File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9809, message 79

Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 23:20:42 -0400
Subject: Re: The Foucauldian Left (was: Foucauldian examinations of The

Just wanted to chime in.  I'm a grad. student, who happened to take a class with
Rorty, and the quotation from _The Nation_ got me riled.  While not an active
member of the UVa L.A.G. (Labor Action Group), I've gone to some of their meetings
and support their agenda.  For some ass to take that condescedning view, i.e.
("just a bunch of ivory tower jerks trying to help the poor black janitors") really
annoys me.  The LAG is trying to raise the starting wages of janitors, maintenance
workers, secretaries, and in general those members of a functioning University that
really makes things work.  I'm going to track down the article you mention.
Personally, I'm an english lit. grad. student more interested in aesthetics and
publication dates than "pomo theory," but really, does that matter?

I'm not trying to broadly or presumptuously _defend_ Rorty, but I get so frustrated
when people, particularly in the mass media, don't really _pay attention_ to what
he's about.  Reading Derrida and Foucault will not, granted, lead directly to a
more humane and decent society, but, as was mentioned, what the hell were these
so-called "true lefties" doing all along?

Yours in agreement,

James Parr

Department of English
University of Virginia

Doug Henwood wrote:

> Matthew King wrote:
> >I'm not sure exactly what "more" you have in mind here, but I'd suggest to
> >you (and Rorty) that a lot of members of "the Foucauldian left" *are*
> >involved in more kinds of political action than those, even if their
> >Foucauldian language leaves them without the theoretical tools to justify
> >other kinds of action (but then, so does a Rortyan language).
> Pop Rortyite Eric Alterman of The Nation whined about the theoryheads in
> his debut column last May, and then tacked this on towards the end:
> >       "But here's the twist. [Reformist Social-Democratic
> >       Leftist Nelson] Lichtenstein is part of a perfectly
> >       Rortyite reformist Campaign for a Living Wage at
> >       the University of Virginia. This campaign is not
> >       about ending sexism, racism, or homophobia, but
> >       about getting janitorial staff a few extra bucks
> >       an hour. Who are its volunteers? Primarily, says
> >       Lichtenstein, faculty and graduate students from
> >       the pomo literature and theory crowd.
> That undermines his whole point, but neither he nor his editors seemed to care.
> Doug


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