Tuesday, August 02, 2022

This interview is getting a lot of attention among leftist academics. They're linking it and recommending it. They're surprised. It's new to them. All the books they read and they don't know what it was like to be an adult and a leftist-bourgeois-intellectual-blablabla, 50 years ago, or 70. And these are the same people who debate whether Foucault was a conservative.

On that note, one of them, Jäger, retweets Markus Rediker

When I was in graduate school (1979), I wrote a letter to Michel Foucault to ask a question about one of his books. I expected no response. Imagine my astonishment when, ten days later, a pale blue envelope appears in my mailbox, from “MF,” Collège de France.

I was reviewing vol. I, *The History of Sexuality* which said on its back cover that it was the first of six volumes on the subject. I asked, what were the other volumes? He said he had just made that up about six volumes, but added that he was writing *Pleasures of the Self*.

I also asked, how can you deny the existence of conscious, knowing subjects in your work and then use military concepts like “strategy” and “tactics” of power, which imply conscious, knowing subjects? He answered, that is a real contradiction in my thought, I have no answer.

He continued, I just thought we might progress by trying to think about power in a different way. His responses were funny, modest, and honest, genuinely illuminating, although not very satisfying either politically or intellectually.

He answered, that is a real contradiction in my thought, I have no answer. 
The only honest answer. Only a pedant without imagination could think otherwise. 
...not very satisfying either politically or intellectually. 
I haven't read much Foucault, but I understood I wasn't reading the Anglo-American academic model of a thinker who writes; I was reading a writer who thinks. Back to Eliot; it's almost too perfect.
James in his novels is like the best French critics in maintaining a point of view, a view-point untouched by the parasite idea. He is the most intelligent man of his generation.
And the writer Foucault was responding to the preconceptions described in the interview above.

Branko makes the argument against reading Branko
I am of the opinion that if one wants to learn more about a current problem, one should never read books published now b/c they just reproduce all commonplaces we believe now.
In the next tweet he recommends Milosz. I won't argue. Recently I told him he wasn't a historian and that perhaps he should stop pretending. Maybe he's taken my advice. In re: the interview above, he wrote this only recently

Now, almost half-a-century later, as I was writing about the war, I realized how Marxism in that case really fulfilled the essential functions of a religion.

NFS means No Fucking Shit.  But as I reminded him years ago—and he agreed—he didn't grow up under communism; he grew up under Tito. And as a friend put it: "The Poles came to us to go shopping. We went to Milan"

From the interview above 

AP: The tensions within the party were between a small orthodox group linked to the Soviet Union who strongly opposed the Union of the Left. The main issue in the 1970s was nationalizations. I was in charge of the “Nationalizations and Industrial Policy” department and it’s true that we overplayed the issue of nationalizations. We argued that nationalizations, provided they reached a significant threshold, would allow us to structurally change our economic system. The socialists, opportunists that they often are, adopted our views. I had a friend who was having marital difficulties who was convinced that if the left came to power, her marriage would be fixed. This was the degree of people’s belief in politics.

My slogan was, “Where there is property, there is power.” And that is the primary idea which motivates me to this day. But at the time, we thought public property had a mythical capacity to change everything. The socialists only agreed to nationalize because they saw it as a condition of preserving the Union of the Left. They were ideologically overpowered. Internally, the debate was around the scale and the industries. The socialists were against, for example, nationalizing the banks and financial sector completely. They thought it was enough to nationalize 51 percent—just enough to give us the majority. But we insisted on 100 percent. And given the internal discussions, I was surprised with how far Mitterrand ultimately went....

MA: Maybe we can go back to the history of the party, particularly in 1968. What was the relationship like between the student movement and the labor movement? And how did those conflicts play out in the party’s policy positions?

AP: Until 1968, the Communist Party was influential in the labor movement and among intellectuals. For the latter, the theory of state monopoly capitalism gave us a lot of intellectual capital. I remember getting a drink with Georges Séguy and Georges Marchais right before the adoption of the Common Program, and Marchais informing us that the CGT had just recruited its three-millionth member. Today there are fewer than 300,000. So we had a lot of hope, but we were also distrustful of the socialists (due to their position on the Algerian War and the Suez Affair, among other things) at the same time as we sought a union with them. The events of 1968 bear the mark of these contradictions. We participated in the events at the same time as we witnessed meetings between Mitterrand and Mendès-France and understood that the situation was hopeless. I remember once going to a meeting at the Place du Colonel Fabien and seeing the head of the Economic Section tearing up piles of paper, so as not to leave a trace in case the Gaullists retaliated.

There was also a cultural shift with the emergence of the so-called bohemian bourgeoisie, who pushed the boundaries of morality, sexuality, and so on. The communists didn’t identify with that. Culturally, we were rigid: when you got married, you got married. You never bought your house, you always rented. If you bought a car, it was from Renault, because it was the national company.

Teenagers vs Communists (as moralizing petty bourgeois.)

repeats: Eric Rohmer 

"I wasn’t hostile to May ’68, but whereas the people who participated in it saw it as a beginning, I saw it rather as an end. May ’68 was the first stone thrown into the pond of Marxism. The ideological collapse of Marxism began in ’68. Because I believe that May ’68, paradoxically, cured many people, including perhaps me, of communism and anticommunism. I think that the kind of Marxist fever that took place after May ’68 carried within it its condemnation and its end, it was a last flare-up. That’s how I saw May ’68, and that is why, personally, I remained absolutely indifferent, serene, with regard to what might happen. I continued with my work." 

The same idiots link to a new book of essays.

Where the standard story sees neoliberalism as right-wing, this book points to some left-wing origins, too; where the standard story emphasises the agency of think-tanks and politicians, this book shows that other actors from the business world were also highly significant. Where the standard story can suggest that neoliberalism transformed subjectivities and social lives, this book illuminates other forces which helped make Britain more individualistic in the late twentieth century.

If you follow the link to Rohmer and continue, you'll find these. I'm so bored.

"What has happened politically, economically, culturally and socially since the sea change of the late ’60s isn’t contradictory or incongruous. It’s all of a piece. For hippies and bohemians as for businesspeople and investors, extreme individualism has been triumphant. Selfishness won."

"Perhaps more than an ambiguity, it was an irony of history. The real legacy of May ’68, as we see in France today, is individualism, the rejection of civic sense and ideology, the rehabilitation of the idea that personal and financial success is a worthy pursuit — in short, a revival of capitalism. To borrow an expression of Lenin’s, we were useful idiots. Indeed, the uprising was more a counterrevolution than a revolution."

And all this is why Streeck and the rest have me "banging my fucking head against the wall"

In the order that seems to be emerging [sic!], social bonds are construed as a matter of taste and choice rather than of obligation, making communities appear as voluntary associations from which one can resign if they require excessive self-denial, rather than as ‘communities of fate’ with which one either rises or goes under.   

These people are embarrassing. 

If I'm telling stories I should talk about the night at dinner in the early 70s when my father found out to his chagrin that he was a hero to the local CP. The son of an old friend was in town and staying at the party office. They had places to crash. My father called at the end of dinner and the kid on the line interrogated him: "Who are you? What do you want?" My father gave his name.  "Oh,Yes sir! Yes, Mr Edenbaum. I'll get him sir." Sitting at the table I watched my father move the phone away from his ear, incredulous.

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