Foucault with Marx by Jacques Bidet (review)


Jacques Bidet’s recent work is a significant contribution to the surge of interest in the ways in which Karl Marx’s and Michel Foucault’s thought overlaps. In Foucault with Marx, Bidet seeks to form a theoretical framework that contains the two eponymous figures. Bidet rightfully argues that most scholarship that strives to open a dialogue between Marx and Foucault merely results in monologues where Foucault mobilizes categories of race and gender while Marx focuses on class analysis. While any comparative study runs the risk of descending into banality, Bidet’s refreshing attentiveness to both the Foucauldian and Marxist projects allows for a singular encounter that locates the two in what Bidet calls a “general theory of modern society” (4). The central concern of Bidet’s book is to construct a “metastructural edifice” that is able to sustain an extended encounter between Foucault and Marx. That metastructure, Bidet writes, is the “fiction” that the notion of the “modern social ‘structure’” presupposes: “that is to say, that [the structure] produces as the real condition of its existence” (6). Bidet’s metastructure is not a preexisting foundation upon which modern society is built; rather, the metastructure only appears after the fact as a precondition of society.

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