Rethinking power and law: Foucault’s Society must be Defended

09 Dec 2011

Michel Foucault provides a radical challenge to the liberal approach to power and law, which is echoed by Jacques Derrida. Important differences exist between the analyses of Foucault and Derrida which should not be overlooked. This essay proceeds on the basis of an awareness of these differences, yet it at the same time attempts to bring these thinkers closer together, with reference specifically to the thinking of Freud. It is often said that Foucault does not offer an alternative to that which he criticises or that his analyses do not provide for a way in which to escape from the effects of power. By specifically focusing on Foucault’s reliance on the notion of ‘play’ in Society Must Be Defended, it is submitted that an ‘escape’ is in fact provided for. The deconstructive reading of Foucault which is presented here attempts to ensure that Foucault does not remain trapped within metaphysics.