David Graeber sneered again today at speculation that he’s a CIA plant, based on his ambiguous support for military interventions in Libya and Syria, and his strange alliance with Freedom House troll Sarah Kendzior and career militarist Josh Foust in their red-baiting smear campaign of a few months ago. He might want to turn down the heat, though, because if the following can be taken at face value, he once politely entertained speculation about a CIA connection to poststructuralism and Foucault:
If I really wanted to make a case that the CIA was behind postmodern, though, I’d look at the moment, right after the great insurrection of May ’68 in France, when the French government whisked Foucault away from Tunisia, where he’d been doing acid in the desert and whatnot, to give him a seat in the College de France – since his poststructuralism was perfect for allowing people to feel very very political while steadfastly avoiding any actual political engagement. Sure, maybe the CIA recommended it, who knows? Though they couldn’t have been happy when he went on to become an advocate of the Iranian revolution.
h/t Todd Marek
Graeber is a conundrum inside an enigma inside an asshole. I think we can at least agree he’s a hypocrite and that that’s among his nicer qualities. Also an intellectual coward highly attuned to the social cost of certain ideas. I like the cut of this Ghost guy’s jib, btw.
Dave now says he was only joking and after suffering the whole thread that excerpt is from, I think it does look something like really unfunny people belaboring a joke. Or floating ideas in a joking way because they’re too chickenshit to own them. It seems kind of beside the point, since this Geertz guy was connected to the CIA, an idea that Graeber doesn’t seem to be scoffing at. The remarks on Foucault seem earnest to me.
I’m remaining agnostic. One interpretation makes Graebs a hypocrite. The other has him scoffing at the very idea of CIA penetration of the academy. Either way, it smells like disingenuous asshole and that we are once again guessing what he really thinks doesn’t help.