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Cultural Studies
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INSTITUTIONALIZING CULTURAL STUDIES IN COLOMBIA


Gregory J. Lobo Available online: 06 Jan 2012

To cite this article: Gregory J. Lobo (2012): INSTITUTIONALIZING CULTURAL STUDIES IN COLOMBIA, Cultural Studies, DOI:10.1080/09502386.2012.642562 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502386.2012.642562

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Gregory J. Lobo
INSTITUTIONALIZING CULTURAL STUDIES IN COLOMBIA Or, an argument about Marx and Foucault
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In this article, I locate the institutionalization of Cultural Studies in the Departamento de Lenguajes y Estudios Socioculturales in the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota Colombia. The conditions of possibility of the said institutiona, lization are ascribed to something like a crisis, itself engendered by the encroachment of neoliberal ideology on the Universitys sense of mission and understanding of itself. Essentially, a more or less traditional department of modern languages was abolished and a potentially innovative but epistemologically fuzzy department devoted to teaching language and the linguistic turn, each informed by the other, was cobbled together in its place. This required the retooling of the departments professors, but also the hiring of new professors who influenced the departments intellectual direction and contributed to the sharpening of the project. The article then describes how the incipient programme was the site of a struggle for epistemological clarity, which is here represented in the form of an argument about the necessity of thinking both Foucault and Marx together in the project of critical Cultural Studies. Keywords Cultural Studies; Colombia; linguistic turn; Marx; Foucault; institutionalization A little over ten years ago commentators were essentially betting against Cultural Studies here. I write from University of the Andes, in Bogota, Colombia. In the last five or six years, three of the most respected universities in Colombia, among which my own is included, have organized separate masters degrees in the field, as well as various international conferences. A fourth university in the capital has, during the same time frame, organized a masters programme in social studies, which, one could argue, amounts to the same thing if by Cultural Studies we mean rooted, focused, contextualized analyses and studies of how effective relations of power are constituted in and by, and constitutive of, cultural dynamics. This growth ought never to have happened, considering the antipathy which Cultural Studies has generated. The fears of various authors, among whom Reynoso (2000) stands out, that Cultural Studies was a vacuous metropolitan import, and also the jealousies in
Cultural Studies 2012, iFirst article, pp. 117 ISSN 0950-2386 print/ISSN 1466-4348 online # 2012 Taylor & Francis http://www.tandfonline.com http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09502386.2012.642562

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an academy that was strictly disciplinarian (Forero 2008), precipitated much hemming and hawing among those who George W. Bush might well have referred to as the deciders those whose signatures actually counted. If the institutionalization of Cultural Studies in Colombia marks an important moment in the Colombian academy and indeed in Colombian society, this should not overshadow the fact that there is a long history of cultural reflection in Latin America. And indeed, frequently Latin American practitioners of Cultural Studies, seeking to avoid the taint of blithely mimicking First World intellectual trends, refer to that storied past which, notably, was often combined with political reflections. Indeed, it is often noted that Latin American cultural workers especially essayists and novelists have never been shy of political involvement, and aspiring to bring about social change. But these early essayists tended to be what Anglo readers might recognize as Arnoldian, seeing in culture a rarefied means for renewal and edification rather than understanding it as the mundane space of domination. And later culture scholars have been most focused on questions that while important, are more in some sense culture studies, than Cultural Studies. What is the difference? Culture studies are more superficial, understanding what they study as empirically given forms, rather than as constituted and constituting structures in the field of power. But this is not a problem endemic to Latin America, of course. I remember one of my own experiences at a Cultural Studies conference in Turkey. I gamely so I thought at least decided to check out the work on video games and cultures. The panel I attended consisted of three or four presenters each producing entirely acritical work on users/players of the game The Sims. Their collective point though to my knowledge they were not working together; they just happened to have been grouped on the panel owing to the convergence of their themes was that people who play/use The Sims video game do so for a variety of reasons, and that they are not one sort of person, i.e., not susceptible to stereotyping. In other words, there is no typical player, no typical race, gender, age, income: nothing but heterogeneity. I do not ask a lot of questions when attending an event of this sort, but this time I could not help myself. What, I asked, is the point of this presentation? I feel like Im at business meeting in which you all, as game publicists/marketers/developers, are trying to convince me of nothing more that the potentially unlimited customer base for your product. The collective response was something to effect: Well, this is Cultural Studies. What do you do? The point is that all over the world much of what is claimed as Cultural Studies talks about culture, or rather cultures. It is work about this or that culture; it is multi-culturalist work in so far as there is little critical going on, and much celebratory. This or that culture is celebrated, or recognized, ergo: Cultural Studies. It is, among other things, against this anything goes Cultural Studies which is also widespread here in Latin America that my own pretensions (and I admit that they are pretensions) regarding the practice and

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the work called Cultural Studies have taken shape and informed in some admittedly slight way the institutionalization of the practice where I work. Imagining, rightly or wrongly, that the Cultural Studies project emerges out of a discontent, out of a puzzlement, a paradox namely, the conundrum of formally, democratically, free people engaging in practices, general and specific (for instance voting), that ran counter to their interests, that maintained them in their subjection (and in post-dictatorial, democratic Latin America, any Cultural Studies worthy of the name must be investigating this phenomenon) for me Cultural Studies named the attempt to understand this enigma, this free investment in ones own domination, this preference for ones own subjection. Thus, two central theorists necessary for doing Cultural Studies were always going to be Marx and Foucault. But if British Cultural Studies was not afraid to mix Marx and Foucault, American Cultural Studies seemed to opt more for Foucault, leaving Marx somewhat aside. In Colombia, for its part, there still exists a strain of antiFoucauldian Marxism that continues to imagine there is a pueblo and working class engaged in a nineteenth century battle with capital. But Cultural Studies here, perhaps owing to the influence of the US academy, plays more to the Foucauldian side of things. Especially in Cultural Studies here at the Andes, as the programme was finding its feet, the preference for Foucault, for postMarxism (namely for Laclau and Mouffe), for the sort of thought associated with the linguistic turn, was marked; while a distaste for political economy, and for what Gramsci referred to as the philosophy of praxis, was equally evident. On the other hand, one saw a preference for Marx and political economy in more traditional spaces of political science and philosophy here in Colombia, spaces from which people tended to look askance at Cultural Studies, taking it at best as a light intellectual endeavour, problematic, unwelcome. Among my again pretensions was one which insisted on having Marx and Foucault speak to each other, not at cross purposes but about the same thing, in Cultural Studies, understood, of course, as a serious intellectual endeavour. In what remains of this article I want to articulate the argument for this insistence, which has contributed in some way to the specific character of the institutionalization of Cultural Studies here at the Andes, moving it away from an initial non- or even anti-Marxist theoretical grounding, an essentially Foucauldian and post-Marxist epistemological posture, to one capacious enough to amply, that is properly, conceive of its field of study. But before going there, it is appropriate to describe how Cultural Studies, in the form of the department of languages and sociocultural studies, which led to the masters degree in Cultural Studies, came into being at the Andes. It owes its emergence, funnily enough, to crisis. I say funnily enough since so much of Cultural Studies derives from the attempts to comprehend crisis: is not the seminal text of our field really none other than Policing the Crisis (Hall et al. 1978)? Prior to what we have now there was a department of modern languages. Repeated surveys of the students studying within the department

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registered a large measure of dissatisfaction with what their training was preparing them for, to wit, they were being trained for bilingual secretarial work and as language teachers for bilingual schools. At the same time, it was decided that English taught by the department would no longer be an obligatory subject for all students at the university. Though a level of proficiency would be required to graduate, classes to reach that proficiency offered by the university itself would not be mandatory. Students were permitted, that is, to get their English up to speed wherever they saw fit. This meant that the department of modern languages was essentially bankrupted overnight, since its student enrolment fell precipitously and the university, being a good neoliberal institution, apportioned department budgets according to the number of students each one serviced. The question that was then presented to the university administration was, what to do? One option on the table was to hive off a department of language and culture and move it to the faculty of arts and humanities, under the direction of an outside hire. To do this, a Colombian academic with international experience, who had also worked at the Universidad del Valle, another of Colombias top universities, was brought in. Her name was Cecilia Balcazar but, once installed, she pushed, rather, for the creation of a new department called languages and sociocultural studies and keeping it within the faculty of social sciences. Deeply influenced by and moreover committed to the advances won by the linguistic turn, the work of Basil Bernstein and the promise of trans-disciplinarity for social scientific research, and attendant to the intellectual curiosity of students who wanted to study languages in a more open-ended way, Balcazar proposed a department committed to teaching languages with a pedagogy considerate of notions of power, social construction and pluralism at its core, and to teaching sociocultural studies with the advances of the linguistic turn at its core. As one of the unpublished internal documents explaining the department puts it: The department conceives of language as producing changing orders that are contingent and non-essential, and thus extends a vision of the relativity of cultural creation and openness towards the Other, free of dogmatism. Here, dogmatism can be read as a code word for a sort of Marxist thinking, namely, the critique of political economy and class analysis. And one can also see that the door was open to a somewhat problematic theoretical relativism, in which any and all cultural formations could be valorized rather than problematized. Writing as an external reviewer of the new department, in another unpublished institutional document, Richard Harvey Brown refers to the departments guiding epistemology, namely: social phenomena do not exist in their own right, but are produced and maintained through communication their meanings, and indeed our very experience of them, are derived through communicative action. Again, one notes the implicit criticism of a certain degree of (Marxist) realism, and the explicit preference for a radical discursivist and constructivist approach to the social. Balcazar faced staunch opposition in trying to implement her vision when it was submitted as a formal

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proposal to the academic council. But having been brought in from outside by the university administration (which could not really fight the very person it had chosen to move things forward) she owed nothing to anyone, was staunch in her own defence and eventually won the day. Balcazars vision opened the door to hiring more professors working in Cultural Studies. As is perhaps to be expected, this vision, while it created the possibility of developing a course of study in Cultural Studies, was both advanced and somewhat skewed by its becoming reality. These new professors (of which I was one), while on board in terms of the importance of language, anti-essentialism and relativity, pushed questions of ideology and power, and of course political economy, which were absent in the initial proposal, to the foreground. Though a certain conception of the linguistic turn was fundamental to Balcazars vision contemporary reflection on language would guide the departments teaching of languages and cultures, emphasizing both the relativity and specificity of linguistic and cultural forms the question of power and political economy has been brought to the fore as the department has grown and become established and founded the masters programme. In what follows, then, I want to offer the reader a version of the argument that was central in the development of Cultural Studies here at the Andes in its present configuration, an argument that insists on the essential compatibility and complementarity of language or discourse theory and the critique of political economy, figured here through references to Foucault and Marx respectively. Readers of the discourse that Marx founded will have run across in one form or another the assertion that, in appropriating idealist conceptions of the historical dialectic and rendering it materialist, he radicalized Hegel. Some sort of continuity between Hegel and Marx is thus affirmed, a sublation if you like wherein the thought of the former is at once superseded and extended by the work of latter. Nothing so glib can be said about the relationship between Marx and Foucault; it is, to say the least, slightly more vexed. The mere mention of Foucault raises the ire of many a Marxist, and though some may engage his thought, begrudgingly giving it a little due in deference to the weight it (lamentably) exerts over the academy at large, this due is generally dismissive if not derisive. The work of Terry Eagleton, a pre-eminent Marxist critic, is indicative in this regard. In the course of over 220 pages in his book Ideology (1991), Eagleton references Foucault nine times, and each reference peremptorily invokes the work as an example of flaccid post-modern thinking. There is in other words no actual reading or explication of Foucaults work; rather, it is assumed to have already constituted itself beyond Eagletons text as decidedly un-critical theory, unfitted to the rigours of sustained and revelatory critique that, for example, Marxism can readily bring to bear on the social. In the realm of theory and by theory I mean to signal the practice of developing non-obvious explanations for social phenomena, of conceptualizing plausible causes that are not readily apparent and would shed light on the way

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we experience the social this MarxFoucault opposition gives rise to a split between a discourse/practice which emphasizes the relations of production or for want of a better word, the economic, and one which, in an act of ultimately debilitating overcompensation, pays only cursory attention to this dynamic, the economic. What this amounts to is a division and even a competition among theorists who want to hang on to that Althusserian notion of the economic last instance, and those who, having some familiarity with Foucauldian ideas about the processes of subjectivation, emphasize the production of difference, the proliferation of identity and the inescapability of hybridity. As Bradley J. Macdonald (2002) writes in his consideration of Marx and Foucault, previous appraisals of this issue comprise a continual attempt to articulate a Manichean opposition between Foucault and Marx, proffered both by Foucault (and his followers) and students of Marx (2002, p. 259). But, while Macdonalds attempt at rapprochement will argue that Marx haunts the discursive articulations associated with Foucaults work (2002, p. 259), and sketch the possibility of a genealogical Marxism of which the early Negri might be an example, I remain unconvinced by his notion of haunting, which to my mind allows for articulations that lack real substance, pun intended. I might also observe that the notion of haunting, if it is to be critical, must imply a threat: the spectre of communism is haunting Europe; otherwise it is mere rhetoric. My own approach to this MarxFoucault problematic is to make the more straightforward argument that Foucault be apprehended as someone who extends Marxs project in ways that can only be dismissed at the expense of a truly critical practice, which must be the foundation of any theoretical endeavour worth pursuing. My claim in what follows is that Foucault, while perhaps an anti-Marxist, is decidedly not antiMarx, and rather than being understood as a foe of the serious and fundamentally necessary ongoing elaboration of the critique of capitalism founded by Marx, he might better be understood as its necessary radicalization. Meanwhile, with respect to initial disclosure, I should say that in terms of first impressions, my sympathies lie with the Marxists. In other words, rather than recuperate Marx for Foucault, I am much more interested in reconciling Foucault with Marx; or better yet, I want to appropriate Foucault, not to neuter him but to put him to work on the project of not only understanding but changing this world of course, for the better. Towards this end, we might begin with what to me seems to be a basic misunderstanding of the notion of play. It is common enough to see those who I call the Foucauldians and others overly influenced by the more popular formulations of post-modern theory produce work that with regard to intellectual labour seems slightly frivolous. The key misunderstanding of such work is to take the notion of play as a reference to frivolity, amusement, a game, rather than to apprehend the idea in terms of the sort of play one would invoke when speaking of a wheel that revolves a bit loosely around its axle: This wheels got some play in it.

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The notion of play in other words, does not authorize playful i.e. frivolous, amusing readings; it ought not empower an anything goes approach to the hermeneutics and apprehension of the social. Even if we want to think of what we do as a game, we ought not overlook the fact that it is a game with stakes. As such, I would think that to take play seriously implies that in our analyses, in our attempts to understand practices, signs, deployments, discipline, ideology, discourse, of our or any conjuncture, we must be sensitive to their multi-valency without giving way to the idea that they are infinitely valent. Again, when there is play in a mechanism, e.g. in a joint, in the tracking of a wheel, there is room for deviation. But, to continue with the example of the wheel, the play is limited; the wheel more or less follows its track. And while I am not suggesting that a society revolves around an axle (I would argue on prima facie evidence, however, that it more or less is continuous with itself, as if there were something keeping it more or less on track) I do suggest that this understanding of play allows us to appreciate the possibility of something like significant social change; for if the play of the wheel is allowed to run its course without the bearings of the wheel being realigned, eventually it will spin off its axle, and what happens then is anybodys guess. To transfer the metaphor back to the terrain of social theory, if the ideologies, discourses and practices that ground society are not controlled and extended, if the relations of production are not themselves successfully reproduced, if hegemony is not continually re-articulated around a basic class divide, then the social itself becomes unpredictable, its continuity interrupted, allowing for the emergence of something new and different. Whether for the better of the worse will remain to be seen. The Marxists, unfortunately (and please remember that I am using the terms Marxist and Foucauldian for want of imagination on my part. I do not mean to say that all Marxists are this way, and all Foucauldians that, but I still believe that most folks involved in our line of work will recognize, grosso modo, the basic contours of what I am talking about), have in turn overreacted to what they perceive as frivolity on the part of Foucauldians, to what they perceive as a resignation before the ongoing challenges of the long revolution, as an unforgivable apathy before the ever greater numbers of the wretched of the earth. In short, by dint of a cursory familiarity with some slight sample of his anemic epigones, Marxists have written off the work of Foucault himself. This is a mistake. Indeed, I would argue that critical theoretical practice needs to engage both Marxism and Foucauldianism, or rather, Marx and Foucault, i.e. less both traditions than both thinkers. In what follows I want to first reflect on what might have caused the rift among critical practitioners, on why there seems to be a palpable enmity between the Marxists and the Foucauldians. Second, I want to expose the ill-foundedness of this enmity by demonstrating real points of convergence and complementarity between Marx and Foucault, and finally I want to argue for the necessity of both Marx and

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Foucault in any social and cultural analysis which must question the analytical capacities of notions like ideology, hegemony and legitimation in the reproduction of capitalism, while also grappling with the embodiedness of domination under capitalism, that is, in any Cultural Studies programme up to the task. As an arbitrary starting point we might take Foucaults Discourse on Language (1972), his inaugural speech upon taking his chair in the College de France. In this text, we can locate a wholly logical explanation for the putative cleavage between Marxism and Foucauldianism. In that lecture, Foucault remarks first on the necessity to control discourse, since its materiality, allowed to proliferate out of control, would preclude the continuity of any particular society and its various regimes of power. What this means is that, given an uncontrolled situation, what critical theorists like Herbert Marcuse used to refer to as the historical alternatives which haunt established society, might find discursive articulation and thus constitute material subversive tendencies and forces (1968, p. xixii). Hence the necessity for control. The rest of Foucaults lecture is then concerned with expounding on the various ways this control is achieved. Procedures of control internal to discourse itself include commentary the art of saying what was already said, as if now for the first time and the author which consists in containing the heterogeneity of any given individuals work by constantly referring it back to a fixed point, the author; a further procedure internal to discourse through which it is controlled is by subjecting it to academic disciplinarity. Any such discipline, says Foucault, is defined by a domain of objects, a set of methods, a corpus of propositions considered to be true (1972, p. 222). To be heard one must cleave to the presuppositions of the discipline in question, but Foucault, in his analysis of the social, chooses to ignore the objects (reified notions of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, relations of production), the methods (historical or dialectical materialism) and the propositions (the revolution is inevitable, among others) of Marxist discourse, of what we might call the discipline of Marxism. He is therefore excluded, as he excludes himself, from the Marxist tradition, and thus his work is constituted as something other to Marxism, as something other to social theory proper or at least it appears to be so, from the point of view of the Marxists. While Foucault is speaking abstractly in the inaugural lecture, he develops the point with specific reference to his work and Marxist discourse in the interview Truth and Power (1980a). There he reflects on the reception of his book The Birth of the Clinic (1975) by those whom he refers to as the Marxist intellectuals in France, a reception characterized somewhat less by piqued interest than raised hackles. According to Foucault, his failure to interest his supposedly anti-establishment peers had to do with the fact that the questions that interested them were the same ones that interested the bourgeois academic establishment. They the Marxist intellectuals were, that is, but aping the establishment even as they professed their opposition to it and thus,

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given that Foucaults questions fell beyond the purview of the establishment, they fell, too, beyond the purview of Marxism. A second reason for the distance between Foucault and the Marxists has to do with the general situation in which Marxist doxa had become, well, doxa, ossified, excluding [. . .] everything that wasnt a frightened repetition of the already said (1980a, p. 110). Foucaults interrogation in the book of the notion of science, which the Marxist tradition had tended to valorize without question since Marx and Engels themselves were writing, thus fell on deaf ears. Finally, a third possible reason for the antipathy between the two camps, to which we can attribute the raised hackles, is Foucaults focus on the political uses of internment in The Birth of the Clinic. The French Communist Party apparently feared that his analyses of the dependence of the development of bourgeois freedom on a complementary extension of unfreedom, might serve as the basis for questioning the so-called advances of proletarian freedom in the Soviet Union, which to sustain itself seemed to depend on a similar tactic. Indirectly, in other words, Foucault was exposing a source of significant embarrassment for Marxist intellectuals closely aligned with the defence of the workers state and he had therefore to be both ignored and discredited. Since then there has been little in the way of rapprochement, and the hostility of one camp to the other seems to have bred only further mutual hostility. For just one example of a criticism from the camp that would avow in no uncertain terms its Marxist identity, we have the following, taken from the first chapter, Literary Theory and Third World Literature: Some Contexts, of Aijaz Ahmads book, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (1992). There Ahmad (And before I go any further I should point out that this is not in any way meant to constitute full-blown, or even partially-blown, critique of this writers general position or clear political commitments. By which I mean to acknowledge the fact that if thinking and writing are more than mere preaching, if they are in fact practice, then Ahmad is one of the all too few academics who actually practices what he practices.) writes balefully of the drift in literary theory towards something like conversation, wherein, scandalously, it is not uncommon to find, say, Gramsci and Mathew Arnold being cited in favour of the same theoretical position (1992, p. 71). This outrage, it is said, has something to do with the general acceptance of the more extreme versions of the Foucauldian propositions (a) that whatever claims to be a fact is none other than a truth-effect produced by the ruse of discourse, and (b) that whatever claims to resist Power is already constituted as Power (1992, p. 70; emphasis in original). Thus, he continues, there really is nothing for Theory to do except to wander aimlessly through the effects counting them, consuming them, producing them and in the process submitting to the interminable whisperings of Discourse, both as Origin and as Fate (1992, p. 70). What Ahmad does here is mistakenly conflate fact and truth-effect, as if something like the fact of gravity could somehow be construed, by way of

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various Foucauldian manoeuvres, as a mere truth-effect. But indulging the confusion for a moment, it should be clear that while a fact may well be a fact that does not mean that it functions as truth. It may well be a fact that thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their lands with the inauguration of the state of Israel, that those who werent displaced live under occupation (or it may not; apparently it depends upon who you read and who you believe), but that fact does not seem to function as truth neither in the dominant bloc of Israeli nor US political spheres (although it does function as truth in anti-Israel discourse). In either case, however, the point is that truth does not obviate politics and struggle, but is their point of departure, as people fight not for what is true but what they believe to be true. As for what resists Power already being constituted as Power, this is again something of a misreading. By Power would be the appropriate and faithful formulation, and as such, the statement stands. The working class is but the most obvious example of this in Marxs Marxist theory: it is the class which is supposed to resist the power of capitalist social relations while these are the very relations by and through which the working class is of course constituted. In any event, power in Foucauldian usage cannot be resisted. Domination and authority certainly, particular relations of power, no doubt. But power as such? It would be like resisting oxygen. Power itself is what makes both domination and resistance possible. Finally, the last part of the cited passage, about aimless wandering, may well describe what many theorists do, but it hardly can be blamed on Foucauldian propositions, even in their most extreme form, while the strained poesy about whisperings, Discourse, Origin and Fate cannot be taken seriously as a reference to Foucault in any critical sense. This text (at least) suggests perhaps the possibility that Ahmads only familiarity with Foucaults thought is at best via a secondary or even tertiary commentator, and a poorly informed one at that. Teresa L. Ebert provides us with a greater example of Marxist hostility in the preface to her Ludic Feminism and after (1996), where she refers without qualification to the anti-Marxist writings of Michel Foucault (1996, p. ix). Like Ahmad, she does not appear to read Foucault but, following the Eagleton move of assuming his work has constituted itself as un-critical theory beyond her text, simply blames him for what she diagnoses as the political deracination of feminism, which has turned from a political economic critique of womans labour to textual critique and the care of the self (1996, p. x). Against Foucauldian reaction Ebert will insist, again without qualification, that Marxism is . . . a revolutionary theory and praxis devoted to the very real historical struggles to emancipate all people from exploitative relations of production and the unequal divisions of labor, property, power, and privilege these produce (1996, p. xi). At which one can only wonder why the Chinese dont seem to understand. Saying it is so does not make it so. This hostility, in any event, needs some unpacking. Mistaking Foucaults own hostility towards Marxism for a hostility towards Marx, tout court, this

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latters latter-day interpreters and epigones have attacked, as it were, the message, that is, Foucault, with whom they seem to have carried on little intercourse. Meanwhile, Foucaults own supposedly faithful have imbibed his anti-Marxism while remaining ignorant of his essentially sympathetic relation to key moments in Marxs corpus. If both sides, however, were to do a little more reading, they would find not grounds for opposition but the basis for rethinking the relation between the two thinkers as one of convergence, complementarity and even elucidation. I want now to move on to the argument that the differences between Marx and Foucault are mainly polemical and moreover, mostly real only in the minds of their disciples. We might start with the relations of production. The fact that Foucault is unhesitant in referring to the rise of capitalism and deploying terms like the working class and the bourgeoisie in books as dissimilar as Discipline and Punish (1977) and The History of Sexuality (1978) suggests that the notion that thinkers like Foucault entirely reject the typical Marxist valorization of the economic needs to be revised, even overhauled. In much the same way that post-Foucauldian thinkers like Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (I am thinking specifically of their most noted work, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy [2001]) purport to have moved social theory beyond its fixation on the economy, while in their book nonetheless characterizing societies according, precisely, to their relative degree of economic advancement or underdevelopment, Foucault himself makes constant recourse to the emergence of capitalism, to the development of capitalist society, as he develops his history of, if you like, discourses. In his chapter in The Order of Things (1970) on the human sciences we learn that these last are in fact provoked by conditions set in motion by a burgeoning capitalism, which is not, of course, a terribly un-Marxist idea. Staying with that relatively early book, lets consider this great though to some mystifying passage which occurs towards the books conclusion: To all those who still wish to talk about man, about his reign or his liberation, to all those who still ask themselves questions about what man is in his essence, to all those who wish to take him as their starting point in their attempts to reach the truth, to all those who, on the other hand, refer all knowledge back to the truths of man himself, to all those who refuse to formalize without anthropologizing, who refuse to mythologize without demystifying, who refuse to think without immediately thinking that it is man who is thinking, to all these warped and twisted forms of reflection we can only answer with a philosophical laugh which means, to a certain extent, a silent one. (1970, p. 342343) This passage, surely, takes us to the heart of Foucaults ostensible antihumanism and his anti-Marxism. How could he find the idea of mans

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liberation risible? How could he imagine the search for the truth of mans essence worthy of scorn? If it is not man that is thinking, then who is thinking? One wonders if Foucault is thinking! The parties that represent the working class, or the people, these parties are surely concerned with mans liberation and yet Foucault laughs, and one should add, hardly in silence! Their premises are premises formulated on a supposed understanding of mans essence, his core, on the understanding that his nature is oppressed, that his true being is repressed, that this society, that all society to-date has weighed him down, albeit in dialectical ways that allow some of that essence to come to the fore as potential. And Foucault can but sneer! Such a passage, however, should not really be read as an affront to revolutionary ideals, a capitulation to conservative reaction. In fact, I would argue that it owes something to that old Marxist notion that material reality gives rise to and to some degree determines in the sense not of mechanical causality but in terms of setting the limits of possibility both what is practically and intellectually possible. Discourse, one of the key concepts associated with Foucault, will count here as a major component of the material, and thus we merely find ourselves faced with the again not too terribly un-Marxist idea that there is little that we can say about man in transhistorical terms, in terms of what might count as his final liberation, as his essence, as his proper dominion. Rather, a better bet is to look at the fields of force, of discourse, the context, history and thus perhaps be able to understand why this animal which we call man is like he is, isnt like he isnt, and this, in any given conjuncture, in multiple and variable forms. But leaving this aside, Marx had already argued in the Introduction to the Grundrisse (1973) that man, the starting point of bourgeois political economy was but, in Richard Marsdens words, the product of the dissolution of feudalism and the development of new forms of production (1999, p. 92). It is worth pondering: what else would communism imply if not the end of man as we have come to understand him in the last two or three hundred years; if not, in a word, his death? Nor would the two thinkers in question fall out over the basic characteristic of the modern social formation: struggle. For Marx (and of course Engels), as ought to be ever so well known: The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles: Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. (1977, p. 222)

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What better recapitulation and clarification of this idea than that by Foucault who, as should also be well known, inverts Clausewitz to argue that politics is but war by other means. What this amounts to, as we see both in the interview Truth and Power (Foucault 1980a) and in the Two Lectures (Foucault 1980b), is the proposition that society is to be construed as an agglomeration of strategies and tactics, as but the theatre of an unspoken warfare which is waged in and through its institutions, its economic inequalities, which is inscribed in language [and] in the bodies themselves of each and everyone of us (Foucault 1980b, p. 90). There is no dearth of such inscription in this modern world. Modern social relations are not thought but felt, they are not of consciousness but of physicality. While certain individuals and certain social groups might be motivated according to greed, desire for resources, etc., many, most, millions of other people who participate in social relationships find their motivation elsewhere. Dreams of world domination, of securing our oil albeit under their sand, of hostilely taking over that corporation, are for better or worse (most likely for better), beyond them. But immediate concerns of status, of securing a bit more disposable income, of getting laid or drunk or high, of just not feeling miserable, well, these too are motivations, motivations that perhaps count for much more in explaining how it all works than grand theories of interest. They are, if we can allow that the division holds up, more of the body than the mind. Thus the need to register the fact of domination inscribed on bodies, manifest in actual practice that conflicts with knowledge about what is really going on. Domination, society as the imposition and extension of relations of war, is the outstanding factor in understanding the reproduction of social, political, general inequality. Domination refers to the all-too-often unremarked moment of hegemony not leadership, which everyone talks about as if everyone consented good-naturedly to their misery but rule, a rule which is always exercised only over the (always?) already defeated. Thus the need for Foucault. Not the Foucault of a frivolous and ludic postmodernism, but the Foucault who reckoned with, and demanded that we reckon with, the multiple processes by which violence and domination become social, civilized, cultural and at the same time natural, become unremarkable and thus facilitate the reproduction of structures of domination otherwise know as societies, countries, nations. (Colombia serves here as a perfect example of a social formation in which violence has undergone culturalization, but in a more extreme sense than that of, for example, the US. While Colombia enjoys formal democracy and a version of due process, the fact of the matter is that the population is resigned to the influence of violence in deciding not only elections, but the contours of daily life, and has, in practical terms, made its peace with violence, adopting violence as a feature of national identity.) It may seem that Ive overstated the argument for Foucault. Perhaps more than radicalize some of Marxs insights, might the case not be that Foucault has superseded Marx, essentially rendered his work obsolete? That would be the

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case, were it not for the fact the domination that I am talking about is not inherent to some ineluctable human condition. To suggest otherwise would be to entrap oneself in the redoubt of essences: theoretically and practically unacceptable, anathema to the critical practice of both Foucault and Marx. Whence it cometh, then, this domination? In his book The Nature of Capital: Marx after Foucault (1999), Richard Marsden reads Marx and Foucault together to outline the basic component of modern social relations: capital. In the course of his argument Marsden will discount the very existence of the labour theory of value while making the case for the law of value the imperative of ever-greater efficiency and productivity as that which makes capital, as it were, move. Efficiency and productivity may be improved at any number of steps in the basic circuit of capital, but the key location for increased value is the labour process. As a variable and major cost the labour process must, according to the law of value, be organized not against capital (as the syndicalists might have it) but to facilitate its circulation and growth. But Marx, Marsden complains, nowhere gives an adequate account of how this organization is achieved. Marx explains the necessity for capitalist control, to unify workers into a productive body or force, but he does not explain the means whereby it is accomplished (1999, p. 145). It is in Foucaults Discipline and Punish (1977) that we can find this missing explanation. What Foucault describes in that book is the process by which the human body is disaggregated and converted into a social force of production through the application of discipline. Disciplinary power makes labour more productive: it realizes the imperative of the law of value, but not only that. Disciplinary power the disaggregation of the body and its movement into so many bits and pieces is at one and the same time the mode by which the potential productivity of the social is realized and by which the individual is practically de- then re-composed under the form of domination. This domination is not in opposition to some ideal form of freedom; it is not in opposition to anything. Rather it is the practical result of succumbing to the imperative of the law of value, premised on property and essential to the accumulation of capital. This domination is in other words a necessary result of social subjection to what Marx would call alien powers. One of the criticisms put to those who are known as vulgar Marxists, those for whom capital is the answer to everything, is the question, but how? How can capitalism cause this, or that? One of Marsdens achievements in his book is to use Foucault, primarily his Discipline and Punish (1977), to show exactly and in detail how the basic social relation that is capital produces the domination that characterizes modern labouring societies. Additionally, Marsden points out that the famous conflict between forces and relations of production is not a conflict between technological development and social relations, but between the ever increasing productivity of the non-owners which is a force of production and the fact that their productivity is

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appropriated by the owners. It is a conflict, that is to say, between people and people, or, in a word, a social conflict. Of that division or difference or clash of identities, of that cleavage between those who have too much and those who have too little, of that which, indeed, so vexed Marx, we cannot lose sight. Unfortunately this seems to be an error that critics whom I have referred to as, again, for want of imagination, Foucauldians, have made, in so far as they leave behind the idea that it is a social relationship structured on a binary opposition owner/non-owner that cannot be deconstructed under our current social conditions, that has impelled us to where we are today. And it bears repeating that while the state did not institute this social relationship, it was itself instituted to enforce it. This basic undeconstructible binary relationship owner/non-owner does not issue from the state. To the contrary, as both Foucault and Marx argue, the state was instituted after the fact, to enforce it. In his essay The Subject and Power (1984), Foucault writes that the major theme of his work has been, not power, but the various modes of subject formation, the processes by and through which individuals become subjects. One could say that modernity an epoch to which we are still subject, despite all the futile ink and energy expended on the claims and counterclaims of post-modern discourse is to be understood as the complex of the various modes of subject formation that are, crucially, mediated in one way or another by the state. This state has a fundamental presupposition, the division between owners and nonowners, and while it does not create subjects from whole cloth, they do, as it were, pass through the state, and thus become more substantial as they are made real by laws and the like. Given the fact that subjects are formed between, as it were, civil society and the state, Foucault proposes that the political, ethical, social, philosophical problem of our days is not to try to liberate the individual from the state and from the states institutions but to liberate us both from the state and from the type of individualization which is linked to the state. We have to promote new forms of subjectivity through the refusal of this kind of individuality which has been imposed on us for several centuries (1984, p. 424). The individuality that has been imposed on us for several centuries has an end point: domination. Objectified as subjects by a ceaseless array of practices and discourses, the political and personal task is one of refusal. I would argue in closing that this refusal shares something with, is perhaps the echo of Marxs giddy speculations about the possibilities of post-revolutionary subjectivity, wherein one might fish now, hunt then, philosophize later. Or more concretely, how far is Foucaults insistence on the need for new kinds of as yet unknowable subjectivity from the injunction laid down by Marx and Engels at the close of the Communist Manifesto: Working men of all lands unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains? The failure of that call can be ascribed to many things, chief among them the unbridled violence of the various national bourgeoisies in response to worker politics, but some blame must be laid at the feet of objects/subjects who,

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dominated, wanted to be who they were, who wanted to be and this is the great irony workers; who didnt want, in other words, to lose their chains, so familiar, and explore the terror of refusal; who didnt want, as Zizek (1993) might say, to tarry with the negative. Understanding the fundamental moment of domination in its permeation of the social, as an absolutely debilitating form of individualization, allows us to conceive the possibility of something better in so far as it brings us closer to apprehending what we are and therefore what with the eleventh thesis in mind to change, we must refuse to be.
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Acknowledgements
A very early version of a part of this paper was delivered at the Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, 79 October 2004. I would like to thank the Association for making my participation possible. For instructive comments on a draft version, I thank Misha Kokotovic. Notes on contributor Gregory Lobo received his PhD in Literature from the University of California, San Diego, in 2002, after which he took a position at the Universidad de los Andes, in Bogota, Colombia, to help build the department with which he was affiliated, the departamento de lenguajes y estudios socioculturales, and design the departments MA in Estudios Culturales. Winner of the equivalent of a National Science Foundation financial award to investigate nation discourse in Colombia, Lobo has published articles and chapters in academic journals and books, and most notably, in 2009, Colombia: algo diferente de una nacion (Colombia: Something other than a Nation). He is currently working on a study of hegemony in Colombia, 20022008, and more generally on left-liberal political culture and its adversaries.

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