Consciousness lags

Paul C Gilmore gilmore at
Tue Feb 7 07:21:54 MST 1995

On Mon, 6 Feb 1995, Louis N Proyect wrote:

> 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?

I hate to split hairs here, but southern workers have been solidly
Democrat.  Only since 1964 have they voted for Republicans in
Presidential elections and even then if you throw up a Southern Democrat
for President, they vote for him.  It has been only since the 1980s, I
think, that Southerners have voted in large numbers for Republicans in
Congressional elections and only very recently that they have given up
the Dems for state legilatures.  These facts don't do one thing to
disproove your point though.  After all, Southern states have the most
draconian labor laws and they were passed by Democrats and those same
Democrats came up with the policy of "massive resistance" to
desegregation.  Are these things related?

> 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
Paul Gilmore  gilmore at


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