Greg Coolidge: University of Calif., Riverside, gcoolidg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Oh yes, I also have a response to an earlier question regarding the
originality of my claim that post-structuralism is a deeply flawed and
paradoxical humanism. There is no doubt that many writers have discussed
the liberal and humanist values (autonomy, individuality, self-determination,
equality) embedded in the political pursuits of Foucault and other post-
structuralists. What I was trying to impress upon fellow post-structuralists
is that the critique is usually offered by non-posties, who charge us with
not having any values on which to rest our political projects. We are accused
of rejecting all of those values which seem to make a life of freedom and
autonomy possible. My point is that post-structuralists do not reject these
values at all. If you look closely at the political projects of Foucault,
post-structuralist feminists and others, you will find that the values of
autonomy,self-determination, individuality, equality and freedom are deeply
embedded in their projects. These are the values that give their projects
life and irection. They are what are fought for, what have been lost, that
which re to be cherished and protected. There would be no Foucaultian political project, which there clearly is, if such values were not deeply held by
Foucualt nd other politically active post-structurlats. It is the height of
intellectual dishonesty to hold on to such values, anbd then to claim, in order to remain adically ant-essential in theory, that such values are deeply held,
yet historically contingent, as if the holder of such values would be quite
willing to give them up next year. This is simply not the case. Foucault and
others would be unwilling to imagine a world where human dignity, freedom,
and individuality were impossible, or at least where they were not fought for
constantly. You see, Foucault, post-structurlaist feminists and others
are really humanists, deeply problematic humanists to be sure, but humanists
all the same, who hold out the hope that human beings can be, at least in
some small degree, the authors of their own lives and subjectivities. Isn't
this dream of human autonomy, of being more than the product of internal
and external determinations, the core hope of what might be called humanism
in a general sense? (although individual humanists are quite diverse as to
what constitutes the essence of humanity, what threatens this humanity,
and what can be done about it). My claim is that Foucualt and other post-
structuralits are h7humanists of a sort, no matter how vehemently they deny
such a charge. You only need look at their political projects with care,
in order to locate the humanist core of their polical aspirations. They offer
humananisms devoid of humanity, where the subject theorized to populate the
social body is incapable of becoming the autonomous, self-determing being that the humanist inspired political project so obviously seeks. We posties are
truly deeply flawed and paradoxical humanists. I'm not claiming originality
here. I am only suggesting that we post-structuralists quit fooling
ourselves into believing that we are radically ant-liberal and anti-
humanist. We are no such thing. We reject much of liberalism, and much of
the various humanisms that can be found, but we share many of the core values
belonging to both. We need to carefully take stock of our political values,
those we would be unwilling to give up, to embrace them, rather than contin-
uing to parrot the stale rhetoric of anti-humanism. We are not fooling


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