This article examines the consensus-conflict divide within contemporary democratic theory as manifested in the works of Jürgen Habermas, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, and John Rawls. It relates the democratic crisis diagnosis to the presence of this conceptual divide and suggests overcoming it by focusing on the work of Michel Foucault, especially his concept of the “rectangle of the good parrhesia.” Foucault's analysis goes beyond conflict-consensus through its positive and creative reconceptualization of political authority featuring a transformative capacity linked to the idea of telling the truth.
Beyond the Conflict-Consensus Divide
Henrik P. Bang
Reinhart Koselleck's Construction of the Sattelzeit
The author contends that a transition period is conceived in terms of its continuity with preceding or subsequent periods, rather than an entirely discontinuous temporal unit. Thus, in order to conceive of a period of transition, one must assume an overarching historical continuity. This contrasts with Reinhart Koselleck's and Michel Foucault's conception of the period of transition to modernity which is at once a break and part of the modern period. By analyzing how time is experienced in terms of contemporary awareness and retrospective consciousness, the author maps out the epistemological determinations that allow for the conception of a period of transition to modernity such as Sattelzeit.
The 1979 Vincennes Conference on Neoliberalism
Michael C. Behrent
This essay is an examination of one of the first instances of a public intellectual engagement with the phenomenon of neoliberalism in France: the conference on the nouvel ordre intérieur (“new internal order”) held at the University of Vincennes in March 1979. Though the conference had little immediate impact, its participants were prescient in recognizing and analyzing the demise of postwar social arrangements and the onset of a new political and economic paradigm. The essay examines the conference’s broader context: the 1973 economic crisis and the policies it triggered, anxiety about the Trilateral Commission’s report on democracy, the pushback against the anti-Marxist politics of the nouveaux philosophes, and the controversy surrounding the future of the experimental University of Vincennes. The essay then considers the analyses of some of the conference’s key participants (including Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, and Henri Lefebvre), as well as the tensions that emerged in their efforts to conceptualize what they called neoliberalism’s “soft way” (i.e., its combination of capitalist hegemony and social and cultural liberalism).
New protest movements have recently occasioned debates about the party form on the left. Jodi Dean contributes to these debates through her theorisation of the party as an organisation for making the egalitarian impulses of the crowd durable. In this endeavour, Dean acknowledges anxiety about the party form on the left, yet she dilutes its complexity through recourse to generalities and abstractions. This article seeks to reclaim the complexity of anxiety about the party form on the left through the reflections of three major thinkers in radical political theory: Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault and Alain Badiou. These thinkers suggest that anxiety about the party can spring from highly variegated sources and lend itself to equally variegated positions. These sources and positions capture the complexity of sources of anxiety about the party on the left. They also enable us to take stock of the forms of the betrayal of radical politics by the party.
The article singles out one dimension of the history of concepts in general and of Koselleck’s work in particular, the “theory of historical times,” which at present is both contested and simply overlooked. After discussing some of the arguments for and against the necessity of such a theory for the practice of conceptual history, the article moves on to suggest an alternative context for grasping its originality, the so-called linguistic turn, manifest in French structuralist thought and especially in the works of Michel Foucault. In Koselleck’s works key structuralist ideas like structure and the diachronicsynchronic opposition are developed in ways that open them to questions of historicity and multiple times.
Michel Foucault on Power
How and why is it that we in the West, in our arduous and incessant search for truth, have also built into and around ourselves intricate and powerful systems intended to manage all that we know and do? This, arguably, was the key problem to which Foucault applied himself. Central to his critical, historical ontology of Western, and especially Enlightenment, reason is an investigation of the constitutive relations between the operation of power relations, the production of knowledge, and ways of relating ethically to oneself and others. This article examines Foucault’s account of the relations of power which are said to underpin contemporary thought and to regulate and subject modern individuals. Contrary to the belief that Foucault’s conception of power is dogmatic and all-encompassing, leaving no room for progressive resistance or change and flowing over into the realm of theory such that truth itself becomes questionable, it is argued here that Foucault offers us an analysis of relations of power as ‘strategies of governance’ which depend for their operation on the existence of free subjects capable not only of resistance but of positively producing effects of truth in reality.
Jon Harald Sande Lie
Through its post-structural critique of development, post-development provides a fundamental dismissal of institutional development. Drawing on the work of Foucault, post-development portrays development as a monolithic and hegemonic discourse that constructs rather than solves the problems it purports to address. Yet post-development itself becomes guilty of creating an analysis that loses sight of individuals and agency, being fundamental to its development critique. This article discusses the discourse-agency nexus in light of the post-development context with specific reference to the grand structure-actor conundrum of social theory, and asks whether an actor perspective is compatible with discourse analysis and what—if anything—should be given primacy. It aims to provide insight into social theory and post-development comparatively and, furthermore, to put these in context, with Foucault's work being pivotal to the seminal post-development approach.
Sexual Relations in the Collectivist Society of Tajikistan
Desire focuses on a particular object, while horniness stems from a generalized feeling of sexual arousal. In Tajikistan, people are discouraged from the former and are expected to experience their sexuality as the latter. The story of Rustam and the clashes with his father Malik over the choice of his bride serve to demonstrate the tensions between the two types of sexuality. Women have more difficulties experiencing desire than men, owing to the reification of the hymen and their expected subordination to their husbands. The conceptual differences between Rustam and his father are to some extent due to differences between collectivism and individualism. The concluding discussion suggests that Western culture may be less individualistic in this regard than is often believed.
AIDS, South Africa and the Politics of Knowledge by Jeremy R. Youde Mandisa Mbali
Clausewitz’s Puzzle: The Political Theory of War by Andreas Herberg-Rothe Deane-Peter Baker
History of Madness by Michel Foucault, edited by Jean Khalfa and translated by Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa Roger Deacon
Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1973-1974 by Michel Foucault, edited by Jacques Lagrange and translated by Graham Burchell Roger Deacon
The Authority of Reason, by Jean E. Hampton (ed. by Richard Healey). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Reviewed by Douglas Farland
Religion and Culture by Michel Foucault, edited by J.R. Carrette. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999, with a Foreword by James Bernauer. Reviewed by Roger Deacon
Discourse Theory and Political Analysis: Identities, Hegemonies and Social Change, edited by David Howarth, Aletta J. Norval and Yannis Stavrakakis. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000. Reviewed by Torgeir Fjeld