Marxist Economics? /Lukacs

Philip Goldstein pgold at strauss.udel.edu
Sun Sep 25 12:50:30 MDT 1994


	Why am I not surprised to find the economists arguing that you
can't do cultural materialist analyses without doing economics? or that
they don't argue the contrary proposition, that you can't do economics
without doing cultural analyses?

	The issue of the relationship between cultural and economic
processes or cultural analyses and economic theories is a long and vexed
one. Traditional historians, among whom I include Lukacs, Christopher
Cauldwell, or Lucien Goldmann, expected great realist art to reveal the
truths -- Marxist, socio-economic -- of the artist's society. Once formal
methods gained importance, this approach was condemned as reductive.
Speculative social theorists -- Marcuse, Adorno -- take art to probe or
question its status as a commodity in capitalist society in general. This
view preserves the romantic contempt for positive science, which it
identifies with the "totalitarian" character of modern instrumental
reason. Ideological theorists a la Althusser and early Eagleton (not too
early) assume that ideology mediates between art and society, including
capitalist modes of production. Since ideology explicitly denies its
socio-economic roots, the scientific critic had to find in the gaps and
blanks in a work the socio-economic truth which ideology would not admit.
In the postmodern era, which rejects the scientific objectivity of the
critic -- no science escapes discourse, the Marxist -- Tony Bennett,
Pierre Macherey -- examines a
socio-historical bloc which includes economic practices as well as
cultural and political norms and ideals. Art participates in forming as
well as promoting the mythologies by which this bloc organizes its social
relations.
	Gotta go -- my wife just called me. the cheese is melting.
Philip Goldstein


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