PhD Exam Reading List

Area 1: Non-linear Historical Materialism Continue reading “PhD Exam Reading List”

“Postmodern” Politics: Working Through the Neuroses of the Old Left

A lot of the paleo-leftist criticisms of post-structuralism is that it pulls the rug out from tried and true models of politics. Some people blame it on New Left undermining of the strong base of Old Left labor politics. One of the contemporary standard-bearers is Todd Gitlin, a former student leader in the Students for a Democratic Society. SDS was one of the ‘transitional’ organizations that bridged both the old and new divide – a fusion of labor politics, civil rights concerns, and the ‘new’ youth movement of the 60s. There are many examples of these figures, usually orthodox marxists or movement types who lament the loss of late 19C/early 20C style mass mobilizations. Nostalgic mis-remembering of a time where there were clear battlelines and straightforward politics.

I’ve been doing a little work tracking down Foucault’s use of the term “pleb.” It has come up in conversations with friends over the preferred ‘subjects’ of Foucault. Spivak’s criticism of Foucault in “Can the Subaltern Speak?” is a condemnation of Foucault’s fetish for the mad, insane, criminalized Others. What generally follows is a critique of Foucault, arguing that he merely trying to reintroduce the Other into an economy of power that’s stacked against his preferred subjects and the tools he provides are relatively useless. Continue reading ““Postmodern” Politics: Working Through the Neuroses of the Old Left”

The Fragmented Body of Prometheus

“In the face of those who denigrate decadence, the supposed optimism of the theory of productive forces is immediately ripped to piece by the play of two contrary powers: the grand tragedy of water and fire, of production and destruction, and the low comedy of earth and air, of fabrication and imitation.  One may talk as much as one likes about Marx’s “Promethean” theory, but the body of Prometheus is fragmented from the outset.  The materialism of history and the dialectics of revolution run the risk of never encountering each other in it.” Rancière, The Philosopher and His Poor, 69