Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] [politicalaffairs] Re: Political Affairs Magazine - The Concept of quot; Auraquot; and the Question of Art in Althusser, Benjamin and Greenberg

2009-02-07 Thread Mehmet Cagatay

Mr. Dumain, would you please clarify why you regard Althusserian anti-humanism 
as a kind of epater les bourgeois?

Thank you in advance,



Mehmet Çagatay
http://weblogmca.blogspot.com/


--- On Fri, 2/6/09, Ralph Dumain rdum...@autodidactproject.org wrote:

 Althusserian and French anti-humanism in general 
 is bullshit, the French intellectual's way of, as 
 they say, epater les bourgeois. If humanism 
 alludes to something else, then that should be 
 decoded. And I think Tedman is quite mistaken.



  

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Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] [politicalaffairs] Re: Political Affairs Magazine - The Concept of quot; Auraquot; and the Question of Art in Althusser, Benjamin and Greenberg

2009-02-07 Thread Jim Farmelant

On Sat, 7 Feb 2009 05:30:54 -0800 (PST) Mehmet Cagatay
mehmetcagatayay...@yahoo.com writes:
 
 Mr. Dumain, would you please clarify why you regard Althusserian 
 anti-humanism as a kind of epater les bourgeois?

The whole debate seems peculiarly French to me.
In France since the 19th century humanism was
seen as something that was closely tied to
the bourgeoisie.  Even someone like Sartre
struggled over whether he was a humanist
or not.  He eventually decided that his
existentialism was a kind of humanism,
but one that was different from the kinds
of humanism that the bourgeoisie typically
embraced.  In Sartre's case, I think he
identified conventional bourgeois humanism
with essentialism. Those humanisms
posited a human essence, whereas for
Sartre, existence preceded essence.

In the French debates over humanism
in the 1960s and 1970s, structuralists
and poststructuralists like Levi-Strauss,
Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault
attempted to push the critique of humanism
much further than Sartre had been willing
to go.  Sartre's existentialism, as he realized,
was still a humanism.  He placed free will
at the center of his conception of man.
People, regardless of the circumstances
that they might find themselves in, still
retained their freedom, if only the
freedom to redefine their situation
in alternative ways.  The French
anti-humanists questioned this view
in light of such developments in the
human sciences like structural linguistics
(which Levi-Strauss to generalize into
a complete anthropology), psychoanalysis
(i.e. the work of Lacan which enjoyed
great currency in this period), and of
course, Marxism.  Althusser, was
of course, a Marxist and long time
member of the PCF.  Foucault,
who had been a student of Althusser,
was a member of the PCF for a brief
period of time.  By the 1950s, he had
renounced Marxism in favor of Nietzscheanism,
although his work was still very much
influenced by Marxism.  Levi-Strauss,
I believed, identified himself at this time
as a Marxist, although his work doesn't
strike me as being particularly Marxist.

There were certainly differences in viewpoints
between these people.  Althusser doesn't
seem to have been particularly enamored
with Levi-Strauss's work, and he didn't
like being called a structuralist.  However,
all these people's work, whether drawing 
from Saussure, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche,
or Heidegger, all had certain themes in
common.  They all rejected the Sartrean
emphasis on human freedom, instead
emphasizing the extent to which human
behavior is determined by structures
of various sorts, whether these be
linguistic structures, kinship structures,
structures of epistemology (Foucault
in this *The Order of Things*), social
structures as represented by the 
mode of production and associated
superstructures (i.e. Althusser), and
so forth.  They all rejected the traditional
humanist idea that their exists an unchanging
human essence which provides the basis
for freedom and equality and human rights.
For the French antihumanists, this conception
was rejected as being ideological and/or
metaphysical, and they drew variously
upon Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger,
in their critiques of humanism.




 
 Thank you in advance,
 
 
 
 Mehmet Çagatay
 http://weblogmca.blogspot.com/
 
 
 --- On Fri, 2/6/09, Ralph Dumain rdum...@autodidactproject.org 
 wrote:
 
  Althusserian and French anti-humanism in general 
  is bullshit, the French intellectual's way of, as 
  they say, epater les bourgeois. If humanism 
  alludes to something else, then that should be 
  decoded. And I think Tedman is quite mistaken.
 
 
 
   
 
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 Marxism-Thaxis@lists.econ.utah.edu
 To change your options or unsubscribe go to:
 http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/marxism-thaxis
 
 

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Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] [politicalaffairs] Re: Political Affairs Magazine - The Concept of quot; Auraquot; and the Question of Art in Althusser, Benjamin and Greenberg

2009-02-07 Thread dogangoecmen
Jim,
thank you very much for this illuminating background knowledge.

Dogan

-Original Message-
From: Jim Farmelant farmela...@juno.com
To: marxism-thaxis@lists.econ.utah.edu
CC: marxism-thaxis@lists.econ.utah.edu
Sent: Sat, 7 Feb 2009 15:27
Subject: Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] [politicalaffairs] Re: Political Affairs Magazine 
- The Concept of quot; Auraquot; and the Question of Art in Althusser, 
Benjamin and Greenberg




n Sat, 7 Feb 2009 05:30:54 -0800 (PST) Mehmet Cagatay
mehmetcagatayay...@yahoo.com writes:
 
 Mr. Dumain, would you please clarify why you regard Althusserian 
 anti-humanism as a kind of epater les bourgeois?
The whole debate seems peculiarly French to me.
n France since the 19th century humanism was
een as something that was closely tied to
he bourgeoisie.  Even someone like Sartre
truggled over whether he was a humanist
r not.  He eventually decided that his
xistentialism was a kind of humanism,
ut one that was different from the kinds
f humanism that the bourgeoisie typically
mbraced.  In Sartre's case, I think he
dentified conventional bourgeois humanism
ith essentialism. Those humanisms
osited a human essence, whereas for
artre, existence preceded essence.
In the French debates over humanism
n the 1960s and 1970s, structuralists
nd poststructuralists like Levi-Strauss,
ouis Althusser, and Michel Foucault
ttempted to push the critique of humanism
uch further than Sartre had been willing
o go.  Sartre's existentialism, as he realized,
as still a humanism.  He placed free will
t the center of his conception 
of man.
eople, regardless of the circumstances
hat they might find themselves in, still
etained their freedom, if only the
reedom to redefine their situation
n alternative ways.  The French
nti-humanists questioned this view
n light of such developments in the
uman sciences like structural linguistics
which Levi-Strauss to generalize into
 complete anthropology), psychoanalysis
i.e. the work of Lacan which enjoyed
reat currency in this period), and of
ourse, Marxism.  Althusser, was
f course, a Marxist and long time
ember of the PCF.  Foucault,
ho had been a student of Althusser,
as a member of the PCF for a brief
eriod of time.  By the 1950s, he had
enounced Marxism in favor of Nietzscheanism,
lthough his work was still very much
nfluenced by Marxism.  Levi-Strauss,
 believed, identified himself at this time
s a Marxist, although his work doesn't
trike me as being particularly Marxist.
There were certainly differences in viewpoints
etween these people.  Althusser doesn't
eem to have been particularly enamored
ith Levi-Strauss's work, and he didn't
ike being called a structuralist.  However,
ll these people's work, whether drawing 
rom Saussure, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche,
r Heidegger, all had certain themes in
ommon.  They all rejected the Sartrean
mphasis on human freedom, instead
mphasizing the extent to which human
ehavior is determined by structures
f various sorts, whether these be
inguistic structures, kinship structures,
tructures of epistemology (Foucault
n this *The Order of Things*), social
tructures as represented by20the 
ode of production and associated
uperstructures (i.e. Althusser), and
o forth.  They all rejected the traditional
umanist idea that their exists an unchanging
uman essence which provides the basis
or freedom and equality and human rights.
or the French antihumanists, this conception
as rejected as being ideological and/or
etaphysical, and they drew variously
pon Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger,
n their critiques of humanism.


 
 Thank you in advance,
 
 
 
 Mehmet Çagatay
 http://weblogmca.blogspot.com/
 
 
 --- On Fri, 2/6/09, Ralph Dumain rdum...@autodidactproject.org 
 wrote:
 
  Althusserian and French anti-humanism in general 
  is bullshit, the French intellectual's way of, as 
  they say, epater les bourgeois. If humanism 
  alludes to something else, then that should be 
  decoded. And I think Tedman is quite mistaken.
 
 
 
   
 
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 Marxism-Thaxis mailing list
 Marxism-Thaxis@lists.econ.utah.edu
 To change your options or unsubscribe go to:
 http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/marxism-thaxis
 
 
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[Marxism-Thaxis] Political Affairs Magazine - The Concept of quot; Auraquot; and the Question of Art in Althusser, Benjamin and Greenberg

2009-02-07 Thread Charles Brown
:Picking up on Jim F's discussion below
it seems to me that the structuralist and
other objections to humanism are
objections to individualism. That is
 humanism/individualism as a failure
to understand Marx's notion that human in
individuals are an ensemble of their social
relations.  The human individual is 
a highly social individual. An extreme
example of what here is being termed
humanism would be Margaret Thatcher's
claim that there is no such thing as
society. Her implication being that we
are just a collection of individuals. Another
term for this is reductionism as if' human
society can be reduced to the interaction
of all the individuals who have specific
human individual natures or individual
natural instincts , self-interests, etc.
 In bourgeois economics the natural
individual is the rational man  and
what Marx criticizes as the Robinsonade. In
 bourgeois
 law it's the reasonable man. It is a fundamental
tenet of the various
Social Darwinisms.
 
A fundamental critique of individualism is
that it is actually a socially determined' 
ideology of the bourgeoisie.
 
 It is to reduce
the social whole to the sum of its parts.
 
The Briitsh Marxist philosopher
Christopher Cauldwell has several
essays critiquing this very well.
 
Ted Winslow of several lists here
calls it external relations when
'reality is in the form of internal 
relations He follows Whitehead on 
this, and his debates with Bertrand
'Russell. This takes it out of the realm
of human society to the whole of
reality.  So, reducing wholes to the sum of
their parts in general.
 
 
 Jim Farmelant fOn Sat, 7 Feb 2009 05:30:54 -0800 (PST) Mehmet Cagatay
mehmetcagatayaydin at yahoo.com writes:
 
 Mr. Dumain, would you please clarify why you regard Althusserian 
 anti-humanism as a kind of epater les bourgeois?

The whole debate seems peculiarly French to me.
In France since the 19th century humanism was
seen as something that was closely tied to
the bourgeoisie.  Even someone like Sartre
struggled over whether he was a humanist
or not.  He eventually decided that his
existentialism was a kind of humanism,
but one that was different from the kinds
of humanism that the bourgeoisie typically
embraced.  In Sartre's case, I think he
identified conventional bourgeois humanism
with essentialism. Those humanisms
posited a human essence, whereas for
Sartre, existence preceded essence.

In the French debates over humanism
in the 1960s and 1970s, structuralists
and poststructuralists like Levi-Strauss,
Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault
attempted to push the critique of humanism
much further than Sartre had been willing
to go.  Sartre's existentialism, as he realized,
was still a humanism.  He placed free will
at the center of his conception of man.
People, regardless of the circumstances
that they might find themselves in, still
retained their freedom, if only the
freedom to redefine their situation
in alternative ways.  The French
anti-humanists questioned this view
in light of such developments in the
human sciences like structural linguistics
(which Levi-Strauss to generalize into
a complete anthropology), psychoanalysis
(i.e. the work of Lacan which enjoyed
great currency in this period), and of
course, Marxism.  Althusser, was
of course, a Marxist and long time
member of the PCF.  Foucault,
who had been a student of Althusser,
was a member of the PCF for a brief
period of time.  By the 1950s, he had
renounced Marxism in favor of Nietzscheanism,
although his work was still very much
influenced by Marxism.  Levi-Strauss,
I believed, identified himself at this time
as a Marxist, although his work doesn't
strike me as being particularly Marxist.

There were certainly differences in viewpoints
between these people.  Althusser doesn't
seem to have been particularly enamored
with Levi-Strauss's work, and he didn't
like being called a structuralist.  However,
all these people's work, whether drawing 
from Saussure, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche,
or Heidegger, all had certain themes in
common.  They all rejected the Sartrean
emphasis on human freedom, instead
emphasizing the extent to which human
behavior is determined by structures
of various sorts, whether these be
linguistic structures, kinship structures,
structures of epistemology (Foucault
in this *The Order of Things*), social
structures as represented by the 
mode of production and associated
superstructures (i.e. Althusser), and
so forth.  They all rejected the traditional
humanist idea that their exists an unchanging
human essence which provides the basis
for freedom and equality and human rights.
For the French antihumanists, this conception
was rejected as being ideological and/or
metaphysical, and they drew variously
upon Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger,
in their critiques of humanism.
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[Marxism-Thaxis] The Concept of Aura and the Question of Art in Althusser, Benjamin and Greenberg

2009-02-07 Thread Charles Brown





The Concept of Aura and the Question of Art in Althusser, Benjamin and 
Greenberg
By Gary Tedman



click here for related stories: science 




1-28-09, 10:33 am 






 I think we should not expect Marxism to produce a scientific (correct) theory 
of art, which would be like a Marxist theory of biology attempting to replace 
Darwinism. Instead, the theory must come from within the realms of art and be 
internal to that gamut of practices. Of course, Marxism has an input to make 
on this subject, and, in the absence of a universally accepted theory, it is 
obliged to take a position on art, to pick a side, so to speak. It is also 
obliged to champion those theories of art it thinks are the most progressive 
and scientific. I am not convinced that Marxism has done this in the past at 
all times. 

The Marxists Louis Althusser, Walter Benjamin and Clement Greenberg have, I 
would argue, produced the most progressive theories of art, sometimes almost as 
an aside to their more pressing concerns. This essay critiques their 
contributions and also seeks to amalgamate them into a new and radical whole. 

It will help us to start this investigation by thinking of visual art as visual 
philosophy. Art, if it is not simply decorative, entertainment, or utilitarian, 
communicates deep and fundamental ideas, just like philosophy. I realize, of 
course, that “What is philosophy?” is no easy question. The Marxist philosopher 
Louis Althusser (1918-1990) has, however, made it an easier one for us. For 
Althusser, philosophy is class struggle in the field of theory. It battles over 
the status of the sciences. Thus, the practice of science is distinguished from 
the practice of ideology. Art, however, differs from philosophy in that, while 
philosophy (at least as commonly understood) deals with the rational via 
writing, art specializes in “feelings,” taking feeling to mean both emotion and 
sensory perception, using its materials in subtle ways to affect the senses. 

Linking art and philosophy in this way has the benefit of revealing a hitherto 
hidden aspect of art: As Althusser said, all philosophy interpellates us as 
subjects. The same can be said about art. “Interpellation is a concept 
Althusser developed in his theory of ideology. For Althusser, ideology (even a 
system of false ideas such as bourgeois ideology) participates in the ongoing 
reproduction of the already existing social conditions of production. As any 
child knows, Althusser said, all societies must reproduce themselves. Ideology 
is necessary in order to reproduce the right kind of human subject with the 
right kind of mentality for functioning properly in capitalist society. The 
bourgeois state has organized modern education to manage this task, a task 
which once had been the function of religious institutions. Part of this 
reproduction process is the “interpellation of the subject.” Althusser’s 
example is the French police way of
 hailing: “Hey you there!” Such hailing functions so that the subject 
recognizes he or she really is a responsible individual subject to ideology. 

For Althusser, the ruling philosophy always interpellates subjects, it always 
has a particular world view, and it hails its subjects to recognize its 
authority. However, all interpellation by the state must be materialized. It 
can never just consist of pure ideas floating from one brain to another. It 
must therefore exist in actual practice. We act out ideology, or to put it 
another way, because practice always comes before theory, ideology legitimizes 
practices that already exist (e.g., ideology legitimated the Iraq war after the 
war had already been started). 

But, as Althusser said, bourgeois philosophy “lives by its denegation, the 
promise of an objective knowledge of what philosophy is, as a practice, which 
is offered by Marxism, is always denegated, or disavowed, by bourgeois 
philosophers, who assert that such knowledge is impossible. This denial of 
status is crucial to the ruling ideology. The bourgeois world view, for 
example, sees itself as just because it is universal, which means beyond all 
partisan positions. Because of this it may/can be forceful, resort to violence, 
etc. 

The professional art teacher is similarly obliged to deny real knowledge of 
their practice. The phrase there's no accounting for taste is one of the 
unwritten commandments of modern art education. This reflects the bourgeois 
notion that art (ultimately) cannot be scientific or subjected to scientific 
analysis. In this, the ruling philosophy has decided what science and art is, 
but at the same time (absurdly) it holds there can be no definite (scientific) 
knowledge of it. It also asserts this of its own practice of philosophy. 
According to the ruling philosophy, we cannot know what philosophy does, as a 
practice. All of this is a function of the classical bifurcation thesis, the 
great separation of the humanities from the sciences, which runs through all 

Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] What are the CPUSA’s views on the USSR?

2009-02-07 Thread Charles Brown


--- On Sat, 2/7/09, juan De La Cruz ballist...@yahoo.com wrote:

From: juan De La Cruz ballist...@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: [Marxism-Thaxis] What are the CPUSA’s views on the USSR?
To: cdb1...@prodigy.net
Date: Saturday, February 7, 2009, 2:15 PM







...I think or want to recommend to start our critical study of the exussr by 
using the concept revolutionary tentative in order to correctly understand that 
particular historical moment.  One of the historical documents that 
demonstrates that the revolutionary proletariat was defeated during the 
1917-1923 international wave of proletarian action is found in Lenin's 
Collective Works: The Eighth Party Congress and a decree stopping revolutionary 
action against private property  Lenin's himself acknowledge during its 
intervention in the Party's Congress that Soviets had been transformed into 
government's administration organs for the proletariat.In the second 
document he signed a decree calling the direct action against private property 
to be stopped and those structures to merged with the Soviets, that were 
already organs of capital's administrationWe shall not forget the 
international invasion that followed to consolidate the new form of
 capital's dictatorship in contradiction with other fraction of capital...until 
all contradictions exploited in 1938(9): the second generalized capital war.  
Also, we could see and learn more historical evidence of the proletariat defeat 
in the files of the Third International.   
with revolutionary salutations,
ballista 
 
^
Is it your conclusion that the great october 
revolution was not really that great ?

--- On Mon, 2/2/09, Charles Brown cdb1...@prodigy.net wrote:

From: Charles Brown cdb1...@prodigy.net
Subject: [Marxism-Thaxis] What are the CPUSA’s views on the USSR?
To: a-l...@lists.econ.utah.edu, marxism-thaxis@lists.econ.utah.edu
Date: Monday, February 2, 2009, 5:15 PM

What are the CPUSA’s views on the USSR?
The subject of the USSR is a complex one. There was certainly an insufficiently
developed democracy, but to dismiss over 70 years of their history developing
socialism as completely undemocratic is a gross oversimplification. They
practiced forms of economic democracy and worker involvement unknown in this
country. They offered citizens many essential benefits that the drive to
capitalism has destroyed.
When the solution is worse than the problem, it is not a solution.
Capitalism has made life for the vast majority in the former Soviet Union and
other former socialist countries much worse. All indicators of social health are
deteriorating, such as the sharp rise in infant mortality, the decrease in
longevity rates, levels of malnutrition and starvation, decreasing health care
for most of the population, inadequate and overwhelmed social security and
welfare programs. The problems they faced would have had a better chance of
being solved by more socialism, not less!
I recommend six books to help deepen your knowledge of the accomplishments and
shortcomings of the Soviet Union:
Heroic Struggle, Bitter Defeat by Bhaman Azad from International Publishers,
2000, 
Blackshirts and Reds by Michael Parenti from City Light Publishers.
These are both valuable contributions to the discussion of what happened in the
Soviet Union, why, and how that connects to the history of Soviet policies. 
About issues of human rights and socialist development in the Soviet Union, see
Human Rights in the Soviet Union by Albert Szymanski, Zed Books, 1984. 
An earlier book of his, Is the Red Flag Still Flying, included an afterward
that is a (very incomplete) start at an historical materialist analysis of
Stalin’s role. (Symanski was an economist and a Maoist who set out to prove
the Maoist thesis of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union, but
on examining the statistics and realities, came to the conclusion that the
Maoists were wrong, that the Soviet Union was still primarily run in the
interests of the working class. He used statistics and facts as reported by
right-wing academicians, arguing that facts as reported by anti-communists could
be used to prove progressive points with greater believability by anti-communist
readers.)
Soviet Women ( Ramparts Press, 1975) and Soviet But Not Russian (Ramparts
Press, 1985) by William Mandel and The Siberians by Farley Mowat are useful
responses to the barrage of anti-communism directed at the Soviet Union and
other socialist countries. (Note that for writing this particular book, Farley
Mowat was barred from entering the United States in the 1980s! He wrote a short
funny book about his experiences. The U. S. State Department finally backed
down, at which time Mowat refused to enter! Other world-famous authors have been
refused entry into the U.S. as undesirable aliens, including Nobel
Literature Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez.)
http://www.cpusa.org/article/static/511/#question27
 
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