CLR JAMES ON INTELLECTUALS & THE DIVISION OF LABOR

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Thu Oct 12 11:43:08 MDT 1995


C.L.R. JAMES ON THE (POST)MODERN INTELLECTUAL:

The rationalism of the bourgeoisie has ended in the Stalinist
one-party bureaucratic-administrative state of the Plan.  In their
repulsion from this rationalism and from the proletarian
revolution, the middle classes fall back upon the barbarism of
Fascism.  The anti-Stalinist, anti-capitalist petty-bourgeois
intellectuals, themselves the victims of the absolute division
between mental and physical labor, do not know where to go or what
to do.  Unable to base themselves completely upon the modern
proletariat, they turn inward, pursuing a self-destructive,
soul-searching analysis of their own isolation, alienation and
indecision.  They too appropriate the Hegelian dialectic,
interpeting it as an unceasing conflict in the individual between
affirmation and negation, between deciding for and deciding
against.

These intellectuals are the most cultivated in the modern world,
in the sense of knowing the whole past of human culture.  Having
achieved what the idealism of Hegel posed as the Absolute, they
are undergoing a theoretical disintegration without parallel in
human history.  In France this disintegration has assumed the form
of a literary movement, Existentialism.  In America it takes the
form of a mania for psychoanalysis, reaching in to all layers of
society but nowhere more than among the most urbane, sensitive and
cultivated intellectuals.  In Germany the intellectuals cannot
choose between Christian humanism and psychoanalysis, whether
guilt or sickness is the root of the German catastrophe.  This is
total unreason, the disintegration of a society without values or
perspective, the final climax to centuries of division of labor
between the philosophers and the proletarians.

-- from STATE CAPITALISM AND WORLD REVOLUTION, by C.L.R. James in
collaboration with Raya Dunayevskaya & Grace Lee; with a new
introduction by Paul Buhle.  Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing
Company, 1986; p. 128.


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