Nathan writes:

I'll say this again: you are confusing a political sensibility
with a theory of power. The fact that Connolly speaks of a
suppression of difference does not mean he has reduced power to
that. I find it interesting that in your response you answered
none of my questions concerning what you mean by a repressive
theory of power. [end quotation]

I'm not confusing them so much as I am asking what the relationship is
between them. Let's say you're right and Connolly *does* say all sorts of
things about the productivity of power in the context of his excellent,
thought-provoking, well-written, brilliantly argued but ultimately
wrong-headed appropriations of Foucault. Okay! I'm with you! But here's
my question Nathan: has Connolly managed to match the theory of power he
takes over from Foucault in a convincing way with his--and you put this
point in a very good way--"political sensibilities"? In other words,
Connolly seems to want a Nietzschean/Foucaultian theory of power, or a
certain reading of it, that will produce an oppositional ethos of some

Oppositionists and leftists have been trying to do this kind of thing for
a *very* long time, it seems to me. So for instance Marx (or at least
Marxists) tried to extract from Marx's empirical account of the
development of history in general and the evolutionary laws of capitalism
in particular both a sense of confidence in the future (very important
for leftists!) and a legitimating device for their political stands.
Sartre does something like the same thing when he rather brazenly twists
his "phenomenology" over into the right kind of humanism.

What Marx(ists) would ask is: isn't there something in the very
descriptive activity itself that justifies the future we are fighting
for? Bourgeois historians don't find the same kinds of history Marxist
ones do, and Marxist history is always much richer (hah!) than theirs,
and maybe the reason for that is that *the very methodology* of Marxism
was itself revolutionary.

I think Connolly does the same thing with Foucault, and I think that this
might be of some interest to some members of the list, as I think
Connolly does an excellent job--along with others--of presenting a
persuasive but contestable reading of Foucault.

Nathan continues:

Further, what about the points that Connolly does not treat power
as eliminable from society? Or does that have nothing to do with
whether one is employing a repressive theory of power? [end quotation]

I'm not sure that treating power as eliminable or ineliminable from
society is absolutely central to a repressive theory of power. I don't
think Freud thought that power was eliminable from society. Not even
Marcuse said that--though he got close! Damn close! Let's remember the
way Foucault brought in his repressive theory of power. In History of
Sexuality Vol. I (_Will to Knowledge_) Foucault, when talking about the
repressive hypothesis, was referring to a certain oppositional ethos that
he did not think worked very well. A repressive theory of power
understood power in a bipolar way: consent v. coercion; violence v.
reason; force v. law, etc. Power was bad when it repressed certain
things, usually natural and instinctual kinds of things; power was as
good as it could get when it took everyone's interests into account,
everyone had a voice, rules and institutions were agreed to collectively.

That's a caricature, but then some of the oppositional drivel that
resulted was pretty faithful to the caricature. What was wrong, according
to Foucault, with this oppositional practice and perspective? *It didn't
capture the darn phenomena!* It was insufficiently phenomenological. An
oppositional stance rooted theoretically and normatively in the claim
that non-consensual, non-rationally-discursive exercises of power were
illegitimate and morally objectionable was *inadeaute* in the face of
power mechanisms that did not repress difference or silence voices but
created the difference and orchestrated the voices! On 36-37 (of _Will to
Knowledge_, English trans.) Foucault says that the modern period has
produced a "dispersion of sexualities, a strengthening of their disparate
forms, and a multiple implantation of perversions." Or on 47 when F says
that modern societies use a kind of power that does not have the form of
law but rather acts by the *multiplication* of singular sexualities.
"Modern society," F says, "is perverse, not in spite of its puritanism or
due to a backlash caused by puritanism, but directly, in fact, perverse."

And the problem was that the (oppositional) repressive theory of power
*completely missed* this type of stuff! Thus its increasingly poor fit,
worldwide, with reality.

I have lots more to say but it's just too late. Please don't think I'm
trying to dodge your comments.



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