Re: Foucault and 'the starving millions'

Hogan M E writes:
>Foucault suffered from idealism and romanticism (see Iran)
>but he recognised the violence inherent within the state - see
>his participation in protests against the state aparatus.

I'm going to bite here and perhaps raise again some issues which
came up a long while back (but only very briefly) on this list in a
discussion of "radical democracy" and Foucault's intersection with
such a notion. Where do you find F.'s "idealism"? I'm usually
fearful when such epithets get levelled at French Nietzscheans that
it's code for "non-Marxist-Leninist", but will assume this is *not*
what you mean. Could you be a bit more precise as to how you arrive at
this diagnosis of the illness from which F. "suffered"?

I'm also curious as to how you characterize F.'s support for the
Iranian Revolution of 1979 as "romantic"--does this mean you think
he was hopeful that some version of the utopian democratic
stateless workers' society would emerge from it, or indeed that he
had (unrealistic) expectations of *any* kind as to what would emerge
from it? If this is the case, I'm unaware of any documentation which
supports this--it seems rather to me that F. supported it, at least
initially, because it was a popular uprising against an
*immensely* repressive (and foreign installed and supported) regime,
and that it had (or took on as the demonstrations and the police murders
increased) the markings of a very powerful manifestation of the 'will of
the people', per F., which was to be supported for the same reasons that
exercises of popular justice like the summary executions of supporters of
the ancien regime during the Revolution were to be supported. It was not
in other words for F. to be supported or rejected based upon some application
of (thoroughly western) abstract political ethics or 'end of the
State, comes the workers' paradise' millenarianism--it was all about
its reflection of the popular *will* of a people. If you aren't saying F.
had some (unrealistic) hopes for the endpoint of the Iranian
Revolution, are you perhaps saying instead that you think he should,
like all 'responsible progressives', have distanced himself from Iran
(at least) as soon as blood began to flow which was *not* the blood of
protestors spilled by the Shah's troops, that is, when it became
clear that the popular will of the Iranian people (or whatever this
was, if you don't share F.'s appraisal) was not going to bind itself
unconditionally to (again, generally western) notions of pacifism
and human rights in order to satisfy its supporters abroad?
F. did in fact distance himself in time from the goings on in
Iran after the initial cataclysm of the revolution, but not to my
knowledge because he was in some sense "disappointed" in its outcome.
He perhaps simply recognized that the moment of the popular will's
manifestation and insurrection had come and gone and other forces had
taken over the course of events, forces which quickly sought to rigidify
and resulted in the installation of a new regime with its own techniques
of repression. This rigidification, however, does not for F.
necessarily call for an invalidation of the collective moment in
Iran in which, to paraphrase F., hundreds of thousands of people were
willing to face clubs and bullets to tell the Shah, "We're not having any
more of this".

The Iran case is, I think, an important element in thinking F.'s
practical politics, an element which, as I've said before, more than
a few "radical democrats" and "progressives" who would otherwise love to
include F. on their intellectual/political resumes are wary of
engaging because they are profoundly troubled by this evidence that
he was, at least on one occasion, perfectly willing to carry
through on a thoroughly Nietzschean political ethic.

We are not so full of evil as of inanity, nor so wretched as we are
Michel de Montaigne

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