From: Doug Henwood <dhenwood@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 11:46:25 -0500
The September issue of Lingua Franca has a short article by James
Surowiecki on the publication of Foucault's late lectures at the College de
France. Here's an excerpt:
"More explicitly, he examined the relation between racism and revolutionary
thinking, pointing to the reliance of both fascism and ultraleftism on talk
of exclusion and extermination. He quote Marx writing to Engels: 'Our class
struggle, you know very well where we found it: we found it in the work of
the French historians when they tell the story of the war of races.'
Insofar as socialist states were concerned with internal purification -
with the elimination of class enemies and of those deemed opponents of the
state - they were, Foucault contended, necessarily marked by racism."
Is this a fair rendition of Foucault's argument? (I sort of know
Surowiecki, and he's a smart fellow, so I'm giving him the benefit of the
doubt here.) If it is, it strikes me as pretty demented. Not only could you
argue that the modern notion of "race" has its origins in capitalist
slavery and imperialism, the actual history of Marxist and other socialist
movements worldwide has been, if not perfect, marked by anti-racist and
anti-imperialist stances. For all its countless faults, no predominantly
white organization did as much to fight anti-black racism in the U.S. as
the CPUSA from the 1930s into the 1950s.
What do others think?