Hamid Dabashi on the Difference between Foucault/Zizek and Said
I am about half way done with Dabashi's book (which I will post on shortly). However, I also stumbled on his careful, critique of an abstract essay Zizek wrote about the Iranian uprising. I believe Dabshi is right in his critique of the way figures like Badiou and Zizek and many other Western thinkers will create abstract ideas divorced from the historical situation. The creative tension between solid historical/contextual work along with good philosophical/theological reasoning is a necessary must; err on one side too much and you become so contextual you have no standing to speak to a large audience and become too abstract and you speak in speculative generalities. Here is a great quote from his essay:
The problem with the European Left is that they care a little bit about just about everything, and yet there is nothing in particular about which they care deeply. This is very similar my old teacher Philip Rieff used to call “the Monroe Doctrine”—not the famous President James Monroe doctrine of warning Europeans to keep their hands off the Americas, but the little known Marilyn Monroe doctrine, named after the famous actress for having once said, “I believe in everything,”and then pausing for a moment before saucily adding, “a little bit.” The difference between European and colonial intellectuals is summed up in the difference between Sartre and Fanon, or between Foucault and Said. Sartre and Foucault cared widely about the entirety of the colonial and colonizing world, while Fanon and Said cared deeply about Algeria and Palestine, and from these two sites of contestation they extrapolated their politics and ethics of responsibility towards the rest of the world.