THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Wed Dec 28 19:06:47 MST 1994


Heartfelt thanks to all for the extremely helpful bibliographic
sources and other feedback, which started coming in within a few
hours of my original post.  I have the books by Jackson and Murray
buried somewhere in storage, so I'll dig them out.

Otherwise, I am indeed open to reading Williams, Hall, Jameson,
and others on general principles, whether or not they are directly
relevant to this particular project, regardless of what I think of
postmodernism.  (I didn't realize Althusser came under this
rubric, but given the irresponsible practice of postdating
postmodernism back decades before it even existed, nothing
surprises me anymore.)

I will let others worry about how they choose to wage their
academic turf battles and carve out a "left" wing of
postmodernism, environmentalism, etc.  Naturally, I am interested
in anything that directly pertains to my interests no matter what
"field" it happens to be found in, but I reserve the right to
define my research problems, interests, and priorities for myself
and I do not feel bound to be merely reactive, ie. worry myself
over what everyone else is doing.  There are more fundamental
issues in life, and in thought, too, than whether someone takes
postmodernism to the left or not, and in any case I do not confuse
academic empire-building with social movements.

Until I finish writing what I am going to write, I'm not going to
lay it all out here.  However, I'm interested in taking a step
back to examine a fundamental problem that affects intellectuals
as a class, whether they be leftists or reactionaries or bumps on
logs, whether they be feminist, nationalist, poststructuralist,
queer-theorists, whatever.  The people doing all this work may
ultimately still be all the same kind of people even if they
"represent" constituencies that never got intellectual
(mis)representation before.  The role and relevance of the
intellectual in society remains a problem no matter how political
or apolitical you think you are, because your place in society may
have something to do with the kind of theory you are doing, no
matter how hip you think you are.

And now another tease: how does Marx explain the bankruptcy of the
Young Hegelians other than in the general sense of labelling them
petty bourgeois?  What specifically emerges out of the numbingly
detailed exegesis of Max Stirner?  What is to be learned out of
the merciless mockery of Bruno Bauer's precious self-consciousness
to be found in THE HOLY FAMILY?  What are the conditions leading
to the paralysis of intellect?  Is there a similar paralysis
today?

These are all rhetorical questions, since I am already formulating
some answers.  So keep those bibliographic suggestions coming in,
because I look forward to seeing whether any of these high-powered
theorists have already said what I have to say.

Hint: Marx does not stop at examining the material determinants
and power of ideology in society at large, nor does he stop at
merely criticizing the ruling ideology of the ruling class; Marx
has something to say also about the conditions affecting
intellectual production and development, conditions affecting the
development of the people around him and his OWN development too.

The educator must himself become educated.


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