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10 Letters Page

LelleJls
little meaning. ~ao’s view concerned the problems and future of
China, whereas Freire has evolved
his views as a result of a
progressive literacy campaign in
Latin America. The situations and
historical contexts of both are so
far apart in space and in time as
to have only a tenuous link.

In one key matter, Freire is indisputably right. It’s dialogue
we want; and it’s dialogue which
we don’t get.

Freire
Dear Editors,
Dennis Gleeson’s synopsis in RPB of
Freire’s nolemic seems accurate,
although he has given him a
sociological gloss .,hich this
profound and sen~itive thinker
hardly needs.

However, there are two points in
his critique which need to be
contested. The first concerns his
assertion that an oppressive
regime could make use of the method
of ‘conscientization’ for bad ends.

Such a view puts in question the
degree of understanding of Freire
possessed by your contribu~or.

For the basis of Freire’s thesis
is that his way of founding literacy deep in the personal life of
the peasant acts upon the buried
urge to freedom in him, and gives
to the learning experience a
quality totally opposed to that
derived from capitalist enforcement. There is to be a sense of
voluntariness, and of discovery,
and, not least, an element of pure
feeling that is not to be separated from the cerebral factor. It
is built on the idea of an
approach made by a wholly committed
educator to a peasant responding
in his total capacity as a
suf~e7ing and exploited man.

This
is tq be the basis of the appeal.

This is what makes it different.

It is clear that the precondition
for such an approach must be one
of total honesty and of overtly
expressed political intention.

There is to be no.deception of any
kind, not even that arising from
the subordination of means to
ends.

Now, since any regime of fascist
inclination would be obliged to
proceed in the sphere of education
either by force, .or coercion, or
by manipulation, the condition
invoked by Freire’s campaign is
precluded. Conscientization could
not be misapplied since its
appeal is open in this most
fundamental sense, relying as it
does on emotional assent as well
as on logic.

The second point co~cerns Mr
Gleeson’s use of the word ‘revisionism’ as a derogatory term.

Surely we are all revisionists,
now, and the old cry of holier
than thou is a pastime for purists?

The fact that different communisms
have come into being in different
parts of the world means that the
single road to socialism is an
abandoned mirage. So that to make
a comparison between the viel”s of
Mao and the views of Freire, and
to call the latter revisionist has

Yours sincerely,
Phi lip Crick
25 Durlston Road
Kingston on Thames
Surrey

Art and Commodities
Dear Editors,
The two articles concerned with art
(Roger Taylor’s ‘The Marxist theory
of art’ (RP5] and Grahame White’s
‘The significance of Yves Klein’s
“Ri tual'” [RP9]) both restrict art
to objects or commodities for barter,
or to the concern of a possibly
privileged elite. There seems to
be no understanding of why any painter should ever want to paint (except that the bourgeoisie value the
activity) or why it should be a
worthwhile activity at all. No
suggestion is made or considered as
to whether any art-work, however
defined, is of any value apart from
as a commodity or for bourgeois
.

elitism. If elitism is merely a
matter of White’s ‘intellectual
superiority’, the ‘possessions’

of intellectual study, then we may
similarly say that any area requir~
ing study in depth is elitist, so
that medicine, astronomy, and of
course philosophy and art-history,
are elitist. In terms of ‘intellectual possessions’ Yves Klein was an
elitist. And he also believed in
the importance of paintings as phy.sical objects. He said:

The essential of painting is that
something, that ‘ethereal glue’,
that intermediary product which
the artist secretes with all his
creative being and which he has
the power to place, to encrust, to
impregnate into the pictorial stuff
of the painting.

White may not like ‘spirituality’

in art any more than I do, but Klein
thought it essential.

, The restricted approach of the two
articles is disastrously narrowminded since it cannot cope with
the understanding of art of such
painters as Malevich, Itten, Klee,
Mondrian, or even Klein. And by
ignoring altogether the (radical
philosophical) relevance of art,
and by not providing any alternative

..•

understanding of the value of the
arts to replace the inadequate
standards of barter and bourgeois
approval, the suggestion is made
.that art is just a bourgeois preoccupation. But in 1926 Mondrian
wrote in the ‘General Principles of
Neo-Plasticism’ of the relation
between mind and matter, and of the
social consequences of Neo-Plasticism, and John Berger in his essay
‘Painting a Landscape’ talks of
developments in the arts as
a development in our understanding
of reality and maintains that
liberated from its role as a.narrative medium, painting, of all the
arts, is the closest to philosophy.

A genuine radical and philosophical discussion of the arts, as opposed
to a simple attack on the misuses of
the arts, is needed if we are to
understand the value of the arts
today. So far the only radical move
made by radical philosophers is the
ignoring of what artists actually
do and say.

Patrick Johnson
Bristol
Dear Editors,
If one insists on a conception of
art solely in terms ef art markets
and investment art then it will be
easy to play at being radical.

Neither White nor Taylor [RP9 & RP5]
cared to approach art in terms of an
intellectual activity, possibly be,cause it is much easier to h~ld a
quasi-radical thesis by purposely
defining art as art-capitalism.

Yet painting can be and has been
for some painters a process of enquiry, analysis and description of
the visual world. Malewich, radical Russian painter and critic wrote
of Monet’s paintings:

One must not say that the ‘Bazaar’

or ‘Rouen Cathedral’ are bourgeois
products; nor is it possible to say
that in ‘Rouen Cathedral’ Claude
Monet reflected bourgeois ideology,
since Monet was above all working
on the change in the physical aspect of light, and not on ‘Rouen
Cathedral r as such. [Essays on
Art II, Rapp & Whiting, 1969]
Incidentally, Malewich was noted for
his attacks on the bourgeois attitude to art as meaning money and
the merely picturesque. Monet’s
paintings now fetch high prices and
the ethics of dealing in and acquiring Monet’s paintings are repugnant but this does not constitute an attack on art, still less
does it add up to an inclusive
conception of art.

One could talk about Cezanne as a
painter whose work is absurdly expensive or of Cezanne who was con-

~ ~;:;:a::

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the socialist movement. It organises conferences,
day schools and discussion groups, and publishes
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Cheques should be, sent to cSf:,g/o H.

Murray, lDS, univer~ity of Sussex, Brighton BNl 9RE
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31

cerned with converting visual sensations into a picture. Drop from
‘picture’ the connotations of ‘picturesque’ and think in terms of
visual enquiry and description.

Thus, Oezanne’s pictures are as
much description and enquiry as
mathematical pictures; symbolic
logic pictures and pictures in physics – models. Cezanne studied objects and tried to grasp and present
the relationships between them.

Paul Klee argued that the artist’s
task was to ‘render visible’.

Gropius and El Lissitsky utilised
the discoveries of painting in their
architecture.

Art is complex. Before continuing
the attacks perhaps it should be
made quite clear what is being
attacked. It is wrong that only an
elite can have the opportunity to
understand Cezanne but the wrong
rests not with art per se but with
our social structure and educational
policy.

Peter Dormer
London W8

Reviews
Philosophy in China
K. T. Fann, The Making of the Human
Being in the People’s Republic of
China – 3 articles, Far East
Reporter, P 0 Box 1536, New York,
NY 10017; n.d., 1974, 75~
Serving the People with Dialectics
‘Essays on the study of Philosophy
by Workers and Peasants, Foreign
Language Press, Peking, 1972, 8p
Philosophy is no Mystery
Peasants put their study to work,
F.I.P., Peking, 1972, 8p
Liberate philosophy from the confines of the philosophers’ lecture
rooms and textbooks, and turn it
into a sharp weapon in the hands
of the masses
Mao Tse Tung
Philosophy and education in China
have been at the very centre of the
struggles during the Cultural
Revolution and since. In both
fields daring new experiments are
under·way, aimed at creating socialist forms of education and at
‘liberating philosophy from the
lecture rooms’. These 3 small
pamphlets document and discuss
these developments.

The pamphlet by Fann consists of
3 articles which arose out of a
visit he made to China in 1972.

The first of these articles,
‘Philosophy in the Chinese Cultural Revolution’, provides a brief
and useful sketch of the Cultural
Revolution and of its effects in
education in general and in philosophy in particular.

As Fann makes clear, before the
Cultural Revolution education and
philosophy took SUrprisingly familiar forms and played surprisingly
traditional roles in chinese
society. In 1949, at the time of
Liberation, China was a poor and
under-developed country (it remains
so today, though much less so)
and it had been shattered and

devastated by decades of war.

There was a severe shortage of
educated people to become officials,
technicians and teachers, a shortage which grew more acute as
peace was brought to the country
and the gig&ntic task of rebuilding commenced.

The Communist Party needed all the
help and cooperation it could get
– including the national bourgeoisie and especially the intellectuals. The whole cultural field
or the superstructure – especially
the artistic and educational
institutions – was staffed by
the intellectuals. [p8]
Large parts of the superstructure
(including, of course, the Party
itself) thus remained under the
control of intellectuals who had
received their training and formative experience in the old society:

mainly bourgeois intellectuals who
continued to adopt the old attitudes and methods and run their
institutions in the old ways.

In particular, higher education
was dominated by such intellectuals. Although the content of
education had been reformed in
line with the Soviet model, so
that Marxism-Leninism and Mao’s
thought were major components of
the syllabus, the form remained
relatively unaffected. Educational institutions remained cut off
and isolated from the wider society – education went on ‘behind
closed doors’. Learning was purely
theoretical – book learning,
divorced from practice and practical experience. And by means of
the familiar system of selection
and assessment on purely academic
grounds, by means of exams, the
bourgeois intelligensia reproduced and perpetuated itself in
positions of power and privilege.

However, the economic life of
China was gradually being transformed towards socialism. Disagreements, conflicts and struggles
emerged over the way in which
socialism was to be built in China

and over how politics and education
and culture should contribute in
this. It has been one of Mao’s
great contributions to Marxism to
have recognised such s~ruagles as
class struggles: to have r~r.ogntsed,
both in theory and in practice,
that class struggle (”).It::”’lUeS under
socialism.

These struggles were brought to a
decisive head by the Cuitural Revolution. The mass of the people
were mobilised to ‘struggle against,
criticize and transform’ the
political, cultural and educational
institutions which were frustrating
and blocking the emergence of
socialism and dragging China back
down ‘the Capitalist Road’. This
superstructure, however, was predominantly in the hands of the
bourgeois intelligensia. Mao, in
a political move of breathtaking
imagination and daring, completely
by-passed them, and issued ·the Wcall:

It is right to rebel against
reactionaries. Bombard the
Headquartersl
The struggles which ensued were
intense and far-ranging. All areas
of Chinese life were affected.

Most institutions are now run by
‘Revolutionary Committees’. In
education, these are composed of
representatives (a) of the working
class, or in the countryside of the
poorer peasants – the main responsibility qf these representatives is to give political guidance; (b) of the teachers and students; and (c) of the academic
administration. The monopoly of
the bourgeois intellectuals has
been broken. The system of selection and assessment has been transformed – marks and grades are no
longer ‘in command’. The doors of
the schools and colleges have
been opened. Students and teachers
go out into society and participate
in – learn from and contribute to
– the life of the working people.

Education is now designed to link
!theoretical knowledge with practi-

Critique of Anduopology
The journal provides a forum for the discussion
of radical approaches to ant~ropology.

Price UK SOp per issue, £2 for 5 issues (3 per
year) – post paid. Overseas $2 per issue, $10

32

~or 5 issues – surface mail paid
Subs~riptions, donations, enquiries and articles

for consideration to£ Critique of Anthropology
Flat 1, 67 Clifton Hill, London NW8

LeIIeJlIo Jleaden
We have been extremely preoccupied
with the financial problems of the
magazine recently. The issues considered at the Open Meeting in November and at the Editorial Meeting
following it were nearly all commercial or technical. We hardly had
time to talk about what the group
and the magazine were doing, how they
were developing, or how they ought
to change.

This obviously brings the danger of
myopically ignoring the long term
aims – on the left and in philosophy
– that give point to the .whole exercise. But it looks as though the
newly organised distribUtion collective in Brighton is working well; the
financial crisis is becoming less
acu~e, and the time has come to think
. . about and discuss other things.

In spite of our commercial/technical
preoccupations, the activities of
the Group and of the magazine are
flourishing. Although the unity of
the Group does not depend on strict
theoretical unity, there is a steady
theoretical growth in the emergence
of common concerns. Our range of
active helpers and contributors is
expanding, the sense of the RPG fulfilli~g a more than purely philosophical role is increasing; and the
range of other groups, both here and
in the US, which share our interest
in the connections between intellectual, even academic, issues, and politics in a wide sense of the word,
is growing too.

Tony Skillen has given up being
reviews editor. His job has been
taken over by Michael Erben. If you
want to review a book or make suggestions about reviews, write to him at 6
Melina Court, Gypsy Lane, SW15
The production work – designing,
pasting up etc – is carried out by a
few members of the editorial group.

Last time we got the job finished
within a week – and a very exhausting
week it was too – but, as we expected,
the result was somewhat rustic in
appearance in places. We will try
and do better this time.

In spite of the difficult financial
situation, we have increased the
type size of the front end of Radical
Philosophy. We hope you notice the
difference and would appreciate your
reactions. And if you could offer
either advice ,or help to the production gJ:!Oup .1• • • • • • •

Christopher Norris was educated at
University Hall, Buckland (external
London) – ‘the place needs all the
praise and notice it can get’, he
says – writes music criticism for
Music and Musicians and works at the
new University of Duisberg, a progressive institution opened in response to the ‘troubles’ of 1968.

Roy Edgley teaches at Sussex University. His study of Reason in
Theory and Practice was published by
Hutchinson in 1969, and his ‘Reason
and Violence’ was published in RP4
Sean Sayers teaches at the University
‘of Kent and has just made a visit to
Al though the magazine is on a
: China~
I Adam Buick is
firmer footing financially than it
a trade union officer at present
was, it is far from. being absolutely
secure. What support do we need? It working in Brussels; Jean McCrindle
teaches in London and is in the’ •
may be that we are the biggest sellArsenal WOmen’s Liberation Group.

ing philosophy magazine in Britain,
but we are also the cheapest., and the
only one without any capital, and
produced democratically by its ediRadical Totality – the loose assoctors and contributors under the coniation of various left/academic agitrol of its readers. Apart from
tational groups – held a discussion
wanting to communicate with more
meeting in early December to talk
readers, we must reach more purchasabout shared theory and experience.

ers. There are thousands of possible . TWo main sorts of interest emerged.

purchasers who never get the opportThe first was in the area of personuni ty of buying the magazine, and we
al politics; the relationship berely on our readers to help us· reach
tween peoples’ lives and their radthem – to order for a library, for
ical theories, as well as the possyourself, or for a bookshop. We have
ible practice implied for academic
got a new pricing policy, designed to
agitationalists. The second inter~
encourage people to take out subest related to the construction of
scriptions and to encourage rich
rigorous critical theory; questions
readers to pay….more than poor ones.

of scientificity and relativism were
Our ‘cover price’ is now SOp – twice
~aised, as well’aa the fruitfulness
what it was on the last issue but
of personal politics. The next
one; this is so that we no longer
meeting of the group will p~obably
make losses on sales in shops. But
explore the same broad areas. Write
you can save yourselves and us money
to us for details.

if you take out a year’s subscription or buy from a local seller (who
Did you knov that ~l Marx never
will sell for 35p if you are poor);
used the word ‘capitalism’ or its
or become a local seller yourself.

equivalents? ‘Capital’ and ‘capitalPlease help. It would be tragic if,
ist’, yes, but ‘capitalism’ no. So
after all that has gone into it,
at least the French historian Fernand
Radical Philosophy were now to
collapse for lack of material support a.audel claimed at a lecture in
from readers.

. London in Novaaber.

In August 1974 Roy Edgley invited 13
prominent philosophers in England,
mainly professors (like him), to sign
a letter protesting at the victimisation of philosophers at the University
College of Swansea. One copy of the
letter was destined for the Times
Higher Education Supplement, the other
was to be sent to ~ Principal, the
Registrar and the Professor of Philosophy at Swansea. The letter was accompanied by a fact sheet, “Victimisation
of Philosophers at Swansea1” Edgley
points out that many of those he sent it
to may have been away on holiday, and
in two cases secretaries replied to
that effect. Nevertheless, response was
slight and slow, and most did not reply
at all, – possibly because the deadline
for signing was already past by the time
,they returned from holiday. For whatever reason, only two of the 13 bother.ed to reply. By that time, other philosophers had signed the letter which
eventually appeared in the TilES on
October 4th with about two dozen signatures.

At about the same time a letter was
circulated protesting about the treatment of the Russian Jewish philosopher,
Nitali Rubin. It was published in the
Times with many signatures of English
philosophy professors.

Open meeting
The next Open Meet~g’ of the Radical
Philosophy Group will be held all day
on Saturday 15 February, starting at
11 am, in the Kentish Town building
of North London Polytechnic, in Prince
of Wales Road (nearest tube Kentish
Town). This meeting will discuss all
aspects of Radical Philosophy Group
actiVities, including the magazine.

But the discussions viII be mostly
about philosophy, partly based on
vticles in this issue of the maga~ine, and partly on a talk which
~aul Feyerabend will give in the
morning.

45

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