self help in a rural community

JOHN.T.MANTON 9141516 at
Fri Jun 16 09:29:14 MDT 1995

I'll start with reference to a "problem" of incomplete
proletarianisation, choosing for my example (because I feel that it
does no harm to give examples - the discussions of Italian politics
in this list being especially revealing) the topic of family labour.
The young labourer, whose parents own the land (which already puts
our character in a problematic relation to post-industrial
capitalism) has been engaged in various agricultural activities since
the age of ten. He is conscious of the processes under way in his
life relating him to capital, to employer, to wage or non-wage
issues. At the same time, there is an extent to which the idea of the
family as a functioning unit of economic production makes sense to
him, and he would not like to entirely rubbish the idea of familial
links of a close kind.
    Here, it seems that there is little use for ideas of false
consciousness. Of course it makes sense in the terms of a
urban-centred body of political theory and activism to operate at the
cutting edge of 'capitalism'; but at the same time a marxism which
seems to do no more than mirror traditional urban depictions of rural
homogeneity, reaction, savagery and atavism risks sterility in
failing to come to terms with the complexities of the
life-experiences of so many. It is this sort of complexity (rather
than the textual and analytical sort often pursued as its own end -
and I'm not using this as a ploy to brew up another storm in the
list, as I don't find many of the contributions either abtruse or
marginal) that strikes me as having more fruitful possibilities in
any future for radical thought.
      Am I a marxist? I think so. I find plenty to value in what I
have read of Marx. But I think that two thought-tactics that might be
useful in expanding the vitality of marxist thought are an openness
to metaphor (in a strictly monitored fashion, maybe something like
the work of Walter Benjamin...) and an analytical-empirical attention
to the details and complexties of lives both proletarian and less
certainly so. Is this still somewhere close to where I started out?
Apologies for the twisted expression - I put it down to a draining
week. And to Chris Burford, those few miles down the road, I didn't
get much private response to my first contribution, and thanks for
your encouragement. Ah.. the waves crash and sea spray drenches the
fourth floor window of the Iona Public Library..........

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list