Foucault and Iran


When Michel Foucault's American admirers discuss his work, his enthusiasm for Iran's Islamist revolution doesn't get much attention. This is partly because most of his articles on the topic are not available in English, and partly because his fans just don't know what to make of such an unsympathetic position. It's usually written off as an aberration or a mistake.

Writing in the socialist journal New Politics, Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson -- authors of the forthcoming Foucault, Gender, and the Iranian Revolution: The Seductions of Islamism -- take a closer look at what Foucault said and how it fits his body of work. Rejecting the idea that his stance was an anomaly, they argue that "Foucault's Iran writings reveal, albeit in exaggerated form, some problems in his…one-sided critique of modernity." They also note that Foucault is not the only leftist to misjudge radical Islam -- an important point at a time when principled opposition to the war in Iraq sometimes morphs into sympathy for fundamentalist thugs.

[Via Doug Ireland.]