From: "Doug" <doug@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 22:00:18 +0100
>>> Right now, I have a question. What is Foucault's alternative to the
>>> quo? I haven't come across anything related to this yet. Somehow, I'm
>>> guessing that the answer will be something like "discourse".
>I dont think F would have necessarily proposed an alternative to the Status
>Quo. In terms of proposing an alternative to the dominant economic
>arrangement i.e Capitalism , he shared with critical theorists a loose
>critique of capitalism, for example Foucault argues that those who seek to
>challenge dominant discourse naturally ?enter as allies of the proletariat,
>because power is exercised the way it is in order to maintain capitalist
>exploitation?. ( Michel Foucault. ?Intellectuals and power? In ?Language,
>counter-memory, practice?. (ed) Donald Bouchard. (Ithaca: Cornell
>Press, 1972). p 216) He did however eschew any macro critiques of political
>economy. This is one of his weaknesses, and one of the reasons Habermas
>argues that F is a "young Conservative" (along with Habermas' view that F
>had abandoned any progressive elements of modernity and was therefore
>nihilistic and hyper-relativist).
>I suppose one would find an alternative in his later work whereby he argues
>that through the perfection of the self, and acting in accordance with
>own ethical principles we find a possible challenge to the status quo. That
>is, by living up to ones standards, this necessarily inculcates a certain
>disposition towards others. Self -mastery and striving for individual
>perfection thus become the goal of ones life. This naturally involves a
>challenge to dominant conceptualisation of identity as it breaks with the
>normalising elements of modernity and thus identity and self-constitution
>become the arena in which challenges to the status quo are fought see
>(Jeremy Moss (ed) The Later Foucault. (London: Sage Publications. 1998) Pg
>108 - 129) for a good exposition of this theme.
>In my opinion this is a bit of a cop out and remains an area underdeveloped
>in F's thought (mostly because of his untimely death). It falls back on an
>individualised ethicality and on the supposed reflexive potential and
>honesty of those undergoing this process, hardly a basis for a true
>challenge to the status quo!
>In terms of F's use of bio-power, it isn't entirely clear how bodies and
>pleasure transcend the normalising effects of discourse. That is, in his
>conception of bio-power the body becomes a transcendental source of
>transgression. How does it stand outside of discourse? How is it not shaped
>by normalising strategies?