Value, psychological and marxist

Seamus Malone redye at
Fri Jul 7 16:39:08 MDT 1995

On Fri, 7 Jul 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> I have virtually zero knowledge of sociology and linguistics.
> The window of opening I have on your post is a small one but
> perhaps the vital one - for me anyway. A group analyst who trained
> for a time in Frankfurt and then applied psychoanalytical methods
> to group dynamics. SH Foulkes.
I'm not really familiar with Foulkes, maybe some ref would be nice for me
to follow

 He posited that every group creates
> a *matrix* of psychological interaction between its members
> which evolves with time. Furthermore at the beginning of the
> analytical group each member brings with him/her into the meeting
> a set of social assumptions which, to the extent they are shared,
> form a "foundation matrix" for the group.

I think it is fair to say that what is generally brought to the fore in
the Marxist (Althusserian) appropriation of Lacan is the way in which he
palced the intersubjective relation as prior to subjectivity. It is
through the rupture or the ban on the desire for the other which places
the not-yet-subject into the feild of the social and makes it subject,
subjects it, interpellates it. Much of this is available in British
object relations theory, especially Melanie Klien, but I think it is fair
to say that Lacan takes this one step further. Because the "subject" is
an effect of langauge and occurs in relation to a desire which occurs in
the feild of the other an other which already has its place
symbolically determined (that's what Deleuze misses btw) we understand
taht subjectivity is a social product. Marx, especially if you read the
1844 material and the Grundrisse goes to pains to make the same point.
While Lacan is attempting to work radically off the same sections of
Hegel as Marx, I think there are important differences- particularly in
the meaning terms of relations of domination and what constitutes the
materiality of the relations which constitute what I call the
intersubjective feild. What is imporant in a nut shell is that subjects
do not exist in a social matrix, the social matrix (the already operable
feild of social meaning, of signs) the feild of the other constitutes or
produces subjects at its intercese.

> > In such discourse I think you are describing The social matrix, that
> is the matrix of the society as a whole, and arguing that language is
> a sub-set of that. If so I buy that argument.

And this is what I think would seperate a Marxist understanding of this
set of relations. Where Lacan brings Saussure to bear on Freud and uses-
largely because of the privledge of language in the psycho-analytic
exchange- langauge as a metaphor for the whole of the inter-subjective
feild of relaitons. What Jameson and Althusser are in need of doing but
consistantly fail to do is to is go back to the point in Saussure where
he privledges linguistics over semiotics and then begin again along the
same line. I would say that this is basically what I understand as
"ideology", the replacement of the effect of language for the symbolizing
function of an efficacious materiality which involves sensous experience
(pleasure, suffering)
> >
I am not qualified to develop your subthread effectively because
> of ignorance, but I sense it opens up and connects with a very large
> area of progressive academic thinking. You refer to Jameson for example.
> Could you help by posting a brief summary of Volosinov, in view of what
> you say about him/her?
Volosinov provides an early and pretty much unequalled critique of
Saussurian linguistics. While he doesn't delve into the semitoics of sensuos
 experience (I think Benjamin's arcades does). What he does emphasize is
that the linguistic signifier is an act and not an object- it is common
to equate the division of the signifier from the signifed as the division
of the ideal from the material- what Volosinov shows is that
signification is a social practice- thus there is a materiality to the
meaning and a meaning to the materiality. The lapse or inability to read,
interprete and generate counter meanings to material existence is for me
the prevailing purpose of ideology the emphasis on written literacty to
the marginalization of material literacy is in essence what keeps people
from understanding and developing a sophisticated sense of agency, not
oly that they can do something but that it will have meaning.

> > Chris Burford.
Seamus Malone
redye at

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