6 comments

  1. I’ve come to view Chomsky much the same way as written in this article. His postulation of an inherent and unchanging human nature is certainly a conservative nature (albeit his assertion that it is one of innate creativity repressed under capitalism sounds a bit hippie-ish to me.) During his debate with Foucault, Foucault comes off as the more conservative one, no doubt due to his intellectual heritage in Nietzsche and Heidegger.

  2. Foucault always seemed to articulate the same views and analysis of the ENR and the New Right, albeit from a leftist perspective (in ’84, Habermas classified him as the heir to the Weimar era Conservative Revolutionary tradition). Whereas Chomsky seems to argue for a philosophy not dissimilar to that of our left-libertarian opponents, while simultaenously outstripping them intellectually.

  3. “His postulation of an inherent and unchanging human nature is certainly a conservative nature (albeit his assertion that it is one of innate creativity repressed under capitalism sounds a bit hippie-ish to me.) ”

    Chomsky’s rejection of the view that human nature is malleable goes against a lot of the left-wing tradition that he otherwise identifies with. That’s for sure. But I’ve likewise been skeptical of his “instinct for freedom” theory as it sounds too much like Rosseau’s “man is born free but everywhere he is in chains” idea. I’m inclined to think “man is in chains” because that’s his natural habitat, and to the degree he is not in chains is due to his efforts to better himself. Just like it’s human nature to be fat, lazy, and out of shape, and to be otherwise often requires much diligence.

    “During his debate with Foucault, Foucault comes off as the more conservative one, no doubt due to his intellectual heritage in Nietzsche and Heidegger.”

    Yes, except for when he starts citing Mao and drawing a distinction between “bourgeoisie human nature” and “proletarian human nature.” His views on war were obviously the more conservative of the two.

    “Foucault always seemed to articulate the same views and analysis of the ENR and the New Right, albeit from a leftist perspective (in ‘84, Habermas classified him as the heir to the Weimar era Conservative Revolutionary tradition).”

    That’s not surprising given that the French New Right was formed at the same time that Foucault was emerging as the icon of the French New Left, obscuring Sartre, and that the ENR is mostly a synthesis of the New Left and Weimar revolutionary conservatism.

    “Whereas Chomsky seems to argue for a philosophy not dissimilar to that of our left-libertarian opponents, while simultaenously outstripping them intellectually.”

    I suspect, if he had to make a choice, Chomsky would side with them over us, due to their unflinching social egalitarianism and Enlightenment fetishism. But I also suspect Foucault would prefer our camp over theirs, out of recognition that we are the more genuinely subversive of the two factions. I think we’d give him a sense of devilish delight. We we would constitute a “limit experience” for him.

  4. I recently read an article online comparing Foucault’s critique of the French Revolution with those of Burke and De Maestre, and noting striking parallels between them.

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