LACLAU & MOUFFE

Kenny Mostern kennym at uclink2.berkeley.edu
Wed Mar 8 22:39:50 MST 1995


Against my better judgment I'm going to mention here my article in which
I take on Laclau and Mouffe, not for being unmarxist, which they are, but
for being unable to explain the so-called new social movements they claim
to be explaining.

The article is called "The Idea of Coalition In Black Feminist Theory",
and appears in the july-December 1994 issue of *International Journal of
Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies*.

Before anyone on this list decides to read it, though, I need to mention
several things.  First, it was written a full four years ago, when I
knew essentially nothing about marxism, though I was beginning to get
interested.  Its major flaw, now, is that its explanation of social
determination is weak in the extreme; that is, it is insufficiently
materialist in general, and insufficiently marxist in specific.
Otherwise, the basic framework of the article, I believe, is fine; I
continue to
believe that coalition is a useful new word to replace volunteerism and
that Black feminists have written usefully about it.  It needs to be
translated.

As to why an article that does not express what I believe now was
published so recently, all I can say is, I expected to have the
opportunity to rewrite it.  Percy Hintzen, co-editor of the journal,
asked me for it, knowing it had been languishing for several years after
being turned down by a poststructuralist journal, who termed it
"essentialist".  I told him it did not express my most up to date
thinking, and if he wanted it he should let me know; I'd rewrite it
eventually.  Next thing I knew it was typeset.  So I just let it go.  I
have plenty of time to revise the thinking, and of course I'd
appreciate serious responses from marxists who are sympathetic to the
idea that there are social determinations relatively autonomous from the
economy, or with logics that can't always be economically predicted
except in the extremely long term.  (Marxists who don't believe that will
simply disagree with the premises of the essay, and probably should not
bother reading it.)

That'll suffice for my two cents on Laclau and Mouffe.

Kenny Mostern
UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group

Against:  racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism
For:  the truth--and the funk!



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