More about that relative autonomy thing

Philip Goldstein pgold at
Mon Oct 3 05:52:53 MDT 1994

 	Thanks, Lulu, for your thoughtful response to my critique of
ideology (Ideology) as a totalizing practice. You are right to say that
Althusser draws the distinction between little ideology and big Ideology
but in his later work -- positions, Reading Capital -- he gives it up (I
forget which work it is) in favor of ideological critique as limited to
particular discourses with their own histories and sciences. You are also
right to say that my position -- there are only ideologies, not Ideology
-- is Foucauldian. I think Althusser and Foucault come to adopt
comparable positions on this question. The issue for me is whether or not
I can legitimately call this Foucauldian position Marxist. LaClau and
Mouffe have argued that what we learn from the communist experience in
the USSR is that the scientific position which justifies an objective,
totalizing Marxism turns remarkably dictatorial and oppressive -- the
pronouncements of the party come to embody a truth which nothing can
contradict (This is not to say that the Soviet communists did not do good
things, as some are arguing). LaClau and Mouffe say that the critique of
this scientific stance returns us to the politics of Hegemony, where
hegemonic struggles take place in diverse terraigns. Hence the move to a
Foucauldian position. Is this Marxist? inherently non-Marxist? a
meaningful issue?

	I don't know what you mean by "non-knowledges." This notion
sounds teleological , to me, if you can only identify a non-knowledge by
what is a knowledge today.

	Paul Cockshott tells me that academics are comfortable, well off,
privileged, unexploited, never radical, with no interests different from
the ruling class. I have friends who work at ten schools a year and still
don't get benefits, who lost their jobs or were terrorized during the
McCarthy years, or who teach four or more courses each term and don't get
paid overtime. I have friends who have suffered from the right-wing
campaign against political correctness, who can't or won't say their
views -- too radical -- for fear of losing their jobs. I will let  them
know that they are rreally as comfortable as the major scholars at the
elite private schools and that they should stop supporting union efforts
and radical politicians because they don't really sell their labor power
and are not genuine workers. Sorry to be sarcastic, Paul, but I just
don't believe that the only radical group is the blue collar workers.

Philip GOldstein


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