Newt's Amerikka

Valerie Scatamburlo valeries at YorkU.CA
Sun Aug 6 22:44:26 MDT 1995

This is my first post to the Marxist list.  Prior to subscribing I rummaged
through the archives and was intrigued by the discussion and dialogue about
Marx's theory of value, the materiality of discourse [?], etc. as well as the
most recent discussions of the situation in Bosnia.  Despite my interest in
these toopics, I have a few questions of my own which should perhaps be
contextualized by an introduction.  I am currently at York University in
Toronto and am in the midst of feverishly attempting to meet an Oct. deadline
for a book which deals with the new Right's assaults on that which could be
loosely described as the Left (i.e. the political correctness controversy,
etc.)  In this book, one of my main concerns is the fragmentation of the
Left, due in part to essentialist forms of identity politics, the
postmodern retreat from politics etc., etc.,  In addition, I am trying t
o grapple with the ascendency of the new Right, etc.  As I see it, the
"left" has done a rather inadequate job of responding to the right-wing
jeremiads (despite the proliferation of books on the topic of p.c) and
instead engaged in an endless array of language games and textual polit
ics.  I'm not suggesting that contemporary theoretical dsicourses (i.e.
post-structuralism, various strands of resistance pomo, etc.) have not
made substantial contributions to intellectual trajectories for they
have but it seems to me that progressives need to further their efforts
politically (and here i am speaking of academic progressives and actvist
s - although to some that may be an oxymoron)  For me Marxism is and
always will remain the most powerful framework (supplemented of course
with various discourses that recognize its blindspots) for explicating
social relations, however; in light of what is happening in the U.S. -
with the ascendecy of the Right (and more recently in Ontario with the
election of the Northern Newt - Mike Harris) I think it is necessary to
embark on a project which seeks to articulate an alternative vision than
that proposed by both conservatives and liberals.  Enter Marxism - as I
have indicated, the discussions of Bosnia etc. are indeed important and
in no way am I attempting to underestimate their significance but grave
things are also happening in our own back yard- and we need to address
the situation.  How can Marxism assist us in understanding and confronti
ng the harsh realities which the conservative counter-revolution has enge
ndered- besides the obvious argument which states that the right has
more money to promulgate their ideas-obviously they do!!!  While Ralph
Dumain's contributions to this post have raised the ire of many (i read
the archives) and while I in some sense, disagree with his bombastic
mannerism (a al Limbaugh), he nonetheless strikes an important chord-
academics need to become a little less academic and begin addressng
the material conditions in which we are embedded.  Wuile I cringe at the
thought of generalizing, I suspect that most contributors to this list
are housed within academe or are in positions which may not be affected
by the reactionary agenda of the new Right but, if we dare claim to be
Marxists we must address these agendas and articulate the relevance of
a Marxian revolutionary theory and praxis.
Let me apologize in advance for the length of this post and perhaps for
straying from the intent of the list (which is to discuss Marxist theory
and its relevance for today), but I am interested in confronting issues
which impact upon the current historical juncture in North America and
initiating a conversation about what must be done.  Finally, as I am a
newcomer to this list, I apologixe if this topic has already been addre
ssed in dialogues which I am unaware of.

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