The lecture I presented at the Critical Theory Workshop’s Summer Program in Paris is now available here on the CTW’s website. It is entitled “Toward a Counter-History of French Theory,” and it took place on July 15, 2019.
This seminar will elucidate the fundamental tenets of Marx’s philosophy, as well as their importance for understanding and transforming the contemporary world order. It will begin by explaining key concepts like historical materialism, class struggle, alienation, the labor theory of value, ideology and revolution. It will then briefly discuss a few of the important debates in the deep and broad history of Marxism in order to explore some of the ways that Marx’s work has been interpreted and transformed by subsequent generations. Finally, the course will focus in on what Marxist analysis has to contribute to contemporary debates and struggles by demonstrating how it can help us understand phenomena such as the environmental catastrophe, the increasing social inequality of globalization, the carceral state and its relationship to electoral democracy, the military-industrial-academic complex, institutional racism and gender inequality. Although the course will be directed at a lay audience, it will pedagogically build up its analysis in such a way that it will also serve the interests of those with a working knowledge of Marx and Marxism.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to present an abbreviated version of one of my forthcoming articles at the University of Shanghai on October 13, 2019. The title and abstract are below.
The Myth of ’68 Thought: Historical Commodity Fetishism and Ideological Rollback
This paper critically examines the widespread assumption that there is such a profound connection between French theory and the political events of 68 that the former merits the title of ‘68 thought.’ It begins by a materialist analysis of the historical relationship between the most prominent representatives of French theory—ranging from Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida to Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Lacan—and the actual political events unfolding at the time. After demonstrating their distance from the major political mobilizations, which often included an overt rejection of them, the paper turns to the larger cultural question of the ways in which the myth of 68 thought was produced, as well as to the issue of its social function in the global theory industry. It is in this light that it proposes an analysis of the historical commodity fetichism around 68, before concluding with a critical assessment of how the presumed radicality of “68 thinkers” serves to police the left border of critique.
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to present my research on a counter-history of liberalism and fascism at this conference at UC Santa Cruz on October 10th and 11th:
I’m excited to have the opportunity to participate in this event organized by Michael Lardner for the Marxist Education Project.