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Foucault, power, left politics

Wickham, G. (1987) Foucault, power, left politics. Arena, 78 . pp. 146-159.

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Foucault is useful. For those of us who are interested in understanding and contributing to at least some of the objectives often aggregated under the heading 'Left politics in Australia', we can gain a great deal from some of ,the work of this increasingly influential French thinker.

But we must be careful. In Australian political analysis, it seems to me, the work of Foucault has taken on the status of a magical elixir. There are those who scorn its advertised benefits claiming they have always gotten by without it. There are those who drink it freely and regard it as genuinely magical, able to provide a ready cure for all the ills of political analysis. And there are those who are tempted to try it and who, when they have had no more than a sip, quickly adopt one or other of the above positions.

In this essay I aim to avoid treating Foucault's work as such an elixir. I intend to present a brief reading of some of Foucault's work on power, and to use this reading as the basis for formulating an alternative mode of political analysis and in tum for introducing some arguments about Left politics in Australia. I will use Foucault rather than being for or against Foucault. This goes some way down the path recently suggested by Bob Connell - to examine the relevance of marxism vis a vis 'difference theory', including the work of Foucault.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences
Publisher: Arena Print. and Pub. Pty Ltd
Copyright: © Arena
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