Gordon Hull, Foucault, Marx and Prophecy Part 3: On Bureaucrats, New Apps, 12 July 2021
In a previous post, I noted that Foucault strongly implies in a 1978 interview that his communist detractors are bureaucrats, and tied that to an earlier interview with Maoists in which he suggests that structuring populist tribunals on the model of bourgeois courts would fail to break with the power structure of the bourgeois court system: the model of impartiality is intrinsically bourgeois, and so importing that model into communist popular tribunals would iterate the very power structures that were to be replaced. Here I want to flesh out a little more some of the resonances of an accusation of bureaucracy in the context of 1970s Marx debates in France. I should say in advance that these are notes more than a complete assessment, designed to pick out highlights. The back and forth polemics of Marxists are byzantine, and we should all be grateful that Foucault sets it as a rule not to engage in them. Here I will mainly draw from Trotsky’s critique of Stalin and Lenin, with a closing gesture to a representative text of the French far-left that emerged in the aftermath of the 1968 student uprisings.