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.
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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