More about that relative autonomy thing

Philip Goldstein pgold at
Thu Sep 29 06:19:00 MDT 1994

	Paul Cockshott writes that identification with workingclass
militants and their struggles enables academics to overcome their limited
class position. My experience is that militant workingclass groups,
parties, and individual reproduce all the ideologies of our society.
That's why there is constant struggle over what is true leftism,
scientific Marxism, ideological purity, bad revisionism, etc. In this
sense these groups or individuals are not outside the system. Besides,
the assumption that academics are not workingclass is misleading. Many
universities have bargaining units which negotiate contracts with the

	Cockshott also sees little in my description of ideological
indeterminacy. I was answering an objection that said that academic
teaching and research simply reproduced the hegemonic system.
Indeterminacy means that academic work can subvert the identities and the
values by which the hegemonic system reproduces itself. Teaching can be
functional and dysfunctional. In other words, there is place for
resistance within academic and not in a utopian space outside it, where
true militants gather to feel their man or womanhood.

	Lulu defends my notion of indeterminacy but then takes it away
with her distinction between Ideology and ideology. If I understood her
interesting comment, Ideology is hegemonic while ideology is or allows
disagreement. I believe that Althusser rejected this distinction --  no
big Ideology precisely because of the phenomenological analogies which
Lulu draws. In other words, there is no totalizing Ideology but only
different ideologies, each with its own history and time and each seeking
hegemonic status but never able to erase the others. This position, like
Lulu's, breaks down the base/superstructure distinction but more
radically. THe distinction does not allow any determination -- final--
but economic practices but also does not give us a structure or set of
oppositions which define a capitalist system as a whole.

No doubt I have gone too far now.
Philip Goldstein


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