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Foucault & Deleuze

The intellectual’s role is no longer to place himself “somewhat ahead and to the side” in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather, it is to struggle against the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of “knowledge,” “truth,” “consciousness,” and “discourse. “ 

[...] It seems to me that the political involvement of the intellectual was traditionally the product of two different aspects of his activity: his position as an intellectual in bourgeois society, in the system of capitalist production and within the ideology it produces or imposes (his exploitation, poverty, rejection, persecution, the accusations of subversive activity, immorality, etc); and his proper discourse to the extent that it revealed a particular truth, that it disclosed political relationships where they were unsuspected. These two forms of politicisation did not exclude each other, but, being of a different order, neither did they coincide. Some were classed as “outcasts” and others as “socialists.” During moments of violent reaction on the part of the authorities, these two positions were readily fused: after 1848, after the Commune, after 1940. The intellectual was rejected and persecuted at the precise moment when the facts became incontrovertible, when it was forbidden to say that the emperor had no clothes. The intellectual spoke the truth to those who had yet to see it, in the name of those who were forbidden to speak the truth: he was conscience, consciousness, and eloquence. In the most recent upheaval (3) the intellectual discovered that the masses no longer need him to gain knowledge: they know perfectly well, without illusion; they know far better than he and they are certainly capable of expressing themselves. But there exists a system of power which blocks, prohibits, and invalidates this discourse and this knowledge, a power not only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly penetrates an entire societal network. Intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power-the idea of their responsibility for “consciousness” and discourse forms part of the system. The intellectual’s role is no longer to place himself “somewhat ahead and to the side” in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather, it is to struggle against the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of “knowledge,” “truth,” “consciousness,” and “discourse. “(4)

In this sense theory does not express, translate, or serve to apply practice: it is practice. But it is local and regional, as you said, and not totalising. This is a struggle against power, a struggle aimed at revealing and undermining power where it is most invisible and insidious. It is not to “awaken consciousness” that we struggle (the masses have been aware for some time that consciousness is a form of knowledge; and consciousness as the basis of subjectivity is a prerogative of the bourgeoisie), but to sap power, to take power; it is an activity conducted alongside those who struggle for power, and not their illumination from a safe distance. A “theory ” is the regional system of this struggle.

[...]

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Excerpt from a transcript of a 1972 conversation between the post-structuralist philosophers Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, which discusses the links between the struggles of women, homosexuals, prisoners etc to class struggle, and also the relationship between theory, practice and power.

This transcript first appeared in English in the book ‘Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: selected essays and interviews by Michel Foucault’ edited by Donald F. Bouchard.

Via: Critical Theory >  Libcom.org 

For those who missed out on the NYC Anarchist Bookfair panels and workshops, one of the panelist Chiara Bottici (anarchism & imagination) has co-organized this 2 day symposium at the New School:

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The Anarchist Turn

For a long time, the word “anarchist” has been used as an insult. This is because, at least since Thomas Hobbes, the concept of anarchy has been extended from its etymological meaning (absence of centralized government) to that of pure disorder – the idea being that, without a sovereign state, the life of individuals can only be brutish, miserable, and chaotic. This move was certainly functional to the ideological justification …of modern sovereign states, but not to an understanding of what anarchy might be.

In the last decade, this caricature of anarchy has begun to crack. Globalization and the social movements it spawned seem to have proved what anarchists have long been advocating: an anarchical order is not just desirable, but also feasible. This has led to a revitalized interest in the subterranean anarchist tradition and its understanding of anarchy as collective self-organization without centralized authority. But the ban on “anarchism” has not yet been lifted.

The aim of this conference is to argue for an “anarchist turn” in political philosophy. We want to discuss the anarchist hypothesis with specific reference to the philosophical tradition in its many historical and geographical variants, but also in relation to other disciplines like politics, anthropology, economics, history and sociology. By bringing together academics and activists, past and present, this conference will assess the nature and effectiveness of anarchist politics in our times.

Speakers: Miguel Abensour (Paris VII), Cinzia Arruzza (New School), Banu Bargu (New School), Chiara Bottici (New School), Judith Butler (UC Berkeley), Laura Corradi (Calabria), Stephen Duncombe (NYU), Todd May (Clemson), Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths), Mitchell Verter (New School), Stephanie Wakefield (CUNY), as well as writers such as Andrej Grubačić , Cindy Milstein, Ben Morea from Black Mask and alleged authors of The Coming Insurrection.

The Hannah Arendt and Reiner Schurmann Symposium: The Anarchist Turn
http://www.newschool.edu/eventDetail.aspx?id=64753

05/05/2011 – 05/06/2011 11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

The New School for Social Research’s Philosophy Department invite you to the Hanna Arendt and Reiner Schurmann Symposium entitled The Anarchist Turn

Thursday, May 5th
11:15am-11:30am Opening Remarks by Simon Critchley
11:30am-1:00pm Black and Red: The Freedom of Equals, Chiara Bottici
1:15pm-3:00pm Anarchism and Feminism, Mitchell Verter, Cinzia Arruzza, Laura Corradi
4:00pm-5:30pm The Politics of Commensality, Banu Bargu
5:45pm-7:15pm Queer Anarchism and Anarchists Against the Wall, Judith Butler
8:00pm-9:30pm A Conversation with Ben Morea of Black Mask

Friday, May 6th
10:00am-11:30am Friendship as Resistance, Todd May
11:45am-1:15pm The Anarchist Moment, Andrej Grubacic,Cindy Milstein
2:15pm-4:00pm Geographies of Anarchy, Stephanie Wakefield, Stephen Duncombe, Alberto Toscano
4:15pm-5:45pm Spinoza on Voluntary Servitude, Miguel Abensour
6:15pm-8:00pm Spread Anarchy, Live Communism, The Accused of Tarnac

 

Organized by Jacob Blumenfeld, Chiara Bottici, and Simon Critchley

Location:
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor

Admission:
Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served