Utopianism v. Radical Democracy

Guy Yasko guyy at aqu.bekkoame.or.jp
Wed Jun 14 01:23:21 MDT 1995

>From Justin:

> Geras slams Laclau and Mouffe for setting up straw man caricatures of Marx
> and Marxists, accusing them (M & the ists) of extreme, vulgar economic
> reductionism, and then of inconsistency whenever M & the ists deny this
> implausible position. I think Leo does the same thing in positing that the
> key to Marx is the chiliatstic transcendence of an absolute subject-object
> division which turns people into mere traeger, bearers of class relations,
> in capitalism. [...]
> He's quite interested in human, specifically working class action in
> C1 and elsewhere--in C1, consider the chapter of the Struggle for the
> Determnination of the Length of the Working Day.


Thanks for bringing this up and sparing me the trouble.  I will add only that
the chapters on the production process and the division of labour in volume I
also indicate that Marx was concerned with more than the maintenance of
Cartesian subjectivity, but in quality of labour as well.  This was even more
true of 19th century utopian socialisms and anarchism, as well as a strain of
Marxist thought stretching from William Morris to Harry Braverman.

As Justin observes, despite Leo's criticisms of Marxist philosophical vulgarity,
his reading of vol. I chapter I essentially repeats the orthodox reading of
Marx.  However, many post-structuralist critics have seen much more in Marx.
In fact -- sorry Justin -- they sometimes echo Justin's line on Marxism being a
complex of various theories rather than anything monolithic.  Take a look at
the writings on Marx from Gayathri Spivak, Derrida, Dominick LaCapra, or
Iwai Katsuhito.  (Iwai has expanded the usual deconstructionist repertoire to
Schumpeter, Uno, Marx, & Keynes.  He sometimes hangs out at Yale, so maybe
some of you know of him.  His _Theory of Currency_ was a minor hit here a
couple years ago.)   These critics realize that if the post-Cartesian/post-moder
reading "subect" can identify only Cartesian subjects or their negation, we fall
into yet another of modernity's binary oppositions.  Accordingly, in their
readings of Marx, these post-structuralist critics have attempted to retreive
something Other than the usual.   By the way, Spivak is also rather critical of
Laclau and Mouffe.  Are we to take her as some sort of vulgarian pining for
lost paradises?  I'd be interested to hear Leo's response to L & M's critics fro
the other side.


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