File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0104, message 6

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2001 10:38:48 -0400
Subject: Re: The Desire Named Marx is a Hydra


Unless large numbers of people "believe" in philosophy and "act"
politically, in accordance with beliefs, it is relatively harmless, as are
other some other forms of word-play and art.  Re-reading and re-writing
philosophy can be a hobby for those like us who enjoy it.  Historically,
ruthless action, made Marxism a force, writing about others' opinions
sometimes sells books.  Knowing a little about the philosophic scene has an
attraction for many of us. Clever people being clever for each other
dominate Lists I've left - not Lyotard, which has been serious and civil for
years.  Sometimes we discuss what we as individuals "think" about the world
that "is", and Lyotard's relevance to it.  That's the best part.


> Hugh,
> Yes, I agree with you.  Marx today definitely has an image problem.
> Perhaps he should hire the same firm that does those cool "Target" ads
> and commercials.  If the public relations and advertising companies can
> convince the American public that toxic sludge is good for you and that
> Bush is fit to be our president, then rehabilitating Marx should be a
> fairly easy task.
> In your last post, when you raise questions about plutocracy and the
> concentration of power, I believe you are already situating yourself in
> a Marxian orbit, whether you want to call it this or not.
> Certainly, I don't think it is really possible to evaluate Lyotard
> either unless you take into account his relationship with Marx. Whether
> this is the early political writings on Algeria, his involvement with
> the Socialisme ou Barbarie group, his chapter in "The Libidinal Economy"
> entitled "The Desire Named Marx", the last chapter of "The Differend"
> entitled "The Sign of History" his essay "Kant after Marx", his
> autobiographical remarks in "Pereginations" entitled "A Memorial of
> Marxism". I believe it is impossible to understand Lyotard unless you
> are willing to consider his work, at least in part, as a continuing
> meditation on Marxism.
> I agree that for the most part, this meditation is a critical one, but
> what is the version of Marx Lyotard is critiquing?  In "A Memorial of
> Marxism" it is clear, at least to me, that it is primarily the
> "objective" form of Marxist-Leninism which superimposes a philosophy of
> dialectical materialism on history which it views teleologically as
> leading to a dictatorship of the proletariat which will retrospectively
> give a final meaning to history.
> Needless to say, this is not the version of Marx, I am arguing for.
> Instead, if you read any of the autonomist interpretations of Marx such
> as those given by Harry Cleaver or Antonio Negri, to name just two,
> there is more subjective understanding of conflict and struggle by
> autonomous agents that shares much in common with the argument Lyotard
> made in "The Differend". Namely, that "it is a case of conflict, between
> (at least) two parties, that cannot be equitably resolved for lack of a
> rule of judgment applicable to both arguments."
> In fact, I would say that the autonomists extend Lyotard's argument in
> new directions, since the way Lyotard frames it tends at times to be
> overly passive and presumes too much hegemony in the relationship of
> power.
> The public relations industry wants us to think that history offers us
> only two choices - capitalism or socialism, and since the Soviet
> experiment has failed, capitalism wins by default - the end of history.
> There is also some weak-kneed babbling about a "third way" which is
> basically nothing more than a leaner, meaner, down-sized welfare state.
> I would say that autonomist Marxism, Lyotard, Negri, Castoriadis,
> Deleuze and Guattari offer us a fourth way, if that was not too limiting
> a way to speak of it.  For what these philosophies really offer is an
> emergence into multiplicities, autonomy and self-valorization by agents
> whose perspective is no longer contained within the scope of a dominated
> job economy.
> Consider the fact that Lyotard and Castoriadis were both involved in the
> Socialisme ou Barbarie group; that Negri and Guattari co-authored a book
> together ("Communists Like Us"); that Deleuze published a statement
> urging Negri be pardoned; that in many respects,  "The Libidinal
> Economy" is a book writtened in response to "Anti-Oedipus".
> What you have here is maybe not a movement, but certainly an extended
> family of shared, intertwined intellectual relationships in relation to
> which Marx stands proud as a kind of godless Godfather.
> I am not attempting to argue with you here, Hugh.  I have known you long
> enough as a member of this group to recognize that we probably share
> more in common politically than what divides us.  I would simply
> encourage you to start making linkages yourself with these various
> philosophies and to uncover more of their political implications.  There
> is a convergence going on here.  One we all need to understand and
> apply.
> Don't listen to the advertising and public relation firms too much.  The
> stuff they are selling you is junk anyway.


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