The association of critique with distant historical sources has been highlighted by Michel Foucault. At the heart of what Foucault calls the ‘critical attitude’ are notions of parrhesia or philosophical criticism with roots in pagan antiquity. This article discusses the significance of these ancient sources for critical management studies. Recent times have seen a revival of interest in critique in this sense, suggesting powerful ways of framing the tasks of critique. Yet we suggest there may be other uses for the Socratic example in management criticism than have hitherto been recognised. We emphasize the distinctive challenges of critique today, turning to Michel Foucault and C.Wright Mills- both indebted to Socrates but as more than mere followers – to illustrate a tactical sensibility that can be of help to the challenges of management criticism today.