What happened to Telos?

Telos used to be firmly left-wing, right? What happened from then to now when they post blog commentaries celebrating the “revolution” of Berlusconi’s re-election? Berlusconi’s victory was only possible because of a neo-fascist groups and the new mayor of Rome, that supposedly would have done something about the Pope not being allowed to deliver a speech, is very obviously a neo-fascist still. Just the other day in the Guardian I saw pictures of his supporters throwing the fascist salute. (Update: So, infinite thought actually links to an article in the New York Times that has the picture.) Yeah, great…

Digressionary question: why is it that the Pope, whichever Pope, always have such strange and compromising relationships with fascistic governments?

12 thoughts on “What happened to Telos?

  1. If you’re bored, read Paul Piccone’s editorials from the mid-eighties until his death. Simply put, he was a weirdo. Telos has not been a left journal of critical theory for well over fifteen to twenty years – corresponding, as it were, to their collective interest in Schmitt. Disclaimer: my dissertation supervisor was involved with Telos in the late seventies – my understanding of the trajectory of Telos is likely skewed by his inside knowledge that he has shared with me.

  2. They do publish leftist critical theory though. I guess it is one of those weird anti-liberal liberal things. You know what I mean? Where they include everyone in an attempt to show that they’re the truly liberal ones, all the while saying that the leftists are wrong.

  3. Craig, that’s also my take on Piccone and Telos and I didn’t have a disclaimable personal connection other than a theory seminar with Russell Jacoby, which I enjoyed, but he’s another weirdo. Those guys had some daddy issues so they’re kind of on that Churchilly trajectory from youthful rebellion to mature authoritarianism.

  4. I think the Telos is a bit more representative of the core editorial team than of the journal itself. Having said that, the major interests of the journal – the themes it has cultivated (e.g., Schmitt) – have followed Piccone’s strange journey. (He even used to write under pseudonyms in the journal through the eighties in addition to his usual prodigious output as the voice of the journal.) I think Piccone was a better networker and popularizer than thinker. There’s always this homage to him to search for clues.

  5. Scott McLemee told me it was okay to send an article to them, and now it’s coming out sometime this year. I like to think that the article isn’t reactionary, but I guess I’ll have to let an enlightened public judge.

  6. I’m sure it isn’t reactionary. I just wouldn’t have expected the right-wing stuff is all, but then I looked at the editorial board and now I understand. They’re scared of the Muslims too. Get that friend-enemy distinction going, quick!

  7. Wow. Craig, that’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Tim Lukes’ nice intellectual biography of Durkheim sits happily on my shelf, but he seems to be having trouble keeping a train of thought on the rails for more than a phrase or two at this point. Still, your point about Piccone’s strengths as a networker and popularizer are well-supported there.

    There’s a style of crankiness where the objective is always to shock and antagonize. I’m thinking of Voltaire. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be the animating spirit of Telos more than any deeper commitment to a critical ethic. So what could be more shocking and antagonizing to smug lefties than to call Berlusconi a revolutionary?

  8. Telos has been a very mixed bag for a long time. I was reading an issue from 1978 the other day; it was clear Piccone already thought Marxism was worthless at that point, and a few years later he came up with his “artificial negativity” thesis (i.e. all the new social movements are just ways the totally administered society keeps itself running smoothly via a little grit in the system). All of this was well before the “turn to Schmitt” of the late 1980s, which freaked out a lot of people on the left.

    But Telos was pretty heterogeneous, too, and saying that the whole journal had “gone right” always seemed kind of hysterical.

    By the way: Timothy Luke (who wrote the Piccone thing) is not Stephen Lukes (author of the big Durkheim book).

  9. Not meant as a dig at you, APS. Actually it’s more like a self-criticism….

    The Telos site is offering a collection of Piccone’s writings. I assume that means stuff published under his own name. One of these days they should bring out the collected works of Moishe Gonzales, his alter ego.

  10. To be clear: I’d publish in Telos and likely will (at some point). In terms of left critical social theory/social science, it isn’t as boring as Economy & Society and as trendy as Theory, Culture and Society – it’s fine journal, some are better and some are worse. I don’t think the mere fact of published in Telos will result in anyone being dismissed as either a communist or a fascist.

Comments are closed.