The Dandies and the Oppressed

My dear parisian Dandy,

First of all, let me apologize for having sent you that rude post
earlier. I was caught up in the Debbie Jones frenzy and lost my head. My
only solace is that my head was not the only one that got lost.

Regarding dandyism, you may recall that it wasn't I who honoured you that
way. I merely pushed someone else's compliment to its logical conclusions.
But this is tedious. I'm sure we can get over it.

As for my post, I think you have misunderstood the point. I was responding
to the following claim:

>Ah, but power IS truth. Those in power define what is true. They define
>all concepts. One is left with a discourse molded by the ideals and
>dreams and fears of the center. To remove the power would be to remove
>the truth. But there will always be a power, a truth to fill the
>vacuum. So, if you remove power from the truth you can still have a
>Fascism that claims both, because there will always be an alternate truth
>with an alternate power base fighting for control of the center.

I do believe that my objection to this post is faithful to Foucault, at least
to the Foucault of Sexuality Vol.1 (as well as many other Foucaults, say
that of "Thought from Outside", and so on). Foucault's claim that "there
is no one in power" doesn't put the question of oppression out of
commission. (That's just obvious, no?) What it does is call for new
strategies of resistance. So the members of your fancy list of martyrs,
below, (a list to which many of us belong, mind you) will have to rethink
their tactics for drawing their lines of escape. And to claim, as the above
post does, that "those in power" define, not only the truth, but also
"all concepts" in general, is not the best way to begin. Certainly not
according to Foucault.

There is no "one" "in" power, not for Foucault, because power is not the
sort of thing you can be "in". This claim has to do with a technical
definition, not with rants about the oppressed. (Foucault, too, was a dandy).
Sure, there's a reality to deal with. But why get nervous and edgy when
what you call "poststructuralism" gives us a new picture of this reality
and a new strategy for dealing with it?

further apologies (also for doting on the obvious)


On Wed, 7 Dec 1994 hfspc002@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> I know, I said I was going to shut up, but this is too rich. Mani, you
> can call me a Parisian dandy all you want but I can't let this one pass:
> On Wed, 7 Dec 1994, Mani Salem-Haghighi wrote:
> > Strictly speaking, this is false. Who do you have in mind when you speak
> > of "those in power"? There is no one "in power", or better, everybody's
> > "in power". See, for example, the chapter on Method in the first volume
> > of the Histpry of Sexuality.
> See, for example, the international division of labor instead. See, for
> example, the CIA. See, for example, Wall Street. See, for example,
> patriarchy and heterosexiam. "Strictly speaking" there may be no one "in
> power," but this does not change the brute facts of power structures --
> power may "circulate" rather than being "possessed," but this does not
> change the fact that some people exert power wheereas others are objects
> of power, pawns in political, economic, and, yes, military "games." You
> really think there is no one "in power"? Tell that to Leonard Peltier.
> Tell that to at least 100,000 slaughtered Iraqis. Tell it to slaughtered
> Palestinians, Cambodians, Armenians, East Timorese, and Jews, for that
> matter. Tell it to women in the sex trade. Etc., etc. Sorry if this
> sounds like dandyism, but there is reality to deal with, regardless of
> what some people think poststructuralism has done to reality.
> Ben
> PS -- my email is now working.

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