[Marxism] Furedi, Marxism, Discourses

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Tue Dec 21 18:24:34 MST 2004

Louis asked me not to discuss Furedi on this list, so I won't. All I can say 
really is, that the way I look at it is in terms of "discourses".

In the 1950s (e.g. Nurkse, Baran), 1960s (e.g. Mandel, Amin) and 1970s (e.g. 
AG Frank, Pierre Salama, Ankie Hoogveldt) you had something called 
"development studies" emerging. People tried to find out why poor countries 
were poor, and invent strategies for economic development. Particularly in 
the 1970s, there was a strong leftwing influence on that discourse, reaching 
its high point around 1980.

After that time, three basic things happened. The amount of international 
aid money provided by governments was reduced practically every year; 
international capital markets were deregulated; and the national liberation 
movements mostly ran out of steam. The ethic of  international solidarity 
which existed previously became increasingly confused and watered down, and 
the discourse about "development" had increasingly little to do anymore with 
providing for people's basic material needs, but with cultural semantics. 
Thus you get disciplines like "post-colonial studies" these days but they 
don't study anything about the real world, rather they study cultural 
semiotics, for example, the "meaning of poverty".

Although discourses are mainly determined by money (intellectual talk goes 
where the money is), it is also true that once a discourse has become 
established, it has an internal logic, and takes time to dislodge or change 
(for example by a bout of class conflict). To participate in the discourse, 
normally you have to accept some of the terminology. But fringe 
intellectuals are usually at the periphery of discourses, partly inside it, 
and partly outside it.

If a discourse degenerates or mutates into another one, then the language 
being used also changes. The world is carved up ideologically in a different 
way, with different distinctions, categories and concepts. Because the 
intellectual talk goes where the money is, some concepts are discouraged and 
other concepts are encouraged.

Different Marxist tendencies have a different view of how you should 
intervene in a discourse. We could distinguish for example between:

1. Moron Marxism: they just want to interject that Marx said, Lenin said, 
Stalin said and so on (testifying biblically)
2. Nostalgic Marxism: they want to return us to the good old times when they 
were in their prime, or when the discourse was still progressive 
3. Go-with-the-flow Marxism: they want to elaborate on the latest trends and 
fashions, and show that Marxism knew it already (trendies).
4. Elite Marxism: they're interested in being on top of the most advanced 
trends of haute bourgeois thinking.
5. Punk Marxism: this is more a sort of reality check through heckling or 
6. Sectarian Marxism: they want to be the authority who defines for 
everybody who is Marxist, and who isn't.
7. Workerist Marxism: they want to inject "the real workers' perspective".



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