This article argues that Foucault’s analysis of ancient philosophy, ethics, and politics after 1979–1980 represents not only a discursive break or discontinuity with Foucault’s decades-long analysis of capitalism, but also an inventive series of techniques and practices to negate and overcome fundamental problems of subjectivity under historical capitalism and in revolutionary political action. Part 1 of the article returns to The Birth of Biopolitics (1978–1979) and discusses four problems that Foucault identified as problems to be negated and overcome in political action and revolution: human capital, historical capitalism, the crisis of party governmentality, and the absence of the economic sovereign in political economy. Part 2 reviews Foucault’s analysis of diakrisis, epimeleia heautou, and metanoia in relation to the absence of economic sovereignty in modern political economy and neoliberal economics, as well as in relation to Marx’s precept to “change yourselves, and prepare yourselves for the exercise of political power.” Part 3 analyzes Foucault’s concept of parrhēsia—or speaking the truth in the face of power—in relation to Marx’s vision of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Revolutionary and Anti-Capitalist Politics of the Late Foucault: The Quest for Economic Sovereignty
Ken Kawashima is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. He is author of The Proletarian Gamble: Korean Workers in Interwar Japan (2009); co-editor of Tosaka Jun: A Critical Reader (2014); and the English translator of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis (2021). He has published articles in Rethinking Marxism, Historical Materialism, positions, and Viewpoint Magazine.
Ken Kawashima; The Revolutionary and Anti-Capitalist Politics of the Late Foucault: The Quest for Economic Sovereignty. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2022; 121 (4): 693–711. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10066399
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