We can detect two great or overarching thematics in Foucault’s work: through the publication of the first volume of the History of Sexuality a general interest in the modes of discipline according to which individuals are formed in accordance with the social order; and from 1980 onwards, a newly practical-political orientation tasked with an interventionist mandate—the practice of ‘truth-telling’, ‘political spirituality’, and an ethics of the ‘care of the self’, a self-transformation through revolution. But in between these periods and problematics lies a peculiar moment between 1976 and 1979. During this moment, Foucault will publish no major works to rival his extraordinary output of the late 60s-early 70s. It is a period characterized by a turn in thought towards political economy, but also to a certain Marx. The relationship of Foucault to Marx (and to Marxism) is unsettled, and in some ways, cannot be settled. It is an open problematic for us. This interregnum entails two theoretical developments of note: first, intense forms of intervention around Marx’s thought outside France (specifically in Brazil, Italy, Japan, and Iran). Second, a wager on new, affirmative possibilities of politics not solely located within the earlier genealogical form of inquiry.
The Will to Strategy: Foucault’s Interregnum, 1976–1979
Gavin Walker is Associate Professor of History at McGill University. He is the author of The Sublime Perversion of Capital (2016) and Marx et la politique du dehors (2022), the editor of The End of Area: Biopolitics, Geopolitics, History (2019, with Naoki Sakai), and The Red Years: Theory, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Japanese ’68 (2020) as well as editor and translator of Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility (2020). He is widely published in critical theory, social and political thought, cultural criticism, and modern intellectual history. His new book, The Rarity of Politics: Passages from Structure to Subject is forthcoming from Verso.
Gavin Walker; The Will to Strategy: Foucault’s Interregnum, 1976–1979. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2022; 121 (4): 713–734. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10066413
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