“Constructing” a society

A book review in the New Statesman pinpoints two valid parts of Michel Foucault’s work:

“[…] [I]t is easy to forget that Foucault’s influence stems from a simple but penetrating insight, developed early in his career: that the history of western civilisation is also the history of what that civilisation despises and excludes. Foucault was far from being the first historian to realise this, or to construct a version of the past upon it. But he was a leading figure in the generation that, in the wake of the convulsions of May 1968, sought to change contemporary society by interrogating it as ‘a construction’.”

Society is a construction, but a society, like a building, can be built so improperly that it collapses upon itself. You cannot construct it in any way you please; and an ugly building can stand for centuries, while a beautiful and theoretically correct building can crumble in months.

“[I]n the wake of the convulsions of May 1968”, many people started communes. They discovered that constructing even the simplest society was harder than it looked.

[Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.]

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