Chris Hedges me entrevistó para su programa de televisión “On Contact,” y la transcripción ha sido traducida al español: “La clase capitalista estadounidense financió el ascenso del fascismo.”
I was very honored and pleased to participate in this dialogue with Diana Wechsler and Leandro Martínez Depietri for BIENALSUR 2021. One of the central points of discussion is the role of culture in class struggle. Drawing on the work I’ve been doing with Jennifer Ponce de León for our current book project, I distinguished between the aesthetics of power–meaning the diverse ways in which the power elite creates an image of itself, and how this image serves its class interests–and the power of aesthetics to both diagnose the various uses of culture as a weapon for the ruling class and channel an alternative world of sense making. All Power to the Creative Labor Power of the People!
“El imaginario dominante dentro de la coyuntura neoliberal es reductivista, determinista, teleológico y trata de convencernos de que la historia es inevitable y que lo único que podemos hacer es seguir las consecuencias… La contra-historia es un intento de transformar metodológicamente nuestras herramientas de comprensión histórica para tener una aprehensión diferente del orden mundial contemporáneo”, dice el filósofo, crítico cultural y activista Gabriel Rockhill (FRA/USA), con quien BIENALSUR inaugura un ciclo de conversaciones íntimas, de puesta en foco de ideas y pensamientos. Rockhill estudió con algunas de las voces más sobresalientes de la filosofía francesa, incluyendo a Derrida, Irigaray, Balibar y Badiou. Es profesor de filosofía en la Universidad de Villanova y director fundador del Critical Theory Workshop y conocido por sus revolucionarios trabajos sobre historia, estética y política publicados en nueve libros y numerosos artículos, una obra cuya primera compilación en español será publicada por la Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero en 2021 a través de un número especial de la revista Estudios Curatoriales.
“The dominant imaginary within the neoliberal conjuncture is reductivist, deterministic, teleological and tries to convince us that history is inevitable and that the only thing we can do is to follow the consequences… Counter-history is an attempt to methodologically transform our tools of historical understanding to have a different apprehension of the contemporary world order”, says philosopher, cultural critic and activist Gabriel Rockhill (FRA/USA), with whom BIENALSUR inaugurates a cycle of intimate conversations and focused debatesRockhill studied with some of the leading luminaries of French theory, including Derrida, Irigaray, Balibar and Badiou. He is Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and Founding Director of the Critical Theory Workshop being known for his revolutionary works on history, aesthetics and politics published in nine books and numerous articles, a work whose first compilation in Spanish will be published by UNTREF in 2021 through a special issue of the journal Estudios Curatoriales.
Description: “Fascism seems to have risen up zombie-like from the past, but philosopher and political theorist Gabriel Rockhill argues that it’s been with us all along.
Today on the show, Allen traces a counter-history of fascism—including its relationships to liberalism, capitalism, and colonialism and how we understand/misunderstand its role in the U.S.—with Gabriel Rockhill.”
France’s Strike: Another Symptom of Neoliberalism’s Legitimation Crisis
France’s public sector strike against pension reform is in its seventh week, the most serious such strike in French history. It fits very well in the context of the global revolt against neoliberalism, says Prof. Gabriel Rockhill.
I was interviewed by Jennifer Ponce de León about my book Counter-History of the Present, and how it relates to genealogy, deconstruction and anticolonial theory. Click here for a link to the interview, and here for a pdf. The title of the interview is “Materialist Deconstruction, Anticolonial Geographies, and the Limits of Genealogy: An Interview on Counter-History of the Present.”
In this wide-ranging interview, Gabriel Rockhill discusses his most recent book, Counter-History of the Present, in the broader context of his research to date on aesthetics, politics and history, as well as its relationship to important interlocutors like Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière, Jacques Derrida, Frantz Fanon and Simone de Beauvoir. He explains the similarities and important differences between genealogy and counter-history, and he elucidates how his work performs a materialist deconstruction that contests the idealist logocentrism operative in purely textualist modes of interpretation. The interview also develops an account of “radical geography” that calls into question culturalist spatial imaginaries, which plague certain forms of decolonial theory that diminish or efface social stratification and class conflict. The discussion thereby contributes to the development of a new model for critical social theory with an internationalist perspective, which seeks to weave these conceptual innovations into a rigorous and radical materialism.
I was honored to be invited by C.S. Soong on KPFA’s “Against the Grain” to discuss my publications on the Yellow Vests. Click here to listen to or download the episode, which can also be listened to here:
Here is the description of the interview online:
Yellow Vest Realities and Reactions
The Yellow Vests have shaken the French political establishment to its core. What are the protesters’ grievances, and how has the uprising been viewed by intellectuals on the left? Gabriel Rockhill describes and assesses the Yellow Vests movement, the Macron regime’s reaction to it, and the French intelligentsia’s opinions of it.
Gabriel Rockhill, “The Failure of the French Intelligentsia? Intellectuals and Uprisings in the Case of the Yellow Vests” The Philosophical Salon
Gabriel Rockhill, “Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests” CounterPunch
Étienne Dolet and the Radical Education Department, “Ten Lessons from the Yellow Vests” It’s Going Down
I was pleased to be able to contribute to Ty Joplin’s excellent article on the Yellow Vests, which elucidates how the media spectacle around “violence” has obscured class struggle.
Excerpt: “Instead of taking activists seriously and discussing their demands for greater equality, thereby informing the public about what is actually at stake, the media construct an enormous spectacle out of ‘violence’ in order to present the movement as savage, irrational, and intent on destroying the very foundations of society,” Gabriel Rockhill, an Associate Professor of philosophy at Villanova University who also runs the Critical Theory Workshop in Paris, told Al Bawaba.
“Moreover, the production of this spectacle of violence also serves as cover for the greatest purveyor of violence in France today: the capitalist state and its repressive apparatus.”
Along with an impressive list of others scholars, I was asked to participate in State of Nature‘s one question interview on the remembrance of 1968. Please find my response below, and click here to read all of the replies.
1968 was a year of global insurrections that arose like a tidal wave out of the vast and profound historical ocean that is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politics. Far from being circumscribed in a delimited period of time or cordoned off in specific spaces, it is thus best understood as a symbolic high water mark for insurgent revolutionary politics in the post-war era.
The remembrance of 1968 should be first and foremost a rejuvenation and radicalization. Rather than indulging in the time-honoured burial rituals of commemoration, by which an event only takes on its full meaning by endlessly restaging its public inhumation, we should recognize that 1968 is only what it will have become in its future perfect iterations. By rejuvenating and radicalizing what it stands for, its history can literally come back to life by being rewritten as a preliminary step in a global insurrection in the name of an egalitarian politics of liberation. We can thereby honour the past by radically transforming its very meaning and place in history.
Such active historical resuscitation, in which it is recognized that the past is only truly alive in the future that it will have become, can also serve as an antidote to the rampant mythologisation surrounding 1968. For, in engaging with this historical legacy and learning from its material struggles, we can also pry it loose from its rote interpretations.
To take but one example that is particularly philosophically salient, the myth of the ‘thinkers of 68’ is in dire need of correction. On the one hand, many of the intellectuals who were actually directly involved in preparing or acting in it – including Henri Lefebvre, Cornelius Castoriadis and Guy Debord – have been side-lined or excluded from the transnational, blockbuster phenomenon known as ‘French theory.’ On the other hand, those who were not involved or openly critical of it – such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan – are frequently marketed under its banner. This signals the need for not only a rejuvenation and radicalization of the politics of ‘68, but also of the traditions of truly radical critique that directly contributed to it.
KPFA’s “Against the Grain” re-aired C.S. Soong’s interview with me regarding my most recent book, and in particular the final chapter on the value-concept of democracy. Click here to either listen to the interview online or download it. Here is the description of the discussion:
“Is ‘Democracy’ a Distraction?”
In the face of the contemporary infatuation with democracy in the West, what should the left do with a term and a concept often used to mask injustices and inequities? Gabriel Rockhill discusses some of the key conjunctures in the history of democracy; he also asserts that a focus on democracy may actually distract us from the task of building a just society.
Gabriel Rockhill, Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy Duke University Press, 2017.