Marxism, philosophy, and more

Philip Goldstein pgold at
Sat Jan 28 05:47:24 MST 1995

	Justin Schwartz complains, "I am not sure of the point of
Goldstein's comment about the awful things
which happened with Lenin, Sidney Hook, and what not." Since I was being
sarcastic, this is a fair complaint. Still, I did have a point, namely,
that conditions have changed a good deal since the 1930's. Let me just
list some of them.
a) dialectical materialism of the old Hegelian type became an oppressive
dogma, and its defenders, reactionaries of various right wing and left
wing types. Hence, modern philosophy, including modern Marxism, is
critical of them -- e.g., we get Marxist versions of anti-foundationalism
to counter the dogmatists belief that they know the general framework of
all truth.
b) the level of education has gone up. Most people in the US have at
least a 12th grade education now, and over 50% of American youth attend
some kind of college. This vast growth in education has created a new
context for intellectuals, in which they can influence all sorts of
people, not just the militant left; however, intellectuals must play the
professional game to survive or have any influence.
c) the big growth in television, newspapers, and the media has cut out
the public space of the old public intellectual, both liberal, leftist,
and conservative. Most cities used to have two or three newspapers, for
example; now they have one, and that one is part of a huge chain. Try
writing a left-wing essay for one of the big newspapers and see if they
publish it.

These sorts of considerations make evocations of 30's radicalism a form
of nostalgia, to my mind.

Philip Goldstein


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