unionists.nMeany, conservatives willnrecall, often marshaled hisntroops under the liberal banner,nnot only on such matters asnright-to-work laws and situsnpicketing, but also on the largernissue of the Federal government’snrole as the guarantor ofnhealth, prosperity, and equality.nNevertheless, Meany generallyntreated conservative ideologicalnopponents with fairness and respectnand was a staunchndefender of the integrity of thenAmerican system. In his advocacynof welfare-state capitalism,nhe was just as adamantly criticalnof those on the left as he was ofnthose on the right. He loathednthe “left-wingers” who made “anshambles” of the ’68 DemocraticnConvention, flatly rejectingnthe media’s representation ofnthe Chicago police as the aggressorsnin the melee, and hencould never understand why thensame liberals who denouncednright-wing dictatorships couldnalso promulgate “a policy of appeasementnof Communist suppression.”nAlways suspicious ofnSoviet ambitions (even, surprisingly,nvoting for Dewey in ’44nrather than for FDR because henfelt that Republicans could dealnmore effectively with the Russians),nMeany denounced Stalinnas “the Russian Hitler” as earlynas 1947 and remained a committedncold warrior until his death.nHe spoke out repeatedly againstnwhat he called “one-sidedndetente” and was outragednwhen the White House refusednto open its doors to AleksandrnSolzhenitsyn, with whom he developedna relationship of deepnmutual respect. Nor wasnMeany’s criticism restricted tonRussian communism: unlikenother American liberals, he wasnnever taken in by Castro’s fairnwords, and he saw oppression asnthe only possible consequence ofnthe spread of Marxism in LatinnAmerica. Long before the eventsnin Poland confirmed his view.nMeany believed that free tradenunions and communism werenutterly incompatible.nOne may legitimately regretnthat other inadequacies of thenliberal perspective remainednlargely undetected by Meany—nand by Robinson, whose booknrelies so heavily on interviewnstatements that it is almost annAn Underfed PestnMichel Setres: The Parasite;nJohns Hopkins University Press;nBaltimore.nby Peter J. CataldonMichel Serres’s subject, as hisntitle implies, is the primordialnphenomenon of parasitism. Serres’sndefinition of the parasite*nas the interrupter and interceptornin a relation would legitimatelynextend even to his book;nits style is a constant strain on thenreader, weakening one’s patiencenand coherence ofnthought. His aim is to demonstrate,nthrough the use of a diversenset of works including thenbook of Genesis, Plato’s Symposium,nand La Fontaine’snFables, that human relationsnand various institutions formednby them are essentially parasitic.nSerres claims that there are threenelements in a parasitic relation: anhost, the parasite, and a third individual.nAll positions are interchangeable.n’The parasite introducesndisorganization into ansystem of relations which forces anchange to new order. Hence,nthere is no system without para-nMr. Cataldo is a graduate assistantnin the Department ofnPhilosophy at Saint LouisnUniversity.nedited autobiography. But justnthesame,one can only hope thatnthe study of Meany’s life will inspirenmore American labornleaders to follow his examplenwhen confronted by the forcesnon the left. If they do not, thenneverything this pugnacious Irishnplumber worked for will gondown the drain. (BC) Dnsites according to Serres; any harmonynexists only on the edge ofndisorder. Disruption nourishesnnew order and repetition bringsnon the death of order.nSerres explains that knowledgenitself is a “space of transformation,”ni.e., just another typenof parasitic intervention 01 mediation.nIt is a bridge connectingnthe chaos of the world (nonknowledge)nand the prejudicesnof our ignorance. Thus the de-n*Note: According tojosue V. Hararinand David F. Bell, in their introductionnto Serres’s Hermes: literature.nScience, Philosophy, “The parasitenmay be defined as an overbearingnguest, an organism that lives offnanother organism, or a noise in anchannel of communications.”—Ed.nnnfining character of knowledge isnits instrumentality, the continualnprocess of testing particularnchoices and purposes. There isnno object of knowledge which isnindependent of parasitic relationsnor immune to the tendencynto disorder. It is not possible,nthen, to know something whosenbeing is more than its exchangenvalue in a parasitic relation—nsomething which has a naturenunaltered by the infinitennumber of relations of which itnmay be a part. But the existencenof relations, parasitic or otherwise,npresupposes the very thingnthat a theory like Serres’s denies.nIn order for beings to be relatednaccording to Serres’s notion theynmust be in those ways necessarynfor such relatedness. This entailsnthat there is something beyondnthe relatedness itself groundingnits very possibility; this is thatnwhich makes the being what itnis, namely, its nature or essence.nContrary to Serres, repetition—nif it be taken to refer to thosennatures which cause beings to benwhat they are—is not “in thenvicinity of death,” but rather isnthe sufficient condition for thenvibrancy called for by Serres.nWhat becomes of truth? It isnrelative; relative to changingnparasitic relations. Truth is consequential,ndependent upon thenoutcome of activity and not vicenversa. Serres’s theory turns outnto be another form of consequentiaiism,nwhich is so prevalentnin contemporary thought.nLike all consequentialist theoriesnit can be derived from the positivisticnview of the sciences as thenfundament of truth about allnaspects of reality. It is clear thatnSerres’s theory is thoroughlynpositivistic in this sense, as itnuses the simple physical and biologicalnnotions of action-reactionnand stimulus-response as par­nadigmatic in its interpretationnof human relations andninstitutions.nSerres’s consequentialism signalsnits self-defeating character.n•MHH43nAprU1983n