Cornelius Castoriadis Agora International Website
Or the Cornelius Castoriadis/Agora International Website Receives a Threat
In the August 2006 Cornelius Castoriadis/Agora International Website electronic update announcement, we mentioned two brief death notices posted in our "News" section regarding people who
were associated with Castoriadis during his lifetime: Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Murray Bookchin. The latter notice stated:
We have received word of the death of Murray Bookchin on July 30, 2006. Bookchin (b. January 14, 1921), a former Trotskyist like Castoriadis, shared Castoriadis's advocacy of direct democracy and even preceded the latter in his concern with environmental issues. Castoriadis discussed Bookchin's municipally-based, ecologically-informed, anarchist views briefly in Crossroads in the Labyrinth. They both joined the Editorial Advisory Board ofSociety & Nature in the 1990s. When Bookchin and his partner Janet Biehl resigned from this journal in 1997--considering it, among other things, too "Castoriadian"--Agora International's David Ames Curtis wrote a reply, "On the Bookchin/Biehl Resignations and the Creation of the New Liberatory Project," at Castoriadis's request and with his approval, the text appearing only a year and a half later in censored form in the successor journal,Democracy & Nature. It was on account of D&N's censorship effort that Castoriadis had determined to leave its Editorial Advisory Board as soon as the censored version appeared, a decision he was not able to carry out, however, due to his own intervening illness and death. Bookchin later wrote Curtis a conciliatory letter acknowledging that Castoriadis's views deserved further examination, but ill health and other priorities kept Bookchin from realizing his aim of writing such a text.
On August 27, I, David Ames Curtis, received a protest e-mail--marked "SPAM" by my MSH server (the same thing happens, through no design of my own, with e-mails from my sister)--that was put in the form of a threat by the Editors of an online journal called Inclusive Democracy:
LETTER TO AGORA INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE
In the last Agora update we saw an announcement of Murray Bookchin's death accompanied by characterisations against Democracy & Nature (succeeded by our journal) which clearly aim at defaming the journal as one specialising in censorship. Curtis, in his genuine 'democratic' way, 'forgets' in his brief description of events at the time not only to mention that there was a reply to his distortions in the journal:
but also he does not bother to mention what this alleged censorship was about, counting on the fact that very few readers would bother to read his own biased description of the events. However, even his own description makes clear that the only part of his submitted text that was unanimously rejected by the Editorial Board of D&N at the time was a very small section of it in which he linked his acceptance of our offer to him to join the International Advisory Board (IAB) of the Journal with insulting remarks against fellow IAB member Noam Chomsky on the Fourisson affair, clearly implying that he was not in agreement with Chomsky's presence in the Advisory Board! The Editorial Board thought at the time that Curtis, as any other author, had of course the right to criticise the views of other authors, members of the IAB or not. It thought however that such an insulting remark against an old member of the IAB by a newcomer in an article which was completely irrelevant to the Fourisson issue or Chomsky for that matter, was an unacceptable intervention in its own affairs and particularly to its right to decide the composition of the IAB. It therefore asked Curtis to withdraw this remark for his article to be published. This was all that the D&N 'censorship' was about--a clearly defamatory accusation which Curtis repeats thrice in the letter to Agora subscribers.
The Editorial Committee of The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy
P.S. In case the above letter is not published as an addendum to the Agora announcement, the letter will be published to our Journal and a copy of it will be sent to all our subscribers.
While in the process of drafting a considered response to this late-August SPAM-labeled threat, which I had found among various Viagra come-ons, I was notified via e-mail just a few days later, on
September 1, of a posting on the Inclusive Democracy website:
Agora, Chomsky, Bookchin, and Democracy & Nature
David Ames Curtis, the translator of several works by Castoriadis and editor of the Agora International Website, which promotes the latter's work, saw a good opportunity, when announcing Murray Bookchin's death, to combine it with a new attempt to defame Democracy & Nature, the predecessor of the present journal, by slandering it for 'censoring' a submission of his.
For the benefit of our readers (and the truth!) we reproduce below the Agora announcement, followed by a letter of the Editorial Committee to Curtis which, in a genuine 'democratic' spirit,, typical of him, he refused to publish! Needless to add, as our readers are well aware, we have never censored any of the authors and we do not intend to do so in the future, even if they are very critical of us. This is why we have always published in the past all the exchanges with other journals/authors.
September 1, 2006
As the ID Editors promised, this posting did indeed include our original CC/AI Website Bookchin death notice as well as the Letter-threat I received on August 27 (both of which are now reprinted above). Amusingly, the ID Editors' Newsletter #37 (Part 1) posting , to borrow a word, "forgot" to include the extremely recent date of their "Letter to [the Cornelius Castoriadis/] Agora International Website" (usually letters, even e-mailed ones, are dated when reprinted). ID readers thus could not see that this alleged "refus[al] to publish" on AI's part was in fact just an inability to respond thoughtfully in the waning days of a French August, not a positive, written determination on our part to refuse publication. No negative response on AI's part was published as part of their hasty Newsletter statement, since none was sent to them by AI. This made-up "refus[al]," however, enabled ID to turn attention away from its own repeated censorship of my text by suggesting that I was the truly antidemocratic and censorious one. Since I myself (a) wrote the piece on the Bookchin/Biehl resignations for Democracy & Nature that Castoriadis had read and supported in full , (b) was told by Castoriadis that he planned to resign from D&N once the censored version was published (so as not to jeopardize publication of an already partially censored piece, written by me, which he wanted to see in print), (c) drafted the Bookchin death notice, (d) received the August 27 SPAM-threat at my e-address, and (e) was personally attacked just a few days later by the ID Editors on September 1 as "[un]democratic," "forgetful," etc., I take the opportunity to reply below. I am not overwrought by their absurd complaints or by their subsequent, unsubstantiated Newsletter allegations. Out of a perhaps inordinate sense of duty as well as considerable amusement, I deal first with this Looney Left threat, letter of protest, and fabrication of a positive "refus[al] to publish." Those not particularly interested in such polemics may wish to pass first to the conclusion, which explains why there actually is, in this silly episode, something of real interest in relation to Castoriadis's work, his legacy, and the autonomy project.
THE THREAT: VAGUELY-WORDED, BADLY EXECUTED, CONSTANTLY-CHANGING, ACCOMPANIED BY NO CLEAR DEADLINE, AND ABOVE ALL HILARIOUS
The threat ID Editors sent me on August 27 that arrived among my SPAMs appeared in a vaguely worded postscript: "In case the above letter is not published as an addendum to the Agora announcement, the letter will be published to [sic] our Journal [sic] and a copy of it will be sent to all our subscribers." Trying not to laugh too hard, I first took "addendum" to mean that I was being asked to print their Letter at the end of the next monthly CC/AI Website electronic update announcement, though I thought that it would be more appropriate and funny to put it up top. Of course, I would have had to check with other Agora International members first--which should not have posed a problem, since the September electronic update announcement would not be sent out for another several weeks. Once I read ID Newsletter #37 (Part 1) on September 1, it was clear that these Editors were in a big hurry--so much so that they posted their "Letter" first in their Newsletter--instead of in their Journal (not due out for several months), as was indicated--without having heard from me in the intervening half week, neglected to date it for their own public, and yet claimed that they had already received a positive "refus[al] to publish." After corresponding with them and a member of their International Advisory Board (IAB), ID Editor Takis Fotopoulos changed their demand to that of our printing, somehow, an "addendum to the present Agora announcement" (emphasis added on this new addition of his own to what was actually written to me a few days earlier--the original threat did NOT contain the word "present"), with Fotopoulos inaccurately claiming at this point to his IAB correspondent that "I shall only repeat what we already wrote." Perhaps he thought I wouldn't notice the subtle switch, designed to cover up the earlier, neglectful omission in their vague and confused threat. Yet in subsequent correspondence I received cc:, Takis was not through making alterations to their original request. The "addendum" demand relating to our electronic update announcements became an insistence that a new webpage be created for them on the CC/AI Website itself. (D&N had long been wanting AI to create a special hyperlink just for them on the CC/AI Website, even though we do not have a links page for anyone and D&N/ID already have more web links on our English-language "About CC" bibliography page than probably any other website.) Later, that change in what they wanted became an addition to an existing CC/AI Website webpage, in the "News" section. After that, I was told that their request was simply like a "Letter to the Editor"--one that, in their judgment, should have been processed, however, within 24 hours--unlike usual Letters to the Editor, where the Editor and/or the author reserve enough time for a thoughtful reply, if they see fit. Fotopoulos made this last analogy after I had already explained to him the often-week-long web-posting process that involves (1) informing other AI members, (2) sending the post to our volunteer webguy-librarian at the University of Michigan, (3) creating a test post on our webguy's personal mirror site, and then (4) awaiting the kindness of an authorized UM Library's Scholarly Publishing Office website manager. At that point, Takis just threw up his hands and said he didn't care how the posting was accomplished (i.e., constraints of time and reality, as well as what he actually wrote at various times, were not really important to him) so long as what he wanted--but what precisely was that?--was done in time. Yet from the start, time itself proved a problem for the ID Editors. I ask the reader to excuse my immense amusement at this point. We know from Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run that good penmanship is a plus for a neophyte bank robber; otherwise, the word "gun" in a stickup note might be read as "gub" and create confusion among the tellers. Similarly, Richard Reid really ruined it for future airplane shoe bombers by not being adept with matches on his first try. (I myself once observed a KKK rally in rural North Carolina where the Klan member in charge of lighting the cross could not manage to set it on fire.) For the current threat, one needs to look to the world of blackmailers extortionists, and kidnappers, where even first-time amateurs in these fields know that one must accompany one's threat with an actual timeline for reception of what it is one expects in exchange. The ID Editors, however, forgot (there's that word again) to tell me when this terrible threat of self-publication would come due: They gave no deadline. Thus could they wholly invent this scandal of my antidemocratic behavior, for which they could produce no evidence, since none existed, but which merited an exclamation point ("refused to publish!") in their account first published in the wrong place. Then, to avoid further embarrassment, they had to alter what they had originally written to me (Takis's addition of the word "present") when allegedly "repeat[ing]" their threat in an e-mail sent to one of the members of their own International Advisory Board. Generally, kidnappers do not, to give a warning, send a ketchup-covered rubber finger purchased in a joke shop. With a vaguely-worded threat of self-publication accompanied by no deadline and these constant changes in what precisely they were demanding, I felt as if I had received something similar.
THE LETTER: INFLATED, LACKING PROPER STANDING, INACCURATE AND MISLEADING, AS WELL AS FAIRLY KOOKY AND DISHONEST
The ID Editors' Letter begins: "In the last Agora update we saw an announcement of Murray Bookchin's death accompanied by characterisations against Democracy & Nature (succeeded by our journal) which clearly aim at defaming the journal as one specialising in censorship." Now, this Bookchin death notice appeared as a short mention on the CC/AI Website "News" webpage. It had no pretension of being a full obituary about MB. Naturally enough for the CC/AI Website, it related the latter's death to Castoriadis's work while mentioning involvement of an AI member, myself, in an incident in which both MB and CC were concerned, with MB eventually writing back to me to indicate that he had perhaps been too hasty in judging CC and his work. (Such a statement might be of interest to CC/AI Website subscribers also interested in Bookchin's work.) No general claim was made, however, about D&N being a "journal . . . specialising in censorship." People may now really wonder why ID inflated things out of proportion: What other such incidents might exist? We need not go too deeply into the issue that, with each new Fotopoulos journal--he has established at least three so far--Fotopoulos creates a new editorial board and advisory board, eventually dropping old members. It is now a journal calling itself "Inclusive Democracy"--from which some members of the "Democracy and Nature" team have in time been excluded (I among them) or in which others no longer participate (a number of disillusioned ex-members have on their own initiative corresponded with me)--that believes it has special standing to protest a death notice that did not even mention this "successor journal." A letter from the former editors and advisory board of D&N, whoever they were and wherever they may now be, would have been more appropriate. The Letter goes on to claim that D&N was injured by my "slandering it for 'censoring' a submission of" mine. Actually, with their shaky command of English, the ID Editors meant "libel." Yet they have not sued, since there is no substance to their complaint (see the sections on censorship below). Instead they invent a mirror incident to distract attention from their past actions. In a feverish "not only . . . but also" phrase lacking parallel construction, this Letter also claimed that "Curtis . . . 'forg[o]t,' . . . not only to mention that there was a reply to his distortions in the journal: http://www.democracynature.org/dn/vol5/fotopoulos_distorted.htm but also he does not bother to mention what this alleged censorship was about, counting on the fact that very few readers would bother to read his own biased description of the events." First, there is this kooky idea that I--the humorously self-described obsessive bibliographer of Castoriadiana--cite texts, including my own, only to "count on" people NOT reading them. . . . But as regards D&N's own 1997 response to me, I had not forgotten it in the least; indeed, a link to it is posted on our website, along with ones to every other text D&N has ever published that makes even the tiniest reference to Castoriadis, so far as I know. In a brief death notice for the CC/AI Website relating MB specifically to Castoriadis's work and mentioning D&N's censorship of my text about the Bookchin/Biehl resignations, I saw no point in mentioning a D&N text that had, despite repeated explicit requests on my part, resolutely refused to make any reference to my charge of censorship or to provide any hint of D&N's removal of me from its Advisory Board after I protested this treatment. In fact, to my knowledge, the only publicly-available text that provides an account of this censorship is the note "18a" I added in the web-based reprint of my D&N text on the MB/JB resignations . Far from being "biased," this sole text referring to the incident lays out both sides of the issue, whereas D&N and Fotopoulos resolutely refused to allow public acknowledgment that any incident had even occurred (see the sections on censorship below). We have here the spectacle of Fotopoulos trying to draw attention to a text of his in which it is claimed that I have "distorted" the Inclusive Democracy Project and yet which itself serves, by its muteness on the matter under discussion, as a suppression of controversy, a refusal to acknowledge--let alone accept--differences of opinion or interpretation, and, last but not least, a silent ratification of exclusion. I urge everyone to read it by clicking here: http://www.democracynature.org/dn/vol5/fotopoulos_distorted.htm . If anyone finds therein the least mention of what actually went on regarding the censorship dispute mentioned in the MB death notice, please let me know. (More, however, on the concept of "distortion" below.)
THE CENSORSHIP: HOW MUCH WAS CUT, WHAT WAS CUT, WHAT WAS SAID, WHAT WAS NOT SAID, WHAT RESULTED THAT INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY STILL WILL NOT ADMIT
The ID Editors' Letter asserts that, in allegedly "counting on the fact that very few readers would bother to read [my] own biased description of the events," I wanted to hide the fact that only part of my piece was not printed in D&N. The MB death notice actually makes the partial nature of this censorship quite explicit: "the text appearing only a year and a half later in censored form." In fact, cutting this small part (which they still refuse to print in their publications, even to discuss and dismiss it) became their condition for the rest to be published, as they themselves finally acknowledge, since they can no longer keep a lid on a controversy they have always wanted to contain. What was cut? After noting that I was joining the D&N Advisory Board even as Bookchin--complaining, among other things, that the journal had become too "Castoriadian"--was leaving, I added a short footnote to highlight this contrast: "I have my own concerns about other Board members. Fotopoulos assured me that my joining the Board did not entail an endorsement of what I consider Noam Chomsky's irresponsible public depiction of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson as 'a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort' who is merely presenting his 'findings' on the question of the existence of Nazi gas chambers" (I am relying on my 30 iv 97 electronic copy). Beyond their insistently bizarre misspelling of Faurisson as Fourisson--as if they unconsciously wanted to put "four" (French for oven) into this Holocaust-denying Frenchman's name that also includes the letters "SS"--this variable group of Editors has consistently claimed, from the very start and again in the Letter to AI, that I had "linked [my] acceptance of [their] offer to [me] to join the International Advisory Board (IAB) of the Journal with insulting remarks against fellow IAB member Noam Chomsky on the Fourisson [sic] affair, clearly implying that [I] was not in agreement with Chomsky's presence in [sic] the Advisory Board!" (beware of those exclamation points as well as those crazy Greeklish phrases . . . ). Since I had already accepted this offer three months earlier, no such linkage or "clear impl[ication]" was possible. Moreover, I was relating an assurance Fotopoulos himself had personally given me on February 1, 1997--accompanied by a "Welcome aboard"--that I could be on the Advisory Board with other members whose views differed from mine; he did so precisely in response to my raising the case of Chomsky's misrepresentations concerning Faurisson. If I did not have to endorse Chomsky's views in order to remain with him on the board, I naively thought that I could therefore be critical of him without being punished for committing an unpardonable crime oflèse-Chomsky ("insulting remarks," no less)--especially regarding someone who professes such an absolutist conception of freedom of speech that he, Chomsky, submitted a text on free speech that appeared in a Faurisson volume. As mentioned above and here in a nutshell: I was using this example to contrast my acceptance with Bookchin's resignation. Just as Fotopoulos had to add "present" to a recent demand he claimed only to be repeating, from the start and now again in their Letter the Editors's response to this critical mention of Chomsky's views has been to insinuate the word "presence" into my stand. I never used that word nor meant it nor even conceived it. Their introduction of the word "presence" is and has always been wholly their invention, from the very moment this controversy began, as the mistaken locution "presence in the Advisory Board!" here suggests. Again, I urge interested readers to look up note 18a of my piece for D&N, since this continues to be the only publicly available text, except for the present one, that lays out both sides of the controversy. D&N is still unwilling to acknowledge, let alone lay out in public, a difference of opinion or interpretation, claiming instead that they "clearly" know what I must have been "implying"--as if the basic distinction, in English, between "implication" and "inference" still escapes them completely. But let us return to the series of claims in the ID Letter, which includes one particularly ill-constructed sentence: "The Editorial Board thought at the time that Curtis, as any other author, had of course the right to criticise the views of other authors, members of the IAB or not. It thought however that such an insulting remark against an old member of the IAB by a newcomer in an article which was completely irrelevant to the Fourisson [sic] issue or Chomsky for that matter, was an unacceptable intervention in its own affairs and particularly to [sic] its right to decide the composition of the IAB. It therefore asked Curtis to withdraw this remark for his article to be published. This was all that the D&N 'censorship' was about--a clearly defamatory accusation which Curtis repeats thrice in the letter to Agora subscribers." It is unclear to me, however, what is "defamatory" about quoting Chomsky verbatim, and the relevance of this example is what was the (suppressed) topic of disagreement. But even after I was no longer a member of their advisory board, D&N still refused to allow into my text, or anywhere else in their journal, the least mention of what had transpired. I sent repeated e-mails explaining that, having been "disinvited," I should no longer be prevented from including an exposition of a controversy that now involved someone who is no longer a "fellow IAB member" (I had been told that this was the only reason my original footnote and subsequent attempts at compromise were being denied . . . ). Moreover, still today they remain unable to admit in print that I was in fact removed ("disinvited") from that advisory board directly as a result of my continued insistence on including this remark that Castoriadis as well as I deemed appropriate and worthwhile. Thus, once I was removed from D&N's advisory board, the censorship was maintained beyond the period of its ostensible justification.
THE CENSORSHIP REDUX: REPEATED, MASSIVE, AND TRULY NUTTY
Rather recently, this censorship was magnified to an absurd level. Last year, ID posted a number of entries on the English-language pages of the well-known internet-based collective encyclopedia project known as Wikipedia. As is expected and indeed encouraged, someone (not me) supplied additional materials. I have done the same thing with Castoriadis-related entries I did not originate, and no problem arose with my addition of CC/AI Website links. The ID Editors, however, went through the roof. Suppressed--not once but, as I understand it, repeatedly and almost hourly--were all changes to entries over which they apparently believed they had some sort of continuing and exclusive proprietary interest. Thus was a link to the expanded version of my D&N piece on the Bookchin/Biehl resignations censored in its entirety, over and over again, nine years after the original, partial censorship occurred. Instead of lodging particular objections regarding the accuracy of this or that fact or statement or analysis, they tried to squelch any and all deviations from what they themselves felt could be said about themselves. Reading in full the ID Editors' fevered statement on this matter is a salutary experience for all interested in how looney the Left can become: http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/newsletter/Wikipedia.htm . Specifically, when they lost their fight within the Wikipedia review process these ID Editors made two determinations, neither with any real effect or even hold upon reality. The first was "to withdraw with immediate effect ALL the Inclusive Democracy entries from Wikipedia, including those that have been challenged only on account of trivial Wikipedia copyright violations, as well as those like the entry on the founder of Inclusive Democracy, [[Takis Fotopoulos]], which has not been challenged by anyone during this whole process." I particularly like the idea that a supposedly social-historical project like "Inclusive Democracy" might have a "founder," in the person of Fotopoulos (whereas Marx spoke, regarding Communism, only of a "specter haunting Europe")--which in fact reinforces one of the key arguments in my text on the Bookchin/Biehl resignations. Their second decision was "to demand the banning of any new entry on the following topics: Inclusive Democracy, Democracy & Nature, The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, The International Network for Inclusive Democracy and Takis Fotopoulos. We reserve all our legal rights in case any future entries on these topics are created in Wikipedia without our explicit and written permission." Fotopoulos, the Moses-Solon-Surak of Inclusive Democracy, had severe difficulty with the concept and procedure of a Letter to the Editor. Imagine the faces on the members of the editorial board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, had he demanded that they "ban," or await his prior written approval regarding, an entry on himself or the social-historical project he claims to have "founded." In fact, these entries remain on http://www.wikipedia.org --without, to my knowledge, any lawsuits instituted or pending. I therefore view all idle charges against me of "slander," "libel,"and "defamation" in exactly the same light. With no thanks to the ID Editors--they call for wholesale suppression of these entries-- the internet version of my piece on the Bookchin/Biehl resignations is now available as a link within Wikipedia's "Democracy & Nature" entry .
THE CENSORSHIP GONE WILD: ANOTHER ID EDITOR MAKES HIS OWN MODEST PROPOSAL; OR, THE ID SPEAKS ITS MIND
After such a resurgence and magnification of the original censorship incident ("the banning of any new entry") and with the recent trumped-up charge of a "refus[al] to publish" used as a diversion, the reader will not be surprised to learn that the censorship impulse now evident among these ID Editors would become quite mad. In the three weeks since the publication of ID Newsletter #37 (Part 1), I have endeavored to discern what exactly the ID Editors expected of me. For doing so, I've been treated in such terms as "Stalinist" as well as "Zionist," "BLATANT LI[AR]," "devious reader," etc. And all the while, their explanations for what they want and when they wanted it have changed too many times to recount here. Finally, I was faulted for not understanding that the demand as well as the threat-without-deadline in their Letter were quite literally "immediate." How was I to know this--let alone try to fulfill it, given temporal and organizational constraints? Because, as another IDEditor wrote me, "we saw [it] as very urgent" (emphasis added). Thus, everything is reduced to my evidently guilty inability to discern clairvoyantly, via e-mail, other people's unarticulated immediate urges (and still, "very urgent"--not the same as "immediate"--could reasonably be interpreted to mean including this "Letter to the Editor" in the very next monthly update, since there has been no coherent and consistent explanation of what constitutes an "addendum"). But here arose a desire for total mastery, with the attendant need to censor all that does not conform thereto. "Still," this second Editor went on, limiting himself to a mere triad of parenthetical exclamation points, "had you really wanted to have the matter closed, even at this very late stage, there is a way out: you should publish in the next issue of Agora our letter IN FULL AND WITHOUT ANY FURTHER COMMENTS BY YOU (you started it after all!!!) and then we will be prepared to write an addendum to our newsletter in which we published the Agora announcement to the effect that after the publication of our letter to Agora we consider the matter closed." Since, as I was informed, IDcorrespondence is officially approved before being sent out, we can assume that this rabid statement--in capitals, no less, which indicates that there should be no doubt about the intention--is indicative of the full ID Editorial Board's policy: So long as the CC/AI Website--and/or our electronic update announcement, that's still not clear--turns over its pages to ID and ceases to express opinions on its own, ID will be satisfied. Put more colloquially: Do whatever we say right now and shut up. Why even bother to write anything ID will idly and inconsequentially construe as "slander," "libel," or "defamation," when the Editors do such a good job of articulating their own basically censorious and authoritarian urges and drives?
THE PARANOIA: SELF-CENTERED, FRENZIED, AND WATERTIGHT, YET WILDLY SPECULATIVE
From such an over-the-top will to mastery and censorious control, full-blown paranoia was just one step away. Based upon firsthand conversation with Castoriadis as we sought to deal with D&N's censorship efforts, I had reported in the MB death notice that "Castoriadis had determined to leave its Editorial Advisory Board as soon as the censored version appeared, a decision he was not able to carry out, however, due to his own intervening illness and death." As explained above, Castoriadis wanted to see the text published and did not want to jeopardize publication by resigning prematurely; we would leave D&N once the censored version was ushered into print--which publication, unfortunately, did not occur until fifteen months after his death and nearly two years afterD&N's censorship effort, which Castoriadis opposed, had begun. I had already told Fotopoulos of Castoriadis's support of my full text, quoting the latter, in response to a query I posed to him directly, to the effect that CC had "always" considered Chomsky's behavior "irresponsible" in the Faurisson affair. But why "suddenly," in a MB death notice, bring this up now, in 2006, ID Editors asked suspiciously? There should be some ulterior motive; it must be the most evil one possible; and my report of my conversation with CC thus has to be a lie. Here, having teetered at the precipice for nearly a decade, Fotopoulos et al finally went over the edge. It must be Zionism on my part! I must be lying in order to derail ID's principled stand against the "oppressor" Israel and for the "oppressed," Hezbollah (Arabic for "Party of God"). My "timing" establishes my evil intentions! In short, ID believes that the world revolves around them and their stands at all times and that there must be an explanation for all that happens in the world that coincides with their timetable and analyses. Needless to say, my calm explanation, which sapped their "sudden" discovery of something that was neither a secret nor made up, did not satisfy them. Orally and in writing, in private as well as in public, I have never hesitated to tell people about Castoriadis's plan of departure from D&N. For example, in e-mailing the members of the Association Cornelius Castoriadis's Publication Committee (who may themselves have already resigned at that point, the date of their wholesale resignation still remaining a mystery to that organization's own members) and in answer to a public question at the September 2000 Castoriadis colloquium in Crete, as recorded on audiotape. Had the young man in Crete who asked me why Castoriadis and I had not been more supportive of D&N reported back to the Editors, no doubt the latter would have formulated a frenzied response that I was deliberately trying to undermine whatever bold position D&N might have staked out regarding the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David Summit or was covertly supporting Ariel Sharon's controversial and provocative visit to the Temple Mount the day before I spoke (talk about "timing"!). An editorial enterprise that began a decade and a half ago as "an international journal of political ecology" now endeavors to determine truth or falsity as a function of what it thinks it knows at any given moment, what the perceived stand of their interlocutor is with regard to its own interpretation of events in the Middle East, and what it views as potentially damaging to itself. As Pierre Vidal-Naquet said in conclusion to his essay "On Faurisson and Chomsky," "When logic has no other end than self-defense, it goes mad." No wonder things were so very immediately urgent that they could not even be articulated coherently. The Inclusive Democracy replacements for the World Proletariat might not have been able to withstand this blow for another few minutes, had not their valiant ID defenders taken decisive action on September 1, 2006 at 15:37:21 according to what appears to be Athens time (+0300).
I promised that, after dealing conscientiously with all this uproariously funny stuff, I would get to the point. First, why did I ever bring up Faurisson and Chomsky at all? Beyond occasioning a legitimately relevant contrast to MB's rash resignation , as I explained, it allowed me, in what I thought would be my maiden text for D&N as an Advisory Board member, to make clear to readers that I, English-language translator of Pierre Vidal-Naquet at the time, was in no way endorsing the views of a "fellow board member," Noam Chomsky, whom PV-N had himself criticized so effectively and tellingly in my opinion. But Castoriadis, with whom I worked closely the last thirteen years of his life, was affected by this controversy, too. I myself initiated this (subsequently censored) footnote on Chomsky, but with CC's full support thereafter--to the point that he planned to leave D&N on account of its suppression. I thus brought up this affair also because a number of people associated with, or not far from, Socialisme ou Barbarie had staked out positions regarding Faurisson that neither CC nor I shared but rather abhorred--starting with a former S. ou B. student member, Pierre Guillaume, whose Paris bookstore, La Vieille Taupe, created in 1965, was apparently the depository for unsold copies of S. ou B. after the group's dissolution but who later transformed this bookstore into a negationist publishing house that edited the Faurisson book with Chomsky's quasi-preface. (Also, Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit--who attended S. ou B. meetings himself and later introduced his brother, May '68 student leader Dany, to the group's publications and ideas--questioned in writing the Nazi gas chambers' existence after publishing a defense of Faurisson's freedom of expression, which right was by itself never for either PV-N or CC a defining issue to be challenged in this affair, just as neither of them ever supported the "loi Gayssot"--JGC-B clearly noting however, that Faurisson was indeed a "neo-Nazi" and not the "relatively apolitical liberal of some sort" Chomsky had wrongly claimed. If my recollections of news reports from two decades ago are correct, "Gaby" eventually recanted his earlier stance in 1986--at the time he presented himself for parliamentary election in France on the Parti Socialiste-allied Génération Écologie ticket. If I am inaccurate on any facts relating to JGC-B, or anyone or anything else, I ask for readers' corrections.) Some unscrupulous souls have used especially the S. ou B. connection with Pierre Guillaume (not to be confused with long-time S. ou B. member and author Philippe Guillaume, Pierre Guillaume having never penned a S. ou B. text) to attack CC and S. ou B.; see Nadine Fresco, "Parcours du ressentiment," Lignes, 2 (février 1988), to which Castoriadis replied in "Au sujet de 'Parcours du ressentiment' de Nadine Fresco," Lignes, 4 (octobre 1988). CC found Pierre Guillaume's supposedly leftist version of negationism a tawdry and appalling spectacle, "stupidity" and "maliciousness" combined, he wrote. PV-N came to CC's defense soon thereafter: "Souvenirs à bâtons rompus sur Castoriadis et Socialisme ou Barbarie," in Autonomie et autotransformation de la société. La Philosophie militante de Cornelius Castoriadis, ed. Giovanni Busino (Geneva: Droz, 1989). I believe that my two-sentence footnote managed to articulate succinctly what CC himself "always" considered Chomsky's "irresponsible" behavior vis-à-vis certain people formerly associated with S. ou B.--without in any way implying or even hinting at a stance against freedom of speech or in favor of state-sponsored historical truth. Second, why now? Perhaps to Founder Fotopoulos's intense disappointment, I do not follow closely the ID Newsletter updates he sends me, and so I have no clear idea what his journal's stands are on Middle Eastern conflict, which stands would have no great bearing, anyway, on what I write. I ceased paying much attention since he imperiously demanded (another instance of that censorship urge) that I suppress all URL references to reprints of D&N texts that are not the authorized versions appearing on his website--as if Agora International itself had to investigate and legally adjudicate any alleged copyright violations in all jurisdictions before creating a webographic or web-based bibliographic reprint link for public knowledge and use. (CC/AI Website electronic update announcement subscribers may recall the somewhat cryptic general policy statement we put out on this score a while back.) Instead, once Murray had passed, it seemed that the far more interesting prospect of seeing him publish a reconsideration of his earlier views on CC had passed, too. All that remained was to make a brief statement reviewing what had happened and what--barring discovery and publication of some draft about CC among MB's posthumous papers--will now, we unfortunately know, never occur.
The project of autonomy belongs to no one, just as it was created by no one. Or, to put it in positive terms, it is a creation of the anonymous collective. Disputes about its meaning, value, and import are part of its very emergence and continuance. As such, claims to paternity, assertions of private foundation, and pretensions to exclusive interpretation (labeling dissenting points of view not as weakly-argued contributions or as lacking in full consideration but downright "distorted") are just plain nonsense when it comes to an effort geared toward contributing, individually as well as collectively, to the conditions under which this project might reemerge from its current eclipse. The worldwide "rising tide of insignificancy" cannot be stemmed by creating a "synthesis" within a review or by arguing truth or falsehood in terms of point-like adherence to a conveniently self-serving paranoid schema for explaining the current unfolding of world events. Authoritarian, censorious, or just plain idiotic impulses can be just as prevalent on the "Left" as on the "Right," as Castoriadis reminded us so articulately and as S. ou B.'s British sister organization Solidarity so felicitously revealed time after time. Instead of being driven blind by anger and rage, urged on by impossible desire for immediate and complete fulfillment, or clouded in judgment and thus prevented from undertaking the difficult tasks of reflection and deliberation, Castoriadis encouraged us at the very end of The Imaginary Institution of Society to make "thoughtful doing" (le faire pensant) an "essential component" of the "self-transformation of society."
I find this whole affair, from the initial censorship onward, such a sad occurrence, since a nonnegligible portion of what has been written on a variety of topics in S&N and D&N, including and perhaps especially by Takis Fotopoulos, is far from being without merit and can at times serve as true inspiration, of thought-provoking value, for those who wish to engage critically and actively in fostering such a self-transformation of society.
David Ames Curtis
Paris, September 2006