LACLAU & MOUFFE UP YOUR ASS

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Wed Mar 8 09:43:36 MST 1995


I can't stand Philip Goldstein's childish drivel any longer:

>In Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, they are not so much
>analyzing the thought and beliefs of particular Marxists; they
>are tracing the development of ideas which they consider
>incompatible on postmodern grounds -- socio-economic
>determination by class position and indeterminacy of value and
>identify which explains hegemony.

>L & M's account has the aim and the virtue of telling us how
>Marxism can overcome the quagmire into which Soviet communism
>led it --

Oh, and what is L&M's brilliant non-class strategy?

>e.g., how Marxism can overcome its totalitarian impulses and
>recover a democratic ethos.

Totalitarian impulses?  You must have got your Marxism from comic
books.

> To argue, as Geras and others do, that L & G neglect the
>subtlety and the grandeur of great Marxist thinkers beg the
>point:

No, that is a very important point.

>Totalitarian communism has widely discredited Marxist thought
>and even the most brilliant Marxists are implicated in its
>discrediting.

Why should they be so implicated?  Why should you join in the
chorus of childish bellyaching?

>You don't overcome the legacy of Soviet or totalitarian
>communism by claiming that Marx or some Marxists were
>much smarter than their followers thought.

That is quite true.  And so you also don't blame people
posthumously for developments beyond their control and not in
accord with their philosophical principles.

One cannot argue for socialism by saying that Stalin was not true
to Marx's principles.  As you would correctly point out, that
would be empty moralizing playing right into the hands of
anti-communists.  So one needs to explain the sorry careers of
social democracy and Stalinism objectively, ie. in a Marxist,
historical materialist fashion.  This is not so mysterious.

Likewise, one can't argue for "socialism" today (any more than 150
years ago) on the grounds of "should be"; one can only analyze the
workings of the capitalist system and propose: if you want to
survive you must take these things into account and act
accordingly.  In other words, Marxism is based first and foremost
on objectivity, not moral exhortations.  Marxism bases itself on
what exists materially.  Whatever else exists in society, all is
fundamentally structured acording to the class system.  Even
non-class-based social problems and movements are tinctured in
their composition, leadership, and direction by the class system.
All this anti-essentialist drivel negates the material world,
reducing it to subjectivity and discourse, hence it cannot be the
basis for any revolutionary politics.  It is inherently
counter-revolutionary.

As for new social movements, they are all just minor little farts
until they get together what it takes to go up against corporate
America and the capitalist state.  The last time this happened was
in the 1960s.  Now all we have are academic conferences without
even real intellectual content, pop-culture hot air (cultural
"resistance" -- ie. acting obnoxious but doing nothing), and lots
of inward-turning theory (feminist, queer, Green, and similar
petty bourgeois useless appurtenances).  Yuppie greens and
postmodern professors won't make a revolution in a thousand
millenia.  They don't want to, because they want to believe, like
Max Stirner in the 1840s, that the real revolution is in THEIR
heads.


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