Australian Journal of Cultural Studies
Vol. 1 No. 1, May 1983

'Foucault at Forest Lodge': a review of Theoretical Strategies

John Frow

Theoretical Strategies, edited by Peter Botsman, Local Consumption Series 213 (Sydney: Local Consumption Publications, 1981).

Several years ago the editors of Michel Foucault: Power, Truth, Strategy wrote of Foucault's publications of the 1970's: "it is to the extent that this work deals with the kinds and modes of functioning of power, and upsets our established ways of theorizing about it, that it confronts those central political concerns which have emerged since the late sixties" (Morris and Patton, 1979: 7). This confrontation has been worked out extensively and in rather different ways in Australia but there is still no clear agreement on the Australian left about the political value of Foucault's work. One reason for this (apart from the left's chronic fragmentation) can be expressed in terms of a Foucauldean caution: there are no necessary political implications or directions for use given in this body of work, nor does it necessarily possess any single or non-contradictory political value (which could be derived from the unity of Foucault's personal political commitments, as ex pressed for example in the collections of interviews and occasional articles); nor is this body of work a 'theory' (with its politics in tow): Foucault himself prefers to use the metaphor of a 'tool-kit' (Foucault and Deleuze, 1977: 208).

But although I can do either my gardening or my murdering with a spade, it is also the case that particular tools do some jobs better than others. It's still a fair question (granting the cautions sketched above) to ask of the work of Foucault what political tasks it is best adapted to carry out, and which new tasks it defines. There are several ways of trying to determine this. One is to analyse the cutting edge of Foucault's categories and attempt to calculate the likely con sequences of using them; and another is to assess the consequences of actual uses. In this review I shall briefly pursue the first of these in order to tackle the second in my discussion of Theoretical Strategies.

Let us note that one of the uses consistently made of Foucault's thematization of power is as a refutation of marxism's privileging of the State apparatus as the essential site of power, and its concomitant insistence on the moment of revolution as the singular, cataclysmic moment of radical structural change. Bersani, for example, draws the lesson from Surveiller et punir that "the over throwing of the multiple 'micro-powers' which infiltrate our lives doesn't obey an all or nothing principle" (Bersani, 1977: 4), and that the appropriate form of politics is therefore not that of revolution but that of dispersed and multiple resistances, the occupation of structural points built into the network of power itself. One of Foucault's own discussions of the marxist theorization of the State deduces from it three historical consequences: first, the militarization and bureaucratization of the revolutionary party; second, the maintenance after the revolution of the State apparatus as a weapon with which to continue the revolution; and third, the rehabilitation of a class of technicians and specialists to run the machinery of the State in conjunction with the new class of party cadres.


Against this "reproduction of the form of the State apparatus within revolutionary movements" Foucault argues for an understanding "that power isn't localized in the State apparatus and that nothing in society will be changed if the mechanisms of power that function outside, below and alongside the State apparatuses, on a much more minute and everyday level, are not also changed" (Foucault, 1980: 59—61).

The argument is not a new one (it was largely developed within marxism), and it raises certain problems which demand further theorization. One of them concerns the way in which global structures are crystallized from local relations of power. "Power comes from below:" there is no general matrix of social power from which local effects are derived. Rather, localized relations of tension in diverse domains (production, the family, institutions, forms of knowledge) function as the basis for "wide-ranging effects of cleavage" which then "form a general line of force that traverses the local oppositions and links them together, to be sure, they also bring about redistributions, realignments, homogenizations, serial arrangements and convergences of the force relations. Major dominations are the hegemonic effects that are sustained by all these confrontations" (Foucault, 1981(a): 94). But what is it precisely that brings about the "general line of force"? In Foucault's account it would seem to be a more or less accidental outcome, a random confluence of fault-lines: which leaves unexplained the overdetermination of small struggles for power within the great 'strategic' formations of social contradiction. Hegemony is never simply additive or contingent, it is the name for that active shaping and appropriation of local relations, however 'autonomous' and non-derivative they may be in the first instance. In other words, whilst it is true that relations of, say, sex class or age class can't be directly equated with or derived from relations of economic class, or that the structure of the family is not a microcosm of that of the State,nevertheless strategic social alignments constantly tend to bring about a posteriori or 'symbolic' correlations between these instances. Foucault's atomistic conceptualization of power leads him to a position of scepticism with regard to the general unities of systems of power so that he can then only think these general unities through ad hoc formulations (like the notion of the State as "the codification of a whole number of power relations which render its functioning possible") (Foucault, 1980: 122). Certainly there is one sense in which it is useful to deny that the State is equivalent to the sum of all power relations, and to define those "new methods of power whose operation is not ensured by right but by technique, not by law but by normalization, not by punishment but by control, methods that are employed on all levels and in forms that go beyond the state and its apparatus" (Foucault, 1981 (a): 89): but the point of this should surely be, not to limit the concept of the State to a restricted and specialized domain but rather to stress the continuity between the 'public' and the 'private', between those apparatuses formally assigned to the State and those which are apparently external to it. And again, this emphasis on the diffusion of power is hardly alien to marxism. Althusser's stress on the interdependence of real and symbolic violence, Gramsci's definition of hegemony in terms of the 'consent' given by the dominated classes to a control exercized through both formal and informal organizations of power, these have little in common with the simple functionalist or repressive models of power Foucault is sup posed to have displaced (e.g. by Gordon, in Foucault, 1980: 234-5).


Where they do differ importantly from Foucault is in their refusal to hypostatize power as a self-motivating force, "an attribute with a causal efficacy" (Minson, 1980: 24). Dews writes in this respect of Foucault's tendency "to speak of power in an anonymous third person singular, as if it were a kind of homogeneous cur rent circulating through the social body; it is never a question of whose power and for what purpose, since the 'purpose' of any power can now only be its own expansion" (Dews, 1979: 164). Consider for example this passage from The History of Sexuality: "a proliferation of sexualities through the extension of power; an optimization of the power to which each of these local sexualities gave a sur face of intervention: this concatenation, particularly since the nineteenth century, has been ensured and relayed by the countless economic interests which, with the help of medicine, psychiatry, prostitution, and pornography, have tapped into both this analytical multiplication of pleasure and this optimization of the power that controls it" (Foucault, 1981(a): 48). In the model of causality operating here 'power' or 'power-knowledge' precedes the 'economic' which acts as a mere adjunct to its diffusion. Power is itself indeterminate, an unconditional origin. What is at issue here is not the opposition between a Nietzschean 'power relation' and a marxist 'production relation' (for marxism this is not an opposi tion), but rather that between a metaphysical and a social conception of power. Foucault's 'nominalistic' definition of power as not an institution, a structure or an inherent strength but rather "the name that one attributes to a complex strategic situation in a particular society" (Foucault, 1981(a): 93) is contradicted by the recurrent substantialization of the concept. Power is precisely not a strategic concept to the extent that it becomes a sort of all-pervasive law with the possibility of resistance already built into it and thereby, in a sense, controlled and calculable in advance. Dews' critique (which is however weakened both by a tendency to brand Foucault by association with the Nouvelle Philosophie and by a fear of the implications of subordinating epistemological to politicohistorical criteria) argues that Foucault tends "to slide from the use of the term 'power' to designate one pole of the relation power-resistance, to its use to designate the relation as a whole." This extension of the field of application of the concept empties it of political content by universalizing it; whereas "politics always consists in a choice between powers, and not in a stand against power as such." (Dews, 1979: 164—166).

If the concept of power is paradoxically under-politicized, that of discourse is correspondingly over-politicized. The crucial thesis here is that which an nounces the rarity of statements. The archaeological project deals not with backgrounded meanings nor with generative rules but only with discursive positivities. The field of events it constitutes "is a grouping that is always finite and limited at any moment to the linguistic sequences that have been formulated" (Foucault, 1972: 27). In Deleuze's words, archaeology restricts itself "to what is effectively said, to the sole inscription of what is said," because "there is neither possible nor virtual in the domain of statements, all is real, and all reality is manifested there" (Theoretical Strategies, 223—4). On the one hand, then, the statement is by definition shadowless, positive, scarce (and this scarcity brings about its multiplication in secondary exegetical discourses which are not, presumably, composed of 'real' statements); on the other hand, scarcity is im posed through the operation of certain politically significant principles of rarefaction: the author, the discipline, the commentary, the will to truth (Foucault,1981(b): 67). This rarefaction of the already rare is at least a paradox, but the point is clear:


discourse is to be thought not as productivity nor as a layered field of implication but as the given, the necessity of which is proved by its existence.

The effect of emphasizing the positivity and regularity of discursive formations is to play down the question of their disruption or of resistance to them. The strength of the politics more or less developed in Foucault's work is its sense of the complicity between the powerful and the powerless; it is much less capable of answering the question of what resistance there could be that would not reproduce the power it negates. If the dispersal and the pluralization of resistances "does not mean that they are only a reaction or rebound, forming with respect to the basic domination an underside that is in the end always passive, doomed to perpetual defeat," it is nevertheless not at all clear how the "strategic codification of these points of resistance that makes a revolution possible" (Foucault, 1981(a): 96) could escape the condition of being merely the specular reversal of the State. And that may indeed be where Foucault would want the emphasis to fall.

One option at this point would be to agree to abandon "the uneasy attempt to reconcile non-marxist discourses ... (e.g. the work of Foucault) with marxism" since to do so is "to disrupt the efficacy of both modes of analysis and to cob ble together a heterogeneous construct the use of which as a means of calculating political tactics in any specific instance is undeterminable" (Phillipps,1983: 184). But such an argument relies on a crudely monolithic and static representation of marxism (for example, that it is unable to think the constitutive function of discourse); on a bureaucratic division of intellectual labour (marxisms's 'place' is political economy); and, surprisingly, on the proposition that discourses must be homogeneous if they are to be effective. Since I don't buy any of these principles, l feel free to return here to my contention that Foucault's work (like marx ism) is not a unitary whole fixed in its genetic context and carrying necessary political implications. The appropriate question then becomes not that of its inherent value but rather that of how it can be put to use. And I assume that it has an obvious contribution to make to marxist theory, and in general to the political practice of the left. l would identify three ways in which Foucault's work poses a challenge to marxism. The first involves the need to think the specificity of power in particular social relations: for example, to think the social relations of a practice, or particular relations of discourse, without deriving them immediately from relations of production. The second involves the need to think the concept of subject as being neither external nor prior to particular social relations but as constituted through the bringing into play of subject positions nor matively inscribed in the forms of institutional and discursive practices. As Brown and Cousins have noted, this means rejecting the abstract universality of the concept of interpellation (Brown and Cousins, 1980: 259). The third involves rewriting the concept of ideology in such a way as to avoid any appeal to epistemological guarantees. Foucault has succinctly outlined the problems with the concept: that "it always stands in virtual opposition to something else which is supposed to count as truth," rather than being used to determine "effects of truth;" that it "refers, l think necessarily, to something of the order of a subject;" and that it "stands in a secondary position relative to something which functions as its infrastructure" (Foucault, 1980: 118). This encapsulates no more than what marxist theory has long been moving away from, in particular (and for all its failure, its final entrapment in an epistemological problematic) in the work of Althusser. There is no necesslty for the concept of ideology to refer to the


tnuth, the subject, the base; a semiotic and systemic conception of ideology would be concerned with the regimes of truth produced by particular apparatuses of power—with the overdetermination of discourse by power.

Theoretical Strategies is a collection of articles almost all of which take their direction from Foucault, or from the mediation of his work through Hindess and Hirst. Two of the translated articles - Baudrillard's 'Oublier Foucault' and Deleuze's nepotistic 'A New Archivist - confront Foucault's work directly. By reviewing the book (journal? the category markers are, perhaps deliberately, blurred) in this way I am of course imposing a false unity on it; but it seems a valid way of exploring the uses to which Foucault's work can be put—in areas like law, social welfare, sexuality, literature, rock music, film—without seeing these uses as necessary extrapolations from the theory.

One of the central stresses of many of the articles is on the (political, institutional, formal) conditions under which particular textualities emerge. In review ing the first of last year's Insight and Interpretation conferences, for example Greg Manning and Tony Thwaites argue that it could have been organized in such a way as "to concentrate less on the object than on the effects of practice" (303), and in particular the practices involved in attending conferences. This one is seen as promoting particular authority-effects (above all through the centralization, even negatively, of the figure of E.D. Hirsch) and an "increasingly insidious in timacy of the we" by means of which real differences are set up "as complements within the family of knowledge, each of them serving and substantiating the harmony of the whole" (305—6). That discourse which most loudly proclaims its radicalness (deconstruction) most blatantly ignores the conditions of its own enunciation; it is played out "in the utopias of textuality, never in the classroom, the literature course, the academy, the conference room," and it negates thereby "the politicality of the very actions that were being performed, or programmed and justified, by the theories that were discussed" (312).

It is in accordance with this line of argument that Noel King focusses his discussion of the literary institution on "the conditions of constitution of particular literary-critical discourses" and on the knowledge-effects they produce (96). The most important of these conditions is the regime of reading which, carried by systems of 'training' (curricula) works to reproduce appropriate forms of knowledge of texts and to certify appropriate agents of reading. Thus "a 'literary reading' is the effect of the iteration of a certain number of rules: consequently these rules should become as much an object of analysis as 'the text itself"' (93). Cathy Greenfield and Tom O'Regan similarly argue that "readings are the effects of shifting and institutionally differentiated trainings in the repetition of ordered series of concepts, or statements," and they define the reader as "the bearer of institutionally conferred techniques which produce specific knowledge effects" (146-7). Clearly the danger this argument runs is that of functionalist reduction. It leaves little room for contradiction, for the failure or the conflict of trainings, or for conflict between institutional and extracurricular determinations. Whilst the initial emphasis on defining the conditions of interpretation is surely correct, the question of the level at which forms of reading are reproduced, and indeed the concept of reproduction itself, are in need of a rigorous specification.


The critique of interpretation is accompanied theoretically by a critique of representation -in both its epistemological and its political senses. I'll explore some of the consequences of this in three instances. In the first, Richard Phillipps develops a case against "theories that present law as unproblematically providing a conduit for political strategies of an interest group" (49), and specifically of a dominant class. Law is a self-contained domain with specific categories, specific modes of constitution of its 'world'; its forms cannot be read off from the structure of the real. Phillipps' construction of its specificity as an institution and a set of practices then proceeds negatively, through a critique of the transparency of discourse (legal discourse constructs its own objects which may or may not correspond to the objects constructed in other discourses and which can not be neatly matched with the extra-legal real) (58-59); a critique of the constitutive subject (replete with rights and needs which are in effect blank concepts to be filled in accordance with particular political determinations) (59-61); and a critique of epistemology, leading to a "limitation and localization" of political strug gle, no longer concerned with the "crucial instance" or "the single organizing principle the overthrow of which will overturn the entire 'totality"' (63-4). This denial of the notion of totality and of 'determination in the last instance' means that struggle need not destine itself to the overthrow of a monolith. Nor does it approve only one site for political action. Rather it implies more limited, localized political calculation and action in specific instances" (64).

The privileging in this paper of an ad hoc pragmatism over the guiding role of theory tends to disguise the fact that an (anti-) epistemological purism more or less displaces questions of political practice. The spaces of practice are specified, if abstractly, but they are left empty. I see two problems here. The first is that of the linkage between practices: or if there is none, then the problem of whether the isolation of practices from each other won't deprive each one of its impetus and its support. The second is the problem of the general criteria for judging what will count as a 'left-wing' or 'progressive' or 'liberatory' prac tice rather than as a 'reactionary' practice, or indeed whether such markers will become irrelevant: in which case I'm not sure I know what would provide the motivation for political practice, or even what would then constitute the political itself.

The second instance is an article by Ross Harley and Peter Botsman on rock 'n' roll journalism. Here again the argument is formulated negatively, as an at tack on those journalistic discourses which "construct the politics of music around the novel notion of music as the possessionlexpression of particular groups (teenagers, hippies, working class youth) and as a potential liberating force capable of subverting dominant political and cultural structures." 'Music' and 'politics' are defined by this journalism as autonomous yet connected realms, and the central theoretical task then becomes that of building bridges between them, usually in the form: "politics determines music, yet is outside it in the form of money, ideology, dominant interests of ruling classes," or, more succinctly: "money, ideology and the ruling classes demand the Nolan Sisters" (236). Insofar as power (in this parody of marxist musicology) is external to music, it's a question of identifying "a sort of uniform structure of resistance/oppression which can be deciphered or represented in music" (238).


In opposition to this approach, Harley and Botsman insist that "there is no one ideological effect nor one coherent structure" behind the operation of the institutions of the music industry; the industry "is not ... necessarily linked to the interests or dominance of capitalism" (238). The reasons advanced to support this argument are, first, that oppositional musicians still work within capitalist structures, and second, that questions of musical taste are not directly political; the political codification of music is rather a matter of particular "trainings in enjoyment" or "the repetition of certain discourses, chronologies and representations" which bring about the construction of an oppositional politics (but what, we might ask, brings about these 'trainings' and 'discourses'?) The (vulgar) marxist position is then crystallized in Burchill and Parsons' The Boy looked at Johnny which, with its naive celebration of Johnny Rotten as the 'instinctual' opponent of the industry within and for which he worked, represents the "exhaustion of a conception of the politics of music—the idea that music can be constructed as expressive of the interests of either rebellious teenagers or oppressed working class youth," and the exhaustion as well of the concomitant opposition bet ween liberatory deviance and a mainstream commercialism which perpetuates capitalist ideology (242).

The alternative politics that Harley and Botsman propose is one which is "centred in the techniques, productive processes and relations of production of music itself. This means breaking with the two opposing armies thesis that the major contradiction is situated at the level of what the industry controls and what it doesn't, of 'parent cultures' and 'subcultures"' (243). In a more positively valued journalism, that of Morley and Penman (sic), to whose authority the authors constantly appeal, the task is that "of establishing and constructing how certain forms of music come to figure as popular etc., and how they can be read/heard. The task is not to perform a commentary on a pre-existing object; it is to attempt to intervene at an effectual site at which an object is established, described, read" (256). But what is striking here is the constant postponement of politics—to 'specific' strategies in 'specific' conditions, the analysis of which we never quite seem to reach. The argument is that "constructions of a dominant set of ap paratuses or a 'status quo' serve no purpose unless our targets are specific ob jects, discourses or economies," that we must deal with "definite conditions, constraints, patterns of repetition, marketing strategies, etc." (254). But even if such an analysis were undertaken, how would it in itself provide political strategies? To the question: "how far do the simplistic notions of capitalism and subversionl opposition take us into anything like analysis of the forces and rela tions of production of the music industry?" (262, n.28), I'd want to oppose the question of how one can hope to understand the industry without at some stage relating it to other industrial structures at the level of a general concept (however differentiated) of capitalist mode of production (and without the conception of some possible alternative which would of necessity include the general economic infrastructure of the industry). Of course reductionist and expressive analyses are inadequate (although these are not the 'essence' or the 'truth' of marxism); but having made that critique, one is still left with the difficult task of establishing connections (or of constructing interrelated theoretical objects) in a nonreduc tionist way—a task which Harley and Botsman more or less refuse to face, or which they 'solve' by the simple expedient of separating questions of musical 'taste' from questions of relations of power.


The third instance is an introduction by Ross Harley and Jon Roper to 'Here Comes the Night', which is sub-titled 'Towards a video script on sexuality'. The script is said to be inscribed in (it certainly doesn't exceed) the context of the attempt by journals like m/f, Screen and I & C to "come to terms with the specific political, ideological and particularly textual effects of representation" (127). 'Par ticularly textual' seems to indicate that the textual excludes and takes precedence over the 'political' and the 'ideological'. Problems of the representation of sexuality "arise in the script in such a way that there can be no positing of any single general mechanism of sexuality which underlies the appearance of each discourse on sexuality," and this "failure to construct a general account of sexuality opens up fields of analysis for specific intervention and work" (127)—again the promise of a future politics.

The central claim made for the script is that it is "pitted against narrative and realism," and this assumes that there is, in fact, a space which is external to these things, external to ideology. 'Narrative' and 'realism' are first grammatically equated and then defined in terms of "effects of continuity, expressivity, causality and singularity." That is, not only is 'narrative'/'realism' made into a single entity, but it is then confused with one of its historical forms: precisely the strategy that Lukacs adopts. Finally, Harley and Roper argue for the use of a technique of 'depsychologization' in the script. Its basis is that "characters for us can only ever be figures who exist as bearers of speech and gesture ... We are not con cerned with another production of truth (the truth of sex) but with the repeatable materiality of discourses—the cataloguing of gestures, the orderings and statuses of the body, the positions of 'the subject' shifted off its axis, the role of discourses at various sites ('geographic', institutional), the complexity of the network of power relations to do with the politics of sexuality" (128).

This garbled repetition of the master has consequences. In the first place, it is not true that the authors are not concerned with another production of truth; they are, to the extent that the script is subordinated to the theory it is constructed to exemplify. In the second place, the theoretical purism of the pre-script results in the ascription of an ambivalent status to the script: it is a script 'towards' a script, writing that won't or can't commit itself to be the writing that commands a filmic discourse; it is a representation of the filmic that simultaneously asserts and denies its own status as representation. In the third place, the script is what might have been expected. Its refusal to dirty its hands working within (or out wards from) the ideological categories of 'story' and 'character' results in a cliched and boring text, with the banal avantgardism supplying the proof that there is indeed no space outside ideology for textual production.

In essay after essay, and with only a few exceptions, a selfconscious theoretical radicalism goes hand in hand with a definition of marxism as the enemy. Botsman's 'Introductory Notes' state that the subsequent papers "have arisen in contexts where marxism and general theories of politics have been to a large extent questioned and found wanting." It is no longer necessary to take marxism as the measure of theoretical practice, because of the emerging recognition that there are no necessary connections between theory and practice; rather, "theory and theoretical strategies comprise an autonomous site of politics" (7). Not relatively autonomous; absolutely. Theory emptied of its content, then, carrying


no implications for practice, and in no way determined or affected by other sites. Spelled out like this, the proposition becomes nonsense; and that's a pity because, as I indicated before, the 'post-marxist' tradition of Foucault, of Hindess and Hirst and others has valuable qualifications to make to marxist theory. It's important, however, to recognize the kinds of bad faith (or ignorance) that go into the construction of marxism in this volume. Phillips, for example, criticizes the "orthodox marxist" position that "the prevailing conditions of existence of social relations form a homogeneous bloc that can be overthrown in one move ment—the familiar cathartic moment of revolution" (52-3). This writes out of existence much of the last sixty-odd years of marxist theory. And Harley and Roper, discussing marxism's relevance to feminism and to questions of the representation of sexuality, ask: "how well can particular representations of women in the cinema be dealt with under marxism except by employing a simplistic or reductionist notion of text as expressive of basic economic con tradictions?" If this were a genuine question one would expect it to read "without employing ..."; the use of "except by" indicates that the question is already decid ed. marxism has no alternatives because it is equivalent to (can be reduced to) economism: this is in fact already anticipated in the phrase "under marxism," which depends upon a monolithic and 'juridical' conception of theory.

One of the volume's dominant strands is taken to its extreme in Baudrillard's 'Oublier Foucault'. There is a time-honoured intellectual game that consists in defining a point of theoretical radicalism some degrees beyond currently accep table norms, then dismissing it as long since obsolete or hopelessly naive, and in the process informing the reader that of course he or she knows all about this and shares the writer's disdain. The object is to awe the reader with one's casual assumption of superiority. Paul Foss plays this game in the condescendingly world-weary 'Slim Note' that prefaces 'Oublier Foucault'; and Baudrillard plays it magnificently. Foucault's analysis of power, he says, which is reproduced as style in his discourse, has become irrelevant to the extent that the 'epoch' he describes is already vanishing. He is able to speak of power "only because power is dead—not just irretrievable through dissemination, but purely and simply dissolved in a way which still escapes us, dissolved by reversion or annulment, or hyperrealized in simulation, who knows?" In other words, whilst Foucault describes the transtormations of power from the despotic to the disciplinary to the microcellular, he still retains "the axiom of power;" he makes the sad mistake of believing that power "still [belongs] to the objective order of the real" (189).

This is news indeed, but there's worse to come. Not only is power in the process of disappearing but so is sexuality, and even sex. The reason for this is offered in a neo-hegelian twist to the principle of the constitutive function of discourse. The argument is that "psychoanalysis puts an end to the unconscious and desire, just as marxism puts an end to class struggle, by hypostasizing them and burying them in their theoretical enterprise. We are henceforth in the metalanguage of desire" (190). Foucault remains trapped in the problematic of power as (desire as) production, whereas the only way power can be thought is through the concept of seduction, of that which "withdraws something from the order of the visible" and which "runs contrary to production, whose enterprise is to establish everything in evidence" (193—4). Seduction is bound up with exchange and reversibility (and as such can be contrasted with marxism's


"unilateral" theory of power which is supported only by "revolutionaries" who "want power for themselves alone") (202). Within this new order of discourse power is theorized as seducing by virtue of the "reversibility that haunts it, and on which is installed a minimal symbolic cycle. No more dominators and dominated than victims and executioners (while there are 'exploiters' and 'exploited' here and there, because there is no reversibility in production: but precisely nothing essential happens at this level). No antagonistic positions: power is completed according to a circular seduction" (203). And the politics that is ex trapolated from this definition (and from the collapse of the political) is that of a 'non-political, non-dialectical, non-strategic counter-defiance" (207) - something like Don Chipp on one of his worse days. It would be a magical politics, and its secret would be "the fantastic strength of defiance" (208). 'Defiance' is one pole of the political spectrum spanned by this volume; reformism is the other. In saying this I am mindful of Foucault's useful distinction between "critique of reformism as a political practice and the critique of a political practice on the grounds that it may give rise to a reform" (Foucault. 1979: 143). Reformism as a political practice is, I would argue, the logical consequence of that nominalism which. in rejecting general forms of relations between political sites, can address itself only to a serial aggregation of institutions and practices. I suspect that little except a radical rhetoric distinguishes many of the essays in this volume from the technocratic 'pragmatism' of the Labor Party. Greenfield and O'Regan's paper is one of the few that convey a sense of the pressure and the urgency of political practice. All too frequently the political is displaced by the epistemological (usually in the form of a general negative predication of the general predication). This is not to deny the value of, for example, Terry Counihan's account of how Donzelot takes as his object "the language and conceptual repertoire used to construct 'social' problems as matters pertinent to bodies of specialist knowledge and practical expertise" (26); but the implications of such analysis for political practice are simply not clearly articulated. Donzelot's theorization of the social as "a dispersed plurality of practices which have no constant principle or centre," or his rejection of the concepts of mode of production and hegemony, pose problems which require a radical rethinking of what will replace the systemic conception of capitalism offered by marxism (and offered with any rigour by marxism alone.) By and large, Theoretical Strategies refuses that challenge.



Bersani, L. (1977): 'The Subject of Power', Diacritics 7:3.

Brown, B. and Cousins, M. (1980): 'The Linguistlc Fault: The Case of Foucault's Archaeology', Economy and Society 9:3.

Dews, P. (1979): 'The Nouvelle Philosophie and Foucault', Economy and Society 8:2.

Foucault, M. (1972): The Archaeology of Know edge, trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith (London: Tavistock).

Foucault, M. (1980): Power/Knowledge, ed. C. Gordon (New York: Pantheon).

Foucault, M. (1981(a)): The History of Sexuality. Volume 1, trans Robert Hurley (Harmondsworth: Penguin).

Foucault, M. (1981(b)) 'The Order of Discourse'. in R. Young (ed), Untying the Text, (London: RKP).

Foucault, M., and Deleuze, G.: (1977) 'Intellectuais and Power'. in D. Bouchard (ed), Language, Counter-Memory, Practice (Ithaca: Cornell Unlversity Press).

Minson, J. (1980): 'Strategies for Socialists? Foucault's Conception of Power', Economy and Society 9:1.

Morris, M., and Patton, P. (ed) (1979): Michel Foucault: Power, Truth, Strategy (Sydney: Feral Publications).

Phillipps, R. (1983): 'Prison Politics'. Intervention 17.

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