From: John Ransom <ransom@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 12:51:32 -0400 (EDT)
On Thu, 18 Sep 1997, Doug Henwood wrote:
> 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.
But perhaps Foucault's point (I'm going to have to go look at the article;
thanks for mentioning it) is not that Marxist and socialist countries were
racist but that, at a certain level of abstraction, the desire for
purification typical of communist and racist outlooks have a great deal in
> 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 about the NAACP? Though I certainly agree with you that the CPUSA was
a front-line participant in anti-racist struggles during the period you
> What do others think?