C.L.R. JAMES/Negri

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sat Apr 15 23:31:51 MDT 1995


>There are only formal resemblances between James' work and
>today's post-colonials, from Paul Gilroy to Homi Bhaba.

Bhaba I don't know but the name.  I have some minor quibbles with
Gilroy (his caricatures of Marxism, most of all) but I don't class
him with the rest.  THE BLACK ATLANTIC is an epochal work, in my
opinion.  I love it.  I can't remember everything in SMALL ACTS,
but I'm sure I admired most of it.  I have THERE AIN'T NO BLACK IN
THE UNION JACK but haven't cracked it.  I am not into the politics
of animating this stuff, though some of my friends have given me
some indications of what all these people fight about.  I'm the
quintessential provincial American.  I only know here; I'm not
connected to the multicultural elite and I don't know what's going
on in "third world" circles.  Naturally, I have no feeling for
what these intellectuals fight about.

>Even deconstructionists are now recoiling at the use of some of
>their concepts, e.g., Gayatri Spivak

I refuse to read anything that uses words like "alterity" or
"subaltern".  Certain words push my buttons.  If I happen to read
an author who uses words such as "reinscribe", "unpack", or
"gaze", I immediately cross that person off my list.

>At any rate, the discussion ahead of seems to be Negri.

I still crave an explanation of THE SAVAGE ANOMALY.  I do have
COMMUNISTS LIKE US and MARX AFTER MARX in my collection, but I
have not read them.  So far my interest in the autonomists is
solely because they were influenced by C.L.R. James.  I'll keep an
open mind in spite of the cynicism I already start out with.  MARX
AFTER MARX is in storage somewhere.  COMMUNISTS LIKE US is right
here at hand, but it looks pretty boring.

However, given your comments on the stuff you have read, it seems
you are even more cynical about Negri than I am.

The translator of COMMUNISTS LIKE US includes a note which I guess
would explain Negri's attitude to dialectic:

"Since the '60s in French philosophy, the dialectic has come to be
associated with the imposition of power and the neutralization of
radical, alternative energies.  The mediation of conflicting
opposites and their resolution into a higher order of unity now is
linked with a politics that neutralizes conflict in the name of
Party or State order."

That certainly is an apt description of Hegel's rechtsphilosophie,
and it might loosely characterize the Machiavellian opportunism by
which all Communist Parties and most other so-called Leninist ones
operate, but to exhaust the meaning of dialectic by this
definition is pretty idiotic.  I smell a rat.  Negri has been
teaching in France since he got out of prison, hasn't he?  Remind
me never to visit there.


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