8th May, 2021
By Asad Haider
Maurice Blanchot wrote in a tribute to his friend Georges Bataille, a decade after his death, that friendship “does not allow us to speak of our friends, but only to speak to them.”1 Chris Chitty was my friend. As I read his posthumous book Sexual Hegemony, which comes to me in his absence, I cannot help but speak to him. And I have tried to remember when we spoke to each other, as he passed the time he was given on earth. A life leaves traces after its end, but most elude our grasp. With my own passage of time, I have come to think they become the warp and weft of memory and loss which weave the fabric of a life that continues.
As I tried to access these memories, I had to pose myself the question of whether to review the writing that had been exchanged between us. Initially I decided that I would deliberately leave these traces unseen, and unthought. Yet I eventually found myself combing through every trace that remained. I expected mainly to find vigorous intellectual exchanges. Certainly, I found those. But I also learned that, in the strange operations of the unconscious, the psychic toll of his last days and death had suppressed memories of the time we had spent together, which was much more than I remembered, and the genuine intimacy and conviviality between us. I was reminded, too, of his political interventions, which in writing consisted primarily of commentaries and proposals regarding university austerity and the labor conditions of instructors. I found no record of the discussions between us that arose in the moments of eruption, when early mornings were spent on picket lines and buildings were occupied, or the rest and refuge we took in his apartment after long nights on the streets, as we set off together on the arduous and aleatory path of the movement.
We met as graduate students in History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, both interested in Marxism and both interested in the work of Michel Foucault. Unlike many others, we viewed the encounter between Marx and Foucault not as an antagonistic confrontation, but as a kind of swerve which made a world. I approached Foucault as one instance of the broader French intellectual and political scene of the 60s and 70s, and it was primarily through French Marxism that I staged the encounter, in which questions of method and politics were transversally posed. Chris had deeply absorbed himself in Foucault’s work itself, and moved through it into dialogue with Marxism on the division of labor, technology, political economy, the family, and the state.
Engaged in a polemic against the anti-Marxist sectarianism of depoliticised academic “Foucauldians,” while, at the same time, trying to demonstrate to Marxists that Foucault had made a singular contribution which could not be dismissed from the vantage point of a fictive Marxist orthodoxy, Chris already had his work cut out for him. But he also sought to follow the example of Foucault rather than simply commenting on him or “applying” his theories, and this meant conducting fine-grained research into changing power relations in the transition to capitalism, as Foucault explicitly saw himself doing since History of Madness.2
When dealing with a certain kind of Marxism, this presented methodological ambiguities, which Foucault himself had wryly noted. Those who, like Jean-Paul Sartre, accused Foucault of the “refusal of history” seemed never to have set foot in an archive.3 Closer to the Marx who sat on his carbuncles in the British Museum was Foucault, who from the very beginning wrote History of Madness immersed in the “slightly dusty archives of pain.”4 In the Marxian register captivated by the idea of history, yet unburdened by historical research, the microscopic detail typical of Foucault’s practices of archaeology and genealogy could become little more than evidence for causal historical claims guaranteed in advance by a general theory, necessary expressions of a predetermined historical totality.
The task Chris set for himself was to write about Foucault, and to write about Marxism, and, from this overlapping conceptual standpoint, enter into the archive to write a different kind of history of homosexuality. I had the fortune of many discussions with Chris on the broad contours of his project; in one memorable case, he told me about his research into the history of homosocial male spaces as we changed clothes in the men’s locker room of the UCSC gym.
The publication of the first volume of the History of Sexuality in 1976 inspired countless attempts to formulate a theory of the modern constitution of homosexuality. The difficulty of this task is perhaps best illustrated by none other than Foucault himself, who immediately entered into a year of apparent intellectual silence. He returned with a marked change in his approach, and would not publish another book until just before his death in 1984: the second and third volumes of The History of Sexuality, which abruptly turned the reader to a study of ethics, truth, and the self in antiquity, and announced a shift from the analysis of power to the analysis of “the subject.”5 It was the very category he had ruthlessly criticised for decades – another axis of dispute with Sartre – but which he now sought to rethink in an entirely novel way. As we will see, Chris had profound insights into these developments in Foucault’s thought.
There are many reasons why projects remain unfinished. I have the impression from my discussions with him that the scale and ambition of Chris’s project demanded a series of studies, beyond the scope of a single dissertation. But there is something constitutive about incompleteness, as the examples of both Marx and Foucault attest. As Blanchot put it in “The Absence of the Book”: “To write is to produce the absence of work.”6
In his first great book, Foucault used the phrase “absence of work” as the definition of “madness.” It is likely he was recalling a figure almost lost to history: Jacques Martin, who, along with Louis Althusser, formed Foucault’s closest circle of friends at the École normale supérieure in the late 40s. In History of Madness, the absence of work was also a theory of history itself: of that which is rejected by a civilisation as useless and unintelligible, and thus makes history meaningful by constituting its limits. For Foucault, the production of the categories of madness and homosexuality rended the dialectic of history; Martin’s experience was located at both of these limits. Unable to write, Martin called himself a “philosopher without work,” a label he realised by destroying his own papers. Facing the prospect of a lifetime of confinement, Martin’s struggle culminated in his tragic suicide.7
Thanks to the publication of Sexual Hegemony, Chris Chitty is not a philosopher without work. But it is the absence of work which I am unable to forget: not only everything he did not manage to write, every conversation we never ended up having, but also the question of history and its limits which pervades the traces he left.
In another moving tribute, Blanchot wrote that “friendship was perhaps promised to Foucault as a posthumous gift.” He said: “In bearing witness to a work demanding study (unprejudiced reading) rather than praise, I believe I am remaining faithful, however awkwardly, to the intellectual friendship that his death, so painful for me, today allows me to declare to him.”8 It is this Foucault who, in his investigation of truth-telling in his final years, will make note of “the obligation to be frank with one's friends.”9 My faithfulness to this friendship is to speak now to Chris Chitty, and to speak frankly, as a matter of ethics, in tribute to his own thinking of and as the subject of truth. And, so, I turn first to my own archives.
I found exchanges with Chitty in 2012 revolving around his translation of Foucault’s 1976 lecture “The Mesh of Power,” which he published in Viewpoint along with a detailed and original commentary that was immediately an outstanding success and has since been widely cited.10 On rereading, I find it magisterial. Chitty had mastered the whole scope of Foucault’s work, in its notoriously inscrutable convolutions and changes in terminology, identifying not only the shifts themselves but also what was at stake in them, operating not only at the level of the concept but also of politics. Thus, Chitty situated Foucault’s shifting thought in his participation in the struggles of the 60s and 70s, with a political and theoretical acumen that should embarrass those who blather about whether the fact that Foucault read Gary Becker made him a closet neoliberal.
In dialogue, Chitty and I worked out our thinking. Reviewing my own positions, I do not always agree with myself, though often I do. The crux of the discussion: Chitty insisted to me that it was necessary to pose a dialectical question regarding Foucault’s thought. This was because Foucault studied, first of all, vestigial forms of power, but then went on to show how new political rationalities, or technological organisations, were grafted onto these older edifices. But the followers of Foucault, he argued, had failed to measure up to these questions because they had rejected the possibility of thinking them dialectically. He attributed the needed dialectic to Marx, meaning that only Marx’s theory could explain how the residual forms of power of political economy and the state continued to exist after the end of 19th century capitalism, and, indeed, how existing political forms might survive a transition out of capitalism.
I did not agree with him then because I believed in the necessity of rejecting the dialectic of history, which so many enemies of the dialectic have ended up reproducing. I thought, and still think, that the historical dialectic cannot deal with this problem, because it is concerned with supersession, and not with survivals, vestiges, or residues.
Nevertheless, already thirty years ago, Judith Butler asked, in a perceptive analysis of Foucault in the context of the reading of Hegel, if anti-dialectical positions are “still haunted by the dialectic, even as they claim to be in utter opposition to it.” As Butler points out, Foucault criticises a Hegelian philosophy of history “inasmuch as the dialectical explanation of historical experience assumes that history manifests an implicit and progressive rationality.” Accordingly, he questions the historiographical assumption that “the origin of an historical state of affairs can be found and, if found, could shed any light on the meaning of that state of affairs.”11
Yet Foucault, Butler suggests, nevertheless remains a “tenuous dialectician,” insofar as his is “a dialectic without a subject and without teleology, a dialectic unanchored in which the constant inversion of opposites leads not to a reconciliation in unity, but to a proliferation of oppositions which come to undermine the hegemony of binary opposition itself.”12
How such distinctions might have generated a different dialogue in response to Chitty’s dialectical injunction, I will never know. What is striking to me now is that the carefully refined text Chitty finally placed on my desk expelled the question of the dialectic entirely. He expressed no regret about this. The prevailing theoretical discourse had sutured the question of the dialectic to the polarisation between Marx and Foucault; Chitty took up a position in the battlefield of philosophy which opposed the very framing of this question.
In an exchange which followed soon after the publication of his article on Foucault, Chitty pointed out that the dialectical mode of historical thought, which he associated with Sartre but said was rooted in 19th century discourse, posited a set of speaking subjects at the centre of the historical process, which was precisely the existential subject. Foucault, in contrast, while posing the same questions regarding the construction of thought and sequences of thought, took the perspective of a moment in which the speaking subject could no longer be established as the driving force of an individual psychic history, or for that matter as the driving force of history as such. It was technology that decentred the subject, because, at a certain historical stage, the technological organisation of society began to matter much more than what people thought or said about it.
Because 19th century discourse was unable to grasp the role of technology in the industrial age, Chitty said that Marx had failed to develop a theory of the material force of ideology, while Hegel had to attempt to hypostatise human consciousness in the form of the “world-historical individual.” Foucault, in contrast, theorised the scientific and technological neutralisation of the speaking subject. His challenge to Marxism, then, was that a “theory of praxis” could not capture the way technology had begun to program subjectivity and impose limits on collective agency. Studying the history of industrial society now required us to capture new phenomena, namely the category of the population, and so Foucault abandoned his previous idea, which Chitty attributed to The Order of Things, that history was a “process without a subject.” Now the population became the subject of history, thus presenting the possibility of periodisation, and with the method of genealogy Foucault surpassed the archaeological opposition between continuity and discontinuity.
In my view, this reading presents us with a historicist Foucault, indeed a Foucault who had, despite his stated intentions, returned to the historical dialectic. Yet, at the same time, Chitty argued forcefully against a historicist reading of Foucault, the reading that Sartre himself had presented in response to The Order of Things, which turned his thought into a mere expression of an alienated and technocratic society. Chitty explained his rejection of this reading by arguing that the history of categories and thought forms refers to things which formally exist between us and reality, rather than being purely objective or purely subjective. It was, instead, a matter of a dense and historical combination of the two.
As I read this now, I see two possible dialectics. At first, we have a “dialectic unanchored,” a logical dialectic for which historical thought is the relation between thought and the history of thought. But then we have history as the historical combination of the objective and the subjective, the historical dialectic, in which case we have a subject of history.
Reviewing Chitty’s work I was struck to find that in a talk at the Historical Materialism conference in New York the year after our exchange, he now affirmed that, for Foucault, history remained a process without a subject.13 This term – which, to my knowledge, Foucault does not use – was introduced in passing by Étienne Balibar in the 1964-5 Reading Capital seminar (though of course the words may have been uttered earlier unrecorded), but was only developed three years later by Althusser in a talk called “Marx’s Relation to Hegel” at the seminar of Jean Hyppolite.14
In posing the question of Foucault’s adherence to the concept of history as a process without a subject, Chitty was pointing to a fundamental methodological problem. In The Order of Things, Foucault had indeed shown that the subject of Man is a discursive effect which is coming to be displaced by a new order of knowledge. It was also precisely in the critique of the anthropological conception of history, of history as the process of alienation of the subject of Man, that Althusser formulated the concept of the process without a subject. Provocatively, Althusser credited Hegel himself with this concept, since for Hegel the subject of the historical dialectic is not Man but the dialectic itself. The insertion of Man as the subject of history by Feuerbach and the young Marx was not a viable materialism; it could not measure up to the systematic power of Hegel’s idealism. The real difference between Marx’s materialist dialectic and Hegel’s idealist dialectic, Althusser argued, was not that the form of dialectics was applied to a different substance, which would after all be an entirely non-dialectical formulation.15 It was, rather, that, for the materialist dialectic, the historical process was no longer directed towards the telos of Absolute Knowledge, and therefore, as he would later elaborate, was also a process without a goal.16
But this was not due to a historical ground for history, identified by a subject of knowledge which, in a kind of circle, would also be generated by that same historical ground. (This circle can be taken as a geometrical definition of historicism.) It was, instead, the concept of history, which was the product of a break in knowledge resulting from theoretical labors which had no relation of necessity to their historical time. That is the concept of history as a process without a subject was a constitutive condition and limit of knowledge of history, which Marx produced through theoretical work rather than by expressing his historical period in thought. To posit that historicity emerges at a historical moment, which amounts to saying that it becomes available to a subject of knowledge that had to already exist and be oriented towards this goal, would be to regress from the Marxist to the Hegelian dialectic.
The idealist dialectic is only possible on the basis of what Althusser had earlier characterised in his paper for the Reading Capital seminar as the “homogeneous continuity” and “contemporaneity” of time. The homogeneous continuity of time “is the reflection in existence of the continuity of the dialectical development of the Idea.” For this conception, historical analysis consists of the “division of this continuum according to a periodisation corresponding to the succession of one dialectical totality after another.” The contemporaneity of time is the structure of the “essential section”: “an intellectual operation in which a vertical break is made at any moment in historical time, a break in the present such that all the elements of the whole revealed by this section are in an immediate relationship with one another, a relationship that immediately expresses their internal essence.”17
In contrast, for the materialist dialectic, making a cut in history would reveal different levels with different temporalities – political, legal, ideological, and economic levels whose times, breaks, rhythms, and punctuations would not correspond.18 From this vantage point, Foucault presents us with several difficulties in The Order of Things, despite his stated opposition to both the dialectic and to historicism. The “episteme” appears to be an essential section, in which all knowledge is necessarily its expression. Because of Foucault’s emphasis on discontinuity, it might appear, as it did to Sartre, that these are simply static and disconnected images. But, in fact, it is difficult to see how such “ages” can be periodised without reference to a homogeneous and continuous historical time. Furthermore, since the standpoint from which Foucault studies the episteme remains unspecified, and yet it is the modern episteme which gives rise to historicity itself, it is not clear how we can avoid returning to the historicist circle of the subject. We run the risk of either allowing for the possibility of a subject which is outside history altogether, or restoring the subject of history.
In the unfinished work of Sexual Hegemony, I see Chitty working through these very problems. He engages in the complex staging of conceptual conflicts internal to his own framework, and in this displays the exceptional combination of creativity and erudition which characterised his intelligence. A careful reading of the incompleteness of his text, its distance from resolution, a refusal to fill its empty spaces with ideological plenitude and to resolve its points of heresy into harmonious reconciliation, is what will allow us to pose the questions which otherwise remain obscure.
The question of history in Sexual Hegemony is closely articulated with differing conceptions of capitalism. Chitty’s “hypothesis concerning the relation between sexual repression and the origins of capitalism” has a powerful attraction today, but the concepts it implies are not simply given by the empirical data; they must be constructed. The visible presentation of this hypothesis is situated within “the longue durée of sexuality, social form, and economic development” – a reference to the historiography associated with the Annales school, represented in the book’s footnotes by Fernand Braudel.19 Foucault noted at the beginning of The Archaeology of Knowledge that this new writing of history displaced the subject with the vast sedimentary strata of geography and demography. But it did so within the frame of historical continuity, in contrast to the emphasis on discontinuity that was characteristic of Foucault’s own previous work and new developments in the history of the ideas.20
The tension between continuity and discontinuity pervades the trajectory of Foucault’s historical method, and it also appears in the conceptions of capitalism in Sexual Hegemony. The following passage points us to the visible and invisible questions at stake:
Historical periods of intensive politicization of homosexuality correspond to what Giovanni Arrighi and others have identified as periods of world-systemic crisis, periods in which a hegemonic power has entered a phase of financialization, deepening internal social divisions and destabilizing the wider geopolitical balance of power, which had been the basis of its cycle of capital accumulation and rise to hegemony.21
While the word “capitalism” does not appear in this passage, the word which gives us access to the invisible questions of the text is “correspond.” Correspondence is the master concept which regulates the visible historical analysis in Sexual Hegemony.
In The Archaeology of Knowledge, where the unresolved questions of The Order of Things are taken up in a new discourse on method, we find indications what this word means for historical analysis.
The first indication comes when Foucault defends himself from the criticism that The Order of Things reduces every phenomenon to a necessary expression of its historical period. Foucault argues that his conception of a “discursive formation” does not follow such rules of historical necessity – in fact, it is subject to modifications made possible by its system of “strategic choices.”22 The discursive formation “does not play the role of a figure that arrests time and freezes it for decades or centuries,” as critics like Sartre had charged. It, rather, “determines a regularity proper to temporal processes,” presenting “the principle of articulation between a series of discursive events and other series of events, transformations, mutations, and processes.” Therefore “it is not an atemporal form, but a schema of correspondence between several temporal series.”23
The second indication comes when Foucault attempts to distinguish his work from the history of ideas, even though he had initially identified it as the site of new histories of discontinuity. Now, Foucault entirely associates the history of ideas with traditional forms of historical analysis, defined by “genesis, continuity, totalization.” It is the analysis of “distant correspondences, of permanences that persist beneath apparent changes, of slow formations that profit from innumerable blind complicities, of those total figures that gradually come together and suddenly condense into the fine point of the work.” Foucault’s “archaeological description” is a radical alternative to this history of ideas.24
To use his own terminology, Foucault has mobilised the word correspondence within two distinct strategies. First, he uses it to show that the discursive formation is neither static nor the necessary unfolding of a historical origin, because it is the analysis of correspondences between several temporal series. Second, he uses it to show that the history of ideas remains within the traditional form of history, because it is the analysis of correspondences between permanences that constitute the unity of the work. Correspondence is doubled here, representing at the same time the discontinuity and dispersion of multiple temporalities described by archaeology, and the continuity of the unitary temporality of the traditional conception of historical continuity.
Another term, however, which appears and reappears in entirely different contexts in The Archaeology of Knowledge, establishes a marginal tension with correspondence. This word, décalage, which I will, for the momen,t translate as discrepancy, is not easy to detect, because it is never presented systematically and frequently appears in lengthy lists including words like series, cuts, limits, levels, specificities, forms, relations, temporalities, remanences, modifications, analogies, differences, hierarchies, complementarities, coincidences, thresholds, succession, disconnections, dispersions, ruptures, and scansions.25
In this barrage of terms, it is not self-evident why each one is necessary, whether they are compatible with each other, or how they help us understand what is distinctive about archaeology. In the English translation, matters are even less clear, because the term is rendered as both “shifts” and “gap,” and on one occasion is omitted.26 To these translations, along with “discrepancy,” we could add “lag” and “delay.”
In Reading Capital, where it is used constantly by both Althusser and Balibar, it has been translated as “dislocation.”27 This usage of the term is fundamental, because it grasps precisely the historical problem Chitty posed to me, of the grafting of new forms onto the vestigial edifice, a phenomenon which is actually inexplicable in the linear and unitary temporality of the historical dialectic. In the transition to capitalism, Balibar points out, the existing forms of the law and the state are not expressions of the emergent economic structure – this would be a teleological absurdity. Yet their power and organised force facilitate and accelerate the capitalist transition. As Balibar writes: “this dislocation can be translated by saying that the correspondence appears… in the form of a non-correspondence between the different levels.”28 That is, it is not a non-correspondence which is resolved into correspondence, but a constitutive dislocation which Althusser calls the “intertwining” of multiple temporalities in the historical process.29 Thus dislocations cannot be measured against a single continuous time, and the radical implication is that “there is no history in general, but only specific structures of historicity.”30
To return to the question of historical knowledge, it is in precisely the same sense that there is a dislocation between knowledge and history, not as an expression in thought of a historical moment but as a structure of historicity. This dislocation, which might now be more clearly stated as a discrepancy, rules out the possibility that knowledge simply corresponds to history, that it expresses history in the manner that we might be tempted to say that any ideological phenomenon is the expression of the historical stage of the economic structure.
Notwithstanding his moments of historicist restoration, Foucault’s project also begins with the critique of the notion that the process of cognition emerges from the identity between the subject of experience and the subject of history. With this starting point, the subject is always decentred, because we have no extra-historical vantage point from which to identify a historical period and determine that a particular kind of subject is its expression, and there is no subject of history whose self-consciousness constitutes historical knowledge. As he attempts to maintain this position over time, Foucault constantly passes through discrepancies; by considering them seriously, The Order of Things, too, as Balibar has since demonstrated, can be read otherwise.31
We have established the fundamental relation between capitalism and history and its consequences for historical knowledge. The conception of capitalism which introduces the theory of correspondence in Sexual Hegemony is the historical continuity of trade as it extends across the world-system over the course of seven centuries, comprising cycles of financial and material expansion in Florence, Venice, Milan, Genoa, Amsterdam, London, and New York.
However, another capitalism emerges later in the text, when Chitty writes:
Most perspectives fail to account for the agrarian origins of the capitalist system. In my approach, property relations are understood as they are defined by Robert Brenner… England’s early transition to capitalist property relations had to do with its class structure, one in which lords cooperated with the absolutist state to liquidate the old rights of peasants and managed to invest in the means of production on large estates.32
According to this conception, capitalism emerges primarily within two centuries in the English countryside, as the result of struggles within feudal society. As Chitty writes, this account “shifts focus away from a deterministic account” towards the “contingent features of the transition to capitalism.”33 Peasant revolts provoked landlords to consolidate and enclose their land and lease it to competing tenants, separating people from their means of subsistence and ultimately forcing them to sell their labor-power for a wage. Within this new capitalist class structure it became possible for property owners to extract a surplus from labour and accumulate capital.
This is a theory of discontinuity, insofar as capitalism is now a historical rupture whose specific social relations of trade, division of labour, and accumulation cannot be used to explain its own emergence. The geographical and temporal specificity of the transition to capitalism could, furthermore be taken as a kind of historical nominalism.
However, it is possible for the category of “property relations” to reintroduce both historical continuity and a general theory of history, if it is a historical invariant built on a transhistorical foundation. In the classical and now more or less discredited model of dialectical and historical materialism, this foundation was the development of the productive forces. That theory has today been replaced by one more palatable to our contemporary sensibilities: the choices made by individual economic actors who seek to reproduce themselves. Chitty, aware that this takes us back to the most unreconstructed conception of the subject, hesitates in adopting this framework. Foucault made the point quite clearly in The Archaeology of Knowledge:
Continuous history is the indispensable correlative of the founding function of the subject: the guarantee that everything that has eluded him may be restored to him; the certainty that time will disperse nothing without restoring it in a reconstituted unity… Making historical analysis the discourse of the continuous and making human consciousness the original subject of all historical development and all action are the two sides of the same system of thought.34
Now, an alternative to the restoration of the subject is already implied in The Archaeology of Knowledge: strategy. Foucault writes that “strategic choices do not emerge directly from a world-view or from a predominance of interests peculiar to this or that speaking subject.” They are, rather, “determined by points of divergence” within a particular system.35
In The History of Sexuality, this logic is elaborated in a manner that bears directly on the transition to capitalism. When we speak of struggles and their contingent effects, we are operating within the “strategic field of power relations.” While power is exercised with “a series of aims and objectives,” these do not result from “the choice or decision of an individual subject.” Instead, “the rationality of power is characterized by tactics,” which form systems whose logic is intelligible without being traceable to any originary subject.36
Is this an ontology of power which, in its own way, restores continuity? Foucault evades this charge, precisely with resort to nominalism: “One needs to be nominalist, no doubt: power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategic situation in a particular society.”37
The question of nominalism is an ongoing theme in Chitty’s critique of the historiography of homosexuality. He perceptively observes that Foucault “avoids ontological questions with a nominalism where convenient (as with homosexuality and madness) and stages ontologies with vague metaphorics (as with the concept of a ‘technology of power’) where convenient.”38This criticism, which sees a vacillation between nominalism and ontology, resonates with Butler’s important point regarding Foucault’s preoccupation with war in The History of Sexuality, which appears to lead to “a renewed desire for life, the intensification and multiplication of bodily pleasures, the promotion of sexual vitalism.” Butler asks whether Foucault’s “claim that vitalism is constitutive of all contemporary political struggles is an historically contingent claim or a claim of universal ontology”; the latter would be “in some sense prior to any of the historical observations that Foucault is making.”39
But, here, Foucault is proposing a nominalism of power, not an ontology. In his classic analysis of Foucault and Marx through The History of Sexuality, Balibar argues that it is precisely Foucault’s “practice of historical nominalism” which allows him to avoid lapsing into vitalist or biological ontologies, not only because it excludes idealised notions of “sex” or “power,” but also because forbids us from passing “directly from the material nature of bodies to the ideal nature of life.” Conversely, Marxists who embrace a philosophy of history of historical materialism are too frequently “unable to desist from moving from the material nature of social relations to the ideal nature of dialectics.” Balibar imagines Marx replying to Foucault, in a manner very different from the Marxists enamored of the idea of history. “It is I who am the most thoroughgoing nominalist,” says Balibar’s Marx, “the least metaphysical, of the two of us.” In response to Foucault’s materialism of bodies, of power relations which act upon bodies, Marx replies that these bodies themselves are constituted by class relations, ruling out any metaphysical conception of bodies. It is not so much a matter of choosing one position in this exchange, but recognising how nominalism becomes “a supplement to materialism necessary to stop a particular form of materiality – economic, political, or discursive – from turning back into metaphysics.”40
Such insights in the texts of Marx and Foucault are revealed with attention to discrepancies; and, if we turn in Chitty’s text from correspondence to discrepancy, other insights await.
In the very sections of Sexual Hegemony that propose correspondence, we find discrepancies. Chitty writes quite explicitly of his historical narrative that “economic development accounts for a significant part of this story; however, political contingency has also played a crucial role.”41 He adds that “by considering cultures of sex between men in light of the temporality of attempts to establish early modern republics,” which he describes as “a cycle of revolution, interregnum, and restoration,” he aims to “foreground the role of contingency in the history of cultures of sodomy.”42
Note that there is a single temporality, which is cyclical. Yet there is a discrepancy between this model of the highest order of historical necessity – cycles which occur in a single temporality – and the assertion of the role of contingency.
Chitty’s sharp insights into his historical archives compel him to repeatedly reformulate his questions and his solutions. There are two questions he initially describes as central: “why did sex between men become so problematic within social forms that placed such great importance upon a division of labor,” and “how did the political and social struggles that characterized such social forms generate and transform cultures of sex between men?” Answering these questions requires, Chitty writes, “an approach able to take into account both the structural conditions of possibility for cultures of sex between men and the contingent effects of political struggles upon such cultures.”43
He then turns back to the scene of Greek homosexuality, which he says is not a timeless phenomenon, but began somewhere around 650 BC, provoked by three historical events: the Dorian invasions, the military technology facilitated by iron, and the development of craft production and the expansion of trade networks. Chitty’s source on this history is primarily Foucault’s inaugural 1970-1 Collège de France lectures titled The Will to Know, which will become the subtitle of the first volume of The History of Sexuality. (Since all my further references will be to the first volume, I will henceforth omit this qualification.) The cited lecture is concerned specifically with the formation of classes and the relation between knowledge and the state apparatus.44 On the basis of Foucault’s economic analysis, Chitty argues that the so-called homosexualities of so-called ancient Greece “must themselves be considered the contingent outcome of a history of class struggle, war, and the first democratic and republican polities.”45
Here we also encounter the question of Chitty’s historical ground. Interspersed throughout his historical exposition are critical accounts of contemporary historiographies of homosexuality. Chitty argues for a “historical materialist understanding of cultural artifacts,” which “requires dialectical ways of thinking the relationship between and simultaneity of residual and emergent social and sexual forms.” These phenomena, Chitty writes, “cannot be incorporated by either a model emphasizing radical breaks and discontinuities or simplistic models of succession and accretion.”46
In other words, the simultaneity of residual and emergent social and sexual forms is to be distinguished from both “radical breaks and discontinuities” and “simplistic models of succession and accretion.” The problem of continuity and discontinuity remains unresolved, but the simultaneity of the residual and the emergent calls us to another pairing, the structuralist division between the synchronic and the diachronic. The forceful critique of structuralism Althusser presents in Reading Capital, often obscured by the reckless application of the label “structuralist” that both he and Foucault were forced to militate against, is that the synchronic corresponds precisely to the essential section and its model of expressivity. The residual and the emergent then must be measured according to a diachronic reference time, meaning that they are only residual and emergent as the past and future of a unitary time which undergirds the expression of the totality in all of its parts. As Althusser puts it:
The synchronic therefore presupposes the ideological conception of a continuous-homogeneous time. It follows that the diachronic is merely the development of this present in the sequence of a temporal continuity in which the “events” to which “history” in the strict sense can be reduced (cf. Lévi-Strauss) are merely successive contingent presents in the time continuum.47
With the structuralist model, we are left unable to grasp the constitutive character of the dislocation. To avoid “relapsing into the ideology of a homogeneous-continuous/self-contemporaneous time,” we need a different concept, one which can “think the concept of these so-called backwardnesses, forwardnesses, survivals and unevennesses of development which coexist in the structure of the real historical present: the present of the conjuncture.”48
Now, this word is not absent from Chitty’s text. When he poses what appears to be the fundamental question of his visible text, for which his position of enunciation is stated as the place of “late capitalism” and recent social movements, the word appears without the concept. He writes:
Based on such assessments of the present conjuncture, it’s possible to pose the following historical question: To what extent are politicizations and neutralizations of homosexuality contingent or structural features of periods of crisis in the historical hegemonies of the capitalist world system?49
However, he does not precisely answer this question, but a different question. The difference is subtle, but with profound implications. The question he answers is: how are the politicisations and neutralisations of homosexuality structural features? In other words, the text asks whether these phenomena are structural or contingent, which would then invite an explanation of why they are one or the other, and this is articulated to an invisible question, which is the relation between structure and conjuncture and necessity and contingency in the method of historical analysis. But then there is a lapse in the text, because we proceed immediately with the assumption that they are structural features into a general account of them.
We have encountered certain discrepancies. Contingency is counterposed not to necessity but to structure. Conjuncture and structure are not counterposed. Conjuncture is assigned to the present, structure to the past, but they appear in a unity contrary to contingency. There are the present conjuncture and structural features, and the present conjuncture makes it possible to pose the historical question about structural features. At one point, Chitty describes the “structural causes” of “conjunctural politicization.”50 The conjunctural character of the present is annulled by correspondence to structural causes; which leads to mirror formulations, on the very same page, of “conjunctural and structural forces” and then “structural and conjunctural forces.” However, in the second case, he precedes this conflation by observing that “the ‘development of modern sexuality’ is nonlinear: sudden jolts forward, backward, or laterally into entirely different sexual norms seem to be the rule.”51
If nonlinearity is the “rule,” we might ask if in fact we are dealing with a rule of exceptions – the “exceptional situation” as the rule itself.52 Behind the word “conjuncture” is an absent concept: the possibility of thinking the present in terms of the coexistence and articulation of levels with multiple temporalities irreducible to a continuous reference time.53
What results from the displacement of the oppositions between structure and conjuncture, necessity and contingency, to the unity of conjuncture and necessity and the opposition of structure and contingency? Are we simply dealing with contradictions, which for a certain register of thought would indicate that the text is incoherent, and for another call for dialectical reconciliation?
Of course, I take neither view. Let us instead look to the text for its own conception of contradiction. In the passage I have already cited which argues for the historical materialist dialectic, Chitty immediately goes on to argue for the centrality of contradiction, offering a distinctive definition:
Contradiction, according to this conception, is a narrative strategy for representing events, institutions, and cultural formations over which multiple forces have struggled to achieve certain outcomes; recognizing this contingency, often apparent only in evental disruptions of the status quo or dramatic reversals of fortune, as when winners lose and losers win, opens up a perspective on how struggles and contestation drive a historical process that would otherwise appear unilinear or geologically static.54
This definition of contradiction reveals, once again, discrepancies and the absence of a concept, which for our reading will function as a conceptual hinge. While the word “politics” is absent in this passage, the previous passages I have cited counterpose the “contingent effects of political struggles” to “economic development” and “structural conditions.”
Political struggles are assigned to contingency. There are discrepancies here, however, because the word politicization is initially assigned to correspondence. This is of decisive importance, because, in Sexual Hegemony, politicisation refers first and foremost to the repression and persecution of sodomy, which corresponds to the economic cycles in the historical longue durée.
But Chitty cannot remain entirely within the correspondence regulated by the economic cycle: he must pose the question of “the history of homosexuality and its relation to political forms,” because “the politicization of cultures of sex between men struck at the core of problems of government.”55 This means that, in the moment of social analysis, the dislocated level of the state must be understood according to its own temporality. However, this goes even further: Chitty also cannot remain at the level of the social analysis of politicisation, because his vantage point is also that of the struggles and contestation associated with moments of evental disruption, which opposes the historical logic of linear necessity.
In working through these questions, Chitty’s reading of Foucault is of considerable importance, and his work should not be interpreted as some kind of Marxist “correction” of Foucault’s “errors.” One does not simply add “class struggle” to The History of Sexuality like investors add stocks to their portfolios. It would already be impossible to read the works leading up to The History of Sexuality and conclude that Foucault did not address the class struggle and the transition to capitalism, or that he ignored the labouring classes. Conversely, one cannot simply assert that class struggle should be reintroduced after The History of Sexuality when it is precisely at this time that, in his lectures, Foucault is in the process of presenting a new and distinct theory of class struggle.
Of course, the historical claims and conceptual logic of Foucault’s work should be critically assessed, and Sexual Hegemony presents criticisms of The History of Sexuality which are likely to draw considerable attention. But discussions of Chitty’s reading of Foucault should be situated within the context of his fidelity to the singular invention of Foucault’s thought. In my experience this was an unwavering and rigorous intellectual commitment. Our cynical and competitive intellectual cultures are too quick to dismiss such fidelities, which are not barriers to new inventions, but their condition.
Though Chitty’s ongoing analysis of Foucault was cut tragically short, some elements of it are publicly available, and his Viewpoint article quite definitively demonstrated that The History of Sexuality cannot be interpreted in isolation. In this article he directly addressed Foucault’s account of the relation between “race war” and “class war” from the “Society Must Be Defended” lectures contemporaneous with The History of Sexuality. Despite the brevity of his engagement with this topic, Chitty’s overall interpretation of the lectures is crucial: through them he identifies “a remarkable transitional period from 1976 to 1979 in which Foucault experienced a profound intellectual crisis and began a project of self-criticism, before turning to the more ethical concerns that would characterize his late period.”56 I will end by considering the implications of this late period, by returning to the point where I began.
In a 1981 interview with the magazine Gai Pied, Foucault made the extraordinary remark that “the development toward which the problem of homosexuality tends is the one of friendship.” This interview was called “Friendship as a Way of Life,” and Foucault went on to say that we should mistrust the relating of homosexuality to the questions “who am I?” and “what is the secret of my desire?” We should instead ask how sexuality can be used to arrive at a “multiplicity of relationships” – we should ask, “what relations, through homosexuality, can be established, invented, multiplied, and modulated?” This leads us to an entirely different set of questions, which Foucault characterises as “questions of existence”: “How is it possible for men to be together? To live together, to share their time, their meals, their room, their leisure, their grief, their knowledge, their confidences?” It is these questions of existence, and not the sexual act itself, which make homosexuality “disturbing” to our “sanitized society,” which, Foucault says, can in fact tolerate public homosexuality. It can tolerate the scene of “immediate pleasure,” of “two young men meeting in the street, seducing each other with a look, grabbing each other’s asses and getting each other off in a quarter of an hour.” But what it cannot tolerate, Foucault goes on to say, is “everything that can be troubling in affection, tenderness, friendship, fidelity, camaraderie, and companionship.” It is these relations which provoke the society’s fear of “the formation of new alliances and the tying together of unforeseen lines of force.”57
The scenario Foucault describes is what Chitty sets out to explain at the end of Sexual Hegemony. Over the 70s and 80s, the once threatening public sexuality of proletarian men came to be “formalized in commercial establishments openly catering to gay clientele,” and “markets stepped in to meet and shape a consumer profile of gay identity.”58 Today, “as sexual object choice becomes increasingly less determinant of life possibilities in high-income countries, it will continue to weaken as a marker of identity, devolving into a set of consumer preferences and choices exercised in a market.” In the face of an “infinitely more permissive establishment,” Chitty writes, “the political ground of sexual contention and countercultural opposition has crumbled beneath our feet,” and it is that that frames Foucault’s carnal scene.59 Chitty’s seemingly counterintuitive formulation is that “the homosexual appropriation of companionate marriage is capable of supporting semipublic cultures of stranger intimacy,” which no longer form the essence of a counterculture, but simply become part of a set of “nonsubversive life options.”60
What are the causes of this scenario? Here, the analysis is suspended between the structural and the conjunctural. For Chitty, “the achievement of homosexual rights” resulted from both a “depoliticization of sex” and a “politicization of homosexuality.” These are characterised as part of a “structural transformation” which was obscured by “a contingent repoliticization of homosexuality during the first two decades of the AIDS crisis.”61 The relation between structure and conjuncture, and the role of contingency, shift constantly throughout this analysis. What matters to me is that these discrepancies separate politics from history – and so I will now focus on politics.
In this sceptical account of the achievement of homosexual rights Chitty refers to a depoliticisation of sex, not specifically of homosexuality. This is one of only two times the notion of “depoliticization” appears. The second time comes after he observes that “the present crisis has enabled a partial overcoming of antihomosexual prejudice by affirming the threatened values of family and intimate coupling,” and suggests that this has rendered the question of whether to attack “normativity” or retreat into it obsolete. He writes that “without the strong antagonism of a bourgeois dominant against which a homosexual counterculture once asserted itself, this language and these categories may no longer be relevant to a depoliticized sexual field.” Sex, rather than being politicised, becomes a “matter of personal taste,” and a range of different sexual practices are “culturally recombinable to varying degrees even within a single individual’s highly compartmentalized social milieus and self-presentations.”62 Depoliticisation is the marketplace of sexual tastes, but it is also the result of a shift in the antagonistic balance of forces in the sexual field.
Alongside depoliticisation, we find dividing conceptions of politicisation. As I have noted, when Chitty speaks of the politicisation of homosexuality, this almost always refers to the history of state repression and persecution of sodomy.63 The politicisation of sex refers to the discursive construction of norms that facilitate the formation of states.64 But, here, the politicisation of homosexuality is also the effect of liberation movements – of “the gay and lesbian rights movement’s struggle for recognition and for gains in formal equality.”65
With specific reference to the AIDS crisis, the politicization of homosexuality appears twice. The first time, it follows a critique of histories of homosexuality which understand it in terms of repression provoked by moral panics and fear of social deviance. Chitty argues that this sociological paradigm fails to grasp the specificity of homosexuality, collapsing it into a general framework of law and transgression. But it became an established interpretation due to historical circumstances: “The moral reaction to homosexuality during the AIDS epidemic invested this theory with the explanatory power to describe past and present politicizations of homosexuality and to establish apparent historical continuity and intelligibility between historically episodic panics.” Here, the politicisation of homosexuality is a false continuity within the historiography of repression. But he adds: “This paradigm, however, is itself historical and ultimately results in elevating a liberal bourgeois theory of the state into the constitutive principle of human desire and all other cultural formations.”66
To say that this paradigm is itself historical is a historicist claim. But this historicism is what reveals to us that, as Foucault will put it in his own historicist turn in the “Society Must Be Defended” lectures, “a continuity has been established between historical narrative and the management of the State.”67 In Foucault’s thought, we also encounter political discrepancies as he approaches the problem of history. They appear first in the void upon which history emerges, then in the strategy and tactics to which history is sutured, and finally as the limit and possibility of the subject of truth for which other histories are possible.68
So it is significant that the second use of the word “politicization,” in another discussion of the AIDS crisis, has precisely the opposite meaning. Chitty describes how “new forms of solidarity between gay men and lesbians” were crucial to “the radical politicization of AIDS.” The “political mobilization around AIDS,” facilitated by a “feminist affinity with male homosexuality,” extended its solidarities across a broad range of class, racial, and sexual boundaries.69
This is the politicisation of movements. In a passage which is not directly connected to sex or homosexuality, but to the movements which extend from the Arab Spring to Occupy, the terms shift once again in their relations and meaning. Chitty writes that “the structural causes and grievances of that conjunctural politicization of a global condition of social and economic disenfranchisement persist,” but also that “the flare-up of new movements of this sort suggests possibilities beyond the morbid forms of slow death or the demands for a return to normal.”70
Now, Chitty identifies a phenomenon which suggests possibilities, but, in a terminological lag, characteristic of conceptual labours, he gives it the same name assigned to its antagonist. This discrepancy strikes us once again near the end of Sexual Hegemony, when Chitty inquires into the prospects for a “future politicization of sex” and the “future politicization of sexual health.”71
I will posit a gap: politicisation is the continuity of the history of states, while politics is the evental disruption which suggests possibilities. Between these two terms, we must make a decision. I have no uncertainty about Chitty’s decision; in Sexual Hegemony, its affirmation is painfully brief and allusive, but it is, nevertheless, unmistakeable when, echoing Foucault’s reflection on friendship, Chitty suggests the possibility of moving away from the “history of deviant sexual behaviors and identities, their purely negative relation to some law or norm,” towards “the transformative and emancipatory possibilities of love and intimacy outside the institutions of family, state, and the couple form.”72
But what he tells us in conclusion is that it is not homosexuality in itself that will provide the basis for a future politics of sex. Our political question today revolves around “the exhaustion of the libidinal body” – the precarity of bodies, of “sick, worn-out laboring bodies,” this intolerable regime of poverty, inequality, and disease.73 The future politics of sexual health, Chitty writes, must be part of a “movement responding to worsening conditions of life.”74 It will confront the obscene persistence of capitalism, which relies on “the physical deterioration of the body” imposed on the labouring and surplus populations who are denied healthcare, housing, and the conditions of a free collective life by the biopolitics of a “managed slow death.”75
There is a library where I helped Chris's parents unpack his books, which, upon his death, they graciously donated to readers of the future. We placed them on shelves I would return to, from time to time, in pursuit of some new insight, or perhaps some old one memory had lost.
Far away, now, from those shelves, I again enter Chris's library, and he receives me there; I speak to him and ask him the reasons for his words. At times my questions are sceptical, and I do not hesitate to voice disagreement. He is never at a loss to reply to me, whether it is with obstinacy or in a spirit of cooperation, both of which challenge me to think more clearly.
The critical inquiry into the history of ourselves requires a patient labour, as Chris knew well; but as we speak it is his impatience for liberty that I hear. It is a militant impatience, which says that his inquiry into the relation between capitalism and homosexuality cannot be confined to history, cannot only be the object of analysis: it must also be the site of prescription. There is no automatic progression from the analysis of capitalism as a social and historical order to the political statement: that capitalism is intolerable. There is no political essence of homosexuality which determines it to be antagonistic to capitalism, or, for that matter, complicit with it, as a matter of historical necessity.
There is politics, though, he is clear, insofar as homosexuality raises questions of existence. We have to answer these questions as subjects of truth: not subjects of experience or subjects of history, but subjects who affirm the true life, which this life is not.
The friendship we continue to share, Chris Chitty and me, is the one directed towards creating the alliances and lines of force that could destroy this intolerable regime. Such friendships, the friendships which the regime cannot tolerate, are eternal.
- 1. Maurice Blanchot, Friendship, trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 291; L’amitié (Paris; Gallimard, 1971), 328.
- 2. See Remarks on Marx, trans. R. James Goldstein and James Cascaito (New York: Semiotext(e), 1991), 77-8; “Foucault étudie la raison d’État” in Dits et écrits 4, ed. Daniel Defert and François Ewald (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 59-60.
- 3. Ibid., 120, 125, 129; 74, 76, 77. See “Jean-Paul Sartre répond,” L'Arc 30 (1966): 89-97.
- 4. Michel Foucault, History of Madness trans. Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa (New York: Routledge, 2006), xxxvi; Dits et écrits 1, ed. Daniel Defert and François Ewald (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 167.
- 5. Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990); L’usage des plaisirs (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 12.
- 6. Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation, trans. Susan Hanson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 424; L’entretien infini (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 622-3. Translation modified. Note that in the original Blanchot also omits the article: l’absence de livre, though I found this improbable in English.
- 7. Foucault, History of Madness; xxxi-xxxix; 161-3. In my forthcoming article “The Absence of Work: Foucault, History, and Politics” I trace the history of this term in detail and elaborate on its relevance for understanding the relation between Foucault and Marxism.
- 8. Maurice Blanchot, “Michel Foucault as I Imagine Him,” trans. Jeffrey Mehlman in Foucault/Blanchot (New York: Zone, 1987) 109; Michel Foucault tel que je l'imagine (Paris: Éditions Fata Morgana, 1986), 64. I share the point of departure indicated by Jacques Derrida that immediately precedes his reading of these passages of Blanchot: “The stake of this question is, of course, also political.” Whether we will arrive in the same place remains to be seen. Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (New York: Verso, 2005), 294; Politiques de l’amitié (Paris: Galilée, 1994), 326.
- 9. Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject, trans. Graham Burchell and ed. Frédéric Gros, François Ewald, and Alessandro Fontana (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 365; L’herméneutique du sujet, ed. Frédéric Gros, François Ewald, and Alessandro Fontana (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), 347.
- 10. Chris Chitty, “Towards a Socialist Art of Government: Michel Foucault’s ‘The Mesh of Power,’” Viewpoint 2 (2012).
- 11. Judith Butler, Subjects of Desire (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 176-7.
- 12. Ibid., 225.
- 13. This talk was transcribed and published as Christopher Chitty, “Reassessing Foucault: Modern Sexuality and the Transition to Capitalism,” Viewpoint (April 2017).
- 14. Étienne Balibar, “The Basic Concepts of Historical Materialism” in Reading Capital, trans. Ben Brewster and David Fernbach (New York: Verso, 2015), 439; “Sur les concepts fondamentaux du matérialisme historique,” in Lire le Capital 2 (Paris: Maspero, 1969), 175. Louis Althusser, “Marx’s Relation to Hegel,” in Politics and History, trans. Ben Brewster (London: New Left Books, 1972)“Sur le rapport de Marx à Hegel” in Hegel et la pensée moderne, ed. Jacques d’Hondt (Paris: PUF, 1970).
- 15. “It is hardly worth pointing out that, in the first case, the application of a method, the exteriority of the dialectic to its possible objects poses a pre-dialectical question, a question without any strict meaning for Marx.” Louis Althusser, “Contradiction and Overdetermination” in For Marx, trans. Ben Brewster (New York: Verso, 2005), 93; “Contradiction et surdétermination” in Pour Marx (Paris: La Découverte, 2005), 91.
- 16. See the “Reply to John Lewis,” first published in English in the Communist Party of Great Britain journal Marxism Today in October and November 1972, and then in French the following year as Réponse à John Lewis (Paris: Maspéro, 1973), then finally collected with other material in Essays in Self-Criticism (London: New Left Books, 1976).
- 17. Althusser, “The Object of Capital,” 241; Lire le Capital 1 (Paris: Maspero, 1969), 116.
- 18. Ibid., 251-2; 129-30.
- 19. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony., 35.
- 20. Foucault, Archaeology, 3-17; 3-20. Foucault confirms that the reference is to the longue durée of the Annales school in “The Archeology of Knowledge,” trans. John Johnston in Foucault Live, ed. Sylvère Lotringer (New York: Semiotext(e), 1996), 58; “Michel Foucault explique son dernier livre” in Dits et écrits 1, 773.
- 22. Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Pantheon, 1972), 67; L'Archéologie du savoir (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1969), 72.
- 23. Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge, 74; 80. Emphasis mine.
- 24. Ibid., 138; 145. Emphasis mine.
- 25. Foucault, Archaeology, 10, 175, 187, 188, 192; 11, 186, 199, 201, 205. I have modified some translations, and for the sake of simplicity I have broken some composite terms apart.
- 26. Ibid., 187; 199.
- 27. See also Louis Althusser, “Rousseau: The Social Contract (The Discrepancies)” in Politics and History; “Sur le « Contrat social »” in Solitude de Machiavel, ed. Yves Sintomer (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1998).
- 28. Balibar, “Basic Concepts,” 478; 224.
- 29. Louis Althusser, “The Object of Capital,” 252; 130.
- 30. Ibid., 256-7; 136.
- 31. Étienne Balibar, “Foucault’s Point of Heresy: ‘Quasi-Transcendentals’ and the Transdisciplinary Function of the Episteme,” Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 32:5–6 (2015): 64-6.
- 32. Ibid., 127-9.
- 33. Ibid., 129.
- 34. Foucault, Archaeology, 12; 14.
- 35. Ibid., 72; 77-8.
- 36. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1978), 94-6; Histoire de la sexualité 1: La volonté de savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1976), 124-6.
- 37. Ibid., 93; 123. Translation modified.
- 38. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 154-5.
- 39. Butler, Subjects of Desire, 226-7.
- 40. Étienne Balibar, “Foucault and Marx: The Question of Nominalism” in Timothy J. Armstrong, Michel Foucault: Philosopher (Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992), 55-6; “Foucault et Marx. L’enjeu du nominalisme” in Michel Foucault philosophe (Paris: Seuil, 1989), 74-6.
- 41. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 24.
- 42. Ibid., 25.
- 43. Ibid., 30-1.
- 44. Michel Foucault, Lectures on the Will to Know, ed. Bernard Harcourt and trans. Graham Burchell (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 116-32; Leçons sur la volonté de savoir suivi de Le savoir de l'Œdipe, ed. François Ewald, Alessandro Fontana, and Daniel Defert (Paris: Seuil/Gallimard, 2011), 111-25. On the term “state apparatus” see the letter from Étienne Balibar to the editor regarding the immediately subsequent lectures in Penal Theories and Institutions, ed. Bernard Harcourt and trans. Graham Burchell (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019); Théories et institutions pénales, ed. Bernard Harcourt (Paris: Seuil/Gallimard, 2015).
- 45. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 59.
- 46. Ibid., 158.
- 47. Althusser, “The Object of Capital,” 242-3; 118-9.
- 48. Ibid., 254; 133.
- 49. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 178.
- 50. Ibid., 178.
- 51. Ibid., 135.
- 52. Althusser, “Contradiction and Overdetermination,” 104; 103.
- 53. Althusser, “The Object of Capital,” 254; 133.
- 54. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 158.
- 55. Ibid., 38.
- 56. Chitty, “Towards a Socialist Art of Government.”
- 57. Michel Foucault, “Friendship as a Way of Life,” trans. John Johnston, in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow, (New York: New Press, 1997), 135-7; Dits et écrits 4, 163-4. Translation modified. For other treatments of this interview, see Tom Roach, Friendship as a Way of Life (Albany: SUNY Press, 2012) and Judith Revel, “Between Politics and Ethics: The Question of Subjectivation” in Foucault and the Making of Subjects, ed. Laura Cremonesi, Orazio Irrera, Daniele Lorenzini and Martina Tazzioli (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). A comparison of Foucault’s account with Derrida’s Politics of Friendship illustrates precisely the extent to which Foucault is proposing a new political project. This does not reduce the power and acuity of Derrida’s reading, but between the undecidability of democracy-to-come and the formation of new alliances and the tying together of unforeseen lines of force, I have no hesitation in deciding with Foucault.
- 58. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 188.
- 59. Ibid., 180.
- 60. Ibid., 191.
- 61. Ibid., 174.
- 62. Ibid., 192.
- 63. Ibid., 24.
- 64. Ibid., 111, 120, 135-6.
- 65. Ibid., 173.
- 66. Ibid., 151.
- 67. Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”, ed. Arnold I. Davidson and trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), 170-3; « Il faut défendre la société » (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 152-4. See also Sexual Hegemony, 152, 155. On this point, I draw on Alain Badiou, “Foucault: Continuity and Discontinuity” in The Adventure of French Philosophy, ed. and trans. Bruno Bosteels (New York: Verso, 2012), 87.
- 68. I attempt to demonstrate aspects of this reading in “The Absence of Work.”
- 69. Chitty, Sexual Hegemony, 146. The repoliticisation of this already double politicisation of homosexuality, however, also takes place within the AIDS crisis. Thus two politicisations are happening simultaneously, alongside both repoliticisation and depoliticisation, and we are confronted with the absent question of this historical temporality, in which repoliticisation is contingent and both politicisation and depoliticisation are structural.
- 70. Ibid., 178. Note that the causes of social and economic disenfranchisement are structural, while politicisation is conjunctural.
- 71. Ibid., 191.
- 72. Ibid., 188.
- 73. Ibid., 189. I employ here the term of Foucault, applied to prisons through his work in the Prisons Information Group; see “Sur les prisons,” “Enquête sur les prisons: brisons les barreaux du silence,” and “Préface” in Dits et écrits 3, ed. Daniel Defert and François Ewald (Paris: Gallimard, 1994).
- 74. Ibid., 191.
- 75. Ibid., 189-91.