From: Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1@xxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 22:57:26 -0500
Peter Gates wrote:
>This is a Foucault list not the Bourdieu list so i guess I want to ask how
>can/does Foucault help us to see the continuing significance of marxism.
>No-one has yet demnstrated to me the continuing significance of marxism. I
>am interested to try an see how all of F on surveillance, powr etc can be
>incorporated into a marxist framework.
Foucault helps us see the continuing significance of marxism--if such
demonstration were needed, that is (I am not certain to whom you would like
to demonstrate it)--both in what he says and what he doesn't and cannot say
within his theoretical framework.
What Foucault says about surveillance, power, etc., I think, helps us
understand the ideology + practice of social control, reproduction of labor
power, & reproduction of social relations under capitalism--especially the
ways in which workers become, 'of our own free will,' instruments of our
own subjection. Under constant surveillance, workers come to internalize
the gaze, becoming our own supervisors, for instance. Power implants
'sexual perversions,' and through the implantation of 'sexual perversions'
it produces 'sexual norms.' Sexual as well as gender normalization is the
mechanism through which reproduction of labor power gets naturalized and
privatized _even as_ capitalism makes over labor into _abstract, general, +
social_ activity in fact. (Foucault was a very sophisticated reader of
This mode of control--subjection through production of specific forms of
subjectivity + subjecthood _embodied_ via state + non-state apparati (such
as school and family) that organize bodies & discourses--was especially
important for the ruling class + the governing elite in core capitalist
countries during heydays of social democracy. My take is that this subtle +
highly mediated mode of control was never dominant in the capitalist
periphery where super-exploitation + more direct repression went (and still
go) hand in hand. And even in core capitalist countries such as the United
States, the dominant mode of control vis-a-vis blacks, Latinos, poor
whites, migrants, etc.--those who are on the margins of the highly
segmented + hierarchized labor market--has become a much more militarized
policing--no more 'social reforms' (whose days didn't last long and which
anyway never produced the Euro-style 'welfare state' in the USA).
Neoliberalism--its attacks on the welfare state, its increased repression
of the poor + the marginalized, its quest for 'labor flexibility' (which is
the code word for union-busting, part-time labor, subcontracting,
etc.)--means that there are less carrots and more sticks, so we can expect
that control of laboring bodies will be less internal and more external,
perhaps except for those who belong to the professional-managerial strata.
What Foucault doesn't and cannot say (except implicitly) is how power
serves capital and how changes in capitalism cause changes in power. The
unsaid in Foucault points to the weakness of 'post-marxism' which is its
tendency to divorce discourse from the economic and to autonomize it. It is
up to marxists to trace power back to capital (understood as social