[Marxism] Troubled times
ian at ianpace.com
Mon Nov 20 02:19:08 MST 2006
From: "Joaquin Bustelo" <jbustelo at bellsouth.net>
> But I'm also questioning the use we make of concepts like "false
> consciousness." I see it deployed as a magical incantation, to make
> political problems disappear.
I doubt there's any Marxist in the world who actually thinks that.
> Why are so many white workers racists? "False
> consciousness" is proferred as an explanation, but in reality it explains
> nothing, only reifies the form of the question: who do white workers have
> "false consciousness?"
Which is precisely the question that anyone who thinks that consciousness
and culture matter does ask. And perhaps the role of the media, many
products of the culture industry (which perpetuate and 'naturalise' such
ideologies through their portrayal of non-whites and the constructed
identities contained therein) or even the role assigned to high culture
(heavily promoted as a sign of Euro/White -centric supremacy, and believed
to be as such even by many of those who don't partake of it, also used as an
index of social division, as Bourdieu charts) might play a not-at-all
insignificant part in producing such a form of consciousness.
This is not about jettisoning the relationship of base and superstructure.
It's about (as the late Engels was very aware) recognising the ways in which
elements of the superstructure come to attain a quasi-autonomous existence
and inertia of their own, in such a way as to exacerbate reactionary
consciousness in the interests of the ruling classes and their
petty-bourgeois lackeys, such as works to counteract the possibility of
building a mass movement so as to effect revolutionary structural change
(i.e. in the base, internationally).
The ideologies that you are suggesting, by which other forms of identity
supersede class and economics, works primarily in the interests of the
ruling class/petty-bourgeois elements within such identity groups, who
inevitably hijack them (Aijaz Ahmad has interesting things to say about this
in his critique of Said). That is not to deny the importance of the Leninist
argument on how the working classes in imperial nations benefit from
imperial exploitation as it is redistributed to an extent - but that is
simply to nuance further the notion of class, which can be further refined
in light of the increasing globalisation of capital. But what you seem to be
arguing for leads to reactionary nationalism, separatism and other such
things that are also primary factors emanating from insidious ideologies
instilled from above, that are major hurdles to the building of a mass
More information about the Marxism