Consciousness lags

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Mon Feb 6 09:51:31 MST 1995


The question of why Argentinians remained Peronista long after his death
and long after official Peronism granted them concessions is merely a
subset of the question of why people act against their own class interests.

Why did the Russian peasants march behind Father Gapon, while
embracing portraits of the Czar? Why do white southern workers, among
the most exploited and oppressed sector of the American proletariat,
remain one of the bedrock supports of the Republican Party?

Vulgar Marxism of the economic determinist variety stares dumbly in the
face of such phenomena. A more sophisticated Marxism would tend to
recognize that people's mass consciousness at a certain point becomes part
of the material reality that forms the backdrop of the class struggle.

Since the lag between objective conditions and revolutionary
consciousness has marked almost the entire twentieth century, does this
explain the allure of Gramsci, Althusser and the Frankfurt school?  I'm
not trying to pick a fight with anybody, just asking....

Louis Proyect

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