Against prophecy and utopia: Foucault and the future

Mark Ge Kelly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In this essay, I take as a starting point Foucault's rejection of two different ways of thinking about the future, prophecy and utopianism, and use this rejection as a basis for the elaboration of a more detailed rejection of them, invoking complexity-based epistemic limitations in relation to thinking about the future of political society. I follow Foucault in advocating immanent political struggle, which does not seek to build a determinate vision of the future but rather focuses on negating aspects of the current conjuncture. I extend this argument into an ethical register, arguing that the same arguments apply mutatis mutandis to our personal lives. I conclude by engaging with Jacques Lacan's account of subjectivity, and the interpretation of its political import furnished by Yannis Stavrakakis, drawing from these additional supports for my position, in particular the rejection of utopianism as an attempt to avoid limitation by the real.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-118
Number of pages15
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Foucault
  • Lacan
  • Marxism
  • Stavrakakis
  • utopia


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