Why Foucault is worth discussing

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sun Sep 1 01:41:55 MDT 1996

At 08:02 PM 8/31/96 -0400, you wrote:

>Sorry,  Julian,  I've never read your book(s).    I was merely arguing for
>people on the new list to become better acquainted with the major trends in
>post modernism,  and its corollaries in related disciplines.    This means
>having a working knowledge of (at least) Derrida,  Baudrillard,  Antonio
>Negri, and of course Foucault.
>Louis Godena

As a general proposition this is unexceptionable. I however am unable to
read Derrida.  Simply  cannot understand what he is (not?) trying to say.

Baudrillard is yet another instance of this.  I think he tried to say that
the Gulf War was a media event.  I think he appears to be a neo-Platonist.
If I am correct about this then I am with Julian here.

Foucault though is a different case.  I am pleased that someone referred to
him as an anarchist.  That I think is the key to understanding his
attraction to and *for* the marginalized- gays, prisoners, immigrants etc.
But if I may say so one needs to understand that he is an anarchist in
retreat.  Moved by the failure of 68 he retreats to where anarchists
inevitably end up in defeat that is taking care of the self.

Moreover his neo-Nietzschean adaptation of the "will to power" is surely a
very negativistic and disabling concept  for a revolutionary.  I much prefer
Bhaskar's notion of Power2 which can be stormed from outside and overcome.
With Foucault Power seems to be everywhere, presumable coded into the DNA.
We can never escape it.  Bhaskar would I feel  call this Power1 i.e. the
ability  to get things done etc.



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