Re: Foucault and Normativity

> On Tue, 11 Apr 1995 CROSBYJL@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> >
> > It is very interesting to me how Foucault's discriptions of diciplinary
> > practices and 'regulatory fuctions' are interpreted as attacks on them,
> > and calls for their elimination. To my knowledge, this is not
> > Foucault's goal. An understanding of the ways in which we opperate
> > within power relations and institutions does not call for the
> > elimination of those relations and institutions, but allows us to
> > locate sites from which we can resist. Foucault is not an anarchist.

Well, yes, if Anarchism is a sort of concerted party activity aimed at
dismentling society. But such anarchism is a bit self-defeating. I would
think that the refuse to 'call for the elimination' of whatsoverer is an
extremely anarchic gesture, since any meaningful political action has to
do with some sort of such elimination, whether it is the elimination of
perverts or the elimination of prejudices. There is a problem there. What
we get from F. is not a political counter-action, but a counter-political
action, which nevertheless is political to the end. I am not sure I have
it clear about the merits of such a stance.

On Tue, 11 Apr 1995, Kristin Switala wrote:
> The question, then, is what types of operations could be possible
> (or are possible) within various power grids (institutions -- including
> the Internet). Do you think Foucault says much about this? I do not,
> but I could be incorrect. This is where I find the French feminists,
> particularly Irigaray, so appropriate. I think that she offers
> suggestions of ways women can operate within institutional power
> structures. However, she has been accused of being too "pragmatic" (and
> some even criticize Foucault as being pragmatic, which I think is
> problematic) in her suggestions for possible political actions. Is
> taking political action equivalent to being pragmatic?

It seems to me that political action can be pragmatic only from
the center. As such, pragmaticism seems apolitical and thechnocrat,
without this to impede it from carrying out efficient political (and
basically, stabilizing and conservatory) actions.
But there may be a problem with being a pragmatic non-conformist
or to carry out any sort of political truly oppositional action
pragmaticaly. First of all, because the most practical thing to do is
always to comply with the center. A center would soon callapse once it
looses this reasonability. A counter-action has been traditionally seen
as requiring some sort of positive illusion, at least in the
possibility of meaningful opposition, and a motive for bypassing the
pragmatic, which was often a religious or religiouslike ideal.
Accusing F. of being pragmatic is therefore accusing him of being
conservative, who removes the posibility of change by discarding the
meaningfullness of the political ideal. F. is trying, I think, to
de-center the political arena itself, in a way this undermines both
pragmatic politics and traditional revolutionary activities. what is
left is not clear. Yet I think that the 'care for the self' can be taken
in an extremely unpragmatic sense.


Gabriel Ash



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