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Foucault and the war on terror

Blog essay here.

The objective of political critique is, or has always traditionally been, to uncover instances of domination of individuals by forces of power in the present and to ascertain the possibility of securing individual freedom from domination in the future. This essay comprises the first part of a longer study whose intention was to establish the utility of Michel Foucault’s critical method as a mode of political critique and its effectiveness both in bringing to light the nature of any such instance of domination and determining if, or to what extent, such domination can be overcome.

The problematic nature of the justifications for the War on Terror acted as my primary point of reference, allowing me initially, to demonstrate the manner in which an immediate investigation into the war’s historical background is able to reveal beyond the rhetoric employed to secure their acceptance, the inconsistencies and contradictions that underlie the claims to self-evidence upon which such justifications rest.

Despite the effectiveness of such a critique, however, I proceeded to posit Foucault’s critical method as a means by which a more fundamental critique can be effected. I argued that Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical modes of analysis not only allow us to destabilise such claims to self-evidence, but that they do so by undermining and escaping the theoretical presuppositions upon which they and their attendant critiques are constructed. On this basis, I was able to demonstrate the manner in which Foucault’s methodology allows us to reveal some of the more unacceptable consequences of those presuppositions, within which, the former critique may itself, upon investigation, be considered complicit.


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