On Bourdieu (was The Suicide of New Left Review)

Julio Fernández Baraibar julfb at SPAMsinectis.com.ar
Thu May 4 17:55:22 MDT 2000

I share the interrogation of Daniel O'Connell about the point of view
exposed in the list about Bordieu.
This culture analyzer (who, BTW, is coming to Buenos Aires in some of these
days) has played and play a very important paper in the discussion about
"media" and "pensamiento unico" (literally, unique thought) that we have in
Argentina. He plays an important paper, above all, between some interesting
thinkers of peronist origin whose resistance to marxism is proverbial, but
with which is possible and necessary to stablish a political active dialog
in order to advance in the real movement. You know, the importance of the
french thinking in the intellectual milieu in Argentina is very strong and,
BTW, the impoverishing of the marxist tradition, where the stalinist
scholasticism and the sectarian trotskysm have had a decisive importance,
have given to Bourdieu the aura of an antistablishment fighter.
IMHO Bourdieu is an interesting thinker who has questioned in a very wide
way the media's function in the global neoliberal dictatorship and his
writings can be absolutely absorbed by an correct, intelligent, dialictical,
non schematic marxism. I have the feeling that he has not much to do either
with the postmodernist political apathy or the ultrareactionary new
philosophy (Glucksman and all this repugnant gang).

Julio F.B:

> >Stop the presses. Louis, why are you lumping Bourdieu in with Zizek and
> Butler?
> I've never read Bourdieu, to tell you the truth. But there is something
> worth discussing. Doug had a bitter exchange with Mark Crispin Miller, the
> media critic, on PEN-L. Miller believes that media has gone downhill
> because of monopolization, while Doug defends Bourdieu's analysis in an
> article "Why TV Sucks" (http://www.panix.com/~dhenwood/Why_TV_sucks.html).
> To quote Doug:
> >>Elsewhere, Bourdieu has developed a sociological model of culture, which
> many
> highbrows consider to be vulgar because it suggests that "taste" has a lot
> to do with class
> and status. Avoiding all the old Stalinoid base-determines-superstructure
> stuff, Bourdieu
> treats the various disciplines - painting, literature, science - as fields
> with their own internal
> structures. Writers, painters, whatever, all respond in varying degrees to
> economic and
> political pressures, but they also respond to each other, positioning
> themselves within a
> tradition and a set of contemporaries. So to understand journalism, or TV,
> you have to
> look at how the craft is practiced to understand why it is the way it
> Not to take anything away from Bourdieu, who has to be better than Zizek
> almost by default, I think this business about "old Stalinoid
> base-determines-superstructure" is simply a caricature. When you really
> down to it, Doug believes that all of Marxism is
> "base-determines-superstructure", which can only be remedied by liberal
> injections of Freud. In reality, Marxism has always understood that base
> determines superstructure, BUT ONLY in the last instance. To Althusser's
> credit, he made this point clear in his polemics within French Stalinism.
> Of course, other Marxist thinkers (including Sartre, a CP'er) have always
> understood the importance of ideas in the class struggle. After all, if
> base-determines-superstructure, there would never be any possibility for
> socialist revolution.
> Frankly, I just don't have much use for broad analyses of society such as
> the kind that Bourdieu engages in. I'd rather make those analyses myself
> and post them to the Marxism list. It's much cheaper and much more
> Louis Proyect
> (The Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org)

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