Marc Schachter

Foucault and La Boétie

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Explicit references to Étienne de La Boétie are almost entirely absent from Michel Foucault's works. This paper considers the potential reasons for the absence of the "Discours de la servitude volontaire from Foucault's meditations" on governmentality and compares certain apparent similarities in the two men's thinking on issues of power, freedom and resistance. It proposes that La Boétie's translation of Xenophon's "On Household Management" might ultimately offer a more constructive point of departure that the "Servitude volontaire" for thinking La Boétie and Foucault together while also suggesting that Foucault's possible allusion to the treatise in «Qu'est-ce que la critique? [critique et Aufklärung]» seems to entail an emancipatory project recalling La Boétie's sophisticated intellectual lessons rather than his strategically naive political claims.


  • Foucault
  • La Boétie
  • Governmentality
  • Xenophon
  • Voluntary Servitude


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