LOV and Tory Stabilisation?

Howie Chodos howie at magi.com
Sun Jul 9 10:07:39 MDT 1995

Just a couple of comments I've been meaning to get around to on Scott M's
post from late last week. First a simple one, Scott asked why I put "ruling
class" in quotes. To be honest I can't remember. But there is an ambiguity
in the term "ruling class" which, I would speculate, is what allows both
Scott and I to use it while probably meaning different things by it.
Depending on whether one thinks that "ruling" or "class" is the fixed term
one gets an important difference of emphasis. Is it a class that is
constituted elsewhere which rules, or is it a group, or groups, that
constitutes itself into a class of rulers by maintaining control over the
levers of power?

I think that this difference of emphasis goes to the heart of the relative
autonomy debate. If it is a matter of a class, constituted outside of the
political terrain, seizing the mechanism of the state and shaping it to its
own ends, then the degree of autonomy one grants the state and politics in
general will be more limited than if it is a matter of the state being a
terrain necessary to the constitution of a ruling group. I would venture
that even Marx's aphorism that "all class struggles are political struggles"
can be read in light of this distinction. Does a pre-constituted class
venture onto the terrain of politics, or is politics necessary to the
constitution of the class, and therefore helps to shape the class itself? I
tend to prefer the latter formulation, which is also closer, I believe, to
E. P. Thompson's idea that "the working class makes itself as much as it is

Maybe this had something to do with why I put "ruling class" in quotes, but,
then again, it may just have been gremlins in the keyboard.

Howie Chodos

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