Foucault and Fascism

>>As has been argued (ad nauseam) on this list before,
>>there is no one politics which descends from
>>Foucault's work. There can be (and are) liberal
>>Foucaultians, anarchist Foucaultians, conservative
>>Foucaultians, stoic Foucaultians, fascist Foucaultians, etc.

>Please explain how a Fascist Foucault can exist?

>I think I can understand how the other versions are feasible.

Well, the person above (the one with the double quotation marks,
like so-->>) did not say a fascist Foucault could exist.
He said Fascist Foucaultians. I would find it hard to imagine
Foucault himself being a fascist.

So if I may rephrase your question to say, "Please explain
how a Fascist Foucaultian can exist?" I would like to try a
brief answer.

But first I have a question: What is it about a fascist
Foucaultian that gives you pause? What is it in Foucault's
theory, books, arguments--as distinct from his personal
life and personal political commitments--that makes you
wonder about this particular possibility?

Perhaps one way to approach the issue is to contrast
Foucault's approach to theory to that of Georg Lukacs, the
post-WWI author of _History and Class Consciousness_. Lukacs
argued that Marxist theory was two things at once. First,
it was partisan. That is, it stood on the side of the
proletariat in its world-historic struggle against the
bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, for its part, could not
really "use" Marxist theory to understand the world
because that theory reflected the interests of a class
(the working kind) that were inherently hostile to
those of the bourgeoisie.

Second, Marxist theory when properly applied produced an
accurate, true picture of the actual dynamics of social
reality. Put more bluntly, Marxist theory gave the
individual, class, and party that learned and applied it
an *objective,* *true* account of the social world.

Marxist theory then, according to Lukacs, was both
partisan and produced "truth" in the strong sense of
that term.

Just for purposes of a reference, here are a few
summary, paraphrased comments from Lukacs's _HCC_ (trans.
Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1968):

"It was necessary for the proletariat to be born for social
reality to become fully conscious. The reason for this is that
the discovery of the class-outlook of the proletariat provided a
vantage point from which to survey the whole of society....This
was only possible because for the proletariat the total knowledge
of its class situation was a vital necessity, a matter of life
and death; because its class situation becomes comprehensible
only if the whole of society can be understood..." (p. 20)

"The knowledge of reality provided by the dialectical method
is...inseparable from the class standpoint of the proletariat."
(p. 21)

It seems to me that Foucault denies that theory and the forms
of knowledge tied to it can be partisan in the way Lukacs
imagines it. By their nature theories are too abstract to
guarantee their link to one set of interests. In addition,
Foucault does not agree--as members of this list hardly
need me to tell them--that theories produce a universally
true picture of the social world.

Nor, however, do these theories guarantee politically
correct choices. See for instance "What is Enlightenment?"
in _The Foucault Reader_, p. 44; "Truth, Power, Self,"
in _Technologies of the Self_, pp. 14-15, and "Politics
and Ethics" in _The Foucault Reader_, pp. 373-374.

And so for instance a fascist could read _Discipline and
Punish_ and come away saying: Some great ideas here! I
should try some of this stuff! The theory does not "tell"
anyone how to use it. It can be picked up by anyone.

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