Available for pre-order. This item will be available on May 25, 2021.
In May 1975, Michel Foucault took LSD in the desert in southern California. He described it as the most important event of his life which would lead him to completely rework his History of Sexuality. His focus now would not be on power relations but on the experiments of subjectivity and the care of the self. Through this lens, he would reinterpret the social movements of May ’68. He would also come to appreciate the possibilities of autonomy offered by a new force on the French political scene that was neither of the left nor the right: neoliberalism.
“Michel Foucault was among the most prescient analysts of neoliberalism but his own relation to it is now a topic of fierce intellectual dispute. In this brilliant and incisive book, Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora show that neoliberalism appeared to Foucault to offer a break with the normalization of the welfare state and a space for new political experiments and individual freedoms. Looking back from our context of generalised precarity, deep inequality and economic and environmental crises, they challenge us to break with this tattered utopia and move beyond Foucault’s fascination with the aesthetics of the self to re-invent politics for our time.”
“Dean and Zamora use Foucault’s thesis of the dissolution of the Author as the key to understanding his later shift to issues of governmentality, neoliberalism, and his turn to subjectivity. By so doing, they violate his own injunction of resorting to the author’s life to comprehend any work, and consequently produce the best account of his work I have ever encountered.”
“By locating Foucault’s later work in the social and political context of the 1970s and 80s, in France, California, and elsewhere, Dean and Zamora have performed a double service. We finish their study better understanding the roots of Foucault’s ideas, and the motivation for his dalliance with a nascent neoliberalism. But we also perceive the limited shelf-life of his idiosyncratic notion of freedom; in our time, it would be folly to carry on revering him as—in Sartre’s phrase—the ‘unsurpassable horizon’ of radical thought.”
“‘When I say something,’ Foucault claimed, ‘I am speaking to the present.’ How ironic that so little of the discussion around Foucault, particularly in the United States, has focused on his present. In their riveting study, Dean and Zamora do just that, putting Foucault in dialogue not only with the anti-Marxist New Philosophers of the 1970s but also with a neoliberalism emerging from within French socialist circles after 1968. The result is a completely unexpected Foucault, more rooted in the struggles of his own time, yet still speaking, as a cautionary tale, to our own. One would be hard pressed to find a better book on such a complex thinker or a more compulsively readable introduction to the contradictory politics of the left in our current moment.”