Re: Foucault, Journalism, Chomsky

On Thu, 2 Nov 1995, Peter Campbell wrote:

> You asked if anyone on the list had any opinions on the failure of Chomsky
> and Foucault to join forces. It seems to me that their biggest divergence
> would come over the issue of agency, and would therefore preclude any
> in-depth alliance. Chomsky is committed to the notion of power as it is
> embodied by actual persons, an intellectual and economic elite which
> controls the various ongoings of the planet from a position of omniscience
> and omnipotence. Foucault would have had a hard time relating to anyone
> with this notion, as he is clearly against any idea of power as something
> which can be used against others or as something which can be deprived.
> Indeed, Foucault urges us to see power in terms of a network of relations
> rather than as something which is merely repressive.

Right. And might not this be the point on which Foucault and Chomsky
actually have much in common? Granted, they never would have been able to
agree on the issue of agency, on the issue of how best to "diagram"
power, where most accurately to locate it. Nonetheless, as you yourself
point out, Foucault refuses to deprive the body (the "political body,"
that is--the node of power in the network of relations), refuses to
deprive the nodes of power of the ability to determine and constitute
the other nodes and institutions which constitute them. It's always a
two-way process. This is (very vaguely and coarsely, grantedly)
somewhat analogous to Chomsky's belief in democratic initiative
through free speech (I don't agree with your characterization of Chomsky
as promoting a view that the elite enjoy a position of "omniscience" and
"omnipotence"--if he thought that, what would be left for him to do?).
The New York Times may have a near-monopoly on public opinion,
but there are always, even for Chomsky, pockets of resistance
('zines, for example).
But yes, I agree, that fundamentally their conceptions of power were so
opposed as to preclude any alliance or feeling of shared agenda.

> contention would be. That's why I would love to get a hold of the
> transcript of that discussion.

I think you should also see the movie "Manufacturing Consent" just for
the sake of seeing the snippets from this interview. It's rather
entertaining to see them in front of the camera duking it out, France and

_|-|_|-|_|Landis Duffett_|-|_|-|_


But isn't my joy
above all
to play my role, to move inside
the pathetic sense that I incarnate?



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