postmarxism and postmodernism

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at
Mon May 27 08:53:19 MDT 1996

On Sun, 26 May 1996 owner-marxism-digest at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU wrote:

> From: Louis N Proyect <lnp3 at>
> Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 11:55:49 -0400 (EDT)
> Subject: Re: postmarxism and postmodernism
> Louis: I am not very interested in intellectual history per se. I am
> interested in changing the world. I am attracted to thinkers who can help
> me figure out how to fight the capitalist system. Any other reading I do
> is for leisure. That means Stephen King instead of Deleuze and Guattari.

Well, I'm also interested in changing the world.  I happen to think that
understanding and changing the way people think about the world has
something to do with changing the world.  In fact, however, I suspect
that you believe this even more than I do.  Moreover, anyone who thought
intellectual history was totally unimportant would not be on this
list--they would be "out there" simply "doing" in some inchoate way.

> Deleuze, who we have discussed on this list before, has ideas on fascism
> that while entertaining have hardly anything to do with the historical
> phenomenon. The reason I would read Trotsky, or Poulantzas for that
> matter, is that they are engaged with real problems in the real world
> rather than empty "theorizing" that could not by any stretch of the
> imagination lead to political action.

You are at least consistent in your obsession, Louis.  I scarcely regard
myself as the one-trick Deleuzian/postmarxist pony you seem to want to paint
me as.  I really can't be bothered defending Deleuze right now--and as
you know nor did I in the paper I wrote on Deleuze and Guattari and
fascism, which in the end criticized them for idealism and over-reliance
on sloganeering.  You preferred to pick of _A Thousand Plateaus_ and
expatiate on how badly written you think it is.  Similarly, when I tried
to discuss cultural studies' populism, you fixated on Jameson's writing
style rather than the issue I was trying to discuss.  No doubt this is a
difference of approach, but I myself don't see the need to take in a writer
hook, line and sinker to find them useful.

Anyhow, it is all too easy inadvertently to confirm your obsessions.  For
what it's worth, I also read my share of labor history--specifically
Latin American labor history; the historians I work with here
(specifically Danny James and John French, but also to some extent Lou
Perez) are all Latin American labor historians.  At a recent Latin
American labor history conference here, I was the only person there from
literature or languages.

However, I really don't see the point of providing some kind of radical
cv for you or for the rest of the list.  I would rather find topics that
we can discuss in mutually helpful ways.  However, I don't find the need
to caricature your approach to things, and I think it would help the
discussion if you didn't find such a need, either.

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at

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