Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rehmann, Jan. "Deleuze and Foucault: Towards a Deconstruction of Postmodernist Neo-Nietzscheanism." SITUATIONS 2.1 (2007)

THE FACT THAT postmodernist theories emerged from left-wing interpretations of Nietzsche is, in itself, hardly disputed, nor the position that Deleuze and Foucault played a crucial role in this process. Although what is lacking in the debates is the question of how, in the 1960s and 1970s, Deleuze and Foucault managed to make Nietzsche into a compelling reference point for leftist and alternative milieus. I will offer here some reflections on this contemporary moment. Initially, I will take a historical look at how certain kinds of 'leftist Nietzscheanism' came into being and how they succeeded to 'superannuate'a Marxist critique of capitalism. Taking Gilles Deleuze as a chief example, I will demonstrate that his reading of Nietzsche is itself a highly ideological construction that needs therefore to be 'deconstructed' — thus turning a key postmodernist concept on postmodernism itself. Secondly, I will show with the example of Foucault’s concept of power that the neo-Nietzschean superannuation of Marxism meant a significant theoretical loss, a step back in several respects. My assumption is, in a nutshell, that postmodernist theories, in so far as they found themselves on a watered-down Nietzscheanism, have generated various kinds of hyper-radical rhetoric while diluting the analytical foundations of a serious critique of class and gender domination. Finally, I try to demonstrate postmodernism’s tendency to de-materialize social life with the examples of the body, gender relations, and the concept of 'immaterial labor,' and draw some tentative conclusions for a deconstructive and reconstructive critique. . . . Read the whole essay here: http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/176/200.

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