LACLAU & MOUFFE

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Fri Mar 10 10:35:22 MST 1995


On Thu, 9 Mar 1995, Philip Goldstein wrote:

> WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE MAY CONTAIN OPINIONS CONTRARY TO YOUR
> BELIEFS. THE READER IS ADVISED TO PROCEED WITH CAUTION
>
> 	I have little time to respond appropriately. I am sorry -- the
> issues are interesting.
> 1) One person recommended that I leave the list because I defended Laclau
> and Mouffe. I am willing to start my own list -- should I call it the
> euromarxist list, liberal marxism, alternative or reformed Marxism?
> 2) Justin Schwartz made a very moving response, but I do not think that
> he faced the main issue -- are people like Stalin Marxist or not? If
> those people are -- and we can name many in a similar category -- what
> does that fact say about the status of Marxism?

Suppose we say they are. Marxism is a broad church. Does Stalin's
membership (or Pol Pot's, or whoever your favorite bad guy is) is
discredit the ideas of other Marxists who disagree with his ideas and
practices? Suppose i were to identify myself as a Jew. "Aha!" says
Goldstein. "Ariel Sharon is a Jew too. Doesn't that discredit Judaism?"
This line of reasoning is absurd on the face of it.

Of course Goldstein's thought is that something in Marxism--he doesn't say
what--leads inevitably--he doesn't say how--to Stalinism. If I had ever
heard a plausible argument to that effect, I's reconsider.

--justin



> 3) Howie Chodos -- did I get the name right? -- complains that Laclau and
> Mouffe only examine epistemology and, because discourse is their central
> interest, neglect objective interest. The complaint makes sense if you
> assume that Marxism has an ontology and not just an epistemology. The
> only ontological commitment of Marxism is to examining the material bases
> or practices of social life, rather than according mental ideals some
> sort of autonomous existence. I don't see that this ontology, if it is
> one, excludes epistemology or limits it. What's more, discourse is
> clearly part of life's material practices, nor can interests be defined
> independently of any discourse, ideology, hegemonic values, etc. Since
> this view is defended by L & M, I have a feeling that I don't follow the
> objection.
>
> Philip Goldstein
> Associate Professor of English and Philosophy
> University of Delaware (Parallel)
>
>
>
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