Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Gordon Hull, Foucault’s “Analytic Philosophy of Politics”, New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, 02 July 2018

The current issue of Foucault Studies contains the first English translation of a lecture Foucault gave in Japan in 1978.  This “Analytic Philosophy of Politics” is essential reading if you have an interest in the transition between Foucault’s “power” and “ethics” work and/or his later understanding of power and resistance.  The Tokyo lecture underscores a profound continuity in his thought along a number of lines. Here are a few things that emerged for me on a first reading (there are also references to Confucianism that I am totally unqualified to address, so I will simply note that they are present):

(1) Foucault proposes that the question of power emerges in the wake of fascism and Stalinism, which he treats as both singular but as tied to “a whole series of mechanisms that already existed within social and political systems” (189).  That is, movements now challenge “this overproduction of power that Stalinism and fascism clearly manifested in its stark and monstrous state” (189).  The emphasis on Stalinism and fascism corresponds to the lectures that bookend Society must be Defended a few years prior, where Foucault begins by critiquing “totalitarian” discourses in the form of orthodox Marxism and closes with an analysis of state racism (exemplified by the Nazis) as a form of biopower.  So too, at the beginning of SMD, he refers to some of the same movements – anti-psychiatry, the recovery of “subjugated knowledges” that are the examples in the Tokyo lecture.

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