February 2, 2007

More on Foucault

Filed under: Foucault — ubikcan @ 4:09 pm

As a follow-up to yesterday’s entry, Andrew Sullivan is right to observe that Foucault is not a simple pomo-lefty. And he is right to criticize the NRO piece I took issue with yesterday.

But who is this Foucault scholar he cites? Unfortunately Sullivan doesn’t name the person who says:

[Foucault] came to see Classical Liberal themes as the antidote to power

That just doesn’t sound very Foucault-like to me. I would argue that Foucault never sought an “antidote” to power, unless it be the pursuit of studies that reveal the different forms of power relations (including liberalism). And I don’t think he would oppose liberalism to power. In fact he argues the opposite: that biopolitics is the technology of government pursued by modern liberal states.

Fortunately a translation of his important governmentality work has been made and will appear soon. Though we’re going to have to wait a while longer for Birth of Biopolitics. These lectures deal with liberalism quite extensively. See Stuart Elden’s recent paper on these previously unpublished lecture courses in Environment and Planning (doi:10.1068/d428t).


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