Re: Foucault and 'the starving millions'

I feel I have to jump in here a bit. First, I don't think that "there is
no true world" or your statement about art applies to any thinker I know
about. Second, Rwanda's crisis is in part the result of ideology placed
in murderous action, which is something that Derrida and Foucault take
pains to organize. Third, Derrida for example has written on Mendela,
concepts of justice, nuclear missiles, and a host of other social issues,
and the writing has been an activist writing - his material on justice
for example has been in the Cardozo law review, which directly affects
the legal profession. Fourth, it is part of the dark grace of humanity to
both erect Auschwitz and make room for Derrida and Jabes, etc. I am not
equating these, but it's precisely the testimony of the latter that give
me hope.

I certainly don't want to speak for Nietzsche or Heidegger in terms of
Rwanda; there, I would find more to agree with you. But all four thinkers
you mention are wildly disparate, and the paragraph you quote seems
another form of right-wing attack on a kind of knowledge that
deliberately remains slippery, refusing practical exigencies - in part,
because these very same exigences are responsible for unthinking ideology
in the first place.

And Foucault, by the way, certainly would be considered an activist - as
would Guattari and a host of other thinkers along (or transgressing) the
same lines.


On Wed, 19 Oct 1994, KENNETH MCPHAIL wrote:

> In the conclusion of Allan Megills excellent book, 'Prophets of
> Extreminty,' he says,
> 'The most comprehensive charge that can be leveled against them
> (Foucault Derrida, Hiedegger & Nietzsche) is that they totaly
> overlook or misconstrue the truly pressing realities of human life.
> In their idealism, they try to come to grips not with gravity but but
> with the spirit of gravity. It can be argued that the point about
> such apparent banalities as, 'what about the workers' or 'what about
> the starving millions' is that they refer to an underlying social
> reality with problems far weightier than the issues that interest
> crisis thinkers'
> I had been thinking about this for some time before I read Megills
> book. I have some friends who are currently working in Rawanda and
> the experiances which they have related to me seem to ironise and
> trivialise Foucaults and Derrias fictions. It is very difficult to
> tell someone who has witnessed the 'reality' of genocide that 'world
> itself is nothing other than art', and that 'there is no true world.'
> Is Foucault really working at such a superficial level? What is the
> scope and context of Foucaults work?
> Ken
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