postmarxism and postmodernism

Rahul Mahajan rahul at peaches.ph.utexas.edu
Sat May 25 21:55:03 MDT 1996


Rakesh, I'm disappointed by the very superficial nature of your engagement
with the Ross passage. He very clearly says that he us talking about *the
left's* view of capital, and consigns it to a demonology of the Other.
Therefore, he is clearly not talking about commodity fetishism in the
general populace. Furthermore, the clear implication of his words is that
this view is wrong, which can only mean that the left needs to abandon its
strict opposition to capitalism, at least if it is to make any headway in
"postmodern consumer society," whatever that amazingly flippant phrase is
supposed to mean.

Your statement that Marx can be transcended only on the basis of Marx
smacks of dogma. There is no a priori reason to disallow or ignore
explanations which do not start with Marx; maybe someday someone will come
up with a vastly superior framework that makes no reference to Marx. Who
knows? It certainly is not a valid argument against someone else's attempt
at interpretation.

My view is that Marxism requires extensive revision, even
revolutionization. Efforts like Ross's, though, are transparent attempts to
gut it and remove any emancipatory potential. How else can you interpret
his statement about "... older forms of ressentiment that have little or no
purchase on postmodern consumer society"?

I can extract a kernel from Ross's words that I agree with, too. I
seriously doubt that that was what he meant, and even if it is, far more
important are the political implications ofd the way he said it.

Rahul




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