Tuesday, August 02, 2005

How the Left was Lost (pt. 1)

Yesterday, I discussed how the new anti-Semitism on the Left is borne of hostility to the rationalism and moralism at the heart of Western Civilization (and the American idea); these building blocks of the uniquely Western worldview have been described by Thomas Cahill as the Gifts of the Jews. Given that the Left prides itself on its history of anti-anti-Semitism from the Dreyfus affair to the Holocaust and the founding of Israel, this represents a strange turn of events. Stranger still, considering that rationalism and moralism were also essential components of Leftist movements from "scientific Marxism" to the New Deal. How did the left pivot to an anti-rationalist, anti-Western view which can find sympathy with, or at least excuses for, our Islamofascist enemy?

I think that one pivotal moment occurred during the the Iranian revolution in 1978 and '79. Geo-politically, its tectonic significance is obvious. But a critical intellectual shift could be seen in the reaction of the leading French philosopher of the time, Michel Foucault. As a quick background on the man, this scorching polemic actually manages to leave out the two most damaging (though never proven) accusations that have been levelled against him, which I will not repeat here.

A sarcastic and fiercely intelligent depressive, he took LSD, repeatedly attempted to kill himself, drove a Jaguar and attended sadomasochist parlours in California. He was also one of the first famous casualties of Aids. Foucault loved being outrageous. He publicly urged inmates of French jails to escape from prison, and supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution as well as Baader-Meinhof terrorists. He also declared that the happiest day of his life was in July 1978, when he was hit by a car while high on opium. "I had the impression that I was dying, and it was really a very, very intense pleasure," he later told a journalist.

Prior to the near-death experience in 1978, he had described his greatest experience as his first LSD trip in 1975, which he claimed had only one rival as a peak experience: sex with strangers. (This was from a nearly 50-year old man.)

This Weekly Standard article provides a quick take on Michel Foucault's Excellent Iranian Adventure (actually more of a Bogus Journey); tomorrow I will try to explore it in a little greater detail.

THE RELATIONSHIP between postmodernist European leftism and Islamic radicalism is a two-way street: Not only have Islamists drawn on the legacy of the European Left, but European Marxists have taken heart from Islamic terrorists who seemed close to achieving the longed-for revolution against American hegemony...Foucault was sent by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera to observe the Iranian revolution and the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Like Sartre, who had rhapsodized over the Algerian revolution, Foucault was enthralled, pronouncing Khomeini "a kind of mystic saint." The Frenchman welcomed "Islamic government" as a new form of "political spirituality" that could inspire Western radicals to combat capitalist hegemony.

Heavily influenced by Heidegger and Sartre, Foucault was typical of postmodernist socialists in having neither concrete political aims nor the slightest interest in tangible economic grievances as motives for revolution. To him, the appeal of revolution was aesthetic and voyeuristic: "a violence, an intensity, an utterly remarkable passion." For Foucault as for Fanon, Hezbollah, and the rest down to Osama, the purpose of violence is not to relieve poverty or adjust borders. Violence is an end in itself. Foucault exalts it as "the craving, the taste, the capacity, the possibility of an absolute sacrifice." In this, he is at one with Osama's followers, who claim to love death while the Americans "love Coca-Cola."


Blogger Goesh said...

The jihadis would make quick work of Foucault's drug use and sexual activities by either stoning him to death or by lopping off his head. There'll be no gay rights parades in Shariaville that's for sure, no PETA activities either for filthy dogs so despised by muslims. What do lefties really think would happen if ever the fundamentalists were in control of the nation they resided in? There they would be, for instance,in a discussion group on the relevancy of human and animal sexual interaction and jihadis would come bursting in with their AK-47s and blast the whole bunch of them. Do they really think they would ever be exempt from sharia law? Someone enlighten me on this. I realize a few very wealthy lefties could avoid the glare of the imams, but most couldn't. Can you imagine Jane Fonda in a burqah? How about a clitorectomy for some of the feminists? Good God!

8:07 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Jane Fonda is not in a burqa, unfortunately. She is on a bus, off to see America and tell it why it is wrong.

I don't believe in Hell, but if there were one ol Foucault and Janey would be in the same one.

Add their wrong-headedness to the power of their fame and noteriety
and you have a tidy sum of Evil...

Goesh, mandarins think they are exempt. The real, unwashed world doesn't touch them. Their real world is the enclave in which they are observed and judged and rated. It's a terrible place.

2:03 PM  

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