Foucault and Genealogy
Victor M Rosado
vrosado at ic.sunysb.edu
Tue Feb 19 16:09:19 MST 2002
I am not an expert of Foucault, but nevertheless have some idea about what
generally happens in poststructuralist discourse.
There are lots of things, but I will focus on two important
aspects. (1) What happens in postmodern, postmarxist, etc. theory is the
loss of ontology. (2) What happens is that there is no real objectivty,
only subjectivity filtered through the Subject (the bougeious individual),
or some kind of manifestation of the Subject, ex.- Power, Will, Discourse,
etc.So,something that seemingly started out as a revolutionary mode of thinking
becomes reactionary in many respects.. no such thing as History,everything
is filtered by discourse and is discourse, etc. Kind of difficult to have
a revolution when there is no reality to change!
What Marx did was identify the mechanisms that are irreducible to the
"Subject" or indivualities in order to understand Capital and eventually
destroy it. Real Marxists must be realists.
Also, Foucault emphazises decentrality and the local, like you had
pointed out. We must understand both the local and the global and the
dynamics of systems in order to understand Capital. Some people argue
that Capitalism doesn't exist because there are no such thing as
"systems". But systems are complex arrays of singularies that
interact... these interactions form a system, a totality. Capital is not
a thing per se, but a series of complex social levels and relations; some
levels are more basic (forces of production); some more important
(relations of production) in determining the nature of
capitalism; some elements emerge from others (political superstucture
emerges from the dominant mode of production); some emergent levels can
react back upon the base (literature can influence economic discourse).
Capital is irreducible to the sum of its parts, but consists of many
things that are integral to its existence.
Foucault's theory in a way can lead to conclusions like capitalism doesn't
exist or can lead to proyects like Empire that don't understand the
stratified micro, meso, and macro dynamics of capital. By stratified i
mean that capital is more concentrated in certain places (e.g- the
US) politically and economically. This has political consequences and
helps us strategically plan. If everything were "decentred", then it
would be almost impossible to overthrow Capital.
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