Richard Marshall recently took to the pages of 3:AM Magazine to interview poststructural anarchist/casual Ranciere enthusiast Todd May. May is the author of various books including “The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism“, “Gilles Deleuze: An Introduction” and “The Political Thought of Jacques Ranciere.”
In the interview, May discusses his introduction into the world of philosophy and politics as well as his idea of poststructural anarchism, which is what happens when anarchists read Deleuze and Foucault.
As he tells 3:AM, May was originally a psychologist until he got his hands on the work of Foucault and Deleuze which “raised unsettling questions for me about the entire project of psychotherapy.”
May goes on to talk in depth about the importance of Foucault, Deleuze and Ranciere in his political project:
By contrast, for the anarchists there is no single struggle. As the British anarchist Colin Ward once said, there are always a series of struggles along a variety of fronts. This is where the poststructuralists, and especially Foucault, intersect with anarchism. Foucault traces historically different ways in which people become dominated. He does not reduce them to a single site or single type, but seeks to understand them in their specificity. The disciplinary power he writes about in Discipline and Punish is different from the role of sexuality he describes in the first volume of his history of sexuality, which in turn is different from the neoliberal governmentality he addresses in his lectures The Birth of Biopolitics. So while the nineteenth and early twentieth century anarchists were able to resist the reductionism of a Marxist program, later thinkers like Foucault, Deleuze, and Lyotard offer perspectives for theorizing the irreducibility of political relations and political struggle. That allows them to, among other things, take on board the feminist and anti-racist understandings that developed over the course of the twentieth century.
Where does that leave us in thinking about our politics? Broadly with a bottom-up view of political struggle and change. Rather than seeking the Archimedean point of struggle, we must analyze the different and intersecting facets of domination in their particularity, and struggle against them. This does not preclude top-down theorizing altogether, but it offers a framework for political reflection and action that has been neglected in much of political philosophy.
Read the full interview at 3:AM.
Also check out this sweet article May wrote for an open-access journal about Ranciere and queer theory.