To Gary, was re:to Michael.

Carlos Eduardo Rebello crebello at
Wed Dec 15 15:12:38 MST 1999


I've this same sense of we as a dying breed sometimes. You see , I
defended my Ph.D in june 1996, at age 39, so I shall stay around in the
academy a little longer, but it angers me to see that the Sociological
research in Brazil is increasingly concerned with the most useless kind
of "Cultural Studies" (I've heard of a thesis,with research expenses
paid by the government, about tatoo patterns among middle class
youngsters in Rio de Janeiro!) while there is so much to be fruitful
studied in a time of deep despair and social anomy here. For instance,
the fact that - unfortunately for us, Gary - the Catholic Church in
Brazil has sucessfully adapted to modenity by means of the most wretched
emulation with pentecostalism; almost each month, in Rio or São Paulo,
there is a megamass in public premisses, where 6-figures numbers of
people assemble in a crowd to hear one of the various "singing fathers"
that exist here, to provide them with the cheapest warm feelings of
togetherness,through singing pop songs that enrage anyone whose
consciousness has got beyond the amoebal level, and dancing "The Lord's
aerobics". There where times, 6 months ago, when I wanted to hear some
light tune on the radio while driving, and I had no other choice across
the entire dial (I could hear classicals at the Ministry of Education
Broadcast, but one cannot hear classical all the time) than choosing
between "Raise your hands", By Father Marcello Rossi (Raise your hands/
And sing the glory of God...and so on), or, altenatively, the go-go
dancer and bimbo "Auntie" (who had at that time a program for teen-agers
that featured scenes of faked bondage, like depillating with hot wax
young men that failed to answer correctly what are the South American
countries that do not have a border with Brazil) singing a 3rd.-rate
avatar of the famous 60s French hit *Je t'aime, moi non plus* (The Braz.
version was something like that: "Here he comes, with a horny
look...[various moans and groins]...I shall make you sweat,
yeah"...sorry, readers)...Well, after all, the spirit behind is the

However, when I think that two of my under-graduate students are actual
trade unionists that have already written brilliant finishing essays on
trade-unions, and that a third student is finishing a marvellous such
essay about perceptions of class in the greatest shantytown of Rio,
where she lives, I think that perhaps all isn't lost, and that perhaps
going out of the groves of academe and to search alternative ways of
producing Marxist knowledge can not be so bad after all...

Carlos Rebello
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 14:34:18 +1000
> From: Gary MacLennan <g.maclennan at>
> Subject: To Michael was Re: Belated Congrats to Gary MacLennan!
> Thank you Michael and all those who congratulated me publicly.  My PhD was
> on Left wing documentary film in Australia, with an overlay of Bhaskarian
> theory (or was that theology?).
> The thesis was variously described by the examiners as 'polemical' and
> 'laborious'.  Still they all passed it without changes.
> As to why do a PhD, I simply had to do it for my job.  I would recommend no
> one to undertake such a punishing and primitive initiation rite unless they
> had to.
> the wider question about Marxists in the academy would need a full
> discussion.   I though tend to think that we are a dying breed, an
> endangered species that has run out of habitat. I am 57 now and when I
> retire from QUT in a few years time, that will be that as far as Marxism is
> in this university.  Apres moi a whole crowd of bright young reactionaries.
> regards
> Gary

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