stalin/Marx

Jukka Laari jlaari at tukki.jyu.fi
Sat Mar 18 07:11:16 MST 1995


Sorry, I just can't keep my fingers off of keyboards anymore...

On Fri, 17 Mar 1995, Kenny Mostern wrote:

> I want, first of all, to thank Philip Goldstein for clarifying his stake
> in marxism in the post from which this is cut; I continue to deny that
> there is anything "marxist" at all about Laclau and Mouffe's position,

Yes? Is marxism un-historical theoretico-political formation that remains
the same despite what happens around? If there ought to be a scientific
dimension to marxism, then it should surely (a) admit that world has
changed (in many ways) drastically since father Karl and (b) change its
own basic postulates according to new realities. Otherwise marxism is
irrational? When it comes to the political side of marxism, then the end
is near when marxism won't change its politics and political agenda
according to these new realities. L&M's work at least tries to justify
itself to its environment. That should be appreciated. But that doesn't
mean that everything they've written is a de facto truth.

> but I appreciate his indicating, in the fourth point, where he stands vis
> a vis marxism as an explanatory system.  I continue to believe that this
> is the essence of what we discuss here.

'Explanatory system' because of ideological or discursive struggle (in
order to interfere to modes of thought of people) but also because of
knowledge necessary in political and ideological struggles (what sort of
reality it is that we are trying to change? etc). If we leave aside
political side of marxism then it's just one philosophico-theoretical
academic system among the others. And that's pretty important, I think,
if not essential.

> ...  further, it is always
> in principle absurd to blame individuals as individuals for what
> institutions do--especailly after their lives have ended.  (This is
> certainly not a Foucaultian position any more than it is a marxian one.)

Was that the problem? I've understood that it was more on the side of
marxism as an 'institution' that produced stalinism. As an optimist I'd
like to understand L&M proposing thesis that warns us about those
specific modes of thought that were constitutive to stalinism. -
"Essentialism" etc... Let's not skip the whole L&M project in the name of
ideological or theoretical purity. After all, it has been perhaps the
most important contribution to marxism since Frankfurt school.

Jukka Laari


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