Birmingham Sch. and first instance

Thomas Schumacher tschumac at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu
Sat Dec 10 22:50:49 MST 1994


I would tend to think that the answer to Jon's question about totality and
certainty is that totality needn't necessarily imply certainty.  In fact,
totality could be read as an invitation to investigating other lines of force
rather than the singular line of economic determinism. . . .  But perhaps this
is putting words in the mouths of unsuspecting marxists.  Hall's (and other's
-- see the two volume set from Pluto Press called OPEN MARXISM) attempts seem
to point toward interpreting totality in terms of multiple determinations
rather than singular determinations determining the totality.  E.g., the second
Public Enemy record has to be seen as a product of determinations of the music
industry (in the first instance), but also of determinations of race politics
in the 1980's (see Hall's essay "On the Relevance of Gramsci for the Study of
Race and Ethnicity," Journal of Communication Inquiry).  Particular cultural
practices have to be situated historically and socially (understood in terms of
a totality?).

So there have been marxisms which have sought to totalize from the economic,
but marxism could also be seen as an attempt to understand the singular within
the totality -- overdetermined, as it were.

But then what to do with someone like Jameson who is trying to think the
totality of the capitalist mode of production with its accompanying cultural
logics?  Is his an open marxism?

Tom S.


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