This article investigates an often obscure methodological “area” found between the discourses and methods of Marx and Foucault. What kind of an area separates their methods—and hence their politics? Ultimately, this is a question of the area between Foucault’s “logic of strategy” and Marx’s “dialectical logic.” How are we to think of a logic of strategy alongside a logic of dialectics? What is the historical materiality of this alongsidedness, and what political direction must be given to the unavoidable methodological differences, disorder, and chaos resulting from such a methodological comparison? Reading Marx’s Capital alongside Foucault’s lectures on biopolitics clears a path for analyzing this question, revealing more clearly the revolutionary stakes of thinking Marx after Foucault and vice versa. The essay has three sections. The first section outlines this area between the discourses of Marx and Foucault and revolves around the concept of “aleatory.” The second section investigates three aspects of Foucault’s analysis of biopolitics: race war, circulation, and competition/interest/social policy. The author argues that this is the area in which Marx and Foucault converge, where networks of power/knowledge mediate and oppressively dominate not simply populations but the material and epistemological conditions that process the commodification of labor power The final section looks at biopolitics from the perspective of the analysis of capitalism in its imperialist stage. The author presents concrete examples of biopolitical forces at work in the state unemployment system of Japan during the interwar period, which institutionally normalized discrimination against colonial workers from Korea.
Ken C. Kawashima; The Hidden Area between Marx and Foucault. positions 1 February 2019; 27 (1): 115–144. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7251845
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