August 22, 2013

New Left Review - Gareth Stedman Jones: The Marxism of the Early Lukacs: an Evaluation The Kautsky-Lenin schema, which stresses that bourgeois intellectuals are by definition the possessors of previous scientific accumulations, and must therefore be the initial bearers of Marxist theory ‘to’ the working class, is doubtless only a partial one (for it omits to stress that the historical preconditions and materials of this theory are the real struggles of the nascent working class itself, without which it would be impossible for historical materialism to have been forged). But it is at least, within its own self-declared limits, close to the historical facts, and moreover possesses the merit of posing sharply the question of what happens to the science of historical materialism when the masses adopt it in a revolutionary party. It thus confronts the central problem of the relation between the party and the masses by allowing for their respective autonomy. Lukács’s formulations, however, tend to banish the problem altogether by collapsing science into consciousness, and class consciousness into (acute) class situation. Where Lenin had contrasted revolutionary Marxist science with spontaneous trade-unionism, Lukács juxtaposes a Weberian ‘ascribed class consciousness’ with non-consciousness trapped in the reified world of appearances. The transition from one to the other is presented at times as a moral ascesis, accomplished under the pressure of economic crisis: ‘Class consciousness is the “ethics” of the proletariat, the unity of its theory and its practice, the point at which the economic necessity of its struggle for liberation changes dialectically into freedom. . . . The moral strength conferred by the correct class...
Obama proposes to give more money to colleges whose graduates work on Wall Street The Obama proposal (brief description below) is wrong, regressive, and clearly designed to benefit finance capital. Masking itself as a way to confront student debt, it is actually a vehicle for pressuring colleges and universities to steer students and resources toward high paying positions. What sorts of positions are high paid? Not teaching, service, organizing, ministry, or art. Not government work/civil service, not non-profit work, not publishing, not nursing or childcare. In an extremely stratified capitalist context, a system that evaluates colleges highly for producing high paid graduates is one that awards those who are already awarded. The effect will be to push colleges away from offering majors in classics, music, comparative literature, studio art, anthropology, creative writing, and philosophy. It will push colleges toward economics, finance, business, accounting, and engineering. And what about community colleges? They provide essential educational services yet their graduates are rarely highly paid. At a time when we should be reinvesting in community colleges, developing programs that increase workers' skills and capacities (plumbing, building, electrical), Obama proposes that we do more to enhance the one percent, that is, to incite ever more competitive pressure to become part of .1%. Because of the emphasis on retention, the rating system will push colleges to make fewer accomodations to students who want to move in and out of college, taking a semester or a year off to pursue other interests, projects, and needs. The class-based suppositions of this new rating system are clear in the very priority of...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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