Foucault’s Political Legacy
Part of the
International Political Theory
book series (IPoT)
Foucault’s political challenge is his claim that political authorization and normalization is not a matter of acquiring obedience by whatever means (whether repressive or liberating, or constraining or enabling). It is about the political task of getting acceptance and recognition for what has to be done to cope with the uncertainty and risks that challenge a population at any given moment in time-space. This insight forms the background for his critique, from his analysis of how the modern opposition between Madness and Civilization
(1961) springs from the absolute king’s administering of morality as if it were trade or economy (MC 1988: 61):
Thus we see inscribed in the institutions of absolute monarchy — in the very ones that long remained the symbol of its arbitrary power — the great bourgeois, and soon republican idea that virtue, too, is an affair of state, that decrees can be published to make it flourish, that an authority can be established to make sure it is respected.
KeywordsPolitical Community Political Authority Discursive Practice Sovereign State Constitutional Order