Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Walking We Ask Questions"

The subject line is from an interview with the Marxist economist and theorist John Holloway who is mentioned over at Long Sunday. (My favorite blog of the moment.) Holloway wrote the book Change the World Without Taking Power, which has been compared to Hardt and Negri's Empire. After reading the Long Sunday post on Althusser I'm left a bit confused....I've taken it for granted, in my relatively paltry notions of marxist politics, that structural change must happen by taking over the mechanisms of the state, at least initially. So I find Holloway's refusal/problematization of this both interesting and, well, problematic. Holloway's Marxism (affiliated with Adorno's negative dialectics, tho I have my doubts)--termed "Open Marxism"--reminds me of Lenin's defense of tactical uses of governmental programs, procedures, and structures. Of course, the "compromise" that was supposed to last for a few short years turned into a huge beauraucratic nightmare, but it's difficult to say that this is inherent in state takeovers of power. Mightn't it reside with the historical fact of continued forms of imperialism and capitalism and Cold War diviseness? That is to say, the failure to entirely acheive the "dictatorship of the proletariat" as one stage on the way to the "withering away" or abolishing of the state couldn't be acheived, not because statism is inherently corrupting but because the international scene prevented it. When Cold War ideologues decried the world revolutionary plans of communist ideology in order to inspire fear in the hearts of bourgeois Americans, they were, of course, partly right.

It would seem that the difficulty in determining who's "right" or "wrong" lies in the fact that as (budding) literary/cultural critics, we are trained to know, at least somewhat well, marxist theory while the history of marxist politics, in all its various contexts, is left in cloudy background. This is not to say that there isn't a significant gap betwen the two, that they should necesarily be studied always in tandem, or that one "proves" the limits or possibilites of the other. Yet it might be a fruitful area of study to think the historical development and relation between Marxist theory and political practice.

Anyway, I havent' even read Holloway's book (yet), so maybe I'll end up agreeing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

am participating in a debate and the topic says, "this house believes that the state is not abolished , it withers away." am going against the motion.. can you help? kindly respond asap