working-class subjectivity

Santiago Colas scolas at
Sun Feb 4 18:09:04 MST 1996

I don't believe that one can equate "subjectivity theory" with idealism 
in so simple a manner.  Perhaps certain forms of a theory of the subject 
share something with certain forms of idealism.  But that is a questions 
that must be decided concretely, on a case by case basis.  For that 
matter, it seems to me that the most instructive element of Marx's 
thought--rigorous materialist historicizing--is lost if we take his 
specifically and historically situating idealism and materialism, in his 
time, with the state of the class sturggle in his time (and, for that 
matter, in his place).  Marx himself is much to careful for anyone who 
wants to call him or herself a marxist to assume (and then reject on the 
basis of that assumption) that what Marx had to say about German idealism 
(and materialism) in Germany in the 1840s can serve as a blueprint 
guiding our judgments about all idealisms and all materialisms in all 
places into perpetuity (or even just for today).

Santiago Colas					e-mail:	scolas at
Asst. Professor					phone:	(313) 763-4352
Latin American and Comparative Literature	fax:	(313) 764-8163
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1275

On Sun, 4 Feb 1996, SHAWGI TELL wrote:

> On Sun, 4 Feb 1996 glevy at wrote:
> > In reply to Bryan and Rakesh:
> > 
> > This issue is certainly at the heart of many debates among Marxists 
> > during the last 30 years. Interestingly, I think many different schools 
> > of thought are attempting to deal with essentially the same problem but 
> > from a number of divergent theoretical perspectives. The common ground, 
> > it seems to me, is a rejection of an overly mechanical, functionalist, 
> > and economistic view of the working class as subject. The common point of 
> > departure, then, is against "diamat", the interpretation of Marxism made 
> > popular particularly in the former USSR.
> It might be helpful to note that there is no economism, fatalism,
> functionalism, etc., in Marxism.  Marxism, from what I have seen, is
> thoroughly dialectical and unequivocally based on Dialectical 
> Materialism.   Thus, Marx and Engels saw the struggle between idealism 
> and  materialism as a struggle indissolubly  linked to class struggle. 
> The  notion that the emergence of "subjectivity  theory" is linked to 
> the  "common point of departure" Jerry describes is  correct insofar as 
> we  qulaify this by saying that this is a  view advanced by 
> revisionists,  post-Marxists, neo-Marxists, ex-Marxists, western 
> Marxists  and anti-Communists of all hues.
> Not surprisingly, there are many conscious exploiter-class organizations in 
> the world still actively trying to discredit or dismiss Dialectical 
> Materialism.  Many of these exploiter-class organizations are small, 
> obscure,  covert entities located in Europe. Of course, they exist in other 
> parts of the world.
> In short, this "subjectivity" issue is NOT at the heart of many debates 
> among Marxists.  But it is, I think, at the heart of many debates among 
> anti-Marxists and anti-communists of all stripes.
> If anyone is interested in explosive Marxist accounts of psychology and 
> subjectivity, accounts firmly based on the scientific tenets of 
> Dialectical Materialism, feel free to contact me.
> [Snip...]
> Shawgi Tell
> University at Buffalo
> Graduate School of Education
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