File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 297

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 19:45:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: M-I: Re: Academic Marxism

Charlotte writes:

>Anyway, that is _my_ opinion of the average academic; mean-minded,
>provincial and envious...My years in graduate school left me cerebrally
>depleted, what with the wretched pedantry, the meanness of motive, the
petty >rancors of rivalry, the stultifying provincialism, the endless parade
of >second-hand learning and third rate opinions... 

Well, you can't generalize *that* much.  I have always relied heavily on the
work of *scholars* in my reflection on human history and, in a sense, I am
their ideal reader because I have no professional ax to grind, no tenure to
seek, no prizes or fellowships to win.  On the other hand, there have been
teachers who have never, so far as I know, put pen to paper since the days
of their PhD dissertation from whom I have learnt volumes.  They have
managed somehow to carve out a niche for themselves in their unforgiving
worlds.  They are making a living, at least, and will retire with some sort
of maintenance to sustain them.  What am I going to do when I'm too old to
millwright?  Rob banks? 

There is, I believe, something in the way knowledge gets re-produced that
colors indelibly the development of Marxism in American intellectual life,
mainly at our large public universities.  I have noticed this trend in the
burgeoning field of evolutionary psychology, a sort of pedagogic "survival
of the fittest".  Something similar is at work over on our side,
particularly with the pomos, which threatens the basic integrity of Marxism
as an emancipating reconstruction of beliefs which transcend the petty
immediacies of our own world.

I know that, in time, you will come to concentrate less on the vagaries of
academic life, and devote your considerable talents to those of our unhappy
society, of which academia comprises such a relatively small but important part.

Louis G

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