Scientistic intellectual incomprehension and rejection of pluralism is often combined with affective hostility. Galloway’s remarks on Latour are a fascinating example of this phenomenon.
The spectacle of a reductionist determinist Marxist accusing anyone else, let alone Bruno Latour, of « naturalising » is just risible. Latour’s thought is one of the most deconstructive of naturalisations there could be.
Galloway’s article on Latour is replete with naturalised terms that he attempts to pass off as more conceptually sophisticated than they actually are by means of a vague veneer of Laruelleanism.
The key weasel word here is « the world ». Latour’s thought bifurcates the sense of « world » and describes the antagonism between being-as-other and being-as-being, or rather the agon of world against « world ».
Galloway himself reifies « world ». In fact, just about all of Galloway’s approach to Latour is one misguided reification after another. Not only does his Laruelleanism not serve to protect him from such reifications and naturalisations, it actively produces them.
The idea that « there is no event in Latour » is ridiculous, as is the related idea that he does not admit historical contingency.
One of the most important modes of existence for Latour is that of REL, or the religious mode of existence. Latour invokes Jan Assmann’s MOSES THE EGYPTIAN to describe how REL detached itself from MET, the polytheistic metamorphic mode of existence.This is an event of ontological scale for Latour.
He further describes, devoting a whole book to it (REJOICING), how once again REL has almost disappeared from the contemporary world.
Similarly for Latour « Nature » itself is historically contingent in its birth, persistence, and current replacement by Gaia.
Latour is obviously a post-modern thinker, in Lyotard’s sense of the incredulity towards legitimating meta-narratives. Galloway’s superficial attempt to attribute « one particular grand narrative, systematicity » to Latour is belied by Latour’s explicit deconstruction of his own burgeoning systematicity in AN INQUIRY INTO MODES OF EXISTENCE.
Galloway cites Latour’s « Why has critique run out of steam » without realising that there is a large part of self-criticism in this text. Latour admits here (and elsewhere) that the network-ontology has been the basis of a critique that ultimately allows the reactionaries to turn it against those who want to change the world.
Latour takes his distance from the paralysing relativism of the network paradigm and seeks a pluralist realism that culminates, for the moment, in AIME. This self-critical and self-transformative mode of research is the opposite of the scientistic entrenchement that Galloway’s Laruelleanism leads him to.