Michael C. Behrent, The True Foucault Dissent Magazine, September 30, 2021
The issues most important to Michel Foucault have moved from the margins to become major preoccupations of political life. But what did Foucault actually teach?,
Suddenly, it seems, everyone has a lot to say about Michel Foucault. And much of it isn’t pretty. After enjoying a decades-long run as an all-purpose reference point in the humanities and social sciences, the French philosopher has come in for a reevaluation by both the right and the left.
The right, of course, has long blamed Foucault for licensing an array of left-wing pathologies. Some conservatives have even made Foucault a catchall scapegoat for ills ranging from slacker nihilism to woke totalitarianism. But a strange new respect is emerging for Foucault in some precincts on the right. Conservatives have flirted with the notion that Foucault’s hostility to confessional politics could make him a useful shield against “social justice warriors.” This presumption was strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Foucault’s critique of “biopolitics”—his term for the political significance assumed by public-health and medical issues in modern times—provided a handy weapon for attacking liberal fealty to scientific expertise.