On Spinozism and Marxism (fwd)

Bryan A. Alexander bnalexan at umich.edu
Wed Feb 21 18:25:44 MST 1996


Bryan Alexander					Department of English
email: bnalexan at umich.edu			University of Michigan
phone: (313) 764-0418				Ann Arbor, MI  USA    48103
fax: (313) 763-3128				http://www.umich.edu/~bnalexan

On Tue, 20 Feb 1996, Bryan A. Alexander wrote:

> ...
> To answer Bryan's questions:
> >Two questions:
> >        1. Why jettison the state/civil society distinction?  sorry if
> >this comes late - my mailer has been holding onto some posts for days at
> >a time.
> >        2. What do you all make of Marx's concrete use of Spinoza, hm?
> There are good reasons to (1) take the State/Civil Society distinction
> seriously (i.e. to read it symptomatically) and (2) to reject it as
> ideological.  This distinction is internal to bourgeois law and its
> disntiction between public and private.  It does however express the way in
> which power is organised in capitalism (albeit in an ideological manner) --
> the state monopoly of violence, the different functioning of the
> ideological state apparatuses (ISAs) -- the church, school, etc.  I can't
> go onn at length about this here.

Too bad!

  I will just suggest that the rejection
> of this is tied in with the rejection of the theory of the subject as
> external to material reality and of the problem of knowledge in
> epistemology (i.e. who can this subject have knowledge of what exists in
> this reality), which is based in idealist bourgeois juridical ideology.  I
> have given the references to Althusser's critique of these notions before,
> and I shall not repeat those arguments again (see _Philosophy and the
> Sponatneous Philosophy of the Scientists and Other Essays_).

Hm, not sure Althusser is a good place to go -
	But these are good points: seeing both the state and civil
society as different organzations of violence/power/meaning is useful,
Marxist, and well within the anarchist tradition.  Maintaining the
disctinction has its uses: a formal criticism of capital's forms;
resisting the nightmarish states all too often generated this century;
returning us to the significance and unique position of the state, all
too easily dropped.  All within the larger context.

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