More about that relative autonomy thing

Tue Sep 27 22:06:02 MDT 1994

On sept. 27th (Tuesday, I can't ever remember dates) Andy Daitsman wrote:

 As I understood him, intellectuals within academia
> help define culture, and culture in turn helps define the social formation.
> So the institutional independence of academia from direct control by the
> bourgeoisie (one of Phil's positions in his debate with Doug) can allow
> intellectuals to define culture in ways that contradict the interests of a
> sector or even the entirety of the bourgeoisie.  In other words, relative
> autonomy.

I think perhaps it may be a question of semantics, but I am going to
stick by my earlier reference to Gramsci. The key to hegemonic control
is the appropriation of various aspects of the subjugated into the hegemony.
This allows for control through the appearance of "relative autonomy."
To take it a step further, intellectuals serve, Gramsci argues, pretty
much as functionaries of the superstructure, as mouthpieces which hold
up the hegemonic forces. I don't think I would go so far as to say
the academy defines or did define what culture is or was. I also would
maintain that the academy, as an  institution, not as individuals, is,
like Althusser and Stuart Hall and countless others point out, merely
is an Idological apparatus of the state. So, any cultural formation,
which would then, using the previous argument, lead to social formation, ends
up being a product of the state, or the borgeoisie (whichever terms you want
to use).

I did miss the beginning of this debate, however, I think that it is necessary
to examine the full implications of Gramsci's conception of hegemony when
discussing the autonomy of the individual.

Have a good day.

ps An aside for those marxoids in the humanities.
I work at a bar in Lawrence Kansas, doing all the books, payroll etc,
brining my own dialectic--1. Being the boss and 2. my postion as a Marxist
or cultural materialist to the workplace everyday. Lest I digress too much
further. I always bartend on Monday nights, right after my cultural theory
seminar. Last night some yuckster asked me how I was doing and I said I was
sort-of tired from a long class. He mockingly asked if I learned anything.
I replied in a friendly manner, "why yes, I did. I learned that meaning
is inextricably linked to context.And that context, insofar as we can talk
about it, is wholly indeterminable and infinte. So the very concepts we
so rely on, the author, the reader, the text and its meaning, along with
the entire construction of western metaphysics are as good as dead."
Slackjawed, he said, "oh," put a dollar in the tip jar and I didn't see
him again. So, I am thinking about changing my internet name to the
Marxist, deconstructionalist bartender.
Sorry for the digression, but hopefully someone will get a chickle out of it.
Travis. Whoops that should be chuckle, chickle sounds like that gum I used
to get when I was a kid.


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