Postmodernism vs. poststructuralism? Deleuze?

Jukka Laari jlaari at
Fri Jul 21 09:31:53 MDT 1995

About Jon's differentiation between Deleuze and Derrida. Some
speculation. Jon wrote:

"Part of the confusion about what is "postmodern" is excacerbated by the
suggestion that postmodern philosophers are also those who suggest the
universality and inextricability of discourse.  This seems clearly not
to be the case, and perhaps, indeed, this is the best marker of the
difference between poststructuralism and postmodernism, between Derrida
and Deleuze (say)."

First of all, every now and then I've read that there is no such a
'school' as poststructuralism, IF by it is meant that thinkers like Deleuze,
Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Lyotard etc French thinkers of roughly the
same age/generation form a theoretically homogenous group. Rather
'poststructuralism' is a label generated by English and US American
publishers. I've been told: in France there haven't been kind of public
discussion that would have grouped them (so neatly) together. I think
that that's reasonable objection. We could call them as post-marxists as
well, because nearly everyone of them (except Deleuze?) have earlier
worked according some kind of marxist presuppositions. But, you see, that
sounded in 1980's very old-fashioned and questionable... I think that
'postisms' have sold far better since late 1970's than any kind of
'marxism' at all.

However, that kind of theorizing isn't useful at all. Better leave the
whole categorizing to the historians of ideas?

I've written sometime earlier that what counts with these French
thinkers are the questions they made, the problems they pose. They (among
others) have questioned several doctrines of marxism - and that's a good
reason (to everyone who either considers herself or himself as marxist
or is interested in marxism and it's questions) to study their texts. I
still stick to that opinion.

It doesn't mean, though, that these French writers haven't done some
serious 'errors' or hasty conclusions, whether on history or on
'cogito' or on something else. I've read/been told, that they have
abandoned some substantial results in several (human/social) sciences as
well as in philosophy (for example, think about Foucault's self-critical
remark, that he'd been able to avoid some 'mistakes' or trivial roads,
if he'd been aware of the work of the Frankfurt school). Besides, what's
valid in one context (society, culture, science) isn't that necessary in
another context: It might be, that theorization of this generation '68
was fruitful and important in France, for example, but same thoughts
might appear restricted and obscurantist in another country? Let's have
a historical point of view with them!

Lastly, I'd like to comment the nature of Deleuze's thinking: he's not a
'postist' at all! Rather he's very classical philosopher, in a sense that
he's been able to produce his own (quite personal) philosophy. Compare:
Wittgenstein, for example. Doesn't the slow global reception of Deleuze
(when compared to Derrida or Foucault) hint to that direction? I mean,
that there has been something original and new in Deleuze's philosophy,
something that haven't been expected, that have caused long reading,
interpretation, and thinking period. Secondly, he is classical thinker
also in a sense that he has taken up several traditional issues (all the
way from Greeks to moderns) and handled these pretty conventionally (by
analysing concepts, by representing several trad. thinkers in a dry,
academic way).

Yours, Jukka Laari

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list