File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9806, message 35

Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 19:02:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Different problems, different solutions

On Mon, 15 Jun 1998, na.devine wrote:

> Thanks to M.A. King for his lucid comment on my problem. 

You're welcome. :)

> Does this mean that Foucault can be considered - contingently - a 
> liberal, a Marxist and a Foucauldian?

I think so.  This is something that Larry touched on in his last post
(which I'll get back to soon)--whether Foucault is "anti-liberal to the
core", or something close to that.  One might similarly ask whether
Foucault is anti-Marxist to the core; early in his career, he got more
flak from Marxists than from anyone else.... Somewhere, Foucault is asked
about his relationship to Marxism and replies something to the effect of,
"we are all Marxists"--echoing Sartre's contention that in France, the
intellectual sphere has been simply defined by Marxism.  Somewhere else,
Foucault says that he quotes Marx without quotation marks, so to speak,
and if people don't recognize Marx in his work, it's because they don't
really know Marx.  This is especially evident in parts of Discipline and
Punish, I think.  As to the question of liberalism, in the question period
after one of Foucault's Berkely lectures, someone asks him what he thinks
of the political utility of rights-talk and such things; he replies that
of course it is *tactically* useful.  Which is a step back from "Two
Lectures", where he calls the invocation of juridical rights a "dead end".
Or perhaps not a step back:  a dead end takes you so far, and then stops;
securing your rights against the sovereign gains you a certain kind of
freedom, though there are other kinds which "rights" can't get
you to--kinds of freedom which are neither more nor less important
(it's apples and oranges), just different.


----Matthew A. King------Department of Philosophy------McMaster University----
     "The border is often narrow between a permanent temptation to commit
     suicide and the birth of a certain form of political consciousness."
-----------------------------(Michel Foucault)--------------------------------


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