Foucault and the Continuation of War

Edwards, Jason
June 2012
At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries;2012, Vol. 80, p21
Academic Journal
In this chapter, I'll focus on Michel Foucault's analysis of the relationship between war, power relations and politics in his series of lectures published as Society Must Be Defended. I'll argue that Foucault gives us good reasons to contest the liberal conception of politics as the suppression of war and the Clausewitzian view of war as a small-arm of politics. But I'll argue against the view that Foucault is providing us with a general account or philosophy of politics as the continuation of war. Some contemporary authors, following Carl Schmitt, tend to see the political as a realm of antagonism that adopts the form of war. I'll claim that such a view is of limited use and does not help us, as reading Foucault can, in understanding how politics and relations of power in modernity are constituted as relations of antagonism, or, in other words, how the construction of the friend-enemy distinction is characteristic of the political discourses and practices of modernity.


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