File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2000/foucault.0011, message 45

Subject: Re: Rorty
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 12:22:41 +1100

On Mon, 27 Nov 2000, you wrote:

> My first response to Rorty is rather general--I see his critique of Foucault
> as being based in a general misrepresentation of Foucault's understanding of
> theory and practice. It seems to me that Rorty has this fear of a monolithic
> Nietzschean intellectual bloc waiting in the wings to revolutionize practice
> in the public sphere. 

I haven't read Rorty, but if this is so Foucault's method of
discourse analysis would make short work of it. Spiritualist
thinkers, formalists, dialecticians, all operate in this general
way. The oldest sort of operation of thought that still claims a
filial link to Plato. Another example would be Butlerian hijacking of
queer theory as a disourse which precisely untroubles gender. It may
well illustrate the impossiblity of queer theory but still leaves open
queer thought as an etymological cutting across. (Of course, Rorty
having an investment in power, would mobilise this investment against
that which threatens the discourses and power  he has invested in.)

> If this is really what Rorty wants to avoid, then he appears to be
> instituting something of an intellectual holocaust!

If Rorty as you argue seeks to maintain a place in which moral
certainty is guarded, the academy in whatever form, then the limits
of this would be a holocaust. By that I would argue that the
holocaust is not so much amoral but the very limits of moralism.

> "Each struggle develops around a particular source of power. And if
> pointing out these sources-denouncing and speaking out-is  to be
> part of the struggle, it is not because they were previously
> unknown. Rather, it is because to speak on this subject, to force
> the  institutionalized networks of information to listen, to produce
> names, to  point the finger of accusation, to find targets, is the
> first step in the reversal of power and the initiation of new
> struggles against existing forms of power

Here you probably have an answer. But do not read this as being
incumbent on you to point out Rorty's mistakes but to use another
type of thinking and speak and write this thinking in such a devious
way, the way of the devil, that the academy representatives are
forced into stupid repetitions or noise. The finger can then be
pointed. Identified, the target is opened to attack. In an
oppositional political struggle this is generally the first strategic
step. (Also a type of guerrilla warfare strategy which invites the
opposition, the object of the attack, to declare a type of filthy
war. Make one, two, three, many Vietnams, on the absolute horizon
of the field of thought.)

Chris Jones

(PS Can't comment on the last section. I am however suspicious of any
public-private distinction. With this distinction one finds a black
hole where it becomes like arguing against wishy washy liberal
spititualist formalism. You risk getting sucked into The Ideal
Liberal Universal black hole if you follow the argument to its
limits. This also marks the limit of a feminist claim to politicise
the private.)


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