The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution, and the Legacy of the 1960s
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Michel Foucault, Jean-Paul Sartre, Julia Kristeva, Phillipe Sollers, and Jean-Luc Godard. During the 1960s, a who's who of French thinkers, writers, and artists, spurred by China's Cultural Revolution, were seized with a fascination for Maoism. Combining a merciless exposé of left-wing political folly and cross-cultural misunderstanding with a spirited defense of the 1960s, The Wind from the East tells the colorful story of this legendary period in France. Richard Wolin shows how French students and intellectuals, inspired by their perceptions of the Cultural Revolution, and motivated by utopian hopes, incited grassroots social movements and reinvigorated French civic and cultural life.
Wolin's riveting narrative reveals that Maoism's allure among France's best and brightest actually had little to do with a real understanding of Chinese politics. Instead, it paradoxically served as a vehicle for an emancipatory transformation of French society. French student leftists took up the trope of "cultural revolution," applying it to their criticisms of everyday life. Wolin examines how Maoism captured the imaginations of France's leading cultural figures, influencing Sartre's "perfect Maoist moment"; Foucault's conception of power; Sollers's chic, leftist intellectual journal Tel Quel; as well as Kristeva's book on Chinese women--which included a vigorous defense of foot-binding.
Recounting the cultural and political odyssey of French students and intellectuals in the 1960s, The Wind from the East illustrates how the Maoist phenomenon unexpectedly sparked a democratic political sea change in France.
the crime scene. Brigitte's body had been found in a field adjacent to the villa of Leroy's fiancee, Monique Mayeur. Shortly before her disappearance, Brigitte had been seen talking to a man in a turtleneck sweater. Leroy had been sporting a turtleneck that day. T h at night, Leroy's mother had washed his clothes by hand with ammonia instead of taking them to the dry cleaners as usual. There was also a telltale fifteen-minute gap in the suspec t's alibi. Moreover, there were rumors that Leroy had
1960s, wom en en tered the workfo rce in unpreceden ted numb er s. T h e str uctura l t ra n sformation of work an d the attractions of the affluent societ y combined to render the traditio n al M arx ist n o tion of class struggle antiquated . Farewell to the Working Class, the title of a 1982 study by Andre Gorz, aptly su m m arized the French Left's resignation. If the prolet ariat was no lo n ger a viable agent of revolutio n ar y tra n sform ation , M arx ism h ad b ecom e b ereft of m
buying p ower. .. . The m ech anics of buying, w hich is already libidinally ch arged , gives way to a complete ero ticizatio n of choosing and spendin g. O ur m odern environment assails us relentlessly, esp ecially in the cities, w ith its lights and its images, its incessant inducem ents to st atus-consciousness and narcissism, emotio n al involvem ent and o bligatory relation ships. W e live in a cold-blood ed carnival atmosphere, a formal yet electrifying ambience of empty sen sual
its political aspiration s and w ill, but under Gaullism they were effectively deprived of a m eaningful voice. To compensate, they would need to invent utopian p olitical form s correspo nd ing to t heir h opes and dream s. CHAPTER 3 May 1968: The Triumph of Libidinal Politics The repla cement of the pleasure principle by the reality principle is the great traumatic event in the development of m an .. .. But the unconscious retains the objectives of the defeated pleasure principle. Turned
subject.”10 Badiou hones his thesis concerning the nature of revolutionary subjectivity in his 1982 treatise The Theory of the Subject. In his later philosophy, one of the central leitmotifs pertains to the dialectic, or See the chapter of The Century entitled “The Passion for the Real and the Montage of Semblance,” 48–57. Badiou claims at a later point that in its fidelity to history as an objective constant, Marxism was ultimately led astray; thereby, it undervalued subjectivization. Badiou’s