Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stuart Hall on Marxism

From a longer piece by Michael Bérubé that nicely sums up why I don't call myself Marxist:

Indeed, if there was one thing that [Stuart] Hall inveighed against above all others in his debates with his fellow leftists, it was economism, the favorite monocausal explanation of the left intellectual. "I think of Marxism not as a framework for scientific analysis only but also as a way of helping you sleep well at night; it offers the guarantee that, although things don't look simple at the moment, they really are simple in the end," Hall wrote in 1983. "You can't see how the economy determines, but just have faith, it does determine in the last instance! The first clause wakes you up and the second puts you to sleep."


Anonymous said...

Well, since you seem quite a pretentious little soul, I will give you some advice. If you want to distance yourself from Marxism using Stuart Hall, you are going to have to do a lot better job of making yourself look informed as opposed to silly, pompous, and posturing. And no one actually cares whether you are a Marxist or not. So if you care, then care to think before you speak. See the rest of the extended quote from Stuart Hall that you took completely out of context.

neilshyminsky said...

It probably isn't clear from this entry alone, anon, but I'm not actually opposed to Marxism - I'm splitting hairs, not rejecting it wholesale.

Like Hall, I take issue with the teleological assumptions and economic determinism that seem to underlie a lot of Marxist views of history and progress. Like Hall, I actually quite like a lot of what various Marxists have to say and make use of it myself. (Well, of Althusser, mostly.) And if that qualified position wasn't clear, it was probably because I expected that only the dozen people who actually read my blog with any regularity would read this, and that they would put it in context. My bad.

And just because I'm feeling a bit snarky... this 'pretentious little soul' appreciates that you would undercut your own comments by 'caring' enough to say something. ;)