Re: Governmentality/State Theory

Is Foucault's answer
>that a plurality of forms of government demands an analysis of power
>at its extremities (as in the double upward and downward movements of
>governance in La Mothe Le Voyer's treatise)?
From Chad.

I think the wording of the last sentence here might send Foucault back into
the vacuum of State theory, where an analysis of power begins with the
state and traces its effects in the "extremities" of a social body. In
other words, this might lead one towards a "descending" analysis of power
(which F. lamented in P/K). Foucault's point, I think, is that power only
exists in its local manifestations, in the particular points through which
it passes, and that the state is a 'resonance chamber' (to use Deleuze and
Guattari's language) or space of articulation and codification of as many
power relations as possible (not a site of condensation as Hall and many
other cs folks want to rewrite F.).

Focusing on the opposition between 'society and the state' as the central
antagonism is a liberal framework, not a Marxist's.
From Yoshie.

Reading Foucault on police in some ways brings him close enough to the Hegel
of the Philosophy of Right that useful discussion can be made. The crucial
point is that Foucault's conception of 'police' is borrowed from writers for
whom a division between state and civil society was not possible. It is
perhaps because F was unable/unwilling to develop from them that his work is
so open to criticism from Marxists to whom the state/civil society
distinction (developing from Hegel's work) is of paramount importance.
From Stuart.

...the vital issue around Machievelli [in "Governmentality"] is the distancing
of the art of govt from the intrinsic nature of the Prince.
From Netsa.

Before pushing on to follow Stuart's suggestion to
attend to Foucault's work with governmentality via his attention to 'police',
I would like to locate the essay "Governmentality" more clearly in relation to
the 4 thoughtful responses that were offered to my earlier posting. In it I
raised what I called the (Neo)Marxist question of Foucault's microphysics of
power in relation to questions of the State. It appears to me that by getting
a better sense of the reply's to the question I raised I will better be able
to address Foucault's development and use of the concept "governmentality."

First question of clarification:
Yoshie and Matt seem to agree that the wording of my question seems
to throw Foucault back into "State Theory." Yet, the agreement ends there.
Yoshie correctly asserts that focusing on the antagonism between
the state and civil society as "the central antagonism" is not a Marxist's
framework. If I may make a supposition, a Marxist framework would focus on
class antagonism as "the central antagonism." I am reminded here of Negri's
early 1960's reading of Keynes' which places the struggle of the workers as
central to the adjustment capital must make to maintain itself.
However, I am not sure how holding class struggle as "the central
antagonism" forecloses the distinction of the State from Civil Society from
functioning within a Marxist framework. Without ignoring what might be called
the Gramsci Effect, does not the very positing of the class struggle as "the
central antagonism" entail (at least to a degree) the maintenance of a
State/Civil Society distinction. Here I am reminded of the base-superstructure
model. Liberalism growing from Adam Smith and Benthemite Utilitarianism
certainly requires the distinction of State and Civil Society. But does Marx
critique the distinction or the use of the distinction in the discourse of
19th century Political Economy as a mechanism for cover over labor, "The
Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret"?
Which leads me to the distinction between Matt and Yoshie. Matt
seems to set Foucault's use of the concept governmentality up as a tool of
resisting not only the liberal framework that overdetermines the State/Civil
Society distinction, but also a possible Marxist framework that would focus
upon the class struggle in terms of power as something possessed rather than
something exercised. In either case, the state could function as a tool for
those who possess power to dominant those who do not possess power. This
sounds very different from what Matt claims is Foucault's point, "power only
exists in its local manifestations, in the particular points through which
it passes, and that the state is a 'resonance chamber' (to use Deleuze and
Guattari's language) or space of articulation and codification of as many
power relations as possible (not a site of condensation as Hall and many
other cs folks want to rewrite F.)."
So, Yoshie and Matt (and anyone else) how are we to situate
your commentaries in relation to each other and in relation to
governmentality? Does the concept "governmentality" function as an attempt to
pass through the Liberal/Marxist distinction that allows political praxis so
easily to be labeled either progressive of regressive?
In asking this last question I am trying to return to the second
quotation Matt offered from Deleuze _FOUCUALT_:

"It is as if finally, something new were emerging in the wake of Marx. It
is as if a complicity about the State were finally broken. Foucault is not
content to say that we must rethink certain notions; he does not even say
it; he just does it, and in this way proposes new co-ordinates for praxis.
In the background a battle begins to brew, with its local tactics and
overall strategies which advance not by totalizing but by relaying,
connecting, converging and prolonging. The question ultimately is: what
is to be done? The theoretical privilege given to the State as a apparatus
of power to a certain extent leads to the practice of a leading and
centralizing party which eventually wins State power; but on the other
hand it is this very organizational conception of the party that is
justified by this theory of power. The stakes of Foucault's book lie in a
different theory, a different praxis of struggle, a different set of
strategies." (pg. 30).

Different from either Liberal praxis or Marxist practice? Or both? How? How in
relation to the concept governmentality?

Second Question of Clarification:

Stuart speaks of the State/Civil Society distinction as crucial to Marxists
such that Foucault's work (on police which is crucial to thinking
governmentality) is vulnerable to Marxist critique for not recognizing and
working from the distinction Yoshie calls a liberal framework. So, does the
State/Civil Society distinction distinguish a liberal framework from a Marxist
framework, or does it connect them?

Third Question of Clarification:

As Nesta emphasizes, by turning to texts that do not have the State/Civil
Society distinction Foucault actually sets to work addressing the emergence of
that distinction out of a discourse of the art of governing. Is this not what
he is doing by refusing to see the important aspect of the writings about the
PRINCE as being the contestation of its goodness or badness? By doing so,
Foucault then points to the distancing of the practice of governance from that
of a rationality of sovereignty and the introduction of economics into
politics. Does this make both the critiques of governmentality, those which
find fault with its conflation of State and Civil Society and those that find
fault with its failure to conflate them, a bit of the mark?

Thanks for all the conversation. It has been helpful to me.

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