Bringing Althusser and Foucault Together: A Brief Overview of the Question of the State, No: 18 - 12/2020
Başlık
:
Bringing Althusser and Foucault Together: A Brief Overview of the Question of the State
Yazar(lar)
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Gürhan ÖZPOLAT
Title
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Althusser ile Foucault’yu Biraraya Getirmek: Devlet Sorununa Kısa Bir Bakış
Anahtar Kelimeler
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Marxism, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, power, the state, the state theory, ideology
Key Words
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Marksizm, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, iktidar, devlet, devlet teorisi, ideoloji
Özet 1 / Abstract 1
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Bringing Althusser and Foucault together is common in political theory. A number of scholars have discussed this in terms of their teacher-student relationship, shared concerns on humanist theories and Foucault’s rejection of the concept of ideology; but less has so far been said about the relationship between their approaches to the question of the state. This paper seeks to provide a short review of the relationship between Althusser and Foucault on the particular issue of the state. However, before analysing this relationship, some of the categorical bases of the Marxist approaches to the state primarily will be examined. As is well-known, the question of the state is of key importance for Marxism and the debate over the Marxist approach to the state has been long and engaging. Thus, to analyse it in a very detailed way here is neither my main concern nor necessary for my discussion of the relationship between Althusser and Foucault’s approaches to the state. However, one can hardly discuss these approaches without first examining that Marx had upon their views of the state. Therefore, my intention is rather to summarize some of the crucial features of the classical Marxist conceptualisation of the state in order to examine Michel Foucault’s relationship to Marxism through Louis Althusser with regard to the question of the state. Following this, I will focus on Althusser’s thoughts on the state and claim that Althusser, does nothing but provides a state- centric political analysis which defines the whole of the political phenomena in terms of class struggle and the state. Then, I will discuss the relationship between Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser with regard the problem of the state in a more detailed way. I believe that Foucault’s turn to an alternative analysis of power, that is micro-physics of power, can be seen as a response to Althusser’s seminal work Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, which appeared in 1970.
Özet 2 / Abstract 2
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Althusser ve Foucault'yu biraraya getirmek siyaset teorisinde yaygındır. Bazı akademisyenler iki ismi öğretmen-öğrenci ilişkileri, hümanist teorilere yönelik endişeleri ve Foucault'nun ideoloji kavramını reddetmesi açısından tartıştılar; fakat şimdiye değin iki düşünürün devlet sorununa yaklaşımları arasındaki ilişki hakkında daha az şey söylenmiştir. Bu makale, devlet sorunu özelinde, Althusser ve Foucault arasındaki ilişkiye dair kısa bir değerlendirme sunmayı amaçlamaktadır. Bununla birlikte, bu ilişkiyi analiz etmeden önce, Marksist devlet yaklaşımlarının kategorik temellerinden bazıları öncelikli olarak incelenecektir. Bilindiği gibi, devlet sorunu Marksizm için kilit önemdedir ve Marksist devlet yaklaşımı hakkındaki tartışmalar uzun ve ilgi çekicidir. Dolayısıyla, meseleyi burada çok ayrıntılı bir şekilde analiz etmek, Althusser ve Foucault’nun devlet yaklaşımları arasındaki ilişki hakkındaki tartışmam için ne temel derdim ne de gerekli. Yine de, öncelikle Marx'ın devlet hakkındaki görüşlerini incelemeden bu yaklaşımları tartışmak zor görünüyor. Bu nedenle niyetim, Michel Foucault’nun Marksizm ile ilişkisini devlet sorunu açısından Louis Althusser üzerinden incelemek için klasik Marksist devlet kavramsallaştırmalarının bazı öne çıkan özelliklerini özetlemek. Bunu takiben, Althusser'ın devlet hakkındaki düşüncelerine odaklanacağım ve Althusser'in, tüm siyasi fenomenleri sınıf mücadelesi ve devlet açısından tanımlayan devlet merkezli bir siyasal analiz sağlamaktan başka bir şey yapmadığını öne süreceğim. Ardından, Michel Foucault ve Louis Althusser arasındaki ilişkiyi devlet sorunu açısından daha ayrıntılı bir şekilde tartışmaya açacağım. Foucault'nun alternatif bir iktidarın analizine, yani iktidarın mikro-fiziğine dönüşünün, Althusser'in 1970 yılında yayınlanan çığır açıcı eseri İdeoloji ve İdeolojik Devlet Aygıtları’na bir yanıt olarak görülebileceğini düşünüyorum.
Extended Summary
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Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault have been commonly brought together in political theory as leading figures of French philosophical thought. Their relationship has been discussed in various ways such as shared approaches, thoughts and attitudes towards humanist theories along with the Foucault’s discontentment of the concept of ideology and their teacher-student interaction. However, less has been said about the relationship between their approaches to the question of the state. [I would like to point out that by the ‘relationship’ between Althusser and Foucault I do not mean ‘indebtedness’ but rather I mean ‘influence’. For this reason, I am going to evaluate Althusser and Foucault’s works “as expressions of opposing systems of thought” (Montag, 1995: 53). As Holden and Elden noted this would be better to discuss the relationship between them: “It has led to discussions of the way in which Foucault critiqued the focus on the state as an object of analysis, and took his distance from the Althusserian notion of Repressive and Ideological State Apparatuses. On the one hand then, aside from the direct references, Althusser figures as a kind of absent presence in Foucault's works. When references to repression, the state and Marxism are encountered in Foucault's work as often as not Althusser is lurking somewhere in the background” (Holden & Elden, 2005: n.p.)]. Taking this account, this paper seeks to provide a short review of the relationship between Althusser and Foucault on the particular issue of the state. However, before analysing this relationship, some of the categorical bases of the Marxist approaches to the state primarily will be examined. As is well-known, the question of the state is of key importance for Marxism and the debate over the Marxist approach to the state has been long and engaging. Thus, to analyse it in a very detailed way here is neither my main concern nor necessary for my discussion of the relationship between Althusser and Foucault’s approaches to the state. However, one can hardly discuss these approaches without first examining that Marx had upon their views of the state. Therefore, my intention is rather to summarize some of the crucial features of the classical Marxist conceptualisation of the state. As it is commonly acknowledged, Marxist considerations of the state are mainly derived from a broader framework of the Marxist theory: Marx’s critiques on Hegel’s formulation of rational State, Marx’s theory of society and political economy, his analyses of some of the historical ruptures, such as the 1848 Revolution, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte’s coup d'état, the Paris Commune in 1871, Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property and The State, and Lenin’s The State and Revolution. Despite the fact that there are various interpretations of these texts about the nature of the state among different Marxist thinkers, what they have in common is that they mostly derive their state theories from some of the bases of the Marxist theory and it is these bases that draw the epistemological limits of their state debates. To put it another way, it is not possible to find a singular and sustained theory of the state in the classic texts of Marxism. However, this is not to deny the fact that they outlined the epistemological framework for addressing the question of the state and provided a starting point for a more detailed analysis of the state. It can be said that there are three essential points of the state in the Marxist classics: “the priority of the base”, “the state as an instrument for the exploitation of the oppressed class” and “the relative autonomy of the state”. As a matter of the fact that Althusser used these elements in order to develop a structural theory of the state. After providing a review of the Marxist theory of the state the paper will focus on Althusser’s thoughts on the state in order to examine Michel Foucault’s relationship to Marxism through Louis Althusser with regard to the question of the state, and it will be concluded that Althusser, does nothing but provides a state- centric political analysis which defines the whole of the political phenomena in terms of class struggle and the state. In the last section, the relationship between Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser with regard the problem of the state will be discussed in a more detailed way. I believe that Foucault’s turn to an alternative analysis of power, that is micro-physics of power, can be seen as a response to Althusser’s seminal work Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, which appeared in 1970 and I will show that Foucault’s account of power challenges the Marxist account of power, considering it relational, strategic rather than possessed and static. To sum up, in this paper, I try to provide a review of the Marxist theory of the state and examined Michel Foucault’s relationship to Marxism through Louis Althusser with regard to the question of the state. In this respect, I argue that Foucault was influenced by Marx and Althusser’s work. Yet, I try to show that, unlike Marx and Althusser, Foucault avoids providing a state-centric political analysis which defines the whole of the political phenomena in terms of class struggle and the state.
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Bringing Althusser and Foucault Together: A Brief Overview of the Question of the State Tam Metin / Full Text
No: 18 - 12/2020 - Tüm Makaleler
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