Re: Foucault, commodities & power

OK first up I haven't read the article, or collection Yoshie Furuhashi
mentions so maybe I should. It seems to me that the central claim of
your quote is that power should be treated as a commodity. If this is a
misunderstanding then my criticisms are going to be totally misplaced!
I think I have two major problems here though. Firstly to claim that
power is a commodity seems to be a totally retrograde step,
One of Foucault's most important inheritances from Nietzsche was that
power is not a commodity. Power is not owned or possessed but exercised.
Secondly to talk of spheres of power eg. economic, artistic, medical is
an abstraction - occasionaly a necessary one but still an abstraction
that should not be mistaken for an actuality. I know that its debatable
as to how wed Marx ever was to some kind of base-superstructure split
but Foucault in Discipline and Punish and History of Sexuality is
totally beyond that (the Panopticon intervenes/defines multiple enclosed
spaces; disciplinary assemblages are used in schools, the army then the
factory). Geneaology as he says is "contingent, ironic, singular" which
to me is the best explanation for why he does not fall back on Captial
as an explanatory schema even when it might be convenient - a thrust of
Discipline and Punish is how the productive forces of populations of
bodies were increased through disciplinary assemblages after all.

I know that this thread was kicked off by the question of is Foucault or
French philosophy (still) relevant, so I'm going to include a quote
which may help situate much of the discussions and the link to where I
got it from :
"Foucault has brilliantly analyzed the ideal project of these
environments of enclosure, particularly visible within the factory: to
concentrate; to distribute in space; to order in time; to compose a
productive force within the dimension of space-time whose effect will be
greater than the sum of its component forces. But what Foucault
recognized as well was the transience of this model: it succeeded that
of the societies of sovereignty, the goal and functions of which were
something quite different (to tax rather than to organize production, to
rule on death rather than to administer life); the transition took place
over time, and Napoleon seemed to effect the large-scale conversion from
one society to the other. But in their turn the
disciplines underwent a crisis to the benefit of new forces that were
gradually instituted and which accelerated after World War II: a
disciplinary society was what we already no longer were, what we had
ceased to be. "

Its by Deleuze (a totally relevant French theorist) and called
Postscripts on the Societies of Control. Its only four pages long - a
major attraction I know - and totally mindblowing.
You can find it at

Happy thinking

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