Ellen Meiksins Wood on Post-Marxism

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Wed Oct 4 18:41:11 MDT 1995


>Jonathan Ree's comment in 1974 that 'the socialist intellectual
>youngsters occupy the buildings, while the socialist
>intellectual oldsters occupy the chairs'.

I know nothing of Re's political history, but I am a fan of his
writings on the history of philosophy.

>The current theoretical fashions are very far removed from these
>realities. They are not about the new world order since 1989,
>nor even about the long-term trends in capitalist development
>since the late 1970s. What passes for the very up-to-date looks
>less like a confrontation with the eighties and nineties than
>the agenda of the sixties running its course.

So true, so true!  Running its course.

>At the very time that capitalism exerts its totalizing logic on
>the whole 'new world order', the most fashionable left
>intellectuals, cultivating their varied and fragmented patches
>of discourse and difference, claim the supremacy of their
>discursive practices while ruling out any form of 'totalizing'
>knowledge that might be adequate to comprehend the operations of
>the capitalist system. They even deny its systematic totality,
>its very existence as a system, while still, paradoxically,
>accepting, at least by default, the unversality and eternity of
>'the market'. As the expanding logic of that 'market' creates
>increasing strains along the fault lines of class, we are
>enjoined to pursue the fragmented 'politics of identity', with
>little hope of anything more than the most particularistic and
>local resistances within the interstices of capitalism.

So corrupt, so corrupt.

>we shall get more guidance from those who remember the thirties
>and forties than from those whose ideas are deeply rooted in an
>ascendant capitalism, or from the post-modern successors who
>have yet to catch up with the present, let alone look to the
>future.

The second half of this proposition is surely true.  As for the
first half, I don't know.  When I got off my butt to see Harry
Magdoff in DC a few months ago, I thought he was so stuck in the
New Deal he was incapable of thinking about the present.    Still,
I think we should study the 30s and 40s as well as recognize
changed conditions.

Ellen M. Wood has written other interesting works, such as a book
I have called THE RETREAT FROM CLASS.


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