Post-Marxism without apologies?

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Mon Jan 30 12:43:36 MST 1995

On Mon, 30 Jan 1995, Kenny Mostern wrote:

> Jon Beasley Murray--
> I just wanted to say that I agree with much of you post.  The one thing that
> I think was concretely wrong in what you
> said, and can't be overstated in the U.S. (a location which neither
> Laclau nor Mouffe comes from or has worked for an extended period), is
> that no, there has never been serious marxism in the U.S. academy,

As a Marxist who spent some time in the academy, I take exception to this.
And so might John Roemer, Jon Elster, Adam Pzrezworski, Erik Olin Wright,
Andrew Levine, Elliot Sober, Rodney Peffer, Richard Schmitt, Milton Fisk,
Harry Cleaver, David Scxhweickart, Alan Wood, Richard Boyd, Daniel Little,
Alan Gilbert, Jeff Reimna, Terence Ball, James Farr, Richard Wolff,
Stephen Resnick, Anwar Shaikh, and others I can see just looking over my

> no, people in the U.S. who call themselves postmarxist have rarely if
> ever come to grips with any version of marxism at all.  The particular
> and bewildering misuses of Laclau and Mouffe (who, for all I dislike
> about them, were in fact writing a book about "socialist strategy"!)

Actually I'd put them in the category of people who have not come to grips
with any form of Marxism as well. Their vulgar caricatures and straw man
targets do not inspire any confidence, as Geras has shown in his New Left
Review pieces collected in Discourses of Extremity.

--Justin Schwartz

> the academy here can largely be traced to the fact that the book's
> readers rarely had the neither an interest or a knowledge of the source
> material on which the book was based.  Which is why, for example, the
> name "Gramsci" (like also the name "Bakhtin") has come to mean any and
> every patronizing liberal thought any U.S. academic has for something,
> regardless of the content of the notebooks.  No, there is no post-Marxism
> in the U.S., and though I am not Leninist (certainly in the party
> structure sense) and I believe that such things as cultures and psyches
> have to be analyzed as modes of material production in themselves, not as
> derivative of the economy, I remain a marxist while and until I believe
> that the material conditions for any kind of post-marxism in the U.S.
> have been reached.  Indeed--I've barely begun studying Marx.
> Kenny Mostern
> UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group
> Against:  racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism
> For:  the truth--and the funk!


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