File spoon-archives/marxism2.archive/marxism2_1996/96-07-31.055, message 52

Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 20:51:47 +0300 (EET DST)
Subject: trends in post-marxism - odd ways?

Grossberg, Honneth, Zizek:

Mr. Cultural Studies of America, Lawrence Grossberg himself, says
(in "Introduction to the connections of pleasure" - rough translation,
originally published in Finnish as introduction to collection of
translated essays and articles, 1995) that today it's harder than ever
consider national contexts without "global circulation of people,
power, capital, and culture". In another place he writes that it's
time to bring capitalism back into cultural theory.

Secondly, he tells that he's been working to deliver new foundations
for cult.stud. Instead of old Kantian supposition - "that meaning,
consciousness, and experience have mediating status, and that real and
significant are ontologically different" - he wishes to produce
something that looks to me pretty marxist in a sense of practical
materialism; good old post-stalinist doctrines of Ilyenkov came to my
mind too. (Of neo-kantianism in sociology, see Gillian Rose, "Hegel
contra sociology", there's new edition out.) To be exact, LG doesn't
explicate what he really is after, he just points what he's critical

LG was at Tampere this summer, where there was 'Crossroads in cultural
studies' symposium. I wasn't there (no time), unfortunately, I should
admit afterwards - but I guess some sort of anthology will come out of
print afterwards. However, in interview LG basically repeated what he
had written in Introduction (above). There was some interesting
remarks, though.

"It's time for researchers of culture to think, whether knowledge
produced by us really answer questions which it should answer."
Neither he thinks there's any news in that one can read cultural texts
in differrent ways, rather news is if someone thinks it's news. All in
all, LG didn't even liked the title of symposium: his version was
'cult.stud. at crossroads' - it's time to redirect the whole program.
"What do we do with research that tells us things we already know?"

Lastly, one odd remark: "We must question modern philosophy, because
it's quilty of those structures of power we want to destroy." - So
philosophy created power structures in first instance?

So LG has finally realised, in his peculiar way, that we live in an
era of global crisis of capitalism?

Juergen Habermas retired last spring, and - suprise? - Axel Honneth
took his place at Frankfurt.

In an interview Honneth seems to be willing redirect research program
formulated by Habermas. "Basic difficulty with Habermas' project is
that he estranges himself from individual experiences." Instead
Honneth would propose concentration on experience and its two central
features, recognition (Anerkennung)  and something I'm unable to
translate, it's obviously 'Verachtung' in German but I can't bring to
my mind what it could be in English. (One expression of this
Verachtung would be something like "you little creep, whimpy
sucker"... You get the idea.)

Despite of his criticism, AH still thinks of Habermas as his idol. He
too supports universal moral very strongly, though it's negative
universalism: that of avoiding negative experiences, conception of
moral based on avoidance of negative experiences and getting rid of

AH seems to be a bit critical of what he calls "Rawlsian imperialism",
that is, the way questions of justice and morals have been handled
recent years. Though he thinks that debate on Rawls has been fruitful
so far as it has showed the weaknesses of individualising
concentration on questions of justice.

But his criticality of Rawlsian liberalism is nothing when compared to
French theory. Especially he hates Lacanian psychoanalysis. On the
other hand, he admits that now, afterwards he sees that "there's been
more content in claims of postmodern thinkers than I supposed earlier"
which simply reveals that he haven't paid slightest attention to that
stuff earlier (except, perhaps, to Foucault and Derrida). So I guess
we can suppose that AH will continue to fly between Frankfurt and NYC
(New School of Soc. Research)?

Finally, Mr. Slovenian Lacanism, Slavoj Zizek tells in recent
interview that he doesn't practice psychoanalysis, because he travels
so much and, besides, it's boring to listen about peoples fears and
traumas. What a compassion. Then what is he doing now (besides
advertising his latest book "The indivisible remainder: an essay on
Schelling and related matters") if he has given up of being an

"I want to get inside structures through singularities [or whatever
-jl] and study ideology on the level of ordinary life." Which means
that he's still watching latest boring Hollywood movies and fancies
they 'represent' reality of ordinary lives? (Which isn't to say that
at their best they really can shed some light on modern life, inter-
and subjectivity, and such.)

"Philosophy without recognition of filmic experience cannot be taken
seriously anymore." (Guess Justin did the right thing when he went
into law school, at least accroding to SZ?)

(All that reminds me of "Metastases of Enjoyment", written obviously
after SZ had read couple of books by Gilles Deleuze.)

"I'll propose to see 'Short Cuts' by Robert Altman [now this surely
isn't boring one -jl], if you ask me how contemporary subject act.
There ten narratives crash and soundscape takes care of Jon - ehh,
sorry, should be: of continuity."

Zizek admits that 'post-capitalism' [!] produces several problems. You
know, that old litany. But, as interviewer wrote, "he doesn't dream of
revolution, instead he is like a magician who cannot finish his

"I have a hat but no rabbit." Lucky you - otherwise you would have
thousand rabbits next summer.

Now who would 'dream of revolution' in so-called developed
world? After all, it's happening around us all the time. "All that is
solid melts into air." Of course it isn't a socialist one but that's
not the point.


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