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Moral Relations, Political Economy and Class Struggle

Moral Relalions,PoIilical Economy
and Class Ilmggle
Philip Corrigan & Derek Saver
In a critical comment on the Comtists (in a
draft for his The Civil War in France) Marx

Poor men! They do not know that every social
form of property has ‘morals’ of its own~
The strategy of analysis involved in this sharp
comment opens up the manner in which many analysts
have constituted their notions of ‘morality’ or
‘moral ideology’. We wish to suggest that the terms
‘moral relations’ and ‘moral economy’ better express
the social reality that is being depicted. To do
this is not merely to play with words; as Oilman
has rightly argued,3 a relational grasp of the world
can only be understood’in terms of a multidimensionality which results from class-specific practices.

The relations at issue, briefly, are formed in
the produc·tion and reproduction of material values,
of the necessities of life, including human beings.

The grounds for this assertion do not lie in any
putative ‘priority’ of ‘the economy’ or ‘technology’

over ‘ideology’ or ‘morality’.

It is a question,
rather, of a mode of production involving specific
moral relations. As The German Ideology emphasises,
The production of life … now appears as a
double relationship: on the one hand as a natural,
on the other as a social relationship. By social
we understand the cooperation of several individuals, no matter under what conditions, in what
manner and to what end.

It follows from this
that a certain mode of production, or industrial
stage, is always combined with a certain mode of
cooperation, or social stage, and that this mode
of cooperation is ~tself a ‘productive force,.4
That is to say, firstly, that production is always
simultaneously material and social: it is impossible
to separate out the ‘forces of production’ in such
a way as to conceive the ‘base’ of any mode of
production apart from the relations between people
that are the way it is accomplished.

Such relations
have their moral dimension.

But, secondly, there
is always a struggle to accomplish production, as
Marx establishes in his Grundrisse
It must be kept in mind that the new forces of
production do not develop out of nothing, nor
drop from the sky, nor from the womb of the selfpositing Idea; but from within and in antithesis
to the existing development of production and the
inherited, traditional relations of property.S
That is,
Forces of production and social relations – two
different sides of the development of the social
individual – appear ~o capital as mere means for
it to produce on its limited foundation.

fact, however, they are the material conditions
to blow this foundation sky-high … Nature
builds no machines, no locomotives, railways,
electric telegraphs, self-acting mules, etc.

These are products of human industry … 6
Production is always an accomplishment: and what
is produced are not merely goods, but the appropriately moral relations which make the production
of material values possible. These relations too,
in short, are the achievements of struggle; specifically, of class struggle, the struggle not for
production in the abstract, but for particular
ways of producing.

Our point is simply this. When Marx says that


‘capital is not a thing, but a social relation
between persons, established by the instrumentality
of things’,7 he is making a methodological statement which speaks of ‘ideas’ in speaking of ‘things’,
which talks of ‘moral relations’ in talking of
‘political economy’.. The social relations of
capitalist production are profoundly moral in their
establishment, through certain conditioned arrangements between people, of the grounds – the factual
reality – of the world of the Obvious.

A certain reading of marxism-leninism conspires
to work with the grain of bourgeois vocational
(disciplinary) education to render it Obvious that
one should talk of ‘morality’ and ‘moral ideology’

as distinct from class relations. This is evident
in both Althusser’s paper on Ideological State
Apparatuses 8 and the praise of, and reliance upon
it found in recent Radical Philosophy discussions.

The particular misreading most damaging to analyses of moral relations is one which makes a
methodology out of the metaphor of bases and superstructures. The error here. is analogous to the
futility of attempting to say here is the languagegame and there is what i t means, what i t accomplishes, what it enables us to see, do or understand. Such discourse speaks of here ‘the family’

and there ‘the ideological consequences of the
family,.9 At the same time, and thoroughly congruent with this retreat into metaphysics, i t is
‘forgotten’ that what is being analysed are the
social relations of a class-structured social
formation dominated by a particular social division of labour. Claims·as to the ‘socially
repressive function,IO of ‘any moral ideology’ are
like the claims of ‘radical sociologists’ to show
the ‘social control functions’ exercised by family,
school, or university. What such discoveries overlook is class repression and class control, and the
conditions supporting these phenomena. 11
Rather, the workplace, the university or the
family entail determinate clusters of social relations which embody definite moral perspectives.

Here the work of Geras and Mepham is salient. 12
In the words of the latter,
The conditions for the production of ideology
are the conditions for the production of a
language, and can only be understood by reference
to the structure of forms and social practices
which systematically enter into the production
of particular. concepts and propositions in that

Ideology is not a collection of
discrete falsehoods but a matrix of thought
firmly grounded in the forms of our social life
and organised within a set of interdependent

We are not aware of these systematically generative interconnections because our
awareness is organised through them. 13
We would pause only to note, in passing, that Marx
declared language to be ‘practical consciousness’;
and that we do not all speak the ‘same’ language,
because the content of consciousness is experience:

and experience cannot be the same for all classes. 14
But we wish to stress here Mepham’s central

Bourgeois ideology dominates because, within
serious limits, it works, both cognitively and
in practice. IS

We w01+1d add no thing- other than a reminder of the
permeability, the constructed n~ture, of this
Obvious world. Skillen’s self-criticism of his
earlier remarks makes the point admirably:

I think it is now easier to see their onesidedness. For in stressing the official morality and its hidden meaning we did not bring out
the kind of forces it is opposing. Even in the
best regulated notions the domjnant order is
threatened; and official morality is one mark
of that threat. 16
Modes of production have their appropriate politics and moral relations which make the world
Obvious for all those who dwell, work, profit and
die there. These politics and morals of production are historically specific, and the accomplishments of different classes. -While Capital rules,
for example, the political and moral economy of
Capital will be dominant; but that dominance is
always an achieved phenomenon, established through
a constant day-long, year in and y.ear out class
struggle against the political economy of labour
and the moral relations appropriate to its emancipation. This is why the notion of contradiction
is so vital to any discussion of morals. The
working class, for instance, embodies the contradictions of its apparent powerlessness and subordination in the present, real and Obvious world,
and its potential power to transform circumstances
and people in overcoming the domination of Capital
by a direct attack on the politics and the morals
of the social division of labour.

especially when read with K. Specht, ‘The constitution of objects in language’ (ch.6 of his
The Foundations of Wittgenstein’s late philosophy,
Manchester UP, 1963) and A. Schmidt, ‘On the
relation between history and nature in dialectical materialism’ (Appendix to his The Concept of
Nature in Marx, NLB, 1971)
4 German Ideology (full edition, Lawrenc~ &
Wishart, 1965:41; Arthur ed. p50). See also
Marx’s Wage, Labour and Capital.

5 ‘M. Nicolaus (ed.) (Penguin, 1973: 278). Cf.

Mao’s Four Essays in philosophy (Peking, FLP,
1966, esp.p134); ‘Our study and the current
situation’, Selected Works, vol.3, 1965, p164;
and ‘Talk on questions of philosophy’, Mao TseTung unrehearsed (Penguin, 1974).

6 Grundrisse, p706; Cf. the works mentioned in
note 1.

7 Capital, I (Lawrence & Wishart, 1967: 766); see
also Capital, III (Lawrence & W, 1972: 8l4f)
8 L. Althusser, ‘Ideology and Ideological State
Apparatuses’ in Lenin and Philosophy, and other
essays (NLB, 1971). Apart from Ranciere, RP7;
Cf. A. Lipietz, ‘D’Althusser a Mao?’ Les temps
modernes, 29, 1973; N. Geras, RP6, 1973 and •
‘Althusser’s Marxism’ in NLR 71, 1972; J.

Mepham, RP6, 1973; P. Binns in RP7, 1974; I.

Craib, RP10, 1975.

9 Cf. note 3 above.

10 Collier, RP9, p5. Our whole effort is written
against such formulae as his ‘Moral ideology
cannot be presented as economic ideology can,
should be, and has been – as an objective
appearance, contrasted with the essence of the
Just as one consistent reading of marxism-leninreality of which it is an appearance, but
ism relates the ‘base’ and the ‘superstructure’ of
deriving from that reality within the object
any mode of production externally and semi-causally,
[it is at this precise point that he cites the
so another attempts to reduce that ‘base’ to the
works in our note 12 below.] Moral ideology
facts of property ownership alone. This results
is produced in the first place in the minds of
in understanding revolution as an act of mere
individuals.’ (Collier, p6). The separations
‘taRing’, not of ‘transforming’: a point we return
involved in this kind of philosophy – and in
to below.

concepts like ‘economic ideology’ – are the
But” ‘social forms of property’ is a very complex
source of grave practical errors.

11 In the foregoing we have in mind the following
concept. In The German Ideology, discussing the
discussions, not all of which are sUbje’ct to
‘latene slavery of the family’, Marx and Engels
the same degree of criticism: R. Norman, ‘Moral
note how this ‘first property’

philo.sophy witl10ut morality?’ RP6, 1973; J.

corresponds perfectly to the definition of
Ranci~re, ‘On the theory of ideology’, RP7, 1974;
modern economists who call it the power of
T. Skillen, ‘Marxism and morality’, RPB, 1974;
disposing over the labour-power of others.

A. Collier, ‘On the production of moral ideoThey continue by stressing that
logy’, RP9, 1974; P. Binns, ‘Anti-moralism’,
Division of labour and private property are,
RP10, 1975; B. Eccleshall, ‘Technology and
moreover, identical expressions: in the one the
liberation’, RPll, 1975. Cf. P. Binns in RP4
same thing is affirmed with reference to actiand A. Collier in RP5, 1973, on truth.

vity as is affirmed in the other with reference
to the product of that activity.J~
12 J. Mepham, ‘The theory of ideology in Capital’,
RP2 , 1972; N. Geras, ‘Essence and appearance:

This says that property is given a social form by
aspects of Fetishism in Marx’s Capital’, NLR
reference to the necessary ‘activity’ – i.e. the
social relations – upon which it depends, and
65, 1971 (reprinted as ‘Marx and the critique
through which it is produced. This is how, and why,
of political economy’ in R. Blackburn (ed.)
every social form of property has ‘morals’ of its
Ideology in social science (Fontana, 1972).

Mepham’s work ~s reprinted in Working Papers in
Cultural studies, 6, 1975, along with a res1 University of Durham, England. These remarks
ponse by S. Butter.s. See also G.A. Cohen,
result from collective work, in particular our
‘Karl Marx and the withering away of social
science’, Philosophy and Public Affairs (1),
essays with Harvie Ramsay collected in our book
Socialist Construction and Marxist Theory

(which has not yet found a publisher). Chapter
13 Mepham, RP2, 17
14 we return to these points all too briefly below.

One of the book is available as D. Sayer, Method
and dogma in historical materialism (Durham,
15 Mepham, RP2, 19. Representations have to be
passable, they cannot be purely impositional;
Working papers in sociology, ,no.8,’ 1974; and
this is what Gramsci meant by his claim that
Sociological Review (forthcoming). Cf. papers
‘every State is ethical’ (Prison Notebooks,
by P. Corrigan in Journal of Contemporary Asia
eds. Hoare & Nowell-Smith, p258)
4(3)1974; Journal of Peasant Studies 2(3)1975.

2 Peking, FLP edition, p191; NY, Monthly Review
16 Skillen, RPB, 15
17 German Ideology (full edition, 44; Arthur ed.

Press edition, p169.

52); see Poverty of Philosophy (NY, International,
3 B. OIlman, Alienation ••. (Cambridge UP, 1971).

1963: 154), Capital III (ed. cit., pp879-880)
This ought to revolutionize Wittgenstein studies,

Fetishism Bc Moral Relations


own. Beyond tne phenomena wnich make capitalism
so Obvious lie the conditions of possibility which
Marx’s relational analysis, his critique, exposes
as an invitation for empirical and historical
In a mode of production dominated by commodity
production and surplus-value making, fetishism is
one ~f the modes of moral relations. Fetishism
is never merely an error, a mistake, a misconception, a false content to consciousness. On the
contrary. When Marx speaks of the ‘violence of
things’, he is referring to the experience of the
making of things in such a way that it is Obvious,
indeed ‘natural’, for soma people to use other .

people as objects. That it is customary to view
them as such,in economic theory, in accounting
practices, in forms of linguistic discourse,
merely recognises that it is customary to ‘use’

people as objects in production itself.

To sum up: production involves people making
things. Making things involves pepple working
together in a certain way against natural and
social obstacles using specific technological
means. It is not possible to fracture the experience of production into a material ‘base’ and a
social and ideological ‘superstructure’, in which
‘moral ideology’ is to be located. The five
o’clock shift – like membership of Lloyds – has a
profoundly political and moral dimension.

Often, it is clear, analysts have rushed towards
the location of moral relations as ideational in
order to escape the charge of economism. But in
so doing, they present a mirror-image of what Marx
described as
The crude materialism of the economists who regard
as the natural properties of things what are
social relations of production among people ..•
is at the same time just as crude an idealism,
even fetishism since it imputes social relations
to things as inherent characteristics and thus
mystifies them. 19
In our own words,
The crude idealism of the philosophers who regard
as the ideal qualities of morals what are social
relations of production among people ••• is at
the same time just as crude a materialism, even
reification,since it imputes social. relations to
ideas as inherent characteristics, and thus
mystifies them. 20
The symmetry of the fetishism of the economists
and the reification of the philosophers indicates
their common failure to grasp the nature of
social production.

physics found in Althusser by Ranciere. What is
then established are invariants of human sociation
which continue the division of labour appropriate
for and specific to capitalism. Thus Althusser’s
moral relations boom out when he informs us that
‘the Marxist concepts of the technical division
and the social division of labour’

are a fortiori valid for a particular social
reality like the university, which, for various
essential reasons, belongs to every modern
society, whether capitalist, socialist or
communist. 22
No doubt it is the same ‘various essential r.easons’

that drive Paul Q. Hirst to affirm that
All societies outlaw certain cdtegories of acts
and punish them ••. The police force in our own
society is not merely a~ instrument of oppression,
or of the maintenance of the capitalist economic
system, but also a condition of a civilised
existence under the present political-economic
relations. One cannot imagine the absence of
control of traffic or the absence of the suppression of theft and murder ..• 23
As Marx indicated in his critique of Proudhon,
there can be no such talk ‘from the viewpoint of
society,.24 Part of the ‘violence of things’ is
perpetuated when analysts suggest that we can
understand state- or market-forms, ideologies or
morals, as reified properties of whole societies.

They are differentially constituted and experienced.

The ‘Viewpoint of Society’

Marx makes several of the points we have tried
to establish so far in his discussions of ‘justice’

and ‘morality’. This, in Capital III he argues,
The justice of transactions between agents of
production rest on the fact that these arise as
natural consequences out of the production
relationships. The juristic forms in which these
economic transactions appear as wilful acts of
the parties concerned, as expressions of their
common will and as contracts that may be enforced by law against some individual party,
cannot, being mere forms, determine this content.

They merely express it. This content is just
whenever it corresponds, is appropriate to the
mode of production. It is unjust whenever it
contradicts that mode. Slavery on the basis of
capitalist production is unjust; likewise fraud
in the quality of commodities. 21
Unfortunately it is’ precisely these kind of
formulations which have been abstracted out to become, for example, part of the. functionalist meta20

The State,25 for example, may be considered as
a usable ‘tool’ to effect policing, education, invasion or genocide by one class or as a ‘burden’

which has to be paid for by a dominated class.

Marx makes this clear when he describes how a
rulin~ class rules through the idealisation of the
secular facts of its material power, rather than
solely through the materialisation of its own selfconsciousness and ‘eternal laws’:

The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal
expression of the dominant material relationships,

the dominant material relations grasped as ideas;
hence of the relationships whiqh make the one
class the ruling one, therefore the ideas of its
dominance. 26
Here are the moral relations of fetishism: the
material constraints represent an apparatus of
moral economy, embodied in the 00100 oeconomicus
of the 0bvious. Alter~tives become difficult to
conceive,. in all senses.

Here it is worth returning briefly to Mepham’s
thesis that the cond~tions of possibility for
language construction are those also of ideological
production. In this sense the production relations
of capitalism entail a repertoire of experiences.

Languages do not merely name but constitute the
world within which people work, also offering ‘exp~anations’ of any abrasion between expectation
and experience. There is no single language which
constitutes the world and moralises it, there are several. It is normal to abstract out ‘official
ideology’ in terms of a ‘Public Language’ of a
moral economy that appropriates the labour of the
working class and • rewards’ them merely as consumers. But there are many others! the technical/
doctrinal, for instance, or that internal to ruling
class cohesion as found in the brutalities and
barbarism of the moral • technology’ associated with
Public Schools. Here, as we noted generally above,
What is normally erased are the oppositional lingual repertoires through which alternative moral
worlds are constituted, in however fragmentary or
piecemeal a manner.

In short, socio-linguistics has much to say to
marxists in general, and analysts of moral discourses in particular. A ruling class will always
try to ensure that everybody says and knows what,
in practice, the majority do not and cannot experience. But that dominated class – and this is
the dimension which is overlooked – will experience
what it appears cannot be said (at least in public
discourse). This makes that experience private,
but also immoral, infidel and heathen. 27
A certain kind of historiography has worked with
the kinds of deformations of marxism-leninism we
have mentioned. This not only ignores the issues
of historical linguistics involved, for example,
in ‘moral relations’,28 but attempts to operate
with assumptions concerning base/superstructure
and forms of property that eventuate in a ‘positional 1 rather than a irelational’ conception of
class formation,29 identity and coherence. What
becomes invisible is that manner of the making of
moral regulation indicated by Sir L. Wbodwardas
‘the organisa~on of leisure with indirect educational results ••• ,30 This, in turn, means that we
too have all too often accepted bourgeois explana~
tions of concepts and practices, considering
‘apathy’, ‘deference’, ‘literacy’ and ‘drunkenness’

as unproblematical moral states of being. 31
But the main burden of our criticism falls not
on the past but the future, on the implications
for understandings of socialism entailed in some
of the methodology upon which we have commented.

The above practices tend, cumulatively, to make
socialist construction mystical by obscuring the
origins of the simultaneous transformation of people
and circumstanc~s in preceding modes of production.

Marx never did this. He saw within the collective
experience of the working class, and the knowledge
they donated to him, a vision of an alternative
kind of social formation. 32 Socialism does not
claim to speak the truths of an abstract society,
it portrays the relational understanding of social
18 German Ideology (full edition, p3l) , Grundrisse
(ed. cit.; 461f), Theories of Surplus Value III
(p500f) a:r;ld Capital III (P790f).

19 Grundrisse (ed. cit., p687). See Marx’s
account of ‘spiritual production! in Theories of
SUrplus Value I (Lawrence & Wishart, 1969, 284f)
20 Cf. Wittgenstein’s remarks on the ‘craving for
generality’ in his Blue and Brown Books
(Blackwell, 1969, l6f)

21 Capital III(p339f, on ‘authority’, Cf. pp88lf),
German Ideology (full edition, p265f) is
important here.

22 Nouvelle Critique, January 1964, quoted in
Ranciere, RP7, 4, see how E. Balibar seems to
suggest – no doubt for ‘reasons’ – that all
societies have to be class societies because
all modes of production have to have nonworkers appropriating surplus labour. L.

Althusser, E. Balibar, Reading Capital (NLB,
1970, 2l2f).

23 P.Q. Hirst, ‘Reply to Taylor and Walton’,
Economy and Society 1 (3) 1972, 353, his
emphasis. We especially like ‘one cannot
imagine’ for his moral prescriptiveness, its
conflation of ought and is.

24 Cf. Marx’s Poverty of Philosophy and his
Grundrisse where he frequently criticises petty
bourgeois theorists like Proudhon. For an extension of the charge to sociological rationality Cf. P. Corrigan, ‘Dichotomy is contradiction’, Sociological Review 23 (2) May 1975
25 On the State – apart from Gramsci, note 15
above, see A. Wood, ‘The Marxian critique of
justice’, Phil~sophy and public affairs 1(3)
Spring 1972, T. Skillen, RP2, 1972
26– German Ideology (full ed. p6l, Arthur ed. p64)
27, Cf. C. Mueller’s work cited in the extended review of his book The Politics of Communication
(NY, Oxford, 1973) by P. Corrigan, Sociological
RevIew 23(2) 1975. Cf. B. Borsley, ‘Radical
linguistics’, RPll, 1975, issues of Language in
28 In the early 19th century some Public Schools
taught la curiously named subject, Moral Relations, which seems to have been a form of
elementary economics •••• L. Cooper, Radical
Jack (Cresset Press, 1959, 24-5). Cf. A. Briggs,
‘The Language of class ••• ·, ch.l in A. Briggs &
J. Saville (eds), Essays in Labour History I
(Macmillan, 1960) and P. Hollis, ‘Ideology – the
new analysis’, ch.7 of her The Pauper Press
(Oxford UP, 1970).

29 See the explicit critique of marxist dogma in
the work of E.P. Thompson and E.D. Genovese.

30 Sir L. Woodward, The Age of Reform, 2nd ed.

(Oxford UP, 1962, 495). Cf. R. Johnson,
‘Educational policy ••• ·, Past and Present, 49,

31 Cf. S. Yea, ‘On the uses of “apathy”‘, Archives
europ6enes de sociologie, 15, 1974, H. Newby,
‘The deferential d~alectic’, Comparative Studies
in Society and History 17, 1975, P. Corrigan and
V. Gillespie, ‘Class struggle, social literacy
and idle time’, Victorian Studies (forthcoming);
Brian Harrison, Drink and the Victorians (Faber,
1971); E.P. Thompson, ‘Moral economy of the
English crowd ••• ·, ~ast and Present, 50, 1~7l,
and the very important comment by E.G. Genovese,
Ibid (68),1973,161-168 entirely congruent with
our own analysis; E.P. Thompson, ‘Patrician
society, plebeian cuI ture’, Journal of Social
History, 7, 1974, and his forthcoming book on
the Waltham Black, 1723 Act, which contains a
specific critique of Althusser’s paper cited in
our note 8 above, D.C. Moore, ‘Political morality
in mid-nineteenth century England’, Victorian
Studies, 13, 1969-70, B. Harrison, ‘State intervention and moral reform’ in P. Hollis (ed.),
PressUre from Without (Edward Arnold, 1974)


formations from a particular, materialist and
thoroughly experimental basis., The material base
of socialism is simultaneously its moral base: how
direct producers are, and the thousand’s of struggles
involved in understanding what it is to be a direct
producer under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Above all, socialist revolution is not equivalent
to a regime change or new management; it is not a
matter of ‘taking’, but of transformation. From
this false conception follows a notion of a ‘new
morality’ which assumes that The Party will ‘see
to it’ that people are donated happier, better and
fuller lives. This is .the morality of the division
of labour making efficient use of otherwise unchanged resources (materials, machines, people),
of arguing dogmatically that the only way to reach
socialism is through the full ripening of capitalism.

Instead we should eschew blind faith and dogmatism, avoid a priori hypotheses, and concentrate
on revealing the conditions of possibility (and
thus the limits of veracity and validity) of moral
statements which are broadcast as inherent characteristics of human nature; homogeneously available
to all classes; and abstractable from the circumstances of their production.

There are severe restrictions, which we hope our
remarks have indicated, on our own activities.

Throwing in one’s lot with the proletariat is a
methodological and theoretical shift which has profound consequences. Trying to understand social
reality from that body of experience is to make
all sorts of things’, relations, people, visible;
‘and, having seen them, there are many other things
which it is no longer possible to say, do, or see.

Feyerabend’s Fairytales
Nicki Jackowska
I came to Sussex as an undergraduate to achieve
certain objectives to expand the experiences and
thought-processes which had been developing over a
long period of time; to articulate that which
existed, in me as intuitive perception; to extend my
existing thinking into new and more dynamic areas,
to experience different ways of thinking, and
thereby to experience a certain liberation of my
own thinking from its established and habitual
patterns. Soon after arrival, I discovered that
any such processes, if they were to happen at all,
would do so with a few isolated individuals, and
otherwise only at my own initiation. It appeared
that the general aim of university teaching was to
reinforce established ways of thinking, to pass on
the completed process from tutor to student. In
the majority of encounters with members of faculty,
I was required to reinforce, not challenge, the
ways of working as well as the subject-matter,
until I began to see that much of my personality
and thinking up to that point would have to be
suppressed, remain unrealised. This, of course,
means that the hoped-for expansion and liberation
did not happen. Instead there was mechanisation
and alienation.

It wasn’t long after arrival also, that Paul
Feyerabend gave a course of lectures. The cramping
sense of the necessity of adapting my own imagina~
tive and intellectual pr~cesses to those laid down
in the university’s invisible rule-book (which
adaptation might itse~f mean three years’ hard
work), mercifully disappeared. Here was a person
who moved easily from analysis to paradox, from

Intellectual workers embody that specific morality
founded upon the major of the Three Great Differences, that between mental and manual labour.

They thus run the constant risk of theorising, or
philosophising, which amounts to the shuffling of
reified concepts and fetishised categories, whose
invention is a product of the relations which they
purport to analyse. Be’ing thus, quite literally,
part of the problem, they cannot assist in a

To conclude, then: moral relations, like State
relations, involve class struggles. It is time that
contradictions and class struggles were seen to
permeate social formations entirely and not be
restricted to convenient ‘industrial’ or ‘political’

contexts. Moral relations, like ‘voting’, or ‘going
to school’,33 are as weak and as strong as the
Americans once were in Vietnam. To defeat bourgeois
moral relations is a historical and not a mental
act, involving the use of the only certain resources
for success: the historical experience of the war
against Capitalism.

32 Cf. Marx’s ‘Letter to the Labour Parliament’

(1854) and his ‘Inaugural Address’ (1864) in
Marx/Engels Articles on Britain (Moscow, Progress
1971) plus the writings on the Commune cited in
our note 2 above. A convenient anthology is
Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Dictatorship of
the Proletariat (Peking, FLP, 1975).

33 On ‘voting’, Cf. S. Lukes ‘Political ritual ••• ‘

Sociology, 9, 1975; on ‘going to school’, Cf.

P. Corrigan, Smash Street Kids (Paladin,
science to art. Or rather, who did not cross
boundaries, but eliminated them, and who did not
create limits to the kind of questions that could
be asked.

The effect of these talks was to create a sense
of physical and intellectual excitement, both in
relation to the original, flexible, expansive
thinking of Paul Feyerabend, and also in relation
to a reversal of the stultifying effects of the
prospect of formal, exclusively analytical study,
and the regeneration of the idea of knowledge as
a means to freedom, vision, understanding and the
expansion of consciousness (which processes are
normally thought of as taking place in the realms
of religion and magic).

I bought Against Method to get more of this
energy, which poured itself out as an educational
experience, rather than as a philosophical

Against Method is a book that speaks directly to
me, and I am not a philosopher of science. In asking myself why, in spite of this, I found myself
deeply concerned with the arguments contained in it,
the discovery was made firstly that this is not a
book concerned primarily with the Philosophy of
Science, or even formal philosophy, and secondly
that this is a book which questions the most fundamental structures of thinking and believing, and so
the tools of all learning and discovery. Paul
Feyerabend is talking about the way we think, our
prejudices, and the way theories take hold and are
sustained. The issue is not the truth or otherwise
of any theory connected with the Copernical Revolution, although the discussion revolves mainly around
this, but is rather concerned, given the events of
the Copernican Revolution as a model, with the way
structures of thinking are built up in any situation. In other words, he is talking about the
growth of knowledge, and the necessity of constant
examination of all structures, or world-views also the necessity of inconsistency, irrationality,

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