Hip: Chomsky

Seamus Malone redye at dorsai.dorsai.org
Tue Jul 11 16:15:12 MDT 1995

On Tue, 11 Jul 1995, Nick Lawrence wrote:

> Excerpts from the Foucault/Chomksy debate:
> Foucault:
> "The proletariat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time
> in history, it wants to take power. . . . One makes war to win, not because
> it is just. . . . When the proletariat takes power, it may be quite
> possible that the proletariat will exert towards the classes over which
> it has just triumphed, a violent, dictatorial and even bloody power. I can't
> see what objection one could make to this."
> Chomsky:
> "No Leninist or whatever you like would dare to say, 'We, the proletariat,
> have a right to take power, and then throw everyone else into the
> crematoria.' If that were the consequence of the proletariat taking
> power, of course it would not be appropriate. . . . But I don't think
> that's the typical situation in human affairs, and I don't think that's
> the situation in the case of class-conflict or social revolution. There
> I think that one can and _must_ give an argument, if you can't give an
> argument you should extract yourself from the struggle. Give an argument
> that the social revolution that you're trying to achieve _is_ in the
> ends of justice, is in the ends of realizing fundamental human needs, not
> merely in the ends of putting some other group into power, because they
> want it."
> --Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, "Human Nature: Justice versus Power,"
> in _Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind_, ed. Elder (London
> 1974).
> Foucault's Nietzcheanism here threatens to undermine any sense of
> legitimacy in political struggle by trying to ground it in the struggle
> itself, qua struggle. Chomsky, though perhaps too sunnily committed to
> Enlightenment ideals ("I don't think that's the typical situation in human
> affairs"), nonetheless makes a compelling case for that legitimacy.
> The debate isn't as lopsided as has been occasionally represented.
>      --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---
I'm glad to finally see a transcription of this little chat. Having seen
it or at list this little bit of it, I guess I think it is more
lobsided than it was ever represented to me, and I can't imagine that
Chomsky would be able to save himself from that kind of blundering in
another hundred pages of it.

Seamus Malone redye at amanda.dorsai.org

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