marxian economics

Paul W. Cockshott cockshpw at wfu.edu
Mon Sep 26 08:10:10 MDT 1994


On Mon, 26 Sep 1994, Philip Goldstein wrote:

> count as materialist in traditional terms. What breaks up this neat
> opposition, accepted by Lukacs, is the power and force of language, taken
> not simply as terms but as a system governed by conventions which are
> reproduced by a society. If language in this broad sense enables a
> society to reproduce itself -- its traditions, conventions, rituals,
> identity, language cannot simply reflect a pre-existent reality,

Language does enable society to reproduce itself and was for this
reason categorised as part of the base by Stalin in his Marxism and
linguistics. But one can not conclude from this that it is incapable
of transmiting messages about real things that exist independent of
the language. It is also of course possible to transmit messages
about things which have no real existence.

> and if
> we dismiss this constitutive view of language as idealist, we ignore the
> very real place of language, culture, or art in social reproduction.

It would be more accurate to say that language culture and art have
different places in social reproduction, of diminishing importance as
one moves from the first to the last.
> Few
> people responded to my diatribe about intellectuals, but, if this view of
> culture is right, then intellectuals, who run schools, the media,
> political organizations, the government, etc., become important because
> they maintain the rituals and structures which make culture a social
> force.
>       Donna is right to point out the cultural depths of political
> economy but the old realism won't let us pose the right questions about
> modern capitalist society which depends so much upon cultural practices.
>
Why does modern capitalist society depend more upon cultural practices
than earlier ones?
I am not saying that it does not, merely asking what index of cultural
practice importance one can construct.



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