Re: Marx/Foucault/RH, etc

At 11:32 PM 2/6/98 -0500, you wrote:
>I think that for Foucault the Frankfurt School as a whole represented an
>ambiguous legacy. He even said at one point that he had more sympathy for
>Habermas's project than Habermas had for him. Where I think F wants to
>part with the Frankfurt School is its tendency to depict the social world
>in terms of a self-enclosed, inescapable totality.

Actually, a/c to F. in the little "Remarks on Marx" book, F parts ground
with them on the question of the subject. That A & H et al. subscribe to a
"traditional" or pre-structuralist notion of the subject, is I think a fair
point (even if they are all anti-humanist). Interestingly, I recall F
saying in the same interview that, had he discovered the Frankfurt School
earlier, he likely would have been "seduced" (his word) into writing
nothing but commentaries/elaborations of them.

A few things about totality: any student of the F-school knows their
critique of Lukacs on totality, and that it is a concept they contually
utilized *and* displaced. As I think Jameson noted, Adorno's references to
totality (or late capitalism/the adminstered world/etc) were always used to
rebuke or debunk interpretation (including his own of course), not to use
it to interpret something a la *the* last instance.

I wonder if F is not himself constructing totalities, perhaps a more
spatial and Nietzchean-inflected one? Not that he said he was doing
that..... But in HS, v.1, he does often invoke the Industrial rev/rise of
bourgeoisie as a backdrop to the emergence of -- and to our "incitement"
towards -- sexuality as-we-know-it. He simply is not interested in a
linear type of causality (and quite properly so).

In re Marcuse: Perhaps ironically, here I think you yourself are not giving
F enough space in his difference from M's Freuodo-Marxism. I know F says
somewhere that, of course, repression (in the political sense at least)
still exists. But his difference from Marcuse would be in the notion of
discourse, and our "incitement" to it. So his notion of power
(pouvoir-savoir) is more "productive" than M's, who even in "desublimation"
is still presupposing repression, but now the displacement, of desire.

>But you don't want to hear me talk about that, so why don't I just say if
I think Marx was a repressive theorist? I think he most definitely was. He
was really a kind of Life Philosopher, like Simmel or Bergson. Like them,
>Marx posited that the institutions and cultural forms thrown up by the
unceasing interactions of humans tended to ossify and eventually acted as a
break on the evolving capacities of human populations. To say that "forces
of production come into contradiction with relations of
>production" is simply to say that new forms of Life are chomping at the
bit and want to break through no-longer-appropriate institutions. The new
forces of production and the new possibilities for human emancipation they
>represent are *repressed* in the Marxian account by a state that acts on
behalf of a once-revolutionary, now-reactionary drag on the development of
society, namely, the bourgeoisie. The first chapter of the _Communist
>Manifesto_ summarizes all this in a condensed but useful way.

In re Marx: Yeah, you're right, I can't take seriously your claim that the
old Moor was simply a Romantic or Philospopher of Life. More specifically,
a "grounding" in the Portable Marx, or even one in revoluionary marxism, is
a pretty weak warrant; folks who have worked through even just the first
section of Capital 1, or the Grundrisse, etc know there is not simply some
top-down notion of power. Why do you think the book starts with the
commodity in itself? Similarily, while I think your account of the old
"fetters bursting assunder" (from the Preface, which is, again, a sound
bite version of his political economy) is actually fine, I don't see how it
reveals a "repressive hypothesis". In short, I think you are conflating
two things: one, a claim that there is a productive and actually complex
conflict or struggle between emerging forces and relations of production,
with two, an "older" or dominant state which is trying to ward off (or
indeed "repress") the emergent forces. Two quick things here: one, instead
of simply saying "state," we should read "mode of production" (a rather
larger, more differentiated entity/concept). And two, why is any (or just
this one) account of struggle or conflict necessarily a "repressive
hypthosesis"? Or if your account is accurate enough, what would be wrong
with this particular repressive hypothesis of old Beardo's?



Daniel Vukovich
English; Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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