Is it really Foucaut’s fault?

In a thought-provoking op-ed in The Guardian, Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora write

We are perhaps living at the end of politics,” Michel Foucault wrote in the late 1970s. With the exhaustion of utopias and radical alternatives to capitalism, what was now at stake, he memorably wrote, was to develop “new types, new kinds of relations to ourselves”. Political advancement is not delivered through “parties, trade unions, bureaucracy and politics any more”, he wrote. Instead, politics has become “an individual, moral concern”.

— and then go on to lay the current trends of self-centred «progressivism» at the philosopher’s feet.

I’m not sure we can blame it all on Foucault, but when they write

Beginning in the late 60s, political change would be reframed as a struggle against oneself, against our “inner enemy”. One had to confront the “fascist within”.

This shift made the self just another market to conquer, with self-help coaches, new age gurus, energy healers, food counsellors, alternative therapists and lifestyle brands all trying to profit off of this turn inwards. Politics, as Christopher Lasch would write, would “degenerate into a struggle not for social change but for self-realization”.

I find myself in complete agreement.

Social justice, socialism, and left-wing politics have, for me, always been about solidarity. It is, most emphatically, not about me but about how I can contribute to making the world a better and more just place. Making it about my improvement, about my consciousness being raised, about my journey to become a woke individual (yes, I see the irony in light of my last post) is an act of selfishness and the opposite of solidarity.

The entire opinion piece is here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/15/michel-foucault-self-individual-politics. It’s worth a read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *