcnds
on thc distancc thatwc arc prcparcd to covcrandthc torccs thatwc
arc prcparcd to coax as wc try to makc words that arc inhnitcy
distant cguivacnt.
2.2.5 Vcmaybcundcrstood,thatissurroundcd,divcrtcd,bctraycd,
dispaccd,transmittcd, butwcarcncvcrundcrstoodwel. !tamcssagc
istransportcd, thcn itis transtormcd. Vc ncvcrgcta mcssagc thatis
simpy sprcad.
2.3. 1 Vc ncvcr bcgin to tak i n words that trccy associatc, but
rathcr in ourmothcrtonguc 2.2.2).
thcrs havc arcadypaycdwith thc words whcnwc start taking
I. I. I0). Ycar attcr ycar, ccntury attcrccntury, othcrs havc madc
ccrtain associations ot sounds, syabcs, phrascs, and argumcnts
possibcorimpossibc, corrcct orbarbaric,
ropcrorvugar, tasc
182 Irreductions
orccgant, cxactornonscnsica.Lvcnthoughnoncotthcscgroup-
ings is as soid as caimcd 2. I.4), it wc wish to undo or rcmakc
or appausc.
2.3.2 Jhoughthcrcisnopropcrorhgurativcmcaning,itispossibc
to appropriatc aword, rcduccitsmcaningsandaianccs, andinkit
hrmy to thc scrvicc otanothcr.
to makc it hgurativc 2.2.2).
2.3.3 A associations ot sounds, ot words, and ot scntcnccs arc
cguivacnt 2. I . 8) , but sincc thcy associatc prcciscy sothat thcy arc
no longer cguivacnttocachothcr I.3.6),inthccndthcrcarcvictors
andvanguishcd,strongandwcak, scnscandnonscnsc, andtcrmsthat
arc itcra andmctaphorica.
2.3.4 Pothingis byitsctcithcrogica or iogica I.2. 8),butnot
cvcrything is cguay convincing. Jhcrc is ony onc ruc: 'Anything
gocs", say anything as ong as thosc bcing takcd to arc convinccd.
Yousaythatto gcttromto C,youhavcto passthrough D andLr
!tno othcrs raisc thcir voicc to suggcst othcr ways, thcn you havc
bccnconvincing.Jhcygo trom to C aongthcsuggcstcdpathcvcn
thoughno oncwants to cavc tor C andthcrcarc ots otdittcrcnt
routcs that coud bc takcn. Jhosc you sought to convincc havc ac-
guicsccd.!orthcm,thcrcisnomorc 'Anythinggocs."Jhatwihavc
to do, for you will never do any better I.2. I) .
2.3.5 Vc can say anythingwcpcasc, and yct wc cannot. Assoon
as wc havc spokcn and raicd words, othcraianccs bccomc casicr
inghows, sopcs andpatcaus arc sooncrodcd. Aianccs arc tormcd
amongwordsonthc hcdotbattc.Vc arcbcicvcd,wcarc dctcstcd,
wc arc hcpcd, wc arc bctraycd. Vc arc no ongcr in contro otthc
gamc. 5omc mcanings arc suggcstcd, whic othcrs arc takcn away,
wc arccommcntcdupon, dcduccd,undcrstood,orignorcd. Jhat`sit:
wc can no ongcrsaywhatcvcrwcpcasc.
2.4. 1 owdocsoncscricsotscntcnccsbccomcsomuch'strongcr"
thananothcrthat thc attcr bccomcs 'iogica," 'absurd," 'contra-
Sociologies 183
dctory,"'hcttous,"or'chdsh"rLkcatorcc I .3.2),anargumcnt
bccomcs strongcr ony by makng usc otwhatcvcr
omcsto hand. !n
ths way wc can torcc an actant to contcss that ths orthatscntcncc
s 'contradctory" or 'absurd," unt no onc can bc tound to makc
thc argumcnt ogca any ongcr.
Khctorc cannot account tor thc torcc ota scgucncc otscntcnccs
bccausc, t t s cacd 'rhctorc," thcn t s wcak and has arcady
ost I.J.6) . Logc cannot account tor thc torcc, sncct attrbutcs
common to a argumcnt 2. I.0). Jhcn agan, scmotcs rcmans
nadcguatcbccausctpcrsstsnconsdcrngonytcxts orsymbos
nstcad otaso dcangwth 'thngs n thcmscvcs."
2.4.2 Vords arcncvcrtound aonc, nor surroundcd ony by othcr
words, thcy woud bc naudbc.
An actant can makc an ay out ot anythng, sncc nothng s by
tsct cthcr rcducbc or rrcducbc I. I. I) and sncc thcrc s no
cguvacnccwthoutthcworkotmakngcguvacnt I.4.0).Aword
can thus cntcr nto partncrshp wth a mcanng, a scqucncc ot
words, a statcmcnt, a ncuron, a gcsturc, a wa, a machnc, a
tacc. . . anythng, so ong as dttcrcnccs n rcsstancc aow onc
torcc to bccomc morc durabc than anothcr. Vhcrc s t wrttcn
that a word may assocatc ony wth othcr wordsr Lach tmc thc
sodty ot a strng ot words s tcstcd, wc arc mcasurng thc at
tachment ot was, ncurons, scntmcnts, gcsturcs, hcarts, mnds,
and wacts-that s, a hctcrogcnous muttudc oIacs, mcrccn-
arcs, trcnds, and courtcsans. ut wc cannot stand ths mpurty
and promscuty.
2.4.3 Vccannotdstngushbctwccnthoscmomcntswhcnwchavc
mghtand thoscwhcn wc arc rght.
I. I.2) , thcy aso appcar n many othcr guscs. At onc cxtrcmc
and bccomcthc how otnaturc. Jhcr actonssopcacctuthatno
torccsccmstobccxcrcscdata I. I. 6). Atthcothcrcxtrcmcthcrc
s boodshcd-tota wartarc wthout rtua, purposc, or prcpara-
ton. Docs ths cvcr happcnr 5omcwhcrc n bctwccn, ! supposc,
csthc grcat gamc otrhctorc, whcrc thc strcngth otaword may
I84 Irreductions
everthing else being equal, somconc spcaks and pcrsuadcs. Vc
awaysmtourscvcsto takngaboutthcscthrcctcxtbookcascs,
!wantto takabout athcothcrcascsas wc.
2.4.4 Languagcsncthcrdomnatcnorarcdomnatcd,ncthcrcxst
nordo notcxst.Jhcyarc cntccchcskcaothcrs.Jhcyscckacs
at thcr convcncncc and bud a whoc word trom thcm wth thc
samcprohbtons andprvcgcs as othcr actants.
ny ngusts coud bccvc that words assocatc ony wth othcr
thcyhadndctachngwords trom thcr acs whcn thcy nvcntcd
thcr structurcs. Jhat words arc torccs kc othcrs wth thcr own
onytothoscwhobccvcthat'mcn" cxstordomnatcanguagcs.
avcyouncvcrtoughtwth awordr !snotyourtonguchardcncd
bytakngrVhatcvcrrcsstssrca I. I.5) . Vhocoudbccvcthat
words havc a ccanhstory otthcr ownr
2.4.5 !tsnotpossbctodstngushtorongbctwccnthoscactants
that arc gong to pay thc roc ot 'words" and thosc that w pay
thc roc ot 'thngs. " !t wc tak ony ot anguagcs and 'anguagc
rocs and costumcswcrc dstrbutcd.
Kcccnty thcrc has bccn a tcndcncy to prvcgc anguagc. !or a
ong tmc t was thought to bc transparcnt, to bc aonc among
actants n posscssng ncthcr dcnsty nor vocncc. Jhcn doubts
bcgan to grow about ts transparcncy. opc was crcsscd that
ths transparcncy mght bc rcstorcd by ccanng anguagc as wc
bccamc thc ony worthy task tor gcncratons ot Kants and Vtt-
gcnstcns. Jhcn n thc httcs t was rcazcd that anguagc was
opaguc, dcnsc, andhcavy. Jhsdscovcryddnot,howcvcr,mcan
that t ost ts prvcgcd status and was cguatcd wth thc othcr
torccsthattransatcand arc transatcdbyt. nthc contrary, thc
attcmpt was madc to rcducc a othcr torccs to thc sgnhcr. Jhc
tcxtwasturncdnto 'thc obcct."Jhs was 'thc swngng sxtcs,"
a tuss | Lvcrythng that s sad otthc sgnhcr s rght, but t must
asobcsadotcvcryothcrkndotcntccchy I .2. ). Jhcrcsnothng
Sociologies 185
spcca aboutanguagc thataovs tto bcdstngushcd trom thc
rcst tor any cngth ot tmc.
2.4.6 Jhc consstcncy otan aancc s rcvcacd by thc numbcr ot
actors thatmustbc broughttogcthcr to scparatctZ. I. 8.2). Jhcrc-
word, a sotarytcxt, or a sgn nthc hcavcns actuay comes from.
Jhcy say, 'You cannot go trom to D wthout passng through
CorL." 'ltyou arcunccrtanaboutC, thcnyou arc aso ndoubt
about and D. " 'lt you arc at , you must thcrctorc go to D."
Lach otthcsc statcmcnts can bc madc cguay wc ot a probcm
husbandandwtc, orthcvarnsh pantcd ona ca
oc. Lach can bc
sad otcvcry durabctorm I. I.6) .Jhsswhy'ogc"sabranch
otpubcworks I.4.4).Vccannomorcdrvcacaronthcsubway
thanwc can doubt thc aws otPcwton. The reasons are the same
in each case: dstant ponts havc bccn nkcd bypaths that wcrc
narrow at hrst and thcn wcrc broadcncd and propcrypavcd. y
now nothng short ot rcvouton or natura catacysm woud cad
thoscwho uscthcscpathsto suggcst anothcrroutctothc travccr.
nc ogc s dcstroycd by anothcr, n thc way a budozcr dcmo-
though tcanbc dangcrous tthc cxpropratcd avcngcthcmscvcs.
2.4.7 Jhchctcrogcncousaanccsthatmakcccrtanstrngsotwords
cohcrcnt Z. I. 8.0) torm nctworks whch may bc vcry ong and n-
commcnsurabc-uncss thcy choosc to takc cach othcr`s mcasurc.
'Can you doubt thc nk that ons to Cr" 'Po, l can`t, uncss l
am rcady to osc my hcath, my crcdt, or my wact." 'Can you
ooscnthc bonds that tc D to Lr" 'Ycs, butonywththcpowcr ot
god, patcncc, and angcr. "Jhcncccssaryandthccontngcnt I. I. 5),
thcpossbcandthcmpossbc,thchardandthcsott I. I. 6),thcrca
andthc unrca I . I5.Z)-thcya grow nthsway.!or an cntccchy
thcrc arc ony stronger and weaker ntcractons wth whch to makc
2.4.8 A scntcncc docs not hodtogcthcr bccausc t s truc, but be
cause it holds together wcsaythatts 'truc."Vhatdocsthodon
torNanythngs.Vhyr ccauscthastcdtstatctoanythngathand
I86 [rreductions
that is morc soid than itsct. As a rcsut, no onc can shakc it oosc
without shaking cvcrything csc.
Pothing morc, youthc rcigious, nothing css, youthcrcativists.
2.5. 1 lt s not good cnough to bc strongcst, thcy aso want to bc
bcst. lt is ncvcrcnoughto havcwon,thcyasowantto bcright.
'Jhc strongcst rcason aways yicds to rcasons otthc strongcst. "
Jhcrcasoningotthcstrongcstis simpythcstrongcst. 'Jhisword
hcrc bcow" woud bcvcry dittcrcnt itwcwcrc to takc awaythis
suppcmcnt, which docsnotcxist, itwcwcrc to rob thcvictors ot
thisittcaddition. !orastart,itwoudnoongcrbcabascword.
2.5.2 owcristhcIamcthatcadsustocontuscatorccwiththosc
aics which rcndcr it strong I.5. I). It wc wcrc to wcar a wcding
mask, wc coud starc at thc point ottusionwithoutbcingbindcd.
l no ongcr wish to mistakc thc Iash ot a shicd tor thc tacc ot
gray-cycd Athcna, uncss lwishto do so.
2.5.3 Vc can avoid bcing intimidatcd by thosc who appropriatc
words and caim to bc 'in powcr. "
bodics scpt on straw. Po onc bcicvcs this now, but thc magic
continucs, thc magic otthosc who bcicvc thcy can travc further
thanthcirbodicsandbeyond thcimitsotthcirstrcngth.Jhcback
5abbath ot thc magicians ot rcason takcs pacc cvcry day ot thc
wcck, and this magichas not yctcncountcrcdits skcptics 4.0.0).
2.5.4 Vcncithcrthinknorrcason. Kathcr,wcwork ontragic ma-
tcrias-tcxs, inscriptions, traccs, or paints-with othcr pcopc. Jhcsc
matcrias arc associatcd or dissociatcd by couragc and cttort, thcy
havc no mcaning, vauc, or cohcrcncc outsidc thc narrow nctwork
that hods thcm togcthcr tor a timc. Ccrtainy wc can extend this
nctworkbyrccruiting othcr actors, andwc can asostrengthen it by
cnroing morc durabc matcrias. owcvcr, wc cannot abandon it
cvcn inour sccp.
stas, thcir cod storagc, thcirpasturcs, andthcirsaughtcrhouscs.
Pcxtdoor to thc butchcr-atthc groccr`s,torcxampc-thcrc is
Sociologies 187
phiosophy, accountancy, sociasccurity, inshort atradcs.ow-
cvcr, certain trades caim that thcy arc abc to cxtcnd thcmscvcs
potcntiay or 'in thcory" bcyond thcnctworkswithinwhichthcy
practicc. Jhc butchcr woud ncvcr cntcrtain thc idca ot rcducing
thcorctica physics to thc art ot butchcry, but thc psychoanayst
caims to bc abc to rcducc butchcry to thc murdcr otthc tathcr,
and cpistcmoogists happiy tak ot thc 'toundations otphysics."
Jhough a nctworks arc thcsamc sizc, arrogancc isnotcguay
2.5.5 Vc cannotibcratc ourscvcs tromthcpowcrIuIbymcansot
'thought," butwcwiibcratcourscvcstrompowcrwhcnwc havc
turncd 'thought" into work.
Jhccooguia cxprcssionswcusctorthcworkotthoughtracking
our brains, bcnding our minds, chcwing ovcr idcas) arc not mct-
aphors butpointto thc work othands and bodics common to a
tradcs. Vhy, thcn, is this tradc otthought, unikc a othcrs, hcd
to bcnonmanua r ccausc othcrwisc itwoudhavc to givc up thc
privicgc otgoingoutsidcits nctworks. !twoudno ongcrbc abc
to cxtcnd itsct abovc thc simpc practicc ottradcsmcn 2.I./.2).
Lvcryonc prcIcrs tosct intccctuas apart cvcn itony to ridicuc
thcm) rathcrthanto rccognizcthatthcywork.Lvcnitthcbcicvcrs
do not bcncht thcmscvcs trom thcsc trcc trips, thcy do not wish
othcrs to bc dcprivcd otthcprivicgcothovcringoutsidctimc and
2.5.6 Jhcrcis no dittcrcnccbctwccnthoscwhorcducc,onthconc
hand, and thosc who want a suppcmcnt otsou, on thcothcr. 1hc
two groups arc thc samc. Vhcn thcy rcducc cvcrything to nothing,
thcy tcc that a thc rcst cscapcs thcm. Jhcy thcrctorc scck to hod
on to itwith 'symbos."
Jhc symboic is thc magic otthosc who havc ostthc word. !tis
thc ony way thcy havc tound to maintain 'in addition" to 'ob-
cctivc things" thc 'spiritua atmosphcrc" without which things
woud 'ony" bc 'naturaL" Vc can bc surc that whcncvcr thcy tak ot symbos, thcy
caving homc, to ink two actants with no trucks, no gas, and no
188 Irreductions
Jhosc who spcak ot 'symboic" bchavior shoud bc studicd as
magicians.Jhcysaythat magicgraspsthrough wordswhatcannot
appicd to themselves. !ncapabc ot grasping torccs through thcir
trias,thcyinvcnt 'symbos"which costand consumc nothing 'in
addition to rcaity." 5incc whatcvcr rcsists is rca, thcrc can bc no 'symboic"
toaddto'thcrca. "ctorchavingsymbos'addcd "tothcm,actants
ackcd nothing. Jhus, itwc stop rcducingthcm, this supcrtuous ad-
dition, inturn, bccomcs nothing.
!t ony wc wcrc trccd trom thc symboic, thc 'rca" woud bc
rcturncdtous. !amprcparcdtoacccptthathshmaybcgods,stars,
ortood, thathshmaymakcmciandpaydittcrcntrocsinorigin
myths. Jhcy cad thcir ivcs, and wc cad ours. !ndccd, our ivcs
havcovcrappcdandmadcusc ooncanothcrtorsoongthatthcrc
arc|onahs incvcry whac, andwhacs in cach otNcvic`stoios.
Vhowi stop thc transations othshing, occanography, diving-
otcvcrythingthatwc andthc hsh usc to takcthc mcasurc otcach
othcrrJhatpcrsonisnotyctborn. !ntcrudc!V) .Jhoscwhowish
to separate thc 'symboic" hshtrom its 'rca" countcrpart shoud
thcmscvcs bc scparatcd and conhncd J.0.0). Vcdo,notsuttcr tromthc ackotasou.Vcsuttcr, onthc
contrary, hom too many troubcd sous thathavcncvcr bccn ottcrcd
adcccntburia.Jhcywandcr aroundinbroaddayightikcmiscrabc
ghosts. !wantto cxorciscthcsc sous andpcrsuadcthcm to cavc us
aoncwith thciving.
2.6.1 Arcscarchontoundationsandoriginsis supcrhcia, sinccit
hopcsto idcntipsomccntccchicswhichpotcntiaycontainthcoth-
crs.Jhis isimpossibc. !twcwishto bcprotound,wchavcto follow
whcrcvcr thcy may go, and ist thcir aics, howcvcr numcrous and
vugar thcsc maybc.
proudotit.Jhcyarc awaystryingto rcduccthcnumbcrottorccs
to onc torcc trom which thc othcrs can bc dcrivcd. Jhc grcatcr
thcir succcss, thc morc insignihcantthc choscn onc bccomcs. Jhc
mostprotoundis also thc most supcrhcia. Vc might ust as wc
Sociologies 189
trcatQuccnLizabcth asthcUnitcdKingdom, orthcopcningscn-
tcncc I. I. I) asthc prcscnttcxt.
2.6.2 Jhosc who try to posscss whatthcy do not havc I.5. I) , to
bc whcrc thcy arc not, and to rcducc what docs not rcducc arc un-
tortunatc, bccausc thcy posscss potcncy ony potcntiay and havc
thcory ony in thcory.
Vc arc now abc to arrivc at a mora ot a css provisiona kind
I. Z. IJ) . Vc wi not try to pursuc origins, to rcducc practiccs to
thcorics, thcorics to anguagcs, anguagcs to mctaanguagcs, and
so on in thc way dcscribcd in !ntcrudc !. Vc wi work with no
morc privicgc or rcsponsibiity than anyonc csc, within narrow
nctworks that cannot bc rcduccd to othcrs. Likccvcryonc csc,wc

ndopcnings, andsomctimcswcwihndthcm.
'Jhisisnotavcry tar-rcaching mora, isitr" Quitcso: it does not
get us very far. !trctuscstogoinspirittopaccswhcrcitisabscnt.
Vhcn it movcs, it pays its ducs. Vc wi no ongcrtry to imitatc
Jitanandcarrythcwordonourshoudcrs, crushcdbythcinhnitc
task ot undcrstanding, cstabishing, ustitying, and cxpaining
2.6.3 ccausc thcrc is no itcra or hgurativcmcaning Z.Z.Z), no
singc usc ot a mctaphor can dominatc thc othcr uscs. Vithoutpro-
prictythcrc isno impropricty. Lachword is accuratc and dcsignatcs
cxacty thc nctworks that it traccs, digs, and travcs ovcr. 5incc no
wordrcignsovcrthcothcrs,wc arctrcctouscamctaphors. Vcdo
nothavcto tcarthatoncmcaningis'truc" and anothcr'mctaphor-
ica." Jhcrc is dcmocracy, too, amongwords. Vc nccd this trccdom
todctcat potcncy.
2.6.4 ow wi wc dchnc this trccdom to go tromonc domain to
anothcr, this scaing up otthc nctworks, this survcyingr hiosophy
as thosc who havc no spccihc hcd,tcrritory, or domain. tcoursc,
wc candowithoutcithcrphiosophyorphiosophcrs, butthcnthcrc
might bc no way to go trom onc provincc to thc ncxt, trom onc
nctwork to anothcr.
2.6.5 Jhcrcarconytwowaysotrcvcaingtorccs.!irst,wccansay
thatthcrcarctorccs,onthconchand,andother things, onthcothcr.
190 Irreductions
Jhsamountsto dcnyngthchrstprncpc I. I. I) . !nthsway'rca"
cguvacnccs, 'rca"cxchangcs,and'rca"csscnccsarcobtancd, and
thc word s ordcrcd by startng trom mastcrs prnccs, prncpcs,
rcprcscntatvcs, orgns, toundatons, causcs, capta) anddcsccndng
towardmoscwhoarcdomnatcdntcrrcd,cxpancd, dcduccd, bough
produccd, usthcd, causcd) .5ccond,wccanuphodthchrstprncpc
rghtto thc cnd. !twc do so, thcrc arc no ongcr any cguvacnccs,
ot domnaton s madc pubc.
Jhc hrst way ot workng s rcgous n csscncc, monothcst by
ncccssty, and cgcanbymcthod. !trcduccsthc ocatothc un-
vcrsa and cstabshcs potcncy. !t abhors magc but noncthccss
cmuatcs ts mcthods. Jhc sccond Way ot workng rcndcrs oca
whatsocaanddcconstructspotency. !tcadstoskcptcsmabout
a magcs, our ownncudcd.
Interlude III: Escaping from a Contradiction That,
in the Author's Opinion, Might Have Perplexed the Reader
How can we say that nothing is by itself eitherreducible or irreducible ( 1. 1. 1)
and then claim that there are nothing but trials of strength (1. 1.2) ? It is
important to understand this paradox. If one thing can contain another-
potentially, ideally, implicitly-there is truly something more than trials of
strength: a supplement of soul, a living god, crowned princes or theories in
charge of the world. Certain places become so much bigger than others that
they include all the others "implicitly." They become impressive, majestic,
sacred, intoxicating, dazzling, and thus bring with them all the impediments
of terror. Those who believe it is possible to reduce one actor to another
suddenly fnd themselves enriched by something that comes from beyond:
beyond the facts, the law; beyond the world, the other world; beyond prac
tice, theory; beyond the real, the possible, the objective, the symbolic. This
is why reductionism and religion always go hand in hand: religious religion,
political religion, scientifc religion.
Of course, it is exciting to believe that one actor may contain the others
because we start to believe that we "know" something, that there are equiv
alences, that there are deductions, that there is a master, that there is law
and order. We have two irons in the (re, the real and the possible. In this
way we become invincible, since we are able to make an attack "en double,"
like the witches of the Ivory Coast. A "trial of strength" can never be un
favorable to us, since even when we lose, we may still be right.
If we adopt the opposite principle and try to see how far we can get by
Sociologies 191
denying the distincton, then we have to claim, by contrast, that nothing
reduces to anything else. Yet, it will be said, things are linked together; they
form lumps, bodies, machines, and groups. Of course this cannot be denied.
But what kind of ties hold them together? Since there are no "natural"
equivalences, these can be of only one kind: groping, testing, translating. As
soon as the principle of irreducibility is accepted, it . becomes necessary to
admit this frst reduction: that there is nothing mOI8 thn trials of weakness.
The distance between actors is never removed; neither is the distance between
words. And if there are equivalences, then they have to be seen as problems,
miracles, tasks, and costly results.
,Thus there is no paradox. There are two consistent ways of talking. One
permits reduction and builds the world by starting from potency. The other
does not allow tis initial reduction and tus manifests the work that is
needed to dominate. The frst approach is reductionist and religious; the
second is irreductionist and irreligious.
Why should the second be preferred to the frst? I still do not know, but
I do not like power that burns far beyond the networks from which it comes.
I do not like the verbiage, the exaggeration, and the saturation that leads to
shortage of time and lack of breathing space. I would prefer to see the thin
incandescent flament in all these flames, as if through the welder's mask. I
want to reduce the reductionists, escort the powers back to the galleries and
networks from where they came. I want to locate them in the gestures and
the works that they use to extend themselves. I wantto avoid granting them
the potency that lets them dominate even in places they have never been.
If we choose the principle of reduction, it gives us plain, clean surfaces.
But since there are many surfaces, they have to be ordered, and since they
each occupy the whole of space, then they fght one another. It is necessary
to survey their boundaries. Always summing up, reducing, limiting, appro
priating, putting in hierarchies, repressing-what kind of life is that? It is
suffocating. To escape, we have to eliminate almost everything, and whatever
is left grows each day, like the barbarian hordes besieging Rome.
If we choose the principle of irreduction, we discover intertwined networks
which sometimes join together but may interweave with each other without
touching for centuries. There is enough room. There is empty space. Lots of
empty space. There is no longer an above and a below. Nothing can be placed
in a hierarchy. The activity of those who rank is made transparent and
occupies little space. There is no more flling in between networks, and the
work of those who do this padding takes up little room. There is no more
totality, so nothing is left over. It seems to me that life is better this way.
Chuplcr 3
3. 1. 1 ow do things standr Vhat arc thc actants ot which wc
thcscgucstionsthcmscvcs.Jo choosc an answcristostrcngthcnonc
andwcakcn anothcr.
Lvcryactantmakcs awhocwordtor itsct I.2. 8). Vho arc wcr
VhatcanwcknowrVhatcanwchopctorrJhcanswcrsto thcsc
I. I.6).
3. 1.2 !don`tknowhowthings stand. !knowncithcrwho!amnor
what ! want, but others say thcy know on my bchat, othcrs who
mc. Vhcthcr l am a storm, a rat, a rock, a akc, a ion, a chid, a
workcr,a gcnc, a savc, thc unconscious, or avirus,thcywhispcrto
mc, thcy suggcst, thcy imposc an intcrprctation otwhat ! am and
whatl coud bc.
Anthropologies 193
Interlude IV: Explaining Why Things-in-Themselves Get by
Very Well without Any Help from Us
Things-in-themselves? But they're fne, thank you very much. And how are
you? You complain about things that have not been honored by your vision?
You feel that these things are lacking the illumination of your consciousness?
But if you missed the galloping freedom of the zebras in the savannah this
morning, then so much the worse for you; the zebras will not be sorry that
you were not there, and in any case you would have tamed, killed, photo
graphed, or studied them. Things in themselves lack nothing, just as Africa
did not lack whites before their arrival. However, it is possible to force those
who did perfectly well without you to come to regret that you are not there.
Once things are reduced to nothing, they beg you to be conscious of them
and ask you to colonize them. Their life hangs by no more than a thread,
the thread of your attention. The spectacle of the world begins to tur around
your consciousness. But who creates this spectacle? Crusoe on his island,
Adam in his garden. How fortunate it is that you are there as saviors and
name givers. Without you "the world," as you put it, would be reduced to
nothing. You are the Zorros, the Tarzans, the Kants, the guardians of the
widowed, and the protectors of orphaned things.
It is certainly hard work to have to extract the world from nothing every
morning, aided only by the biceps and the transcendental ego. Crusoe gets
bored and lonely on his island because of this drudgery. And at night, when
you sleep, what becomes of the things that you have abandoned? You soon
lose yourself in the jungle of the unconscious. Thus are your heroes doubly
unhappy. Things-in-themselves muted and empty, expect from them their
daily bread, while at night your heroes are powerless supermen who devour
their own liver and leave their tasks undone.
What would happen if we were to assume instead that things left to
themselves are lacking nothing? For instance, what about this tree, that others
call Wellingtonia? Its strength and its opinions extend only as far as it does
itself. It flls its world with gods of bark and demons of sap. If it is lacking
anything, then it is most unlikely to be you. You who cut down woods are
not the god of trees. The tree shows what it can do, and as it does so, it
discovers what all the forces it welcomed can do. You laugh because I at
tribute too much cunning to it? Because you can fell it in fve minutes with
a chain saw? But don't laugh too soon. It is older than you. Your fathers
made it speak long before you silenced it. Soon you may have no more fuel
for your saw. Then the tree with its carboniferous allies may be able to sap
)CMI strength. So far it has neither lost nor won, for each defnes the game
and time span in which its gain or loss is to be measured.
We cannot deny that it is a force because we are mixed up with trees
194 Irreductions
however far back we look. We have allied ourselves with them in endless
ways. We cannot disentangle our bodies, our houses, our memories, our
tools, and our myths from their knots, their bark, and their growth rings.
You hesitate because I allow this tree to speak? But our language is leafy
and we all move from the opera to the grave on planks and in boxes. If you
don't want to take account of this, you should not have gotten involved with
trees in the frst place. You claim that you defne the alliance? But this illusion
is common to all those who dominate and who colonize. It is shared by
idealists of every color and shape. Ypu wave your contract about you and
claim that the tree is joined to you in a "pure relationship of exploitation,"
that it is "mere stock." Pure object, pure slave, pure creature, the tree, you
say, did not enter into a contract. But if you are mixed up with trees, how
do you know they are not using you to achieve their dark designs?
Who told you that man was the shepherd of being? Many forces would
like to be shepherd and to guide the others as they flock to their folds to be
sheared and dipped. In any case there is no shepherd. There are too many
of us, and we are too indecisive to join together into a single consciousness
strong enough to silence all the other actors. Since you silence the things that
you speak of, why don't you let them talk by themselves about whatever is
on their minds, like grown-ups? Why are you so frightenedrWhat are you
hoping to save? Do you enjoy the double misery of Prometheus so much?
3.1.3 Jhosc who spcak aways spcak otothcrs that do not spcak
thcmscvcs. Jhcyspcakothim, otthat, otus, otyou. . . otwhothis
tothoscotwhomthcy spcakinmanyways.Jhcyact as spokcsmcn,
transators, anaysts, intcrprctcrs, haruspiccs, obscrvcrs, ournaists,
soothsaycrs, socioogists, pocts, rcprcscntativcs, parcnts, guardians,
shcphcrds, ovcrs.
obbcsspcaksotthc 'pcrsona,"thc'mask,"orthc'actor"whcn
hctaksotthoscwho spcakonbchatotthcsicnt.Jhcrcarcmany
3. 1.4 Lvcry actant dccidcs who wi spcak and whcn. Jhcrc arc
thosc it cts spcak, thosc on bchat ot whom it spcaks, thosc it ad-
drcsscs. !inay, thcrc arc thosc who arc madc sicnt or who arc
aowcdto communicatc bygcsturc or symptom aonc.
'human" and 'nonhuman," 'obcct" and 'subcct," Ior this di-
Vc can makc stonc gods wak, dcny thc backs a sou,

pcak in
Anthropologies 195
thc namc otwhacs, ormakcthc ocsvotc. Actors can aways be
made to do so, cvcn though what thcy woud do or say it thcy
wcrc ctt to thcir own dcviccs is a mystcry. robabythcy woud
not bc 'backs," 'whacs," 'ocs," or 'gods" at aL)
3. 1. 5 A torcc is amost aways surroundcd bypowcrs-by voiccs
thatspcakonbchatotcrowdsthatdonotspcak I.5. 0). Jhcscpowcrs
dchnc, scducc, usc, schcmc, movc, count, incorporatc, and intcrrupt
thc torcc. 5oonitis no longer possible to distinguish bctwccn I. 5. I)
what thc torcc says itself whati tsays otitsct, whatthcpowers say
it is, and what thc crowds rcprcscntcdbythcsc powcrs woud havc
it say.
orto cmotions,wc cndup distinguishingshapcsthatcan bccass-
ihcd, at cast in pcacctimc. utthcsc cassihcations ncvcr ast tor
ong bctorc thcy arc piagcd by othcr actors who aythings out
guitc dittcrcnty.
3. 1. 6 Anything can bc rcduccd to sicncc, and cvcrything can bc
otactors who may be spoken for.
tors, or wind may bc madc to tak. Jhcir timidity has prcvcntcd
thcm trom sccing how othcrs much coscr to homc makc tossis,
prccipitatcs, botting papcr, gcncs, and tornadocs a tak. Jo bc
surc,psychoanaysts spcak otthctakativc 'unconscious," butits
rcpcrtoirc is impovcrishcd and it combincs according to vcry tcw
rucs. !n addition, psychoanaysts arc pronc to say that thc sub-
conscioushas ony 'subcctivc" mcaning. Yctawcnccdtodo is
rcadThe Times toscchowmanymorcactorsthanthcunconscious
arcmadc to spcak incndcssdittcrcntways: hcrccgionsotangcs
arc mobiizcd to supprcss vicc, thcrc thousands otpagcs ot com-
putcr printout arc gcncratcd to stop a nuccar pant, on thc ncxt
pagc sicntmaoritics arc madc to scrcam on bchat otthc unborn
chid, a tcw pagcs caricr thc dcad wcrc brought back to itc to
stop thc dcsccration ota ccmctary, on thc back pagc whacs had
thcir spokcsmcn intcrrupt thc dcady mission ota|apancsc boat.
3. 1. 7 ydchnitionfaithful rcprcscntativcscannotcxist2.2. I), sincc
196 Irreductions
J. 1.J) . Lvcry powcr can thus bc reduced to its simplest expression.
A that s nccdcd s to havc cach otthc actors nVhoscnamc thc
powcr spcaks tak n turn. Jhcn cach actor w say what t wants
tsct, wth ncthcr ccnsorship norpromptng. Jhcrc s no guartcr n
thctorccsthat rcducc onc anothcr and ca cach othcr`s butt. 'You
spcaknthcrnamc, butt! spcaktothcmmysct,whatwthcysay
to mcr"
3. 1. 8 Jhcrcsonyoncwaynwhch anactorcanprovctspowcr.
!t has to makc t|osc n whosc namcs t spokcpeak and show that
thcy asaythcsame thing. nccths s donc, thcnthcactorcan say
that t dd not spcak tsct but tathtuy 'channccd" thc vcws ot
cach casc thc dcmonstrators and thc rats havc to bc sccn to bc
sayngthcmscvcsthc samcasthcyhavcbccnmadcto say. And as
tor angcs and dcvs, thcrc arc a thousand ways othndng sgns
ot thcm-wtncsscs, stgmata, or prodgcs-that w sottcn thc
hardcncd hcart.
3.1. Jomakcothcrtorccsspcak, awchavcto doslay them out
bctorc whocvcr wc arc ta!kng to. Vc havcto makc othcrs bccvc
thatthcyarc deciphering what thc torccs arc sayngrathcrthan s-
tcnngtowhatwc arc sayng. !sn`tthsamostaways possbcr
Lcctons,massdcmonstratons, books, mraccs,vsccraadopcn
on thc atar, vsccra ad out on thc opcratngtabc, hgurcs, da-
gramsandpans, crcs,monstcrs,cxhbtonsatthcpory-cvcry-
thng has bccn trcd somcwhcrc at onc tmc or anothcr n thc
attcmptto ottcr proot.
3.1.1 5ncc a spokcsman aways says something other than do
thosc t makcs spcak, and sncc t s aways ncccssary to ncgotatc
smartyanddttcrcncc 1.2. 1) , thcrcsalways room torcontrovcrsy
aboutthc hdctyotanyntcrprctaton. A torcc canaways nsnuatc
makc thcm say somcthng csc.
Jhc dcmonstrators dd not say that thcy wantcd thc torty-hour
wcck-thcy ust attcndcd nthcr thousands, thc rats dd not say
that thcy had condtoncd rchcxcs-thcy smpy stttcncd undcr
Anthropologies 197
ccctrcshocks. thcrscanthcrctorcntcrvcnc.Jhcprcscnccotthc
workcrs can bc transatcd by sayng that thcy wcrc 'pad by thc
unon," and thc stttncss ot thc rats can bc ntcrprctcd as 'an
cxpcrmcnta arttact. "
3. 1. 11 Jhcrc snonatural end tosuch controvcrscs.Jhcymay a-
waysbcrcopcncd J. I. 6). Jhconywaytocoscthcmstostopothcr
actantstromcadngthoscthathavc bccn cnrocdastrayandturnng
thcmntotrators.!nthc cnd, ntcrprctatonsarcawaysstabzcdby
an array otforces.
3. 1. 12 A torcc bccomcspotcntony ttspeaks for othcrs, ttcan
makc thosc t scnccd speak whcn cacd upon to dcmonstratc ts
strcngth, and tt can torcc thosc who chacngcd t to confess that
ndccd twas sayngwhatts acs woudhavc sad.
hctradcunoncannotstop ts rght-wng opponcnts trom ntcr-
prctng thc dcmonstraton dttcrcnty. 5knncr cannot prcvcnt hs
'dcarcocagucs" tromntcrprctnghscxpcrmcntnothcrways.
!tmcy coud, mcy woud ccrtany do so, but as t s, thcy can`t.
thcrs woud run thcm tthcy trcd.
3.2. 1 Vhat sthc statc ot attarsrVhcrc do thngs standrVhats
thcbaanccottorccsr Usngthcmuttudcs whchthcymakcspcak,
somcactantsbccomcpowcrtu cnough to dchnc, brchyandocay,
whatt s a about. Jhcy dvdc actants, scparatcthcmnto assoc-
atons,dcsgnatccnttcs, cndowthcsc cnttcswth aw or a tunc-
ton, drcct thcsc ws or tunctons toward goas, dccdc how to
dctcrmnc that thcsc goas havc bccn achcvcd, and so on. Lttc by
ttc thcy nk cvcrythngtogcthcr.Lvcrythngcnds ts strcngth to an
cntccchy that has no strcngth, and thc whoc s madc 'ogca" and
'consstcnt"-n othcrwords strong 2. I. 8) .
! am not tryngto avodgvngan answcrto thc gucston, 'Vhat
s thc baancc ot torccsr" Pcvcrthccss, wc must ccar away thc
undcrgrowth sothat all thc answcrs w bc abc to dspay thcm-
3.2.2 Ponc ot thc actants mobzcd to sccurc an aancc stops
actngontsownbchat I .J. I, I.J.4) . Jhcycachcarryontomcntng
ws, and tunctons.
198 Irreductions
!orccs arc aways rcbcious I. I. I) , thcy cnd thcmscvcs but do
notgivc I. 5. I) . Jhis istructorthctrccthatsprings up again,thc
ocusts that dcvour thc crops, thc canccr that bcats othcrs at its
own gamc, thc muahs who dissovc thc crsian cmpirc, thc Zi-
stationthatcracks,thc acrycbucsthatconsumcothcrpigmcnts,
thcion that docs not toowthc prcdictions otthc oracc-a ot
thcsc havcothcrgoas and othcrdcstinicsthat cannot bcsummed
up. Jhcm

scvcs undcr othcr banncrs.
3.2.3 How can thosc in whosc namc wc spcak bc stoppcd trom
takingr ow can thosc that havc bccn rccruitcd through good uck
bc pacihcdr !s thcrc a single cntity anywhcrc that docs not havc to
sovcthcscprobcmsrJhcanswcr sawaysthcsamc, torthcrcisony
oncsourccotstrcngm: thatwhichcomcstromoiningtogcmcr I.J.2).
uthowcanrcbcsbcassociatcdrBy fnding more allies which torcc
thc othcrs to hod togcthcr, and so on, unti a gradicnt otunccrtain
obccts cnds up making thc hrst rank ot thc aiancc rcsistant and
thcrcbyrca I. I.2).
Jhc notion ot systcm isotnousctous, tor a systcm isthc cnd
product ottinkcring and not its point otdcparturc 2. I.4). !or a
thisisncvcrthc casc, tunctionsmustbcccar,whcrcasmostactors
cvcrywhcrc thcrc arc disputcs aboutthc ratc and dircction ot cx-
havc aways paycd I. I. IJ) .
3.2.4 As itassociatcs ccmcnts togcthcr, cvcry actor has a choicc:
tocxtcnd turthcr, riskngdissidcnccanddissociation, orto rcintorcc
consistcncy and durabity, but notgo too tar.
3.2.5 Awc-dchncdstatcotattairsisthcworkotmany forces. Jhcy
agrcc about nothing and associatc ony via ong nctworks in which
thcy tak cndcssy without bcing abc to sum onc anothcr up. Jhcy
Anthropologies I
thng, nctworks rcntorcc onc anothcr and rcsst dcstructon. 5od
ycttragc, soatcdyct ntcrwovcn, smoothycttwstcd togcthcr, cn-
tccchcs torm strangc tabrcs. Jhs s how wc havc magncd 'tra-
dtona words," howcvcr tar back wc ook.
! do nottakot'cuturc," bccauscthcwordhas bccnrcscrvcd by
Vcstcrncrs to dcscrbconcotthcdctachcdcnttcs uscdto const-
tutc 'man." !orccs cannot bc dvdcd nto thc 'human" and thc
'nonhuman." ! do nottak ot'soccty," bccausc thc assocatons
Agan, ! do not tak ot'naturc,"bccauscthoscwhospcaknthc
who spcak n thc namc otbood, thc dcad, Iood, hc, and hsh. !
woudgrant thc tcrm 'unconscous" twc wcrc suthccnty opcn-
mndcd to dcsgnatcthngs-n-thcmscvcswth t.
3. 3. 1 !n ordcr to sprcad tar wthout osng cohcrcncc, an actant
wth ts causc, carry out a thc tunctons that arc dchncd tor thcm,
andcomctots ad wthouthcstatonwhcnthcyarc summoncd. Jhc
scarchtorthcsc dcaacsoccupcsthc spacc andtmcotthosc who
wsh to bc strongcr than othcrs. As soon as an actor has tound a
, somewhat more faithful ay,tcantorccanothcraytobccomcmore
faithful n ts turn. !r crcatcs a gradcnt that obgcs thc othcr acs
to adopt a shapc and rctan t tor thc tmc bcng I. I. I2).
Vc spcndaotottmcookngtorwhatcvcrhappcnsto bchardcr
n ordcr to shapc what s sottcr- a stonc to scrvc as an anv, a
boassaytomcasurcthc boodcvcotcndorphnc,acow`stonguc
to ct a vrus pcnctratc thc marrow, a awto curb thc appcttc ot
a obby, a obby to modty thc aw. Jhc word 'tcchnoogy" s
otthosc ncs ot torcc that takc thc torm otnuts and bots.
3.3.2 !t wc want to stoptorccstrom transtormng thcmscvcs thc
aways drcam ot bcng cvcrywhcrc, cvcn whcn thcy arc tar away or
onggonc. owcanthcybcprcscntwhcnothcrtorccs havcpushcd
thcm to onc sdc I.2.5) r ow can thcy cxtcnd thcmscvcs whcn
200 Irreductions
and torcvcrr h, thcpotcncyotthc myth otpotcncy| Anythngthat
hcps thc prcscnt structurc to ast bcyondthc momcnt whcn torcc s
wthdrawn w do.
3.3.3 Vhcn a torcc has tound acs that aow t to m thc ranks
otothcr torccsn a astng manncr, tcancxtcndtsct agan. Jhs s
bccausc thctathtu arctcdby such durabc nks thatthc torccmay
wthdraw wthout tcar. Lvcn whcn t s not thcrc, cvcrythng w
happcn as ttwcrc. !nthc cnd,thcrc s smpy aoccton ottorccs
whch act tor t but wthout t.
Vc somctmcs ca thcsc machnatons ot torccs 'mcchansms."
Jhs tcrm s poory choscn-bccausc t mpcs that atorccs arc
mcchanca,whcrcasmostarcnot, bccausctcmphaszcshardwarc

atthccxpcnscotsottcrrcatons, andbccausctassumcsthatthcy
arc man-madc and arthca, athough thcr gcncaogy s prccscy
what s at stakc.
3.3.3. 1 Jo ganpotcncysawaysamattcrotscttngtorccsagainst
onc anothcr. Jhc powcr that rcsuts trom thc whoc array s thcn
attrbutcd to thc last torcc, trappcd by a thc othcrs.
Jhc rcason ! havc takcd ottorcc trom thc outsct shoud now bc
ccar. !twasnotto extend tcchncamctaphorsto phosophy. n
thc contrary, thcstrcngthotmachncs orautomatsmss achcvcd
ony rarcy and ocay. ny whcn wc gnorc a thc othcr torccs
otwhchthcy arcthc last in line canwctakot'tcchnoogy."Jhc
cngnc purrng undcr thc hood s ony onc otthc possbc torms
takcn by thc conspracy ot torccs. Dcsc hopcd to optmzc thc
was to bc thc samc motor, thc samc rcscarch, thc samc optmza-
ton: comprcsson, mxturc, rccovcry, ycd. Jhcrc s nothng spcca n thcsc machnatons apart trom
ths Nachavcan nuncton: cocct thc argcstpossbc numbcr ot
tathtuacsthatwccaninside, andpush thoscthatwcdoubtto thc
outside. !n ths way wc gct a ncw dvsonbctwccn thc hard and thc
Jhoscwho arc takcn n byths dvsontak ot 'tcchnoogy" and
ot'thc soca,"wthoutrcazngthat 'thc soca" maybcwhat s
ch ovcr, kc thc shavngs tromthc carpcntcr`spanc. Lvcry buc
prntcan bcrcad asanothcrPrince: tcmc yourtocranccs, your
Anthropologies 201
bcnchmarks, your cabratons, thc patcnts you havc cvadcd and
thc cguatons you havc choscn,'and ! w tc you who you arc
atrad ot, who you hopc w comc to your support, who you
dccdcd to avod or to gnorc, and who you wsh to domnatc
Coutouzs. 1983) .
3.3.4 Yct you cannot stop torccs trom payng aganst cach othcr
(3.2.2) . Jhcrc s no conspracy, sorccry, ogc, argumcnt, ormachnc
thatcanstop thcmobzcdactants trom churnngroundandbong
as thcy scarch tor othcr goas and aanccs. Jhc most mpcrsona
machnc s morc crowdcdthan a pond othsh.
Contrary to Lcbnz, nthc movcmcnt otthc watchthcrc arc aso
ponds tu ot hsh and hsh tu ot ponds. Jo bc surc, t s aways
possbc to hnd pcopc who w say that machncs arc cod, m-
pcrsona, nhuman, or stcrc. ut ook at thc purcst aoy. t s
bctraycdcvcrywhcrc, too, kcthcrcstotouraanccs.Vcstcrncrs
aways bccvc that motors arc 'purc" n thc samc way that ar-
!t s thc vtro otthc sou" !ntcrudc V!).
3.3.5 !nordcrtocxtcndtsct,anactantmustprogramothcractants
sothatthcy arc unabcto bctray t ( 3. 3. 3) , dcsptc thc tactthat thcy
arc bound to do so (3. 3. 4). Jhcrc s ony onc way to rcsovc ths
guandary. sncc no ndvdua nk s sod, actants havc to support
onc anothcr, thc momcnt numcrous nks arc arraycd n tcrs, thcy
bccomc rcaty.
owcvcr,ths mprcssons a thatsnccdcdto changcthshapc
otthngsbyinforming or impressing thcm.Jhssthcmystcrythat
has to bc cxpancd.
3.3.6 We always misunderstand the strength of the strong. Jhough
pcopc attrbutctto thc purty otan actant, ts nvarabyducto a
tcrcd arrayotwcakncsscs.
Interlude V: Where We Learn with Great Delight That
There Is No Such Thing as a Modern World
The whites were not right. They were not the strongest. When they landed
on the island, their cannons only fred spasmodically and were no use at all
202 [rreductions
in the face of poisoned arrows. Their engines were broken down more ofte
than not and had to be repaired each day in a flood of grease and oaths.
The Holy Book of their priests stayed as silent as the grave. The drugs of
their doctors acted so erratically that it was scarcely possible to distinguish
between their effects and those of medicinal herbs. Their books of law were
beset with contradictions the moment they were applied to lineages or atolls.
Each day the civil servants waited to be transferred or carried off by yellow
fever. Their geographers were wrong about the names they gave to familiar
places. Their ethnographers made fools of themselves with their blunders
and their boorishness. Their merchants knew the worth of nothing and valued
knickknacks, totems, wild pigs, and ground nuts equally. No, they were not
the strongest, these uninitiated whites, racked by fever and smelling, acccord
ing to the natives, of fsh or rotten meat.
Yet they managed to make the island archaic, primitive, pagan, magic,
precommercial, prelogical, pre anything we care to think of. And they, the
whites, became in turn the "modern world."
This leads to the question that is asked on the shores of every ravaged
country: how did such a rabble of weak, illogical, and vulgar nonbelievers
manage to conquer the cohesive and well-policed multitudes? The answer to
this question is simple. They were stronger than the strongest because they
arrived together. No, better than that. They arrived separately, each in his
place and each with his purity, like another plague on Egypt.
The priests spoke only of the Bible, and to this and this alone they attrib
uted the success of their mission. The administrators, with their rules and
regulations, attributed their success to their country's. civilizing mission. The
geographers spoke only of science and its advance. The merchants attributed
all the virtues of their art to gold, to trade, and to the London Stock Exchange.
The soldiers simply obeyed orders and interpreted everything they did in
terms of the fatherland. The engineers attributed the effcacy of their machines
to progress.
They believed in a separate order from which they drew their strengths.
This is why they argued so much and distrusted one another. In their reports
the administrators denounced the rapacity of the merchants. The learned
und the proselytism of the priests scandalous, whereas the latter preached
from the pulpits against the cruelty of the administrators and the atheism of
the learned. The ethnologists despised everyone, while extracting their secrets
and dragging their genealogies and myths from the natives one by one. They
each believed themselves to be strong because of their purity-and indeed
there were many worthy people who thought of nothing but the faith, the
fag, philosophy, or fnance.
Even so-and they knew this well-it was only because of the others that
they were able to stay on the island at all. Since the priests were too weak
to make God step out of the Bible, they needed soldiers and merchants to
Anthropologies 203
fll their churches. Since the merchants could not force the sale of totems
with the strength of gold alone, they drafted priests and scientists to reduce
their value. Since the scientists were too weak to dominate the island by
science alone, they depended on police raids, forced labor, and the porters
and interpreters lent to them by administrators.
Each group thus lent its strength to the others without admitting it, and
therefore claimed to have retained its purity. Each went on attributing its
strength to its domestic gods-gold, private convictions, justice, scientifc
rigor, rationality; machines, ledgers, or notebooks.
If they had come one at a time, they would have been overwhelmed by
the island's inhabitants.
If they had come completely united, sharing the same beliefs and the same
gods and mixing all the sources of potency like the conquerors of the past,
they would have been still more easily defeated, since an injury to one would
have been an injury to all.
But they came together, each one separated and isolated in his virtue, but
all supported by the whole. With this infnitely fragile spider's web,
paralyzed all the other worlds, ensnared all the islands and singularities, and
suffocated all the networks and fabrics.
Those who "invented the modern world" were not the strongest or the
most correct, and neither are they today (Interlude VI) .
3.4. 1 owshoudwctakaboutathcscthngsthathodtogcthcrr
5houdwc tak otcconomcs, aw, mcchansms,anguagc gamcs, so-
ccty, naturc, psychoogy, or a systcmthathodsthcm a togcthcrr
!n|amcsondhmsthcrc saways asngcbackbutton matcan
undo thc machnatons otthc cv gcnus, a button that thc hcro,
cxtrcmc potcncy and cxtrcmc tragty concdc.
3.4.2 !tsnotamattcroteconomics. Jhsmakcsuscotcguvacnts,
knowng who mcasurcs and counts. Lconomcs aways arrvcs afer
thatmakctpossbcto mcasurc vaucs andcntcrntocxchangcs. !ar
trom umnatngthc tras otstrcngth, cconomcs dsguscs and rc-
prcsscsthcm. At bcst t s a way otrccordng thcsc tras oncc thcy
havc bccn stabzcd.
ncc thc nstrumcnt ot mcasurcmcnt s cstabshcd, wc can do
cconomcs and cacuatc, cconomzc, and savc. !n othcrwords wc
204 Irreductions
can convncc and cnrch. ut cconomsts do not say how thc n-
strumcnt s cstabshcd n thc hrstpacc. Agcncracconomy-acacuusotpcasurc,gcncs,orproht-
s not possbc. lt woud nccd to rcvca thosc who ncgotatc, thosc
whohavc pad, thosc who havcost andwon, howmuch thc rcpay-
mcnts arc worth, andwhcn thc account shoud bc coscd.
3.4.3 lts notamattcrotthc law. Jhs s aratchctwhch, kcany
othcr ( 1. 1. 10), pcrmts an actantto makcthctcmporaryoccupaton
ot a poston rrcvcrsbc. Jhat whch makcs thc aw strong s not
ony tcxts but aso thc parayss ot thosc who darc not transgrcss
whatthcybccvcto c'potcntay"nts scrpturcs,thats,thcgap
bctwccn aw and torcc, or aw and tact. ltwc wcd ths powcr, wc
can ntmdatc othcrs and cxtcnd ourscvcs to ncw paccs no mattcr
whatthc opposton. Jhc strcngth otthc awcomcsnottromwthn
t but trom a poor dcspscd rabbc whch gvcs t thc torcc ot tact:
moras, words, trunchcons, hopcs, admnstrauons, was, tccxcs, cs,
hnanccs, uccrs.
3.4.4 lt s not a mattcr ot machines or mechanisms. Jhcsc havc
ncvcrcxstcd wthout mcchancs, nvcntors, hnanccrs, and machn-
sts. Nachncs arcthcconccacdwshcs otactantswhchhavctamd
torccs so cttcctvcy that thcy no ongcr ook kc torccs. Jhc rcsut
sthat thc actants arc obcycd, cvcnwhcnthcy arc not thcrc (3. 3.3) .
Nany pcopc havc drcamcd otmachncs that can bccxtcndcd to
arcatonshps, butthc drcamsawayshauntcdbyanghtmarc:
arcbconbysabotagngactantswhoaytrapstorthc smoothcst-
workng machncs. Jhc strcngthotmachincs s drawn trom othcr
torccs whch comc to bcpart otthcm-torccs that othcrs dcspsc
andrcprcss, torccsthatarctccby assocatcd,avugarrabbctrom
thc owcr casscs.
3.4.5 lts not a gucston otlanguage or otanguagcgamcs (2.3. 0,
2.4.3, 2.4. 4). Vordsarcnotpowcrtubutborrowthcrstrcngthtrom
compromscs that arc tar rcmovcd trom 'bccs cttrcs."
3.4.6 ltsnotamattcrotscience. ltargumcntswcrcsovcrcgn,thcy
woud havc athc potcncy ota gouty monarch mmurcd na crum

bng castc. lt sccncc grows, ths s bccausc t managcs to convncc

Anthropologies 205
dozcns otactants otdoubttu brccdingto cnd itthcirstrcngth: rats,
bactcria, industriaists, myths, gas, worms, spccia stccs, passions,
handbooks,workshops . . . acrowdottooswhoschcpisdcnicdcvcn
whic itis uscd.
cnmcnt cads tothc crasscsttorm otobscurantism.
3.4.7 lt is not a mattcr ot society. Jhc mcaning ot thc 'socia"
probcms. ltiswhatiscttwhcncvcrything cschas bccndividcdup
amongthcpowcrtu, whatcvcr is ncithcr cconomic, tcchnica, cga,
noranythingcsciscttto it. Dowcrcaycxpcctto bindcvcrything


with this impovcrishcd vcrsion ot thc socia r Likc a may-

its groups, and its stratcgics-is too coscy idcntihcd with human
ltsociology wcrc as its namcsuggcsts) thc scicnccotassociations
rathcrthanthc scicnccotthc sociatowhichitwasrcduccdinthc
ninctccnth ccntury, thcn pcrhaps wc woud bc happy to ca our-
scvcs 'socioogists."
3.4.8 ltisnotamattcrotintersubjective relationships. nyinour
dayandagccoudwc hopc to hndpcopcso impovcrishcd astotry
to cxpain nuccarrcactors, nation-statcs, or stock cxchangcs onthc
basisot'intcracuons." sychoogy and its sistcr, psychoanaysis, think
thatthcyarc rich inthcirinhnitcpovcrty. Jhcrc isnothingto bc said
aboutthisvicwcxccptthatitdocsnothod.Jhcshrinkwho shrinks
cannotcxpand to cxpain thc rcst
lnthc dcpths ot thc country thcrc havc aways bccn rctrcats tor
pcopc who wantto makc cathcdras outotmatchcs orba-point
3.4. lt is not a gucstion otnature J.2.5) . Jry to makc scnsc ot
thcsc scrics. sunspots, thawcgs, antibodics, carbon spcctra, hsh,
into mcn, mothcrgoddcsscs in ivory, totcms otcbony.
5ccr Vccannotrcduccthcnumbcrorhctcrogcncityotaianccsin
this way. Natures mingc with onc anothcr and with 'us" so thor-
206 [rreductions
oughy that wc cannot hopc to scparatc thcm and dscovcr ccar,
unguc orgns to thcr powcrs !ntcrudc !V) .
3.4.1 !t s not a gucston ot systems (3. 2. 3) . 5ncc pcopc know
thatthcorgn otpowcr docs notrcsdc nthcpurty ottorccs, thcy
ocatc t n a 'systcm" ot purc torccs. hs drcam s aways bcng
rcborn. Law s attachcdto cconomy, to boogy, to anguagc, to so-
ccty, to cybcrnctcs . . . cauttu boxcs arc drawn, oncd by nccy
pontcd arrows. Untortunatcy tor thosc who makc systcms, actors
do not stand st tor ong cnough to takc a group photo, boxcs
dttuscsntosoccty.Po,aanccsarctorgcdnotbetween nccdscrctc
partcs but n a dsordcry and promscuous conhct that s horrbc
to thosc who worshp purty.
3. 5. 1 Vc arc aways msundcrstandng thc cthcacy ot torccs: wc
attrbutc thngs to thcm that thcy havc ony bccn cnt I.5. I) . Vc
hod thcm to bc purc, though thcy woud bc compctcy mpotcnt t
thswcrcthccasc.Vhcnwcookatthcwaynwhchthcywork, wc
dscovcr bts andpcccsthatcanncvcrbcaddcdup.Lachnctworks
sparsc, cmpty, tragc, andhctcrogcncous. !t bccomcs strongonyt
t sprcads out and arrays wcakacs.
Vhatcanwccomparcwththcwcakncsscsthatmakcup atorccr
A macramc. !s thcrc a knot that nks mcn to mcn, ncurons to
ncurons, or shccts ot ron to shccts ot ronr Po. Jhc ropc ot
ths Gordan knot has not yct bccn wovcn. utcvcry day wc scc
bctorc ourvcry cycs amacramcotstrngsotdttcrcnt coors, ma-
tcras, orgns, and cngths, trom whch wc hang our most chcr-
shcd goods.
3.5.2 Canwc dcscrbc anctworks nthcsamcwayrYcs,bccausc
thcrc s no 'modcrnword."
!orycars cthnographcrs havc sad that t s mpossbc to study
'prmtvc" or anccnt pcopcs t wc scparatc aw, cconomy, rc-
gon, tcchnoogy, andthc rcst. nthc contrary, thcyhavc argucd
that thcsc ooscy nkcd mxturcs may bc undcrstood ony t wc
ookvcry coscyatpaccs, tamcs, crcumstanccs,andnctworks.
utwhcn thcy tak otthcr own countrcs, thcyarc commttcdto
thc scparaton otsphcrcs andcvcs.
Anthropologies 207
3.5.3 Jhc 'modcrn word" s thc abc on thc button that untcs
cxtrcmc potcncy and cxtrcmc mpotcncc J.4. I) . Jhc hctcrogcncous
andoca appcaton otwcakncsscsbccomcsasystcmotpowcrswth
prcstgous namcs such as naturc, cconomy, aw, and tcchnoogy.
Lkcts zcaots, thoscwho abhor thcmodcrnwordhavc nvcntcd
morc tcrms to dcscrbc tthanthc dcvouthavc tound to cccbratc
thc namc ot God. Jhcy say cthcr 'Vadc rctro, satanas" or 'hcar
my praycr" to cach otthcsc nvocatons:
thc modcrnword
consumcr soccp
onc-dmcnsona soccty
soucss soccty
modcrn madncss
modcrn tmcs
'carmypraycr." 'Vadcrctro, 5antanas." Lachotthcscwords
conccas thc work donc by torccs and makcs an anthropoogy ot
thchcrc andnow mpossbc. Yct ts rcay vcry smpc: thcrcs
no modcrnword, or tthcrcs onc, ts smpy a styc, as whcn
wc say 'modcrn styc."
208 Irreductions
Interlude N. In Which the Authqr, Losing His Temper,
Claims That Reducers Are Traitors
I would like the following mystery to be explained. Why is it that since the
Enlightenment we have delighted in talking of the "modern world"? Why is
it that faith in the existence of this world links Althusser to Rockefeller, Zola
to Burke, Sartre to Aron, and Levi-Strauss to Hayek ( ? They say this
"moder world" is different from all the others, absolutely and radically
different. In the "modern world," but only there, the Being is not gathered
by any being. This poor world is absolutely devoid of soul, and the tawdriest
hand-carved clog has more being than a tin can. Why is it that we agree so
easily with these premises even before we commit ourselves to "progress,"
"proft," or "revolution," or against "materialism," "rationalization," or
"modernism"? Our most intelligent critics have done nothing for the last
150 years but complain of the damage caused by progress, the misdeeds of
objectivity, the extension of market forces, the march of concrete in our
towns, and dehumanization.
All right, let them complain, become indignant, criticize, and fght. This
is necessary. But if they really want to win, why do they willingly hand over
the only thing to the enemy that it needs to achieve domination?
The "enemies" on the ffty-eighth floor of the Chase Manhattan Bank, a
quarter of a mile underground in the Red Army feld marshall's bunker,
three-quarters of a mile up in the spectrography room in the Mount Palomar
Observatory, at four o'clock in th,e moring on the benches of the European
Commission-"they" know very well that objectivization, rationalization,
and optimization are pipe dreams that are , about as accessible as the gates
of Paradise. This is why every time they engineer a coup they are so surprised
to discover that their enemies strike camp without engaging and leave the
feld of battle
to them. In the face of the "modern world" everything flees.
A captain of industry is not just a captain among many; he becomes a
"capitalist." Such a radical discontinuity is created between him and his
predecessors that those who could have beaten him run away. An engineer
who, like the tinkerers, apprentices, and craftsmen of the past, brews up a
slightly more favorable confguration of forces is converted into a Franken
stein by those who ought to be making an effort to prevent this confguration
from turning into a monster.
For years we have voluntarily granted to the "modern world" a potency
that it does not have. Perhaps once upon a time it bluffed and claimed
superiority, but there was no reason whatsoever to concede this superiority
(4.2. 1) . For too long the critics have withdrawn their troops from the Rhine
land, intimidated by the rumbling of "rationalization" and "disenchant

ent." This massive strategic decision has left us disarmed in the face of the
Anthropologics 209
unmatched arrogance of captains of industry, technologists, and scientists.
Munich was nothing compared with this unconditional surrender which
grants the enemy everything that it would never have been able to win by
itself. This pathetic melodrama by installments has been going on since the
beginning of the nineteenth century. In the hope that this accusation will
shame them, captains, engineers, and scholars are said to be rational and
absolutely different. However, this simply crowns them with an accolade
that they would never have won otherwise. Their opponents think themselves
rich with what they have saved from the feld of battle: the "spiritual," the
"symbolic," the "warmth of interpersonal relationships," the "lived world,"
the "irrational," the "poetic," the "cultural," and the "past." We know the
politics of the scorched earth, the politics of the worst case, but this strategy,
which asks us to leave everything untouched and to flee, is new.
We witnessed these Munichs, though we could have fought and won. We
saw this exodus in which the masses carried away their culture and poetry,
though they lost everything in flight.
We must distrust those who believe in "true" market relationships, "true"
equivalences, or "true" scientifc deductions. No matter how polite, well
meaning, and cultivated they may be, they do not save the treasure that they
claim to guard. In fact, they disarm those who might have the courage to
approach the relations of force that create equivalences, machines, or knowl
edge. They weaken those who might, perhaps, have had the strength to
modif that knowledge or those machines.
3.5.4 !ortunatcy, thc word is nomor discnchantcd than ituscd
to bc, machincs arc no morc poishcd, rcasoning is no tightcr, and
cxchangcs arc no bcttcr organizcd. owcanwc spcakota 'modcrn
word" whcn its cthcacy dcpcnds upon idos: moncy, aw, rcason,
naturc, machincs, organization, oringuistic structurcsr Vc havc a-
rcadyuscdthcword 'magic" 2. I. II) . 5inccthcoriginsotthcpowcr
otthc 'modcrn word" arc misundcrstood and cthcacyis attributcd
to things that ncithcr movc nor spcak, wc may spcak otmagic oncc
again 4. I.0).
3. 5. 5 Vhatwcarc pcascdtoca 'othcr cuturcs" havc a numbcr
otsccrcts,oursmayhavconyonc. Jhisiswhy'othcrcuturcs"sccm
mystcrious to us and worth knowing, whcrcas our own sccms both
unknowabc and strippcd ot mystcry. Jhis sccrct is thc only thing
thatdistinguishcs our cuturc tromthc othcrs: that it and it aonc is
notonc cuturc amongmany. urbcictinthcmodcrnword ariscs
tromthis dcnia. Jo avoidit, a wc havcU do is ointogcthcrwhat
210 Irreductions
wc normay scparatc whcn taking otourscvcs. Vc havc to bc thc
anthropoogists ot our own word.
3.6.1 Vhat is it a aboutr Vhat is thc statc ot attairsr 5omconc
spcak in thc namc ot othcrs who say nothing, and rcpics to my
gucstions byputtingmc amongthcdumb. Itthcrcpyconvinccs mc,
to support it.
3.6.2 Lvcrything happcns as itthcrc wcrc no trias otstrcngth but
rathcr astrangcIantasy: 'mcn" 'discovcring" 'naturc"|
3.6.3 nyinpoiticsarcpcopcwiingto tak ot'trias otstrcngm."
and hatc thcm. Vc compctc to dcnouncc thcir vcnaity and incom-
pctcncc,thcirbinkcrcdvision, thcirschcmcsandcompromiscs,thcir
taiurcs, thcir pragmatism or ack ot rcaism, thcir dcmagogy. ny
inpoitics arc trias otstrcngth thoughtto dchnc thc shapc ot!hings
( 1. 1.4). !t is ony poiticians who arc thought to bc dishoncst, who
arc hcd to gropc in thc dark.
!t takcs somcthing ikc couragc to admit that wc wi never do
better thanapoiti
ian ( 1.2. 1) . Vccontrasthisincompctcnccwith
thc cxpcrtisc ot thc wc intormcd, thc rigor ot thc schoar, thc
cairvoyancc ot thc sccr, thc insight otthc gcnius, thc disintcrcst-
cdncss ot thc protcssiona, thc ski ot thc crattsman, thc tastc ot
thc artist, thc sound common scnsc ot thc ordinary man in thc
strcct, thc Iair oIthc !ndian, thc dcttncss otthc cowboy who hrcs
morc guicky than his shadow, thc pcrspcctivc and baancc otthc
mistakcs. Jhcy can go back and try again. ny thc poitician is
imitcd to a singc shot and has to shoot in pubic. ! chacngc
anyonc to do any bcttcr than this, to think any morc accuratcy,
or to scc any turthcr than thc most myopic congrcssman (2. 1 .0,
4.2. 0) .
3.6.3. 1 Vhat wc dcspisc as poitica 'mcdiocrity" is simpy thc
cocction otcompromiscs that wc torcc poiticians to makc on our
!twcdcspiscpoiticswcshouddcspiscourscvcs. cguywaswrong.
Anthropologies 211
c shoud havc said, 'Lvcrything starts with poitics and, aas,
dcgcncratcs into mysticism."
J.6.4 5omconc spcaks brcathcssytoothcrs who undcrstand ony
what thcy want to hcar. Jhc story is about thosc who rcvca thcm-
scvcsthrough cnigmas andsymptoms. !romtimcto timcthoscwho
5omctimcs thosc who wcrc doing thc taking stop, angry that thcy
do not undcrstand or havc not bccnundcrstood.Vavcring, spcakcrs
gropc trom hat-mcasurc to compromisc. Jhcy pick up torccswhich
Vhcnthcyikcthc rcsut, thcyticthcirtatcto thatotmorc durabc
matcrias. Littc byittc thc torccs grow, trom combinations to ar-
whcn othcrs morc numcrous or skitu ovcrwhcm thcm.
Nachiavci aid5pinoza,whoarc accuscd otpoitica 'cynicism,"
wcrcthc most gcncrous otmcn. Jhosc who bcicvc thatthcycan
ncctcdtorccs aways do worse.
J.6.5 Jhoughitmaysoundstrangc,wcarcprobabynomorccoscy
ticd to mostotthc torccs wcspcaktorthan atradcunionististothc
workcrshc rcprcscnts, ora managingdircctoristo his sharchodcrs.
!spcakhcrcotourdrcamsust asmuchasotourrats, ourstomachs,
or our machincs.
!n thccndpoitics is an acccptabcmodc, soongasitiscxtcndcd
to thc poitics otthings-in-thcmscvcs [4.5.0) .
J.6.6 Vords probaby ook morc ikc a Komc than a computcr.
r rathcr, thc bcst-conccivcd computcr shoud bc thought ot as a
coagcotdispaccd, rcuscdruins, aspcndidKomancontusion Kid-
dcr, I8I) . Lach cntccchy ooks ikc thc court otarma.
azac said ot5tcndha`s Charterhouse of Parma thatit was The
Prince ot thc ninctccnth ccntury. ^cithcr thc sccrcts ot thc hcart
butirrcducibc, dispaccd, and bctraycd.
Chuplcr +
Irreduction ot
"the Sciences"
4.1.1 You can bccomc strong ony byassociation. ut sincc this is
aways achicvcd throug uansauon I.J.Z),thc strcngth I.5. I, Z.5.Z)
togcthcr J. J. 6). 'Nagic"isthcottcringotpotcncytothcpowcrcss.
'Jhcy havc cycs and scc not, cars and hcar not . . . "
! havc arcady takcd ot 'magic." ! uscd it hrst to dchatc thosc
who bcicvc that thcy think Z.5.J) andthcn to trcat a ogics in
thcsamc way (2. 1. 11) . ! uscd it again in ordcr to crcatc an cttcct
ot symmctry bctwccn 'primitivc cuturcs," and 'thc modcrn
word"J.5.4). ^ow ! want to usc it to dcscribc all crrors about
thcorigins otstrcngth, all potcncy.
4.1.2 Donottrustthoscwho anayzcmagic. Jhcyarc usuay ma-
giciansin scarch otrcvcngc.
Ny homagc gocs to NarcAugcwho tookthcattack'cndoubc"
ot thc sorccrcrs ot thc !vory Coast scriousy Augc: I75) . Jhis
grcatyhcpcd mcnotto takcthc attack 'cn doubc" byscicntists
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 2IJ
scriousy. Vhcn a magics arc put onthc samc tooting, wcwi
havc a ncw torm ot skcpticism oor: I/6).
. 4.1.3 Convcrscy, oncc torcc is sccn to ic in thcaianccotwcak-
ncsscs,potcncy vanishcs. tcoursc,thctorccsarc stithcrc,butthc
iusion ot potcncy is annihiatcd. Vhatcvcr dispaccs thc magica
ittook torm l ca an 'irrcduction."
cstrongmaybc, butpotcntncvcr. Kimc,butdonotcxpcctmc
towishtordcathandknccbctorcpowcr. Jotorcclwiaddnothing.
!nlntcrudc !l! ! said wc shoud 'rcducc thc rcduccrs." ln thc od
days thc struggc against magic was cacd thc 'Lnightcnmcnt,"
butthisimagchas backhrcd.JhcLnightcnmcnthassinccbccomc
tricd to iuminatc thc shadows otobscurantismhas sinccbccomc
thcwarhcad otthc missic thatwibinduswithight !crhapsit
istooatc. !crhapsthcmissicshavcarcadybccnaunchcd.!nthis
casc, ctus prcparc torattcrthcncxtwar.)
4.1.4 Vhcn a nctwork conccas its principc ot association, ! say
thatitdispays 'potcncy."Vhcnthcarrayotwcakncsscsthatmakcs
it up is visibc, ! saythat itdispays 'torcc. "
4. 1. 5 Vcarcsuttcringnottromtooitt!cbuttromtoomuchspirit.
Jhcspirit, aas, ncvcrivcsuptothcleter. 5piritisonyatcwwords,
amongmanyto whichthc mcaning otathc othcrwords isuntairy
attributcd. 5pirit thus bccomcs a potcnt iusion. Vcriy, ! say unto
you, thc spirit is wcak but thc cttcr is wiing.
Vhcnthcy spcak, thosc who arc rcigious put thc cart bctorc thc
horsc. Howcvcr, inpracticc thcy act guitc dittcrcnty. Jhcy caim
thattrcscocs, staincd gasswindows,praycrs, andgcnuhcctionarc
simpy ways ot approaching God, his distant rchcction. Yct thcy
to crcatc a toca point tor thc potcncy ot thc divinc. Jhc mystics
know wc that it a thc ccmcnts that arc said to bc pointcrs arc
abandoncd,thcnamatiscttismchorribcnightot^ada I.4.6. I) .
Apurcyspirituarcigionwoudridusotthcrcigious. Jokithc
cttcr is to ki thc gooscthatays thc godcn cggs.
4.1.6 Vhatwcca'scicncc"ismadcupotaargcarrayotccmcnts
whosc powcr wc prctcr to attributcto a tcw.
214 Irreductions
'5cicncc" cxists no morcthan 'anguagc" Z.4.J) or'thcmodcrn
word"J. 5. Z).
4.1.7 hatwcca 'scicncc"ischoscninarathcrrandom manncr
trom a motcy crowd ot actants. Jhough it rcprcscnts thc othcrs, it
dcnics this tact J. 4. 6).
Jhoscwho cathcmscvcs 'scicntists" aways putthc cart bctorc
thc horsc whcn thcy tak, though in practicc thcy gct things thc
rightway round. Jhcy caimthataboratorics, ibrarics, mcctings,
hcId notcs, instrumcnts, and tcxts arc ony ways and means ot
ibrarics, and instrumcnts in ordcr to crcatc a tocapoint torthc
potcncy ottruth. Kationaists know vcry wc that it this subor-
dinatc matcria itc wcrc supprcsscd, thcy woud bc torccd into
sicncc. A purcy scicntihc scicncc woud rid us otscicntists. or
4. 1. 8 Jhcyarcskcpticaandunbcicvingaboutwitchcsandpricsts,
but whcn it comcs to scicncc, thcy arc crcduous. Jhcy saywithout
thc sightcst hcsitation that its cthcacy dcrivcs trom its 'mcthod,"
'ogic," 'rigor," or 'obcctivity"Z. I. 0) . owcvcr, thcy makc thc
samcmistakcabout'scicncc" asthcshamandocswhcnhcattributcs
potcncyto his incantations. cct in thc cxistcncc ot 'scicncc" has
itsrctormcrs, butitdocsnothavcitsskcptics, cvcncssitsagnostics.
4. 1. 5incc nothing is by itsct cithcr rcducibc or irrcducibc to
anythingcsc I. I. 1) , thcrccannotbctcstsandwcakncsscs onthconc
hand and something else on the other 1. I.Z, I. I.5.Z, Z.J.4, Z.4.J,
Z.5. I) . owcvcr,thccunningot'scicncc" 4. I./)dividcstorccs,mak-
ing somc sccm strong whic othcrs ook 'truc" or 'rcasonabc."
4.1.1 ltpcopcdidnotbcicvcin'scicncc,"thcrcwoudbcnothing
but trias otstrcngth. ut cvcn 'in scicncc" thcrc arc ony trias ot
strcngth. Jhis mcans that thc irrcduction ot 'scicncc" is both ncc-
cssary and dithcut-ncccssary bccausc it has bccomc thc only ob
stacle which stands inthcwayotourcscapingtrom magic, dithcut
bccausc itisourastiusion, andwhcnwcdctcndit, wc bcicvc that
wcarc dctcnding our most sacrcd inhcritancc.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 215
to a critiguc ot 'scicncc," tor thcrc is nothing vcry spccia about
Interlude VII: In Which We Learn Why This Precis Says
Nothing Favorable about Epistemology
We would like to be able to escape from politics (3.6.3). We would like there
to be, somewhere, a way of knowing and convincing which differs from
compromise and tinkering: a way of knowing that does not depend upon a
gathering of chance, impulse, and habit. We would like to be able to get
away from the trials of strength and the chains of weakness. We would like
to be able to read the original texts rather than translations, to see more
clearly, and to listen to words less. ambiguous than those of the Sibyl.
In the old days we imagined a world of gods where the harsh rules of
compromise were not obeyed. But now this very world is seen as obscurantist
and confused, contrasted with the exact and effcient world of the experts.
"We are," we say, "immersed in the habits of the past by our parents, our
priests, and our politicians. Yet there is a way of knowing and acting which
escapes from this confusion, absolutely by its principles and progressively by
its results: this is a method, a single method, that of 'science.' "
This is the way we have talked since Descartes, and there are few educated
people on earth today who have not become Cartesian trough having leared
geometry, economics, accountancy, or thermodynamics. Everywhere we di
rect our best brains toward the extension of "science." It is with them that
we lodge our greatest, indeed often our only, hopes. Nowhere more than in
the evocation of this kingdom of knowledge do we create the impression
that there is another transcendental world. It is only here that there is sanc
tuary. Politics has no rights here, and the laws that rule the other worlds are
suspended. This extraterritorial status, available only to te "sciences," makes
it possible for believers to dream, like the monks of Cluny, about recon
quering the barbarians. "Why not rebuild this chaotic, badly organized world
of compromise in accordance with the laws of our world?"
So what is this difference which, like Romulus and his plough, makes it
possible to draw the limes that divide the scientifc from other ways of
knowing and convincing? A furrow, to be sure, an act of appropriation, an
enclosure in the middle of nowhere, which follows up no "natural" frontier,
an act of violence. Yes, it is another trial of strength which divides the forces
putting might on one side and right on the other.
But surely this difference must represent something real since it is so radical,
so total, and so absolute? Admittedly the credo of this religion is poor. All
that it offers is a tautology. "To know" scientifcally is to know "scientif
cally." Epistemology is nothing but the untiring affrmation of this tautology.
Abandon everything; believe in nothing except this: there is a scientifc way
of knowing, and other ways, such as, the "natural," the "social," or the
216 Irreductions
"magical." All the failings of epistemology-its scorn of history, its rejection
of empirical analysis, its pharisaic fear of impurity-are its only qualities,
the qualities that are sought for in a frontier guard. Yes, in epistemology
belief is reduced to its simplest expression, but this very simplicity brings
success because it can spread easily, aided by neither priest nor seminary.
Of course, I am exaggerating. The faith has some kind of content. T ech
nically, it is the negation of the paragraph with which I started this precis
( 1. 1.2). Since the gods were destroyed, this faith has become the main obstacle
that stands in the way of understanding the principle of irreduction. Its only
function is passionately to deny that there are only trials of strength. "Be
instant in season, out of season," to say that "there is something in addition,
there is also reason." This cry of the faithful conceals the violence that it
perpetrates, the violence of forcing this division.
All of which is to say that this precis, which prepares the way for the
analysis of science and technology, is not epistemology, not at all.
4.2. 1 '5cicncc" -inguotationmarks-docsnotcxist.!tisthcnamc
that has bccn pastcd onto ccrtain scctions ot ccrtain nctworks, as-
sociationsthatarcso sparsc andtragicthatthcywoudhavccscapcd
attcntion atogcthcr itcvcrything had not bccn attributcd to thcm.
Jwoto thrccpcrccntotthc G^! otatcwindustria nations, two-
thirds otwhich is spcnt on industry and tor miitary purposcs-
thatis notmuch.Jhctinytractionthatrcmainsisvaucdbyatcw
undcrstand it at a. !or biions ot othcrs a thcsc nctworks arc
4.2.2 '5cicncc" has no standingotits own. !t takcs shapc onyby
dcnying what carricd it to powcr and by attributing its soidity not
to what hods but to what is hcd togcthcr (2.4.7). Vith this dcnia
'it" ignorcs cvcn itsct.
!t thc mongrcl tribcs that do thc dirty work wcrc withhcd trom
'physics," its cucubrations coud notbcdistinguishcdtromthosc
otachcmists orpsychoanaysts.wasthispossibcinthcpastwhcn
thcrcwcrc not so manytribcs r
4.2.3 '5cicncc" is an artihciacntityscparatcdtromhctcrogcncous
nctworks byunjust means. Jhcrc arctwomcasurcs, onctorthc'sci-
cntists" andthcothcrtorthc rcst.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 217
ut i tan iustrious scicntist rcnounccs a discrcditcd hypothcsis,
thcnon thc contraryhc is hcd to bc showing disintcrcstcdncss. It
an untortunatc witch attributcs succcss in battc to a magic ritc,
shc is mockcd tor hcr crcduity. ut ita cccbratcd rcscarchcr at-
tributcs thc succcss othcr aboratory to a rcvoutionary idca, no
onc aughs, cvcn though cvcryonc shoud. Jhc thought ot making
a rcvoution with idcas | It consumcrs cut thcir stcak into sma
picccstomakcitcasicrto chcw,noonccommcnts.utitatamous
phiosophcr in Amstcrdam asscrts that wc must 'dividc up cach
ot thc dithcutics into as many parts as possibc," no grcatcr ad-
miration coud bc cxprcsscd tor 'a mcthod otrighty conducting
thcrcasonandscckingtortruthinthcscicnccs. "Itthcmostobscurc
oppcrian zcaottaks ot'tasihcation,"pcopc arc rcadyto scc a
protound mystcry. utita windowccancr movcs hishcadto scc
whcthcr thc smcar hc wants to ccan is on thc insidc or outsidc,
no onc marvcs. It a young coupc movc a piccc ot turniturc in
to htagain,whohndsthisworthyotnotcrutit'thcorics"rathcr
than tabcs arc movcd, thcn pcopc tak cxcitcdy ot a Kuhnian
'paradigm shitt. " I am vugar, but this is csscntia in a domain
whcrcinusticcis soprotound. Jhcyaugh atthoscwho bcicvc in
cvitation but caim,withoutbcingcontradictcd,thatthcoricscan
raisc thc word.
4.2.4 '5cicncc" ony givcsthc imprcssionotcxisting byturningits
cxistcnccintoapermanent miracle. Unabctoadmititstrucaics,it
is torccd to cxpain onc marvc with anothcr, and that onc with a
third. It gocs on unti itooks ust ikc atairytac.
5omc say that it is a miracc that 'mathcmatics is appicabc to
physicarcaity. "thcrssaythat'thcmostincomprchcnsibcthing
about thc univcrsc is that it`s at a comprchcnsibc." 5ti othcrs
cxprcss amazcmcnt that thc aws otphysics 'arc univcrsay ap
picabc," that ^cwton discovcrcd thcm, and that Linstcin rcvo-
utionizcd thcm. '5cicncc" bccomcs truy a circus sidcshow with
gcniuscs, rcvoutions, and dci cx machina. ut no onctaks otthc
chambcr ot horrors down bcow. Vcn wc bccomc agnostic, wc
havc to admitthat most paccs otscicntihc pigrimagc ook much
ikc Lourdcs, butmorc guibc sti, tor thcy mock Lourdcs |
218 Irreductions
4.2.5 '5cicncc" is a sanctuary ony so ong aswctrcatthcwinncrs
andthcoscrs asymmctricay.
^obody can scparatc thc 'intcrna" history ot scicncc trom thc
'cxtcrna" history otits aics. Jhc tormcr docs not count as his-
tory at a. At bcst it is court historiography, at worst thc Lcg-
cndsotthc 5aints. Jhc attcris notthc history ot 'scicncc," it is
4.2.6 cicIinthccxistcnccot'scicncc"isthccttcctotcxaggcration,
inusticc,asymmctry, ignorancc,crcduity,anddcnia. !t'scicncc" is
distincttromthcrcst,thcnitisthccndrcsut otaongincotcoups
dc torcc.
4.3.1 '5cicncc" is much too ramshackc to tak about. Vc must
spcakinstcadotthe allies whichccrtainnctworksuscto makcthcm-
scvcs strongcrthan othcrs ( 1. 3;1, 2.4. 1, 3. 3. 1) . ln this way wc wi
scc torcc instcad otpotcncy ( 4. 1. 5) .
4.3.2 Knowcdgc docs not cxist-what wouditbc ( 1.4.3) ? Jhcrc
a caims to thc contrary, cratts hod thc kcy to knowcdgc. Jhcy
makc it possibc to rcturn 'scicncc" to thc nctworks trom which it
camc !ntroduction).
4.3.3 Vcdonot think. Vc donothavc idcas (2.5. 4). Kathcr thcrc
is thc action ot writing, an action which invovcs working with in
scriptions thathavcbccncxtractcd,anactionthatispracticcdthrough
talking to othcr pcopc who ikcwiscwritc, inscribc, tak, andivc in
simiaryunusuapaccs, anactionthatconvinces ortaisto convincc
with inscriptions which arc madc to spcak, to writc, and to bc rcad
(3. 1.0, 3. 1 .9) .
Vhcn wc tak ot 'thought," cvcn thc most skcptica osc thcir
critica tacutics. Likc vugar sorccrcrs, thcy ct 'thought" travc
who is not crcduous whcn it comcs to idcas. Yct 'thought" is
rcayguitc simpc, torwhcnwcwritcaboutothcrinscriptions, wc
actuaycovcrgrcatdistanccsinatcwccntimctcrs.Naps, diagrams,
arc torgottcn, thc matcrias that arc uscd to makc 'thought" in-
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 219
4.3.4 Dcspitc a imprcssions to thc contrary, standing bywhat is
writtcn on ashcctotpapcraoncis ariskytradc.owcvcrthistradc
isno morc miracuousthanthat otthcpaintcr,thcscaman,thc tight-
ropc wakcr, orthc bankcr.
!t is intcrcsting to scc thc Grcck caningovcrthcbindingsurtacc
ot thc parchmcnt and obscssivcy toowing thc incisions ot thc
styus, cvcn whcn thcsc cad to sophisms. !t is tascinating to scc
thc Church !athcrssprcadingoutthcdittcrcntvcrsionsotthcsamc
tcxt and carning to py thc tradc ot cxcgcsis, thc mothcr ot all
scicntihc discipincs. !t is stimuating to toow thc !taian as hc
Liscnstcin: 1975) . !tis tascinatingto study, as!didtortwoycars,
thc nccdcs that scratch thc drums ot physiographs, to scc how
traps arc sctto makcthc things that arc takcd aboutwritc (3. 1.5)
and spcak dirccty tothosc whom onc wishcs to convincc. Jhcsc
bizarrc tcxts, which arc not sacrcd writings but inscriptions pro-
duccd by rat visccra or thc opcn hcarts ot dogs, arc strangcy
auring. Jhcy arc a vcry bcautitu, ! agrcc. Jhcy rcprcscnt a ot
ot work and much dcxtcrity, but thcy arc not miracuous. Jhcrc
is nothing immatcriainthc cndcss brcakingotbindings, cicking
ot pcns, cattcring ot daisy whccs, and scratching otstyi. Jhcrc
diagrams, and spcctra.
4.3.5 DothcyturntowardnaturcrVhatcoudthismcanrLookat
thcm| Jhcy can ovcr thcir writing and tak to onc anothcr inside
thciraboratorics. Look atthcm| Jhcironyprincipc otrcaityisonc
that thcy havc dctcrmincd thcmscvcs ( 1.2.7) . Look at thcm| Jhc
cxtcrna"rctcrcnts thcy crcatcdcxist ony inside thcirword (1.2.7. 1) .
4.4. 1 Vhatcvcrisoca aways stays thatway. ^o kindotwork is
more oca than anyothcruncss it has bccn congucrcd ( 1.2.4) and
torccd toyicda tracc. Jhcnit can bcworkcdon in its absence.
carncdto rccognizc hundreds of thousands otsigns andmarks is
cacd a 'oca." ut a cartographcrwho has carncd to rccognizc
a few hundred signs and indiccs whic caning ovcr a tcw sguarc
yards otmaps and acriaphotographs is saidto bcmorc univcrsa
than thc huntcr and to havc a goba vision. Vhich oncwoud bc
220 Irreductions
morc ost in thc tcrritory oIthc othcrr Uncss wc Ioow thc ong
history that hasturncdthc huntcrinto a savc and thc mapmakcr
into amastcr,wccanhavcnoanswcrtothisgucstion. Jhcrcisno
pathwaybctwccnthcocaandthcgobabccauscthcrcis nogobaL
dcsic Ycars.
4.4.2 'Gcncra idcas" canbcbuit, butto do soisnomorc andno
css diIhcut thanbuiding a rairoad nctwork. Vchavcto payIor a
'gcncra idca. " Vc cannot movc Irom onc tabc to anothcrvia thc
conccpt oI 'tabc." Jo movc, wc nccd a nctwork as cxpcnsivc to
maintain as a rairoad systcm, withits shuntcrs, its strikingrairoad-
mcn, its accountants, and its signas.
5choarsundcrstandthcprincipcoIthc 'privatizationoIbcnchts,
thc nationaization oI osscs" vcry wc. Jhcy cad us to bcicvc
thatthcythinkandthatidcas arcIrcc, butthcnthcyaskustopay
Iorthciraboratorics,thcirccturcthcatcrs,andmciribrarics 4. I.).
4.4.3 Vhcn a scrics oIocationshasbccn mastcrcd andoincd to-
gcthcr inanctwork,itispossibcto movcIromoncpaccto anothcr
without noticing thc work that inks thcm togcthcr. One ocation
sccms 'potcntiay" to contain a thc othcrs. ! am happyto cathc
argonuscdto gctbyinsidcthcscnctworks'thcory," asongas itis
undcrstood that this is ikcthc signposts andabcs that wc usc to
hndourway back.
oIhnancicrs, oIwhitc-coatcdpcopcwho countinight-ycars and
wcigh things by thc picogram. ow can thcy a undcrstand onc
anothcrr Jhcy do not havc thc samc dcstinations. ^or do thcy
movc aong thc samc incs oIIorcc ormanipuatcthc samc traccs.
Vhatwc ca 'thcory" isno morc andno cssrcathan a subway
map inthc subway Z. I./)
4.4.4 'Univcrsaity" is as oca as thc rcst. Univcrsaity cxists ony
!Icvcrythinghappcnsocayandonyoncc I.Z. I) andiIoncpacc
cannot bc rcduccd to anothcr, thcn how can onc pacc contain
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 221
may bcinkcdtoa hcadguartcrs. Jhc othccrs otthc 5tratcgic Air
Command may work on a map otthc word that mcasurcs thrcc
mctcrs by tour. A thc cocks in thc word may bc synchronizcd
ita univcrsa timc is buit. I simpywantthc costotcrcatingthcsc
to thc bi.
4.4.5 5o you bcicvc that thc appication ot mathcmatics to thc
physicawordisamiraccr Itso,thcnIinvitcyouto admircanothcr
miracc, I can travc around thc word with my Amcrican Lxprcss
card. You say otthc sccond, 'Jhat`s ust anctwork. Ityou stcp out
ot it by so much as an inch, your card wi bcvauccss." Quitc so.
Jhis is what I am saying about mathcmatics and scicncc, nothing
more and nothing less.
Jhc sccond-dcgrcc cguation has an arca otdittusion that can bc
mappcdikc cvcrything csc. Its invcntion, transation, and incor-
wc documcntthc sprcad otthcharncss,thcstcm-mountcdruddcr,
thc bow tic, thc cock cscapcmcnt, or intcigcncc tcsts. ut wc
cannot rcsist scparating tradcs into two hcaps. 5omc arc hrmy
cmbcddcd in thcir contcxts, whic othcrs hoat ikc spirits out ot
to stop thcm trom rcturning attcr dark to haunt us.
4.4.5. 1 Jhc 'univcrsa" canno morc swaow thc particuar than
historicapaintingscanrcpaccsti !itcs.Jhcoricscannotbcabstract,
or itthcyarc, thc namc rctcrs to a styc, ikc abstractpainting.
Vhcn somconc taks to mc about a univcrsa, I aways ask what
sizcitis, andwhoisprocctingitontowhatscrccn. Iasoaskhow
many pcopc maintain it and how much it costs to pay thcm. I
know that this is in badtastc, butthc kingis nakcd and sccms to
bc cothcd ony bccauscwc bcicvc inthc univcrsa.
4.4.6 ow arc 'abstraction," 'tormaism," 'cxactncss," and 'pu-
rity" achicvcdr Likcchccsc,byhtcring,sccding,moding,andaging.
r ikc pctro, by rchning, cracking, and distiing. Vc nccd dairics
and rchncrics. Jhcsc arc a cxpcnsivc proccsscs, impurc cratts that
smc. Jhcwork otabstractionisno morcabstractthanthcwork
otthc cngravcr, thc trade ot thc tormaizcr is no morc torma than
222 Irreductions
that ot thc butchcr, thc work otpurihcation is no morc purc than
thatotthc sanitary inspcctor.o saythatsomcproccdurcs arcpurc,
torma, or abstractis to contusc a vcrb withan adcctivc. Vc might
aswcsaythattanningistanncd, htcringishtcrcd,orogicisogica.
4.4.7 !tisnomorcinourpowcrtobcabstractthantotakpropcry
(2.2. 1) .
4.4.8 Ictworks arc tcnuous, tragc, and sparsc. Vc rcad and wc
writc insidc thcm. Vc arc abc to convincc ony by cxtcnding thc
cansurvcycvcrything. What could be simpler? Jhcrcisnothinghcrc
to makc a tuss about.
Interlude VIII: In Which a Little Bit of Everyday Sociology
Shows What Measures Are
The butcher used his scale, and I paid 25 francs. I did not try to bargain
with him because the prices were on little tags stuck in the meat. He had
decided on the price per kilo after he returned from the wholesale market
and read his trade newspaper. When I left the shop, I took the No. 80 bus.
I knew it was the 80 because the number was clearly displayed on the front
of the bus. When the driver heard the signal from the bus company head
quarters, he set off. This signal was relayed from the speaking clock of the
Observatory of Paris, which was linked in its turn to the network of atomic
clocks that harmonize time. I was not afraid of the ticket inspector. I had
my bus pass, so the inspector checked my photograph, said "thank you"
politely, and moved on. When I arrived at the Institute, I put my magnetic
card into the electronic timekeeping clock which keeps track of the number
of hours that we put in and their spread. There had been an argument with
the unions about this clock for four years. Finally an agreement was reached,
thanks to collective bargaining with The National Association of the Workers
of the Proof (NA WOP). I still have ffteen hours to do this week.
After hanging up my coat, I went straight to see how my cells were getting
on. The colonies had become quite visible. I counted the spots that they had
made on the gel and wrote the results down in two columns in my laboratory
notebook-a fne book, leather bound, just like my father's account book.
I discussed yesterday's results with Dietrich, but his peaks are much clearer.
He claimed that his neurotransmitter was a hundred times more active than
mine, but I told him that we could argue for hours about it because he had
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 223
not got enough points to draw a curve. Dietric is still young. He is always
jumping to conclusions. We talked for several hours. Finally he accepted that
I was not going to use his work in my article. I do not want to weaken it
and have people jumping on it saying that the results do not stand up. I want
the article to be beyond reproach and accepted immediately by the referees
of Endocrinology. Dietrich took my refusal badly. He looked quite crestfallen.
He is too easily discouraged for this line of work. Fortunately he then bucked
up and decided to do another series of rats in order to strengthen his data.
If these turn out to be solid then I will use them. They might even reinforce
my point, in which case I will make him junior co-author. This would not
weaken my position.
In the canteen we discussed the forthcoming elections. As long as there
are only opinion polls, we can argue about the relative position of the So
cialists and the Communists until the cows come home. These polls do not
count. Like Dietrich's rats, their samples are too small. Wat is needed is a
truly grand experiment in which all the votes are counted and everyone can
see that everything is aboveboard. Only then will we know wheter te
Communists are two percent weaker then the Socialists.
Then Brunel came along, and we chatted. He is an economist, and we are
always teasing him because he claims to be a scientist. He admitted tat we
cannot tell whether the money supply is increasing or decreasing. There have
been three meetings in his department to decide whether or not to include
the discount bills between banks, or someting like tat. It seems that taking
out a single line of the calculation makes it possible to change the results
completely and prove that we have beaten inflation. It is quite incredible,
but as Brunel replied when we teased him about it, "You've got more rats
around than I've got economies. "
Even so, our rats are threatened, as we discovered after lunch when we
met in the lab. We have to fnd half a million dollars to pay for all the rats
that we need for our ffty articles a year. We will manage somehow.
In the evening I met Adele. She had made a mistake when she was taking
her temperature and was worried. We discussed her temperature curve for
half an hour, but in the end she accepted my word because I am always tak
ing the temperatures of rats. I told her that it would be more sensible to
take the pill, as I do. Then all you have to do is to read which day it is
and take the right pill. You cannot make a mistake; it is as simple as a bus
pass. Then we went home to meet our men. The moment Adele told them
she was worried, they wanted to persuade her that really her subconscious
was speaking. She does not know much about it, but they sounded as if they
knew what they were talking about. Finally she gave up. As she put it, "You're
not allowed to have private problems. You've got to lie on the psychiatrist's
couch and discuss them." Henry told her that she was just the same wit
her cosmology. Yesterday she went on for hours trying to persuade us that
224 Irreductions
the Big Bang was a load of nonsense. Henry had said that perhaps there
were several cosmologies. She thought this was nonsense.
It was late, so we went home. We argued for a quarter of an hour with
the driver, who wanted to add ten percent to the meter reading. I told him
I would never do that with my rats, add ten percent for no reason. He replied
that it was a unilateral decision taken by the taxi owner's association which
was in dispute with the City Council. We end up paying either way. In the
mail I found my pay check with a further one percent deducted with the
agreement of the union to pay for an increased social security levy. I set my
clock and checked the alarm three times so that I would not worry all night
that I might wake up late.
4.5.1 !n scicntihctradcs, as in a othcrs, wc carnhowto incrcasc
ourtorccocay art nc) .
4.5.2 Jhcsuppcmcntottorccgaincdinthcaboratorycomcstrom
thc tact that ots ot sma obccts arc manipuatcd many timcs, that
thcsc microcvcnts can bc rccordcd, that thcy can bc rcrcad at wi,
andthatthcwhocproccss can bcwrittcntorpcopcto rcad. 5kiis
nccdcd and ots ot moncy, but witchcrattis not invovcd.
!t docs not mattcr whcthcr thcy arc ncbuas, coras, ascrs, mi-
crobcs, Gross ^ationa roducts, or!.Q.scorcs. !tdocsnotmattcr
whcthcr thcy arc 'inhnitcy argc" or 'inhnitcy sma. "Jhcy arc
onytakcdaboutwith confdence whcnthcyarcbroughttoasma
spaccwhcrc thcy can bc dominatcdby atcwpcopc and madc to
dispay signs-curvcs, hgurcs, points, rays, or bands-which arc
rcst. Jhcrucisguitcsimpc: itwcwantto incrcascourstrcngth,
usc a thousand against onc ontopicsthatwipayahundrcdto onc.
!magnc an anthrax bacius which has ivcdtormiionsotycars
hiddcn in thc crowd ot its cousins. nc day it hnds itsct aonc
with its chidrcn undcr thc binding ight ot a microscopc that is
dominatcd byastcur`scnormousbcard. !t has nothingto ivc on
buturinc art nc) . Jhis is a good cxampc ota rcvcrsa in thc
baancc ot torccs. Docsn't cxactncss aways grow out ot such rc-
vcrsasr !t rcay rcguircs thc bindncss ottaith to ignorcthc trias
ot strcngth that takc pacc in thc torturc chambcrs ot scicncc-
bioassays, tcnsimctcrs, incar accccrators, prcsscs, nccdcs, sty-
uscs, vacuumpumps, caorimctcrs. Jo rcmainbindinthctacc ot
[rreduction of "the Sciences" 225
thosc trias is what 'couragcousy rcsisting mc question" rcay
amountsto| Jhosc who bcicvc in 'scincc" inspitcotthisarcthc
rca martyrs.
4.5.3 5o thcyarc morc ccrtain otthcmscvcs than othcrs arcr t
courscthcyarc|Jhcyhavctricdthcir argumcnts outdozcns ottimcs
onsma-scacmodcs andmadcapossibcmistakcs. bviousythcy
arc morc ccrtain than thosc who onyhavc onc go.
Jhcrcspcctcd cxpcrt is indistinguishabc trom thc poitician who
is scorncd by cvcryonc. Jhc cxpcrt makcs argc numbcrs otsccrct
sma-scac mistakcs and conhdcnty cmcrgcs trom hiding at the
end of the day. Jhcpoiticianmakcsrcaygrandmistakcs andhas
to pcrtorm in tront otcvcryonc. crc thc dccisions arc madc
before thcmistakcs J. 6.J) . A pcopc arcthcsamc-cguayhon-
cst, cguaycrratic. ow coudthcy possiby bcothcrwiscr
4.5.4 Jhc ony wayto bc strong again is torcproduccrcationsot
torcc thatwcrconcctavorabc. There is no such thing as prediction.
thc tuturc.
lc-!ortorthatVoyagcr!!passcs throughthcringsot5aturnatmc
carning how to rcpcat thc drcss rchcarsa-though this docs not
astcur, 5hakcspcarc, and^A5Aarcindistinguishabc. !tthcyhad
to improvisc or prcdict, thcy woud abbcr incohcrcnty ikc thc
ythia,ustaswc dowhnwccavcthc shctcr ot ourtradcs.And
5hakcspcarc woud probaby bc css incohcrcnt than any ot thc
othcrs. !n thc thcatcr otproot, orinthc thcatcr, pain andsimpc,
adircctorsarcthcsamc,cguaycrraticandcguayhoncst. ow
coud thcy bc dittcrcntr
4.5.5 1hc ony wayto knowisthroughtrias otstrcngth. 'Know-
itr ( 1. 1.0) .
Jhc scicntists say that thcy rcaU concusions in thc aboratory,
'cvcrything csc bcing cgua," but thcn thcytorgct,prctcrringto
226 Irreductions
travc by magic to othcr paccs andcgisating as itthcy wcrc sti
4.5.6 Pothing can bc known outsidc thc nctworks organizcd and
manipuatcd by know-how I.J./), but thosc nctworks may bc cx-
4.5.7 Jhcrc is no such thing as 'knowcdgc" 4.J.2), but it is pos-
sibctorcaizc, thatis, to makcrca,to undcrstand.
Jhcmystcry otadequatio rei et intellectus is simpythccxtcnsion
otthc aboratory. !twc do not bcicvc in magic, this cxtcnsion is
powcr,thiscxtcnsionisconccacd.'5cicncc"hasnooutsidc4. J.5),
but ony narrow gacrics which aow aboratoricstocxtcnd and
insinuatc thcmscvcs into paccs that may bc tar away. Pothing cscapcs trom a nctwork, Icast ot a know-how,
'rovc to mc that this substancc which works so wc in aris is
cguay good inthcsuburbs otJimbuktu."
'utwhaton carth torr Jhcrcis aunivcrsaaw."
'!don'twanttohavcto believe in it. ! want to see it."
'|ustwaitunti!havcbuitaaboratory,and!`provcittoyou. . . "
Atcwycars and a tcw miion doars atcr inthc brand-ncwab-
travc a tcw mics, and posc thc gucstion again.
'rovcto mcthat. . . "
Vhcn pcopc say that knowcdgc is 'univcrsaIy truc," wc must
undcrstandthatitisikc rairoads, whicharctoundcvcrywhcrc in
thc word but ony to a imitcd cxtcnt. Jo shitt to caiming that
ocomotivcs can movc bcyond thcir narrow and cxpcnsivc rais is
anothcr mattcr. Yct magicians try to dazzc us with 'univcrsa
aws" which thcy caim to bc vaid cvcn inthc gaps bctwccn thc
nctworks | owcanknow-howbccxtcndcdrLikcradiosthatarcmadc
in ong Kong, or mutipication tabcs | Jhcrc must bc buycrs and
sccrs, tcachcrs and commcrcia circuits, rcprcscntativcs and books
that archcdto bc authoritativc.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 227
Vcsaythatthcawsot^cwtonmaybctound in Gabonandthat
thisis guitc rcmarkabcsinccthatisaongwaytromLngand. ut
! havc sccn Lcpctitcamcmbcrts in thc supcrmarkcts ot Caitornia.
Jhisisasoguitcrcmarkabc,sinccLisicuxis aongwaytromLos
Angccs. Lithcr thcrc arc two miraccs that havc to bc admircd
togcthcr in thc samc way, orthcrc arc nonc. Icopcusuaytakot'scicntihctruth"inhushcdtoncs.ut
thcrc havccvcrbccnonythrccwaysotcccbratingit: consistcncy-
'itisogica",rcprcscntation-'ithts",cthcacy-'itworks. "Jhcsc
thrcc cxprcssions simpy scrvc to indicatc thc cxtcnt to which a nct-
work has cxpandcd.
!n kitchcn Latin wc woud say adequatio laboratii et laboratorii;
adequatio laboratorii et alius laboratis, adequatio laboratorii et
vulgi pecoris.
4.5.8 nctormotknow-howisnomorc'truc"thananothcr. !t is
ncithcr morc nor css tructhana cottccpot, a trcc, or achid`stacc.
Jhcrcthcyarc, amomcntariystabcinc ottorccs ( 1. 1. 6) . Jhcword
'truc" is a suppcmcnt addcd to ccrtain trias ot strcngth to dazzc
thosc who might sti gucstion thcm.
Kationaists augh atthc ordcawhich makcs thc victorincombat
right. owcvcr, cach day thcy crownthc victors in scicntihc con-
minds | Jhcrc arc two mcasurcs, two standards (4.2.3) .
4.5.9 Vc can say that whatcvcr rcsists i srca ( 1 . 1 .5) . Jhc word
'truth" adds ony a ittc suppcmcntto a tria otstrcngth. !t is not
much, butitgivcsanimprcssionotpotcncy (2.5.2), whichsavcswhat
might givc way trombcingtcstcd.
tor ong ( 1 .3. 6) , tor thc statcmcnts that comc trom aboratorics
stand up, rcsist, and arc thus rca (2.4.7). utthcy arc right: this
is no rcason to bcicvc in tairy tacs.

4.5.10 !t somcthing rcsists, it crcatcs thc optica iusion among

causing this rcsistancc. ut thc obcct is an cttcct, not a causc. Jhc
228 Irreductions
iusion disappcars whcn thc battcIront movcs and discrccty rcap-
pcars as soon as thc battcIront stabiizcs again.
'Kca words out thcrc" arc thc conscgucnccs oI incs oI stabc
Iorcc and notthc causc oIthcir stabiization.
4.5. 11 Vc canpcrIorm, transIorm, dcIorm, andthcrcbyIormand
inIorm ourscvcs, but wc cannot describe anything. !n othcr words
thcrc is no rcprcscntation, cxccptin thc thcatrica or poitica scnscs
workwith thc hands brings inscriptions that arc rcad bythc cycs.
!crhaps cpistcmoogy is a conIusion oIthc scnscs. Vc Ioow thc
dazzcdgazc butIorgct thchandsthatwritc, combinc,andmount.
ut thcrc is no 'thcory, "no 'contcmpation," no 'spccuation,"
no 'prcvision," no 'vision," and no 'knowcdgc." !ato's sun
ncithcr burns nor turns in thc sky. ut insidcthcnctworks thcrc
arcccctrons,ightbubs,andprocctorswhich consumc ccctricity

arc obccts ikc anything csc. 5uchamps arc not surroundcd

by a hao oI mystcry. Jhcy arc puggcd into thcir sockcts byrca
4.6. 1 Vhyshoudwc bcsurpriscdthatthoscwho amass asurpus
oIIorcc and addthcirownwcightto aconIictwhcrcno onchasthc
uppcrhand shoudwinr
4.6.2 Vhcn wc cannotwinwithourownIorccs aonc, wctakoI
thoscwhom wc command as 'powcr," and thc baancc as 'know-
cdgc." uropponcntsmaybcabcto rcsistthcadditionoI'Iorccs,"
but not thcsupcriorityoI 'knowcdgc" ovcr 'powcr."
bcginning may bc cxpaincd 1. I.5.Z,4. 1. ). Jhc distinction rcIcrs
not to anything obvious but to a stratcgcm that mutipics addi-
cncc" is ikc thc sword oIrcnnus thrown into thc baancc. Ycs,
vae victis, Ior thcy wi bc cacd 'iogica," 'bad," and 'unrca
sonabc." '!romhimthat hath notsha bctakcnawaycvcn that
which hc hath. " !I it wcrc possibc to cxpain 'scicncc" in tcrms oI 'poi-
tics," thcrc woud bc no scicnccs, sinccthcyarc dcvcopcd prcciscy
in ordcr to hnd othcr aics, ncw rcsourccs, and Ircshtroops.
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 229
Comtc, thctathcrotscicntismand socioogy,hasinvcntcdatancy
systcm ot doubc-cntry bookkccping. 5cicncc is not poitics. It is
poitics by othcr mcans. ut pcopc obcct that 'scicncc docs not
rcducc to powcr." rcciscy. Itdocs notrcducc to powcr. It ottcrs
other means. ut it wi bc obcctcd again mat 'by thcir naturc,
thcywoud arcady havc bccn uscd by an opposingpowcr. Vhat
coud bcbcttcrthanatrcshtormotpowcrthatnooncknowshow
touscrCaupthcrcscrvcs| omagcto5hapinand5chattcr I85) .
4.6.3 ^ow that wc arc noongcr toocd bythcsc mancuvcrs, wc
scc spokcsmcn J. I. J) , whocvcr thcy may bc, spcaking on bchat ot
othcractors,whatcvcrthcy maybc.Vcsccthcmthrowingthcirranks
otaics, somcrcuctant, somcbcicosc,intobattconcattcrthcothcr.
Jhc hrst advanccs, toowcd by his microbcs, thc sccond, by his
angry workcrs, a third, by his whacs whosc numbcrs and nccds
hcknowsandwhichhcwantstosavc,thctourth, byhisbataions,
thc htth, by his Koran and pctrodoars, thc sixth, by thc grcat
to thc numbcrs mcy havc cnrocd. Jhcya cstabish what is rca
in thc battctront otthcirtrias. Itwctryto dividcthis crowdinto
thc human andthcnonhumanorinto thc 'poitica" andthc 'sci-
trcason (4.7.0)
4.6.4 utwhatwoudthccntccchicsthathavcbccncnrocdinour
conhicts sayitthcy cd spcaktor themselves? Jhc 'samc" as thcy
arc madc to say. Vhcn bniant dcmonstrations torcc us to contcss
thi>cvcryday, howcan thcrc bc any doubtr
savcsandsubugatcd actants thathavcbccnrcduccdtosicncc,or
who, in tum, march to thc tunc ota handtu ot 'gcat thinkcrs."
utitismostunikcythatthc torccs arc rcayikc this.Attcr a,
onytwoto mrccpcrccntotthc G^otatcwcountrics circuatcs
insidc thc sparsc and tragic nctworks ot 'scicncc." Vc might as
wctryto rcducca thcourncys in thcwordto airincnctworks
Z. I. 8. I) . An actor must havc achicvcd hcgcmony to spcakin thc
230 Irreductions
singuar ot 'naturc" or 'thc rca word out thcrc. " cgcmony is
thc causc ot 'thc word" in thc singuar, not its conscgucncc.
4.6.5 utwhatwoudthcinnumcrabcactantscnrocdinourcon-
Iicts and our briiant dcmonstrations say itthcy wcrc abc to tak
tor thcmscvcsrVc havc no idca. ^ot bccausc thcy arc unknowabc
I.Z. IZ),nor bccausc thcy arc incttabc Z.Z. J), but bccausc no onc
hascvcrtricd, orrathcrbccausc thoscwho havctricdhavcrcturncd
wcakcr than whcnthcy ctt.
4.6.6 Vc sti know vcry ittc 'obcctivcy." Vc ony know any-
thingbccausc somc torccs grow atthc cxpcnsc otothcrs.Vc do not
havc thc sightcst idca aboutwhat inks othcr torccs togcthcr uncss
thcyact as probcs and tacts in ouraboratory conticts I. 3. I) .
4.6.7 nccwcrcduccthcrcductionot'scicnccs, "wc arc torccdto
contcss that 'knowcdgc" can cxist ony at thc cvc ottraccs-in a
thc scnscs ot this tcrm.
Vc ottcndistinguish bctwccn thcknowcdgc otthc past and that
otthc modcrn word J. Z.5,J. J. 0). Jhisisthc GrcatDividcwhich
prcvcnts us trom sccing that a thcsc knowcdgcs havc thc samc
motor andthc samcgcncra torm. thcyarcnotintcrcstcdinthngs
in thcmscvcs, in toowing thcm aong their paths, thcy arc con-
ccrncd ony with man and thc modihcations to which hc can bc
torccd to submit. Jo spcak as wc uscdto, thcy arc 'socia, too
socia." Jouscanimagc,wccoudsaythatancicnttaschoodsand
modcrn truths rcatc to cach othcr ikc thc two rcvoutions ot a
singc spira. Jo bc surc thc tormcris smacrthan thcattcr, but
thcyboth taback onsocicty.
owcvcr,thcy arcdittcrcnt, manitcsuydittcrcnt. Jhcsc dicrcnccs
havc nothing to do with thc critica rigor with which thcy arc
caboratcd or thc prcscncc ot data. Jhc dittcrcncc ics simpy in
their size. !nthcpastony smacocctivcswcrctortihcd. 'Jhings"
wcrc pursucd simpy to pacity thcm. Jhis knowcdgc is now said
to bc tasc bccausc it was too sma. Vith thc buiding ot biggcr
Lcviethans it bccamc ncccssary to pursuc morc things tor ongcr,
otmorc torccs with morc aboratorics. utthc goa rcmaincdthc
samc: it was sti man who had to bc rctormcd, dctormcd, trans-
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 2JI
to bcncw is ust as anthropomorphtcas itsprcdcccssors. ^o, itis
cvcnmorc so| As it bccomcs ncccssaryto congucrargcr numbcrs
ot pcopc, it is vita to strikc morc strongy. 5o wc admirc thc
obcctivity otthc rcasons that wc havc crcatcdr ut what do wc
want to bcright about in ordcrto strikc so strongy and harshyr
as cubsr
takc us r Vho can honcsty say that thcrc arc now morc pcopc
whowoudbcintcrcstcdindrittingaongtheir waythanthcrcwcrc
in thc pastr Jo do this mcans that wc arc wcak, not strong. !t
mcans caving withoutthought otrcturn. ritwc do comc back,
itmcansthatwccomcwithcmptyhands,withno spois,trophics,
cocctions, articcs, or thcscs. Can wc honcsty say that wc havc
sccn morcpcopc bchaving inthiswayr
Jhc idcaistswcrcright: wccanonyknowinsotar aswc draw
togcthcrto toppcus. Cruiscmissicsorbit around Lcviathans and
sooncr oratcr ta back toproduccspcctacuarspin-otts. Jhc Co-
is ctt is amost cvcrything. Vc arc ctt with magic-scicncc and
sorccry,tuturcwars, andaccrtainamountotadmirabcknowcdgc
obtaincd, in spitc ot us a, at thc crossroads bctwccn anthro-
morphism and obcctivity.
! do not saythis bccausc !wantto sinkouronyitcboat. !sayit
bccausc !wanttoprcvcntshipwrcck, orititis arcadytooatc, to
makc it possibc to survivc thc shipwrcck.
4.7.1 5inccthcrc arc onytics otwcakncss,thcrcarc nottwoways
popuar, natura, disorganizcd,orancicnt. Jhcrcisonyoncway. Vc
aways carn in thc samc way, without short cuts, torcsight, or cvcr
caving thc nctworks that wc buid. Vc makc cach mistakc as many
timcs as is ncccssary to movc trom oncpoint to anothcr.
Vc wi ncvcr do any bcttcr 1.2. I) . Vc wi ncvcr bc abc to go
any tastcr. Vc wi ncvcr scc any morc ccary.
Jhc scicnccs havc aways bccn criticizcd in thc namc otsupcrior
torms ot knowcdgc that arc morc intuitivc, immcdiatc, human,
goba, warm, cutivatcd, poitica, natura, popuar, odcr, myth-
ica, instinctivc, spiritua, or cunning. Vc havc aways wantcd to
232 [rreductions
criticizc scicncc bycaimingthatan atcrnativc issupcrior,byadd-
ing a court otappca to thc courtothrstinstancc, by asking God
orthcgodstopuncturcthcpridcotthccarncdandto rcscrvc thc
supcriorto thatotthc scicnccs bccauscthcrc isno scacotknow-
cdgc and, in thc cnd, no knowcdgc at a. Vc shoud dissovc a
thcdcbatcs about 'dcgrccs otknowcdgc"into anintcriortormot
knowcdgc, thc ony torm that wc havc. ^ot mctaphysics, but
intraphysics. As ! havc said, wc wi ncvcr bc abc to risc abovc
unruypoiticking J. 6. 0).
4.7.2 Jhcrc is no such thing as supcrior knowcdgc and intcrior
knowcdgc. !twcwantto savc thcsc tcrms ata,wcwi havcto say
thatsomc torms otknowcdgc arc 'highcr" than othcrs bccauscthc
supcrior havc raiscd thcmscvcs with thc connivancc otthc intcrior
4.7.3 Arc thc 'scicnccs" cod: Kigorous : !nhumanc: bcctivc:
bccn attributcdto thcm bythcir cncmicswho thcrcby hopcdto stig-
matizc thcm !ntcrudc V). ot: Disordcry: Viocnt: Anthropo-
not dcscribc thcm cithcr. 5parsc and tragic, and abovc a sparsc.
Jhcirparticuarsign: ^odistinguishingmarks.
! do not rcproach thosc poory conccivcd aggrcgatcs thatwc ca
'thc scicnccs" tor bcing too rationa, but rathcr tor not undcr-
standing thc naturc ot thcir naturcs. Lct us rcducc thcm to thc
dimcnsions that thcy occupy and hnay cscapc trommagic. 5incc
thc bcginning cpistcmoogy has toowcd in thc wakc ot thc sci-
cnccs, trying to bc. LK!-, NLJA-, AKA-, !^!KA-, 5UK^-sci-
cntihc.utthisisbcatingaroundthc bush. oiticsisccrtainysti
wc discovcr thc rcscarchcr acting as spokcsman tor sicnt crowds
and a udiciary that tor too ong havc cudcd cvcn thc most cc-
mcntarytorms otdcmocracy.
4.7. 3. 1 Jhoscotuswhowishto cscort'thcscicnccs"backtothcir
propcr habitat arc morc rationaist than most ot thc carncd who
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 233
wanttocxtcnd thcm 'cndoubc."Atcastwcknow thc cost otthc
work invovcd in mutipyingthosc habitats.
Jhc gnostics shoud not misundcrstand: ! am not trying to makc
thcir ivcs casicr.
4.7.4 As soon as thcrcis no othcrword, pcrtcctionrcsidcsin this
onc. Compctc knowcdgcis tound inthis word as soon as thcrc arc

ot knowcdgc arc thosc who thcn dcspair ot cvcr rcaching thc top:
thc samc rcductionists who arc atcrnatcy drunk with powcr and
crippcd by impotcncc, arrogant and modcst in turn. Jhc trias ot
this is possibc. They are not approximate. ^cithcr arc thcy vaguc,
convcntiona, or subcctivc. Uncss ncw rcations o strcngth arc cs-
tabishcd, thcy do not havc too much or too ittc. !ar trom osing
ccrtainty, wchnay discovcr what itwas thatcdto thc iusionota
knowcdgc bcyond unccrtainty.
4.7.5 5inccthcrc arc nottwo ways otknowing butony onc, thcrc
arcnot,onthc onchand,thoscwho bowtothctorccotanargumcnt,
and, on thc othcr, thosc who undcrstand ony viocncc. Dcmonstra-
tions arc aways ottorcc J. I. 8) , and thc incs ottorcc arc aways a
mcasurcotrcaity,its onymcasurc I. I.4) . Vcncvcrbowto rcason,
butrathcrto torcc.
4.7.6 y bcicvingthc oppositc, wc aowccrtainincs ottorccand
ccrtainargumcntsto ruc abovcthc nctworkstowhichthcypropcry
bcong. Vc crcatc potcncy I.5. I) , and by so doing, wc wcakcn a
thc othcrs.
Jhcrc arc, thcy say, rcasonabc mcn, who yicd ony to thc torcc
otargumcnt, andthcrcmaindcr,whoarcunrcasonabcandsubmit
bindy to torcc without undcrstanding. ! havc ncvcr mct anyonc
who did not scornthc unrcasonabc and who did notbcicvc that
this scorn cpitomizcd virtuc.
4.7.7 ^ssoonas'right"isdividcdtrom'might,"or'rcason"trom
'torcc," right and rcason arc wcakcncd bccausc wc no ongcr un-
dcrstand thcir wcakncsscs, and wc stca thc ony way ot bccoming
ustand rcasonabc thatis avaiabcto thoscwho arcscorncd. Jhcsc
234 Irreductions
two osscs cavc thc hcd trcc tor thc wickcd. ! ca this a crimc, thc
ony oncthatwc wi nccd in this cssay.
Jhcmanwho yicds to thcsoidityotatinyargumcnt ony attcr
hundrcds ot trias andtcsts, crrors andtinkcring, inhis aboratory
noncthccsscaimsthatothcrswho arctcstcdandtricdundcrstand
spccch, thc momcnt hc stcps outothis aboratory doorhc is out-
ragcdto discovcr 'thatsuch a simpc argumcnt isnotundcrstood
by cvcryonc." is outragc nourishcs his scorn. 5incchc dcspiscs
thc toos bcncath him, hc torgcts about thc onythingthat cads
himtoyicdto thctorccotthis argumcnt. hisaboratory,thcpacc
whcrc hc has bccn subcctcdto triashimsct. !tis avicious circc.
Jhc morc tooish thc othcrs arc, thc morc hc bcicvcsthathc can
'think" andthc css hc isabcto scchowhc hascarncd. Andthc
morc hc cxtcnds thc potcncy ot rcason bcyond torcc, thc morc
rcason is wcakcncd.
4.7.8 Jo opposc right and might is crimina bccausc it cavcs thc
otwhat is right. ut what is right is without torcc cxccpt 'in prin-
cipc." And so bcing unabc to cnsurc that what is right is strong,
in a innoccncc.
As arcsut ota comprchcnsibcrcvcrsa, Nachiavci and 5pinoza
havc bccn hcd to bc immora, cvcn though thcy wcrc right to
rctuscto distinguishmighttromright.utthcprcscntprcisdittcrs
trom 5pinoza`s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Jimcs havc changcd.
ot 'scicntihc" inscriptions. Iorthis rcason ! think otthis cssay as
a Tractatus Scientifco-Politicus. Lvcn so, thc obcct is thc samc.
Vc arc sti right at thc bcginning ot thc cxcgcsis, and thc ink
bctwccnscicncc and dcmocracyhas bccomctcnuousinthccoursc
otthc 'wars ot scicncc." Likc 5pinoza, wc ook cruc in ordcrto
4.7. Vcdonotsuttcrtromaackotsou,rcason,scicncc,orusticc,
ot torcc to gcar down potcncy and makc thc wcak impotcnt. !tthc
wcakhadintront otthcm, ony thc array otwcakncsscs that! havc
Irreduction of "the Sciences" 235
'^oi mctangcrc"-thcscarcthcwordsotamagicianwhowishcs
to bcboth dcad andaivc atthc samctimc, hcrc andthcrc, strong
and rationa, strong and right, strong and good.
4.7. 10 5inccthcrcisonyoncwayotknowing,nottwo-thctcsting
ot rcations bctwccn torccs-thcrc is no way wc can avoid a singc
mistakc, absurdity, orcrimc.Vccannotavoidasingccxpcrimcntor
takcasingcshortcut.Lvcntothink thccontraryistodcudcourscvcs
with crimina iusions.
ow many atomic wars wi wc havc to hghtbctorc wcyicdto
Listcn, it is vcry simpc. Vcwincvcr do bcttcr than thosc who
havc simpy to convincc thcmscvcs about tri!ing mattcrs, havc
cvcrything thcy nccd to hand, and arc propcry tcd, wc Iit, and
appropriatcy taught. ow many mistakcs do thcy makc bctorc
thcy start to givc up thc tinicst prcudiccr Jcns, hundrcds, thou-
sandsr 5ohowmanywarswi ittakcto convincc hvcbiionmcn
and womcnr Jcnr A hundrcdr Uncss, that is, thc mutitudcs can
think morc guicky and ccary than thosc in thc aboratory.
4.7. 11 Jhosc who think that thcy can do bcttcr and work morc
guicky wi aways do worsc bccausc thcy wi torgctto sharc thcir
ony mcans otknowing and tcsting. Jhcywi bcicvcthatthcyhavc
donc cnough whcnthcy havc 'dittuscd" rcasons, codcs, and rcsuts.
!n tact, a otthcsc withcr oncc thcy arc rcmovcd tromthc scorncd
nctworks thatkccp thcm strong.
and morc than thc worst. Joday wc hnd ourscvcs in thc samc
otmarvcs, cnthusiasm, andwarmth, ancpiphanytomatchwhat
wcvugaryca 'thc scicnccs."Andyctuntithcmicnniumcnds,
wc must sign our cttcrs with thc samc word, 'crcint." Jo havc
knowcdgc in thc ncxt micnnium, to bc abc to tak otcxactncss
without bcing abuscd bythc irradiatcd, wc must savc thc know-
cdgc trom 'thc scicnccs" ust as thc divinc has bccn savcd trom
to cxtirpatc cvcrything thatwas rcigiouswithin us.Jhroughovc
otknowcdgc wc must discntangc ourscvcs trom 'thc scicnccs."
236 Irreductions
Vc cannot baancc Gaico against cruisc missics in thc way in
which thc 5crmon on thc Nount was tor so ong contrastcd with
thc !nguisition. Apoogctics do notintcrcst mc. !n 'scicncc," asin
'rcigion," thcrc arc morc than cnough protcstants, mystics, in-
tcgrists,anabaptists,tundamcntaists, andwoHdy|csuits. ^oncot
thcm intcrcst mc bccausc thcy a want to rctorm or rcgcncratc
thoscbady conccivcd unitics, 'thcscicnccs."Jhcy a scckto rcc-
! want to undcrstand incomprchcnsibc to mc. !t cruisc missics
gathcr mc in thc vincyard, ! do not wish to havc to bow down
bctorc'rcason," 'crringphysics," 'thctoyotmcn," 'thccructy
ot God," or 'Kcapoitik." ! do not wish to invokc muddcd cx-
panations which tak oI potcncy whcn thc rcason tor my dcath
icsinthctorccottacts. !nthc1cwsccondsthatdividciumination
tromirradiation! want to bcas agnosticasitispossibcto bctor
aman who isprcscnt at thc passing otthc hrstLnightcnmcnt, as
agnostic as it is possibc to bc tor onc who is suthcicnty surc ot
both thc divinc and ot knowcdgc that hc darcs to hopc torthc
birth ot a ncw Lnightcnmcnt. ! wi not yicd to thcm, ! wi not
bcicvcin 'thc scicnccs" bctorchand, andncithcr, attcrwards,wi
! dcspair ot knowcdgc whcn onc otthc rcationships ottorcc to
which thc aboratorics havc contributcd cxpodcs abovc Irancc.
^cithcr bcict, nor dcspair. !wibcas agnosticand astair asitis
possibc to bc.
So you were wrong, Crusoe. There is no modern world to be set against
your primitive island. There is no rational thought to be contrasted with that
of the primitive. There are no cultures to be kept apart from the untamed
species lurking in the jungle.
We know what happened to Friday and Crusoe when a sailing ship an
chored off their island. Tourier has told us ( 1967/1972). It was Crusoe who
remained behind, and Friday who departed. But the following morning Cru
soe realized that he was not alone: a ship's boy was there to keep him
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Introduction. Natcrias and Ncthods
1. L. Tolstoy ( 186911986) . All references are to the one-volume 1986 Penguin
2. This book owes a great deal to Michel Serres' work, especially to his
geographical metaphor of the Northwest Passage (Serres: 1980). Instead of en
visaging the divide between human and natural sciences as something simple,
like a strait, Serres offers the image of a multiplicity of islands, channels, pen
insulas, dead ends, and narrow paths, as confusing and as beautiful as a map of
the Northwest Passage.
3. See M. Serres ( 1983) for the association of the military, scientists, and
businessmen in a thanatocracy more powerful than all the demo-, techno-, and
autocracies of the past.
4. Tolstoy himself proposes a global religious explanation for the vast move
ment that freed the Russians from Napoleon's army. This explanation revolves
around God's providential plan for Russia.
5. Spinoza's treatise (around 1 665) comprises a long scientifc analaysis of
the Old Testament, thus establishing the moder way of doing biblical exegesis.
This analysis helped redefne the relations between political power, freedom of
conscience, and religious revelation. At the center of the treatise is a super
impositon of might on right that Spinoza deemed necessary in order to put
democracy on frm ground. Without claiming to emulate Spinoza any more than
I tried to imitate Tolstoy, I used both as guides and protectors.
6. If relation of "forces" reminds readers too much of Nietzsche's will to
252 Notes to Pages 7-9
power, let them replace "forces" by "weaknesses." This replacement is a sure
remedy against misunderstanding the main point of this book.
7. According to most philosophies of science, empirical studies by historians,
economists, and sociologists are too feeble to make up the whole picture of what
science is about. Why? Because case studies, philosophers argue, do not concern
themselves with the "foundations" of science or with the "transcendental con
ditions" of any argumentation. There is thus a division of labor between phi
losophers of science, who think they have a perfect right to ignore (and even to
despise) empirical studies, and the social scientists, who think they should never
indulge in philosophical arguments. It is only reluctantly that an "epistemolog
ically relevant sociology of science" was invented, as if the honor of feeding a
few case studies to transcendental philosophy was fnally granted to scholars in
the social sciences. This division of labor is a catastrophe; philosophy and feld
studies should be carried out under the same roof and, if possible, in the same
head. I use philosophy here in the same way that theories are used in the other
sciences, that is, to desigate, highlight, anticipate, underiine, dramatize, tie to
gether the empirical material. I use philosophy not because empirical material
lacks some "foundation" but because I want, on the contrary, more details, more
materials, more historical case studies. u another book (1987) I put forward
similar arguments, but at a third level which is intermediary between case studies
and philosophy. Science in Action is thus a companion book to the present one.
8. See e.g. F. Dagognet (1967, p.212) ; R. Valltry-Radot ( 1911) .
9. This freedom of choice of the metalinguistic level required for the expla
nation, taken from the methodological principle common to all the other social
sciences, forms the basis of much anthropology of science. See B. Latour and S.
Woolgar ( 1979/1986); B. Latour ( 1981) . But it raises many aporetic conse
quences, which are nowhere more ironically illustrated than in M. Ashmore
(1985). If the epistemological necessity of this freedom does not seem obvious
to the reader, it can be defended on stylistic grounds: it leads to a multiplication
of the languages available to talk about science.
10. According to several reviews of the French edition of this book, I failed
pitifully on three grounds. K. Knorr ( 1985), F.-A. Isambert ( 1985), M. de Mey
(1985), and Salomon-Bayet ( 1986) praise the work for its social and political
interpretation of Pasteur's "manipulation," "exploitation," and "clever oppor
tunism," and for the nice way in which I put aside technical contents and limit
myself to the application of science to society! Although no text can defend itself
against its readers' interpretations, I want to stress again that I am not interested
here in offering a social or a political explanation of Pasteur as an alternative to
other cognitive or technical interpretations. I am interested only in retracing our
steps back to the moment when the very distinction between content and context
had not yet been made. If I use the words "force," "power," "strategy," or
"interests," their use has to be equally distributed between Pasteur and those
human or nonhuman actors who give him his strength. See M. CalIon (1986).
11. I use "actor," "agent," or "actant" without making any assumptions
about who they may be and what properties they are endowed with. Much more
general than "character" or "dramatis persona," they have the key feature of
being autonomous fgures. Apart from this, they can be anything-individual
("Peter") or collective ("the crowd"), fgurative (anthropomorphic or zoom
orphic) or nonfgurative ("fate"). A. Greimas and J. Courtes ( 1979/1983). See
also Part Two.
Notes to Pages 1 0-14 253
12. When there is no journal title after a quotation, the Revue Scientifque is
13. For an introduction to semiotics as applied to scientifc texts, see F. Bastide
(1986) . I constantly use the notions of performance-what characters do-and
competence-what this action implies (see A. Greimas and J. Courtes: 1979)
to defne the actors (or actants or agents) that comprise the characters of this
14. On the Franco-Prussian War and its effect on French science, see M.
Crosland (1976).
15. Historians share with sociologists a belief in the existence of a context in
which the events have to be carefully situated. For sociologists this context is
made up of the social forces that explain the events (the catch phrases including
"it is no coincidence that" or "it fts in well wit the interest of"); for historians
the context is a set of events frmly tied to the chronological framework. For
both trades there exists a context and it is retrievable, at least in principle. Despite
their feud, the two disciplines believe in the difference between context and
content. Once this belief is shared, people can disagree, some preferring to stick
to the content (they are called interalists), others to the context (they are called
externalists), and still others to a careful balance between the two. For the two
disciplines, additional sources will make the series converge into one overall more
or less coherent picture. This is the basic assumption that is not shared by
semioticians, or for that matter by ethnometodologists. More data, more sources .
will make the sources diverge more and more. To be sure, it might be possible
to obtain some effects of totality, but these are exceptions, local productions
inserted among the others and dependent upon a local panopticon. It is because
this book relies on semiotics that it is neither history nor sociology. It explores
different assumptions about what composes both content and context and dif
ferent ways of constituting this mixture.
16. This notion of translation has been developed by M. CalIon (1986). M.
CalIon, J. Law, and A. Rip, eds. (1986), and B. Latour (1987) and applied to
the study of science and technology in order to fuse the notions of interest and
research program in a more subtle way. First, translation means drift, betrayal,
ambiguity (1. 2. 1). It thus means that we are starting from inequivalence between
interests or language games and that the aim of the translation is to render two
propositions equivalent. Second, translation has a strategic meaning. It defnes a
stronghold established in such a way that, whatever people do and wherever they
go, they have to pass through the contender's position and to help him further
his own interests. Third, it has a linguistic sense, so that one version of .te
language game translates all the oters, replacing tem all wit "whatever you
wish, this is what you really mean."
17. See F. Bastide ( 1986); B. Latour and P. Fabbri (1977); B. Latour and F.
Bastide (1986).
I. 5trong Nicrobcs and Vcak ygicnists.
1. L. Tolstoy ( 1869/1986) in the epilogue to War and Peace, criticizes mys
tical as well as social explanations of strategy. His critique of the notion of power
is especially interesting for us (p.1409). There is no gain to be had going from
te "interalist" notion that ideas have an interal thrust of their own to the
"exteralist" notion that people have political power. The notion of power, as
254 Notes to Pages 14-1 9
well as of planned strategy, simply disguises our igorance. B. Latour (1986a).
On the difference between force and potency, see Part Two.
2. No distinction is made here between science and technology. The mec

anisms that transform what is transported are the same. On the distinction
between the diffusion model and the translation model, see B. Latour (1987,
ch. 3) .
3. The active society that makes up immense parts of bacteriology i s not the
same as the society used as a backdrop or a "social context" for the history of
science. Herein originates the misunderstanding between micro sociologies of sci
ence and philosophies of science. Society has to be redefned in order to become
usable in "social" studies of science.
4. Among many useful references, see L.Chevalier (1973) ; A. Corbin (1986);
L. Murard and P. Zyberman ( 1984, 1985) ; W. Coleman (1982) ; R. Nye (1984) .
5. The fght against degeneration (which is not at all a fght against microbes)
could have done everything that was accomplished with the hybrid Pasteurism
Hygiene. R. Nye (1984) makes the most thorough study of degeneration: "By
the turn of the century, a medical outlook of bio-pouvoir had thoroughly pen
etrated popular consciousness. A medical theory of regeneration was so successful
in integrating the palpable and familiar litany of social pathologies into a discourse
of national decline that it escaped the terminological prison of the clinic and
throve in the arena of public debate" (p. 170).
6. The "addresser" communicates to the "addressee" not only the compe
tence but also the values that are at stake in the narration. See A. Greimas and
F. Courtes (197911983). In this senseJhe "necessary movement of regeneration"
is never discussed because it is what gives everyone the "right" to discuss.
7. See W. F. Frazer (1950).
8. W. Coleman (1982) studies mostly Villerme and his school over the ffty
year period before Pasteur's takeover of French medicine. "Public health inves
tigation was a distinctive feature of 19th centur European society. Interest in,
broadly speaking, the sanitary conditions of discrete populations easily crossed
boundaries and created, within two generations, a recognizable medical speciality.
The hygienists were armed with novel conceptual and methodological tools, they
soon won academic and other employment, and they were backed by remarkable
public interest in their undertakings. Both British and French physicians had
given early stimulus to this movement. In the quarter century afer the Congress
of Vienna, however, leadership passed to France; and it was there, principally
in Paris, that hygiene publique, or public health, won formal constitution as a
science." (p.xvi).
9. This conflict is the drama of Villerie's life and is what renders Coleman
(1982) so beautiful. "The hygienists' position was marked by a continuing ten
sion. None knew better than they the nature and probable sources of human
suffering in a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing society. But their remedies
for these problems almost always stopped short of requiring major social change"
(p.22). This contradiction between political economy annd hygiene is what the
defnition of bacteriology will resolve in part by shifting the interest from "sick
paupers" to "dangerous microorganisms." The contradiction will be alleviated
because many precautions suggested by the health movement will no longer be
necessary within the bacteriological treattnent of the same problem.
10. The link between mortality and class created by Villerme is as interesting
as the link between atte
uated microbes and diseases later created by Pasteur.
Notes to Pages 1 9-26 255
They are both defned by "laboratory" methods, except that in Villerme's case
the1aboratory is Paris checkered with statistical institutions. See Coleman (1982) :
"Paris was vast, it was diverse, its toll of mankind seemed beyond necessity and
justice. The city, through its vital statistics and public practices, was to become
a laboratory, a centre for social discovery if not yet social amelioration. The city
thus gave the hygienists their great opportunity" (pA3) . Villerme's defnitions,
like Pasteur's, are at variance with interpretations of diseases as due to crowding
or to environmental factors alone.
11. The very defnition of a context, of economic trends, of an historical
"longue duree," are the outcome of a set of social sciences (sociology, economics,
history). A dedicated sociologist of science cannot criticize the natural sciences
while uncritically believing in the social ones. Consequently, a new principle of
symmetr has to be defned which requires to maintain the same critical stand
with respect to society and na
ure. The "social context" can never be used to
"explain" a science. See B. Latour (1987. chs. 3, 6).
12. Statistics is the prior science, the one that created epidemics and epizootics
as recognizable entities. See E. Ackerknecht (1945) ; B.-P. Lecuyer (1977) ; W.
Coleman ( 1982); T. Murphy ( 1981) . On the earlier period, see A. La Berge (1974).
13. In saying this, I am not committing a sin against M. Rudwick's rule that
a narrative should never be retrospective (1985). I am, on the contrary, recon
structing the movement of hygiene left to itself, before the advent of Pasteurism.
Pasteurian victory has been so complete that it is diffcult to recapture the re
quirements that Pasteurians had to meet in order to be believed at all. This does
not mean that Pasteur's interests "ftted" those of the hygienist, but that there
was room for a negotiation about the meaning of contagion if, and only if, the
Pasteurians were able to take into account the variability of the contagion.
14. We should never sever a social movement from the army of journalists,
thinkers, social scientists, and politicians that "socially constructs" it. Thus,
"social movement" is used here as an abbreviation to designate the work of
composition, defnition, aggregation, and statistics already done bythe hygienists
and their troops. I am not using it as a social "cause" that explains the science,
but as the reifed result of an earlier politicoscientifc imbroglio.
15. See W. Coleman (1982): "As noted, hygienists were not uninformed re
garding disease theory; their concern simply was directed to other matters, matters
that were "biological" in a different and, if the expression be permitted, more
expansive sense. The hygienist attended to the essential conditions of existence
food; supply and purity of water; presence and absence of human, animal, and
other wastes; the conditions of bodily and mental activity, including above all
work, shelter, or protection from the elements-and realized that all of those
possessed an underlying economic character; the environment was thereby ren
dered social in nature. The hygienist also realized that this socioeconomic di
mension touched directly upon disease sensu strictu" (p.202). Even the link
between contagion, social theory, and medical power could have been made
without the remotest tie with bacteriology. See J. Goldstein (1982).
16. On the dispute about the general factors that caused the long-term decline
in infectious diseases, see R. Dubos ( 1961) ; . Ilich (198 1).
17. See e.g. R. H. Shyrock (193611979): "The result was that the health
program entered a new phase after 1870; so impressive a phase that it was soon
viewed as the very beginning of things in public hygiene. There ensued a tendency
to give too much credit to leaders in medical research; whereas up to 1870 they
256 Notes to Pages 26-37
received too little" (p.247) . See also W. Bullock (193811977) ; W. Frazer ( 1950).
18. The ability of a scientifc proof to convince has a multiplicity of causes,
not any single one. This has been "proven" in several case studies which constitute
most of the social studies of science paradigm. See esp. K. Knorr (1981) ; H.
Collins (1985); T. Pinch (1986). To be more reflexive, I should say: believing
that evidence of the underdetermination of scientifc proofs has been offered by
these case studies is a sure sig that we share the same professional commitment.
19. Historians of Pasteurism naturally describe more opponents, many of whom
were actually provoked by Pasteur's sometimes abrupt remarks. See e.g. J. Farley
and ]. Geison (1974) on Pouchet; L. Nicol (1974) and D. Weiner (1968) on
Raspail. I should remind the reader again at this point that I am limiting my
sources to what an "ideal" reader would know of Pasteur and his alliances, were
he or she to read only the Revue Scientifque. A little more information on conflicts
can be gathered from Salomon-Bayet, ed. (1986).
20. G. Canguilhem ( 1977). This germ theory of the germ theory was very
frequent in Pasteur's time. It has continued to the present as one of the many
agricultural metaphors used by historians of science and technology in replacing
the composition of science by its unfolding. It is an avatar of the notion of
"potency" studied in Part Two (2. 1. 3) .
21. On Koch's aborted attempt, see R. Dubos (1950). The two words "cre
dulity" and "credibility" share the same beginning and indeed the same root; all
that distinguishes them is the outcome of a struggle: the losers were credulous
and the winners credible. David Bloor (1976) has most clearly defned the task
of any sociology of science by introducing the notion of symmetry. The losers
and the winners must be studied in the same way and explained with the same
set of notions. If the evolution of our feld has made the notion of a "social"
explanation obsolete, the principle of symmetry remains the basis of most work
in the area.
22. This addition never appears enough to those who wish to provide a de
miurgic interpretation of science; they want science to generate all its content
from within itself, and they regard as dangerous reductionists those who produce
it from its context. Yet this same addition appears too much to those who wish
to offer a social rendering of science; they would like to explain a science because
it fts well with other interests, and they consider as intemalists those who deny
the notion of a ft. I am weaving my way between these two reductionisms. There
is nothing to be gained in limiting the cause of the spread of a innovation to any
one member of the chain: everyone is defning what society is about, including
of course the scientists themselves. '
23. The consideration of hygiene as a means of social control is a common
thread to much nineteenth-century history. For the development of ideas in France
close to those of Foucault around the concept of "biopower," see L. Murard and
P. Zylberman ( 1984, 1985) ; A Corbin (1982); B.-P Lecuyer (1986). However, I
am interested here not in the predictable application of a given power on the
bodies of the wretched and the poor but in the earlier composition of an unpre
dictable source of power. It is precisely at the time when no one can tell whether
he is dealing with a new source of power that the link between science and so
ciety is most important. When almost everyone is convinced, then, but only
then and afterward, will hygiene be a "power" to discipline and to coerce (see
ch. 3) .
24. B. Rozenkranz ( 1972) reconstitutes the accusation process and its varia-
Notes to Pages 37-38 257
tions: who should be blamed for what sort of evil? In tis sense her work is very
close to that of many anthropologists. Bacteriology reshuffes those who are
responsible for the spread of diseases, who are poor and dirty, who are contagious
and rich. Speaking of the arrival of scientists on the Board of Health in Boston,
she writes: "Their focus on the bacteriological etiology of preventable diseases
placed responsibility for negligence frmly in the hands of the powerful rather than
the weak. In the process of establishing the vigor and competence of the biological
sciences in preventive hygiene, they challenged the identity of flth and disease
and refned both the ideology and program of public health" (p.98) . Others fght
this new defnition of the social link: "Reliance on pasteurization would, in
Walcott's view, terminate the ultimate responsiblity of the individual to preserve
conscientious cleanliness . . . For Walcott, whose concept of prevention rested on
enlightened restraint of the individual rather than the bacteriological organism,
the price [of pasteurization] was too high to pay" (p. 1 10).
25. A.-L Shapiro ( 1980) makes a similar argument at the level of political
philosophy during the same period: "More and more the concept of 'solidarism'
crept into offcial pronouncements and became the characteristic social philos
ophy of the Third Republic. It provided the means to steal the thunder from the
socialists while justifying a limited, but legitimate, extension of the powers of the
State. Solidarism emphasized the inter-dependence of all members of society and
used the vocabulary of contractual obligation to demonstrate that each individual
was responsible for the well-being of all and must, therefore, be willing to sacrifce
some elements of personal liberty in the interest of the community. Public health
became a quintessential example of the practical application of solidarism" (p. 15).
26. I am fusing here the method of semiotics with an argument from sociology.
My claim is simply that the lists of actors and associations obtained by a semiotic
study of the articles of the period are longer and more heterogeneous than the
lists offered by the sociologists or social historians of the period. To grasp the
argument of the next section, we must accept a certain degree of ignorance as
to what is the real list of actors making up a society, and a certain degree of
agnosticism about which are human and which are nonhuman, which are en
dowed with strategy and which are unconscious. Because of this fusion, this
ignorance, and this agnosticism I prefer to call the discipline I work in "anthro
pology of science and technology." When ethnographers work in exotic realms,
they often gain, without too much ado, this state of uncertainty-or of grace
that is so hard to get when treating our societies. See 3.5.2; B. Latour (1983a).
27. Viewed in this way, the research program of T. Merton (1973) and of
most American sociology of scientists seems more reasonable. American soci
ologists, knowing that they did not have a sociology capable of studying the
contents of science, limited themselves to its context, to rewards, citaticfls, and
careers-that is, to what sociologists knew best how to do. By contrast, the
British school courageously entered into the content, despising this American
sociology of scientists that was doing only half the job. See D. Bloor (1976) ; H.
Collins (1985); S. Shapin ( 1982). In spite of its great achievements, this enterprise
appears disappointing because the contents and the contexts remain very far
apart. Most of the sociology of science is internalist epistemology sandwiched
between two slices of externalist sociology. We are now at a new crossroads: we
must either give up studying the contents of science or change the sociology we
started with.
28. Conservatism, Catholicism, love of law and order, fdelity to the Empress,
258 Notes to Pages 38-51
brashness, passion-those are approximately all we get of the "social factors"
acting on Pasteur. R. Dubos ( 1951) ; J. Farley and G. Geison (1974) ; J. Farley
(1978) . They are enough to provoke the rationalist, who is shocked by such an
intrusion of social elements into the pure realm of autonomous science. N. Roll
Hansen ( 1979). But they are not much if we put on the other side all the scientfc
work to be explained. This imbalance does not disturb the sociologist, who
explains many different things with the same word, believing that these words
have some causal potency that enable them to generate many different effects.
Nor does the imbalance disturb the social historian, who needs social explanation
simply to sketch the background of Pasteur's work and then quickly to return
to classic interalist studies. But it does disturb me if I wish to give an irreduc
tionist explanation of the content itself: the explanation has to be at least as rich
as the content, not poorer.
29. See M. Serres ( 198011982, 1983). The main importance of his philosophy
for the study of science is that he is one of the few philosophers to be utterly
uninterested in the notion of a critique, be it transcendental or social. As a
consequence, he makes no distinction between language and metalanguage, using
a poem, a myth, a theorem, or a machine as something that explains as well as
something to be explained . .
30. See M. Callon and B. Latour ( 1981) . If we trace inthe dictionary the slow
drift of socius with its associated or successive meanings, we will be struck by
how the meaning of "social" has continued to shrink (3.4.7.). It begins as "as
sociation" and ends up with "social workers" by way of the "social contract"
and the "social question." My redefnition aims simply to resurrect its original
richness of meaning.
31. W. McNeill ( 1976) is the inspiration of these pages. W. McNeill ( 1982)
is most relevant for analysis of the politicoscientifc imbroglio.
32. The very distinction between science and society is thus an artifact of the
attribution process, exactly as the notion of a man's power is, for Tolstoy, an
artifact of the historian's description ( 1869/1986, pp. 1409). On this critique of
power, see J. Law, (1986).
33. Is this enough to convince the reader that I am not using an argument in
terms of a science "ftting in well with" its context? The whole of hygiene (as
well as the whole of bacteriology) is displaced and translated. What makes the
reader immediately translate this argument into a reductionist social explanation
is the remaining notion of a case. Hygiene does not cause bacteriology any more
than it fts in well with bacteriology. The two associate their common weaknesses
and renegotiate the meaning of their alliance. Anyway the notion of a "cause"
is one of many avatars of "potency" (2. 1.6). A cause is always the consequence
of a long work of composition and a long struggle to attribute responsibility to
some actors.
34. C. Peguy (1914) is probably the most profound study on the articulations
of the various historical and religious times. See also G. Deleuze ( 1968).
35. Apart from their respective know-how and professional loyalty, this is,
the only distinction remaining between historians and sociologists of science: the
former prefer starting from the temporal framework inside which the actors are
situated, whereas the latter like to obtain the temporal framework as a conse
quence of the actor's movements. For the rest, both groups are doing the same
job and are no longer separated by the absurd divide between empiricists, inter-
Notes to Pages 51 -61 259
ested in details and narratives, and theorists, interested in structures and atem
poral schemes.
36. See esp. M. Auge ( 1975), J. Favret-Saada ( 1977/1980). The process of
accusation is an excellent model for the study of sciences as well as parasciences
or witchcraft. By following who is preferably accused and what is preferably
considered to be the cause of a misfortune, the ethnographer can easily reconstruct
society's network of associations. Trailing the processes of accusation allows a
direct entry into "sociologics." See B. Latour ( 1987, ch. 5) .
37. This is why explaining Pasteur's success in terms of his ability to manip
ulate others, or in terms of his power over the hygienists, is so meaningless. If
anything, Pasteur is the one who is manipulated from the start by hygienists in
search of a solution to the confict between health and wealth. But "manipulation"
is a term like "power" or "strategy." All imply some degree of potency and are
thus reductionist in essence ( 1.5.4.).
2. You Vi cPasteurs oIMicrobcs
1. Only if we distinguish between context and content does it appear con
tradictory to reduce the power attributed to a few great men and at the same
time to highlight their personal contribution. The renewal by Tolstoy of the
historical novel genre is a beautiful escape from this apparent contradiction: only
after the crowds are put back into the picture can the novelist afford each in
dividual his or her own flesh and color. Only when sociology has caught up with
Tolstoy can we again be proud of our craft.
2. The word "strategy" is always used here in its War and Peace sense. That
is, the strategist make plans that are constantly drifting away; he seizes upon
opportunities in the midst of confusing circumstances; he fghts hard to make
others attribute responsibility for the whole movement to him in case of victory,
while leaving it to someone else in case of defeat. This is no reason, however,
for reducing action to microcontingencies and for appealing constantly to dis
order, uncertainties, and idiosyncrasies. (K Knorr 1981, 1985). Each actor de
scribed by Tolstoy is summing up what the others do and is trying to make sense
of chaos. Sometimes his interpretation is shared by others acting performatively
on the setting, thus adding to the overall chaos. I call this performative summing
up and negotiation of a global direction "strategy."
3. For Claude Bernard, see W. Coleman (1985). In spite of Coleman's re
newed profession of faith in a bizarre dichotomy between "cognitive" factors
and "social" ones, his article is, as usual, remarkable. Bernard makes a perfect
contrast with Pasteur as far as the positioning of the laboratory is concerned.
"Bernard's unswerving dedication to disciplinary limitation" (p.55) is precisely
opposite to Pasteur's tactics of never discussing discipline boundaries and always
crossing them. Moreover, Bernard places the laboratory in juxtaposition with
hospital wards and physician's cabinets, expecting physiology, through a slow
trickle-down effect, to infuence practical medicine. For Berard a laboratory is
the "sanctuary of science"; for Pasteur it is a fulcrum and an obligatory passage
point. Of course, they both consider an autonomous and well-funded science the
fountainhead of everything else, but in my terms Bernard puts this autonomy at
the level of the primary mechanism, whereas Pasteur puts it only at the level of
the secondary mechanism. Coleman takes as real the distinction between cognitive
260 Notes to Pages 61-68
factors and social factors, which Bernard regards as one possible tactic for achiev
ing autonomy. Had Coleman studied Pasteur, this clean distinction would have
been developed in an entirely different way.
4. On the absurdity of such a link in the eyes of a late nineteenth-century
physician, see J. Leonard (1977, 1981, 1986).
5. Once again, whenever I use the words "interest" and "interested," I am
not referring to the "interest theory" expounded by what is now called the
Edinburgh School. B. Barnes (1974); D. Bloor (1976). I am rather referring to
the notion of translation. M. Callon, (1980). "Interest" means simply what is
placed "in between" some actor and its achievements. I do not suppose that
interests are stable or that groups can be endowed with explicit goals. On the
contrary, I started from the notion that we do not know what social groups exist
and that these groups do not know what they want. However, this ignorance
does not mean that actors are not constantly defning boundaries, attributing
interests, endowing others with goals, and defning what everyone should want.
Any historical case study is thus an in vivo experiment in defning what the
groups are, what they want, and how far we can negotiate with them. Interests
cannot explain science and society; they are what will be explained once the
experiment is over.
6. At this point it is crucial to treat nature and society symmetrically and to
suspend our belief in a distinction between natural and social actors. Without
this symmetry it is impossible to grasp that there is a history of nonhuman as
well as human actors (see Part Two, sec. 3.0.0). The only way to understand
this central part of the argument is to stick frmly to the semiotic defnition of
all actors, including the nonhuman ones. What is a microbe? An actor, that does
this and that, in the narrative. Every time we modify one of the actions, we
redefne the competence and the performance of the actor. This is how the story
can show the history of the actors.
7. This reorganization of hygiene is misinterpreted even by an observer as
meticulous as E. Ackerknecht (1967). Citing the same Bouchardat, he writes
"The anticontagionism of our hygiene movement is probably one of the reasons
why it has been so completely forgotten. After the sun of bacteriology had risen
so high, the hygienists' anticontagionism looked a little embarrassing, and the
whole movement receded into the shadows of insigifcance . . . Belonging, like
its clinical counterpart, to the prelaboratory era, the Paris hygiene movement of
our period looked rather clumsy and stupid to the young enthusiast of the bac
teriologist era" (p. 160). The "rising sun" is one of those many metaphors his
torians like to use as a stopgap wherever the crucial question of the composition
of time is at stake. Ackerknecht's interpretation is inaccurate. On the contrary,
the notion of a "variation of virulence" allows hygienists to force enthusiastic
bacteriologists to do their work ("their" being deliberately ambiguous). The fact
that hygienists are ignored has nothing to do with success; it is a consequence
of the secondary mechanism that the hygienists needed to employ in order to
achieve their results faster.
8. In spite of Pasteur's importance, there are surprisingly few books on him.
Apart from the hagiographic piece by R. Vallery-Radot ( 1911) and the moving
book by Duclaux (1896/1920), there are only R. Dubos (1950) and an episte
mological rendering by F.Dagognet (1967). For the Pasteurians, see Salomon
Bayet, ed. (1986). The only biography done by a professional historian is G.
Geison (1974).
Notes to Pages 68-78 261
9. Here again the contrast with Claude Bernard's movement is striking.
Pasteur is completely indifferent to disciplinary boundaries and to professional
autonomy. See also F. Holmes ( 1974).
10. On Pasteur's passage from studies on molecular dissymmetry to "life
sciences," see D. Kottler (1978) .
11. This i s the only instance in which the Tolstoyan meaning of strategy is
replaced by the word's classic sense of an action successfully planned. The con
sequent steps that Pasteur is going to take are explicit in his correspondence and
articles. There is no reason to abstain from recognizing that sometimes for a few
moments there are indeed strategies. After all, even during the battle of Tarutino
one or two columns arrived at the prescribed time and place (although not for
the expected reasons) .
12. Claude Bernard also recruits allies but in the opposite way. He insists on
a precise order of command from science to practical applications before comm
encing the negotiation. See W. Coleman (1985).
13. As is well known, the French love revolutions. Time being seen as having
no progressive and formative value, the only way to understand change is to
imagine sudden breaks that transform one old regime into a new one. F. Furet
(197811981) has shown the pregnancy of this myth for political revolutions. But
it is much more powerful in the French history of science, which resounds with
"epistemological ruptures" in Bachelard's, Althusser's, and Foucault's writings.
A revolution, however is always the belated outcome of an attribution process
and takes place only at the level of the secondary mechanism.
14. See R. Dubos ( 1950) and, for the French case, I . Grellet et C. Kruse
15. This is the main limitation of laboratory studies, including my own. K.
Knorr (1981) ; B. Latour and S. Woolgar ( 1979/1986). They start out from a
place without asking if this place has any relevance at all and without describing
how it becomes relevant. In only a very few cases are laboratories the place to
start with if we wish to see science in the making. Most of the tme labs are dead
ends, with everything interesting happening outside. For the dislocation of a
laboratory, see M. Calion ( 1980). For the prehistory of another laboratory, see
C. Salomon-Bayet ( 1978).
16. On this essential point a substantive body of literature has emerged since
B. Latour and S. Woolgar ( 197911986). More and more scholars are becoming
interested in inscription devices, instruments, visualization procedures, and other
re-representation processes. See B. Latour and ]. de Noblet, eds. (1985). On the
medical aspect, see e.g. S. ]. Reiser ( 1978).
17. G. Canguilhem ( 1977). If "the science of the laboratory was of itself
directly at grips with the technical activity," the work of planning research and
development would be an easy one (p.73) . Epistemological defnitions of the
laboratory are no more relevant than sociological ones. It all depends on the
earlier translations that render the "science" relevant to be the "technical ac
18. This is why we do not have to choose between the two questions. "Has
Pasteur discovered the microbes which were out there?" or "Has Pasteur socially
constructed them?" The activity of discovering something is the same as that of
commanding a network of equivalences. In this sense Pasteur has discovered his
microbes j ust as Edison did his electricity. See Hughes (1979). That is, microbes
and electricity were not much at frst. It is only when tey added as many attributes
262 Notes to Pages 78-87
as were necessary to interest everyone and to render their laboratories indispen
sable to the microbes and electricity, and only when they fought like devils to
win attribution trials, that Pasteur and Edison ended up having discovered some
19. Here again the defnition of a new object is provided by semiotics. If we
change. the performances of any actor in the narrative, we modify its competence.
In more ontological terms, since a shape is the front line of a trial of strength
( 1. 1.6), if we modify one of these trials, we modify the shape. The name ("mi
crobe," "bacillus") will correspond to a thing only when the front line has been
stabilized. On this principle, see B. Latour (1987, ch. 2.)
20. A discovery is always retrospective and depends on the control of a trans
lation network. Only if we pay this price do sentences like "what we thought
until now to be anthrax is really caused by a bacillus" acquire some credence.
If there were the smallest gap in the control of the translation, then Pasteur's
"discovery" would simply be added to the complicated anthrax affair instead of
replacing the old knowledge.
21. That there is a history of the "things in themselves" seems absurd only
to those who want to fx us forever into the boring confrontation between a
subject (or a society) and an object (or a nature). Meanwhile, innovators are
constantly crossing the boundaries between nature and society and turning our
careful distinction between what has been revealed, what has been discovered,
what has been invented, what has been constructed, what has been made up,
and what has been fabricated into a shambles.
22. As noted by M. CalIon (1986), there should be a complete symmetry
between the terms used to describe human and nonhuman actors. The frst choice
of term does not matter, but once we have chosen one for human actors, we
shall stick to it when we address the nonhuman actors. If we "negotiate" with
the microbes, then use the word for the hygienists or the ministry. If we "discover"
bacilli, then "discover" the physicians or their colleagues. When this rule of
method is applied, we soon realize that the distinction between science and society
is an artifact caused by an assymmetrical treatment of human and nonhuman
actors. The marvelous study of S. Shapin and S. Schaffer (1985) provides the
genealogy of this distinction.
23. See B. Latour and J. de Noblet. (1985) . See also F. Dagognet (1969, 1973,
24. For a "so
al construction" analysis of discovery, see A. Brannigan (1981) .
I am following here an "associological" analysis that relates the degree of "dis
covery" to the extension of a network. In this view Pasteur "discovers" mi
crobes in the same way that electricity replaced gaslight. See T. Hughes
(1983) .
25. I see no reason to shun the term "genius. " Only those who want to reduce
the individual to the mass may object to this word. Such a reduction, however,
would be unfaithful to Tolstoy'S model. In his model no one is reduced to anyone
else. Those able to sum up, locally and for a time, what the others do should be
admired without reservation. This is what Tolstoy does with Kutuzov and what
I do here with Pasteur's primary mechanism.
26. According to D. Watkins (1984), there is a difference between French and
English professionalization strategy in this respect. The possible short cut between
basic science and medical practice is much more pronounced in France than in
Notes to Pages 87-1 08 263
England, where a new profession arises, preventive medicine. See also W. Frazer
27. According to Nicol ( 1974), among the precautions to be taken were the
shaking of the flasks of vaccine and the injection of one control and one vaccinated
sheep from the same syringe so that Pasteur could not be accused of cheating by
injecting virulent forms to the "nonvaccinated" and attenuated forms to the
"vaccinated" (p.377). The negotiation was serious because Hippolyte Rossignol,
who organized the challenge, explicitly set it up to disprove Pasteur's claims and
to show him "that the Tarpeian rock is close to the Capitol" (p.368). Founder
of the Societe de Medecine Veterinaire Pratique, Rossignol organized the public
experiment in part as a publicity stunt for his joural, La Presse Veterinaire.
28. But the anthrax vaccine crosses the Hungarian border like a bullet. "The
Hungarians," writes Thuilier to Pasteur on October 1, 1881, "are even greater
admirers of your discovery than I had thought at frst. They are frmly convinced
of its truth. The demonstration experiments that I am performing are actually
of only moderate interest to them-they are so convinced in advance of success.
What interests them more is to know ( 1) how to prepare pure cultures, (2) how
to make the vaccine." Pasteur and Thuilier (1980), p.91. Good network builders,
these Hungarians. They even try to corrupt the young Thuilier so that he repro
duces in front of them all the gestures necessary to turn the vaccine into a
29. Like the notion of discovery, that of an application of science "outside"
is an artifact otained once the activity of network building is over. Instead of
limiting ourselves to social construction and denying that microbes are out there
and have been discovered, we simply have to give qualifed answers to these
questions; the qualifcation consists merely of adding the activity of network
building. The distribution of the microbes "throughout the world" is exactly
similar to that of gas and electricity.
30. I am limiting myself to the article, but a full account of the episode is
found in H. Mollaret and J.Brossolet ( 1984). They make much of the priority
dispute with Kitasato but also show clearly the contrast between the Pasteurian
strategy and that of the English, the Chinese, or the Japanese physicians and
31. On the French debates around water and sewages, see Goubert J.-P. (1985),
G. Dupuy and G. Knaebel (1979) ; A. Guillerme (1982).
32. H. Mollaret and J. Brossolet ( 1984): "Whereas, schematically speaking,
Koch and his school tried to identify the agents responsible for human and animal
infections, Pasteur and his disciples tried to attenuate the pathogenic power of
these same agents to turn them into vaccines." (p.150).
33. As shown by N. Jewson ( 1976), this renewal had been taking place for
more than a century. Before the advent of hospital and laboratory medicine,
Jewson argues, "It was the sick person who decided upon the effcacy of his cure
and the suitability of the practitioner. Hence practitioners, and thus medical
investigators, formulated their defnition of illness so as to accord with the ex
pectations of their clients" (p.232). The history of medicine, then, is the history
of the reversal of this dependence upon the client and the sick person. In this
sense Pasteurian defnition adds still more distance to the estrangement from the
34. Pasteur during this period has discovered not "the microbe" but the mi-
264 Notes to Pages 1 08-124
crobe-that-can-be-attenuated, and this actor existed from the early 1880s to the
end of the century. That is why the notion of discovery is so useless. It can work
only in the temporary period of calm on the front line. As soon as the struggle
starts up again, the objects have new properties. See L. Fleck (1935/1979),
35. For the United States, see R. Kohler (1982).
3. Medicine at Last
1. See J.-F de Raymond (1982) on the frst vaccination. The story has many
aspects similar to Pasteur's. It is tied to state intervention and statistics. Jenner
slighdy transforms an earlier practice (innoculation). Even the "associology"
works along similar lines. "Immunology allows one to dispense with an ethnic
or a social segregation" (p. ll 1). On French frst vaccinations, see P. Darmon
2. For this sort of reason we cannot even assume that 1892 is before 1893.
it could as well be "after," or "at the same time." It all depends on what actors
do to place these years in relation to one another (1.2.5)
3. See A.-L. Shapiro (1980). The more the law was discussed, the more it
was "emasculated" from the hygienists' point of view and the more it maintained
the traditional position of physicians. On the medicolegal history of this period,
see R. Carvais (1986).
4. This situation is not limited to France. For the United States, J. Duffy
(1979) writes about the declaration of tuberculosis: "The intimate relationship
between the physicians and the patient'S family in the upper class and the danger
of losing his fee among the lower economic groups tended to discourage reporting
disease which might have serious economic consequences to the family" (p. 10).
5. This specifc kind of health offcials, called "offciers de sante," were
doctors without the national academic diplomas but with some kind of legal
protection as a consequence of the French Revolution's movement to dissolve
entirely the "privileges" of the medical profession. For a century each issue of
each medical journal attacked the existence of these inferior "offciers de sante"
who took the bread out of the real doctors' mouths. On the complicated French
legal scene, see M. Ramsey (1984) ; R. Carvais (1986) . On the problem of pro
fessionalization in the medical profession, see E. Freidson (1970).
6. "With cries of approval from the right, M. Volland prophesied in the
Senate that: 'By the law of hygiene that you consider today, you will have armed
the representatives of the central power with the right to penetrate when they
wish, on an order from Paris, day or night, inside our homes; to bring, in defance
of all the guarantees laid down by the criminal code, into our homes their war
on microbes, and under the pretext of the search for a germ or the execution of
a disinfecton, to open our most intimate possessions and our most secret drawers.' "
Cited in A.-L. Shapiro (1980), p. 17.
7. D. Watkins (1984) reports of the professionalization in London, which,
if it can be extended to all of England, makes a striking contrast with the French
case. "Poor law medical offcers, though employed in public service, continued
to practice curative, clinical medicine, in the same way as their private practitioner
colleagues. Medical offcers of health however were practicing a different type
of medicine altogether. The function of their offce required specifc training in
a specialized area of knowledge. This specialized practice begat its own aims,
goals, and objectives. Consolidation of these through the professionalization of
Notes to Pages 124-143 265
preventive medicine resulted in a sub-division of this occupation from the medical
profession as a whole" (p. 16). See also W. Frazer ( 1950).
8. For this notion of a deal or a contract in the French medical profession,
see e.g. C. Herzlich ( 1982): "Simultaneously, in what can be called an 'exchange
process,' physicians let it be understood that they would co-operate with the
social laws and 'enter into the social game' of collective relations, but only under
certain conditions which they were able to impose in exchange for their co
operation, and which shaped medical practice" (p.245) .
9. The situation i s the same-for doctors as for the hygienists a generation
earlier. We need a "translation platform," so to speak, that is ambiguous enough
to aggregate interests. Contagion does not interest hygienists; variation of vir
ulence does interest them, because it resembles what they were already doing and
allows them to fuse the macrocosm-the city-and the microcosm-the bacilli
cultures. Vaccines do not interest physicians very much; sera interest them a lot,
because they can go on doing their usual work. In both cases the price to pay is
the same: laboratory equipment. In both cases the Pasteurians are the ones who
modify their angle of attack and their research program. The variation of virulence
was not comprised at frst in the earlier defnition of the microbe. As for the
serum, it was not part of the research program before the constitution of im
munology. Vaccines and sera are thus a coproduction of the Pasteurians, their
human allies, and their nonhuman captive allies
10. On this point, G. Weisz ( 1980) shows that Pasteurism does not play a
very important role in the transformation of French medical education. More
important is the contract made between physicians and the state: "eliminate our
competitors and we will become more knowledgeable." The influence of Germany
and its creation of a full-time teacher-researcher also play an important part
(p.64). Among the chairs created between 1870 and 1919, very few are in the
"pasteurized" domains. In general, the whole linkage between science and med
icine is considered uncertain and often unnecessary by students and general
practitioners. See Salomon-Bayet (1986).
11. There are times when sociological notons, such as that of "prestige, " can
be used. Such is the case in this chapter on physicians, because we are now much
further from the technical content of bacteriology and are talking about a group
that has become the epitome of a profession. See Friedson (1970) ; Starr ( 1982) .
The further we are from content, the better traditional sociology is.
12. What happened to Villerme and the hygienists happens now to the pas
teurized public health. They both start as a new science in search of allies; they
both end as a reifed social movement that has aggregated so many people along
so many networks that notions of power appear applicable.
13. L. Murard and P. Zylberman (1984) criticize this point, rightly so from
their point of view. It is true that later in the century hygiene is metamorphosed
many more times, especially because in the long run the alliance between hy
gienists and politicians does not work very well. The notion of "sanitary police"
becomes embarrassing. Still, in contrast to their importance in the earlier period,
the themes of hygiene disappear and become routinized.
14. McNeill (1976); F. Cartwright (1972); M. Worboys (1976).
15. The extension of micro- and macro-parasites is especially striking because,
as J.-P. Dozon ( 1985) argues, many of the diseases were new ones imported by
the very columns in charge of eradicating disease.
16. 'In effect the Pasteurians resolved the confict between Manson's and Ross's
266 Notes to Pages 143-148
approaches that are illustrated by M. Worboys ( 1976): "The difference [between
the two scientists] came over whether it was to be 'scientifc research' for de
velopment, or 'public health' for development" (p.91) .
4. Transition
1. Those who accuse relativists of being self-contradictory (Isambert, 1985)
can save their breath for better oc

asions. I explicitly put my own account in the

same category as those accounts I have studied without asking for any privilege.
This approach seems self-defeating only to those who believe that the fate of an
intepretation is tied to the existence of a safe metalinguistic level. Since this belief
is precisely what I deny, the reception of my own argument exemplifes my point:
no metalinguistic level is required to analyze, argue, explain, decide, or tell stories.
Everything depends on what sort of actions I take to convince others. This
refexive position is the only one that is not self-contradictory (Latour: 1988).
discipline continued by others
veterinary medicine
Figure 1 . Pasteur's trajectory (see p. 69)































































' /



































1 915
1 91

1 909
1 908
1 907
1 906
1 905
1 904

1 902
1 901
1 900
1 899
1 898
1 897
1 896
1 895
1 894
1 89

1 892
1 891
1 890
1 889
1 888
1 887

1 0
c 20



1 0
c 20


c 1 0
c 20





Figure 3. The variation of the three most important research programs in the
Annales de l'Institut Pasteur (by year and percentage), 1 887-1 919 (see p. 1 06)




Abstraction, 221, 222
Ackerknecht, E., 260n7
Actant, defnition of, 35, 159, 252n11
Annales de L'Institut Pasteur, 11, 100-
Anthrax, 75-90
Anthropology of science, 149, 195, 206
Armaingaud, 138, 139
Association, 38-40, 168, 258n30; in force
or in potency, 213
Auge, M., 212
Bernard, L., 61, 259n3, 261nn9, 12
Bloor, D., 213
Bouchardat, A., 20, 22
Bouley, H., 5, 15, 33, 74, 86, 87, 88
Braude!, F., 173
Calion, M., 260n5, 262n22
Calmette, A., 141
Canguilhem, G., 31, 75, 261n17
Capital, 173
Chamberland, 24, 57
Chauveau, A., 27
Coleman, W., 19, 254n8, 255n15, 259n3
Colin, L., 92
Concours Medical, 12, 117
Contagion, 62-67
Crusoe, Robinson, 154, 201, 236
Culture, 199, 209
Dagognet, F., 68, 69, 70
Degeneration, 254n5
DeMey, M., 252nl0
Discovery, 93
Displacement, 56; of laboratory, 61-65;
of Pasteurian, 66; of Pasteur, 67-72; of
physicians, 125-132; of tropical mede
cine, 143
Dozon, ]. P., 265n15
Dubos, ., 68, 255n16, 256n21
Duclaux, E., 33, 64, 68, 80, 82, 89; re-
search program, 107
Duffy, J., 264n4
Economics, 162, 168, 203
Entelechy, 159
Epistemology, 215-216, 228
Equivalence, 170, 176. See also Transla-
Explanation of a science, 8-9, 39-40,
91-92, 252nn7,9,10, 253n15; critique
of an, 153, 256n22, 258n33,
272 Index
Force: no a-priori ideas on what is, 154,
157, 159; line of, 171, 183, 251n6; dif
ferent from potency, 213
Friday, 154, 155
Gradient, 160
Herzlich, L.,265n8
Hesse, M., 181
History of science, 51-52; and sociology,
Hobbes, T., 194
Hygiene: defnition, 19-22; before Pas
teur, 19-34; redefned, 49-58; gains
autority, 55-58; as coercion, 137-
140, 256n23
Inscription, 83, 218
Interest, 260n5
Irreduction principle, 158
Isambert, F. A., 252nl0, 266nl
Jeanne, Dr., 129-132
Jewson, N., 263n33
Kawabata, Y., 160
Kidder, T., 211
Knorr, K. , 252nl0, 259n2
Knowledge, 226, 228, 230; no levels of,
231-233. See also Trials of strength
Koch, R., 30-31, 256n21
Laboratory: as fulcrum, 72-75; making
history, 79-85; and macrocosm, 90-
93, 224
Landouzy, L., 21-22, 27-28, 65-66
Language, 104; language game, 160, 204
Law, 204
Leibniz, G., 166, 201
Leonard, J., 113
Logic, 171, 179, 182, 183
London Exhibition on Hygiene, 24-26
Machiavelli, N., 200, 211, 234
Machine, 204
Magic, 180, 186, 209, 212
McNeill, W., 41, 141, 258n31
Medical secret, 122-123
Merton, T., 257n27
Metchnikov, E., 107
Microbe: new social actor, 35-40; obliga
tory point of passage, 43-49; "discov-
ered," 75-82, 261n18, 262n20;
dissolution, 105-110
Military medicine, 114-116
Modern world, 201, 207, 209, 230, 236
Monad, 159
Murard, L., 265n13
Musil, R., 177
Nature, 167, 199, 205, 229
Nietzsche, F., 154, 166, 167, 251n6
Negotiation, 163, 167
Network, 170, 171, 116, 220, 221, 226,
Nicol, L., 263n27
Obligatory points of passage, 43-49
Order, 161
Parasite, 57-58, 126, 141
Pasteur, L. : biography, 67-72; and the
laboratory, 73
"Pasteur": the myth, 4-6, 8, 28-29; dif
ferent from Pasteur, 15; and hygienists,
55; deconstruction, 59-62
Pastorians: research program, 75-90,
100-104; style of, 94-104
Peguy, L., 51, 165, 210, 258n34
Peter, L. 29-30
Physicians: skepticism of, 116-121; de-
fned by others, 121-125; redefne
themselves, 129-137
Plague, 94-100
Politics, 144, 145, 210, 225, 228; by
other means, 56, 228
Potency, 174, 175, 189, 191, 197, 200,
212; different from force, 213
Pouilly-le-Fort, 5, 87-90
Power, 174-175, 186
Primary mechanism, 42, 71
Proof, 26, 128, 256n18; extension in a
network, 92-93, 219, 226, 263n29
Reality, 155, 158, 159, 166, 188, 227
Reason, 179, 186
Relativity, principle of, 162
Revolution in science, 129-137, 261n13
Revue Scientifque, 11
Richet, L., 27, 43, 55, 124, 125
Right and might, 183, 233, 235. See also
Trials of strength
Rochard, 55
Roux, E., 127, 128, 142
Rozenkranz, B., 256n24
Rudwick, M., 255n13
Salomon-Bayet, L., 252n10
Schaffer, S., 5, 229
Science, 213, 214, 216
Secondary mechanism, 42, 71, 72, 109,
110, 259n36
Semiotic method, 9-11, 253n13, 257n26
Serotherapy of diphteria, 127
Serres, M., 5, 57, 126, 143, 251n2,
Shapin, S., 5, 229
Shapiro, A. ., 257n25, 264nn3, 6
Shyrock, R. H., 255n17
Society, 38-40, 199, 205. See also Associ
Sociology, 253n15, 257n27; redefnition
of, 38-40
Space, 220; construction of, 164
Spinoza, B., 7, 161, 177, 211, 234, 251n5
Spokesmen, 160, 194-197, 229
Statistics, 90-91, 255n12
Stendhal, 211
Strategy: critique of, 60, 69, 252n10,
259n2, 261n11
Surgery, 46-48
Symbol, 187-188
System, 198, 206
Technology, 199
Theater of the proof, 85-87
Theory, 178, 220
Index 273
Things-in-themselves, 193, 194
Thuilier, ., 263n28
Time: construction of, 49-52, 111-113,
164, 165; change of chronology in,
Tolstoy, .,3-5, 13-14, 22, 42, 60, 71,
111, 147, 251n4, 253n1, 259n1
Tournier, M., 154, 236
Translation, 11, 65-67, 181, 253n16,
260n5; principle of, 162; platform,
Trelat, E., 15, 21
Trials of strength, 158, 183, 210, 214,
Tropical medicine, 140-145
Truth, 183, 226, 227
Tyndall, ]., 9, 10, 27
Universality, 220, 226
Variation of virulence, 62-65
Verne, J., 23
Verneuil, 72
Villerme, . 19, 254nn8,9,10, 265n12
Watkins, D., 262n26, 264n7
Weakness. See Force
Weisz, G., 265nlO
Worboys, M., 266n16
Yersin, A., 94-100
Zyiberman, P., 265n13

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