Foucault and Politics

Rather than interpreting Foucault's involvement in politics as something
he did not fully realize and demonstrate until later in his life, I think
it is correct to interpret Foucault's entire life as that of politically
engaged. Whether we consider his participation in a variety of
underground socialist and communist groups early in his life; his writing
short polemic pieces for those groups; his reporting in Iran and
subsequent writing on those events; his participation in demonstrations
dealing with the death of Pierre Overney in 1972, with
Sartre in support of immigrants in 1972, the student riots in France, in
support of the Polish in 1981; prison reform; as well as his
participation in press conferences and other political activities of all
sorts, it is obvious that Foucault's political involvement spanned his
entire lifetime.

So how do we account for the acute focus Foucault gave to power/knowledge
in his later work? Perhaps we should accept the reasons _he_ gave for this
shift. These reasons appear in pgs. 109-111 of _Power/Knowledge_, the
very beginning of "Truth and Power." In those pages Foucault gives a
brief account of his formulation of power/knowledge. He states that the
issues and content of power/knowledge permeates all of his work, starting
with _Madness and Civilization_. Foucault claims that he did not
precisely grasp power/knowledge as such until later, but that his
interests and studies throughout his career had been struggles with this
region of our social situation.

Yours in discourse,

Steven Meinking
The University Of Utah


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