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What can be generally agreed about Foucault is that he had a radically new approach to political questions, and that novel accounts of power and subjectivity were at its heart.
Critics dispute not so much the novelty of his views as their coherence.
Prior to this, during the 1960s, the political content of his thought was relatively muted, and the political implications of that thought are contested.
However, he excised this Marxist content from a later edition in 1962, before suppressing publication of the book entirely; an English translation of the 1962 edition continues to be available only by an accident of copyright (MIP vii).
Thus, one can see a trajectory of Foucault’s decisively away from Marxism and indeed tendentially away from politics.
Now rationality was valorized above all else, and its opposite, madness, was excluded completely.
The unreasonable was excluded from discourse, and congenitally unreasonable people were physically removed from society and confined in asylums.
Foucault himself tells us that after his early experience of a Stalinist communist party, he felt sick of politics, and shied away from political involvements for a long time.
Still, in his first book, which appeared in 1954, less than two years after Foucault had left the Party, his theoretical perspective remained Marxist.
The thus takes seriously the connection between philosophical discourse and political reality.
Ideas about reason are not merely taken to be abstract concerns, but as having very real social implications, affecting every facet of the lives of thousands upon thousands of people who were considered mad, and indeed, thereby, altering the structure of society.
As such the general political import of Foucault’s thought across its various turns is to understand how the historical formation of discourses have shaped the political thinking and political institutions we have today.