Why the Left Needs Foucault
BY ROBERT A. KIPPES, CounterPunch, APRIL 30, 2021
The relationship between the philosophy of Michel Foucault and Marxism has been contentious since the 1970s. Notably, Jean-Paul Sartre accused Foucault’s thought as being “the last barricade the bourgeoisie can still erect against Marx.” The reason is simple: he rejects the onto-teleological claim of Marxism and the reduction of all conflict to class conflict. Instead, there are a multiplicity of arenas in which struggles can vie for position: domains of sexuality, health, delinquency, and so on. But for Marxist political movements, this doesn’t mean Foucault is useless or, worse, detrimental. On the contrary, Foucault’s philosophy is more useful to the Left than is commonly considered by their pundits, while they continue to dismiss the value of his work to the detriment of their own purported goals, however noble they may be.