Re: Foucault and 'the starving millions'

Tristan writes:

>Let me push a bit more--*why* do you not want this [i.e."complication"]
>to constitute "support"? The first potential answer
>strikes me as too crude to consider for long and I wouldn't impute
>it to you (i.e., that only marching and fighting in the war, *real
>material* stuff, can be "support", while any mere words of approval,
>encouragement, whatever, are the smoke of the ideal); another perhaps
>comes from a certain concern about the (forgive this convuluted
>phrase) politics of traditional intellectual politics--i.e., that
>there is something somehow unsettling about intellectuals involving
>themselves (even if only via their words) directly and conspicuously
>in the blood and muck of revolutionary political struggles,

No, I won't give you either of these answers. My doubts about
the notion of "support" are actually not limited to intellectuals.
Let's see if I can articulate what it is that bothers me.
It seems to me that when a person -- any person --
"supports" something that does not directly touch his life,
he always does so from the position of some kind
of totalizing framework -- or what I would call a "legitimizing
machine". Thus what bothers me is not the behavioral aspects of
suppport -- not that certain kinds of "support" are noth worthy of the
name -- or the potential "impurity" of mixing thought and muck,
but the _internal mechanics_ of supporting a distant cause. Even
the feeling of beeing called upon to take a stance vis a vis
a distant cause already seems to involve a complicity with the
machine that insinuates the cause into one's consciousness as
something that demands a stance-taking.

Headlines announcing various distant causes are ubiquitous in our
lives. They are presented in a way which creates the illusion that we must
urgently concern ourselves with these things. But our "knowledge"
of the details of these causes is manufactured and illusory, which
is why I think that any "decisions" we can make about them can be made
only from some grossly totalizing perspective. And in what
sense do we have an obligation to "decide"? Is our passion towards
doing so not due to a desire to be part of the power
machine, and does this machine not purposely play on these desires
to keep us in a state of a constant illusion that we are on stance-taking

>And Foucault himself had remarked
>on at least one occasion that he studied mechanisms of power "so
>that those who are inserted in certain relations of power might
>escape them through their actions of resistance and rebellion, might
>transform them in order not to be subjugated any longer"--if that's
>not "support" in your view, perhaps it is a problem of *definition*
>between us!

It _is_ support, in my view as well; in this case not of a distant
cause and therefore not subject to the doubts I have described above.
Resistance, rebellion and subjugation are part of everyone's life.
But it is precisely because of this position on Foucault's part that
your statement about his support of a seemingly distant cause awakened
my curiosity -- if I've explained myself with any clarity at all you
by now understand the nature of my interest. Even resistance,
rebellion and subjugation -- _especially_ they -- must, I think, be
treated very concretely and non-absolutely, lest they themselves become
the legitimizing concepts of new subjugations. This is why I can
easily accept Foucault's "will of the people" when it serves to
complicate, but it would surprise me, coming from him, as a justification
for "support" (and I don't mean to imply that the boundaries are clean).

Let me stop here for now and see how this sits with you.

- malgosia
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