Splitting the list? and Totality

Jonathan P. Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Wed Nov 16 13:07:12 MST 1994


Thanks to Louis, Jukka and Chris with the suggestions about splitting the
list.

Personally, I am in favor of having both a larger, overarching list and
having separate more specialized lists.  This is for practical as much as
for theoretical reasons: many people simply cannot cope with the amount
of traffic that a general marxism list inevitably generates.

Hopefully fragmentation could be overcome through cross-posting.

However, all of this will have to remain somewhat up in the air until the
list is settled in its new site.  In the meantime I am happy to receive
suggestions, if possible by private mail, so that the discussion of
marxism (in an atmosphere of friendly and productive debate, of course)
can continue unabated, rather than allowing the list itself to become a
discussion of itself.

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In this regard: Jukka's post makes me wonder about the breadth and
ambition of marxism.  Clearly marxism's wish to totalize has been at the
same time one of its great strengths (it refuses to lose sight of
connections, to become self-contained, at least in theory) and one of its
great weaknesses (it takes its own analyses for the totality, and so has
been unwilling, to take a random example, to deal with feminism etc. on
the whole).  I was also thinking about this recently in reading Jameson's
_The Political Unconscious_ in which one slogan with which I would
heartily agree ("Always Historicize") seems to be equated with another of
which I am much more wary ("Always Totalize" though he never quite puts
it like this).

I guess it all goes back to Hegel.  But I was weaned on Althusser.

Are there any useful ways of thinking totality nowadays?  The critique
that totality = totalitarianism is a bit quick, but seems to have
something to it, too, especially in the light of critiques of mastery, a
mastery that marxism always feels it must have.

Any thoughts?

Take care

Jon

Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu




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