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Oilman V. University of Maryland, ‘Praxis’ Professors, Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association Reinstated in Yugoslavia, Hegel Conference: 150 years of Hegel, Thesis Eleven – A New Journal, Jean-Paul Sartre Conference, The Death of Jacques Lacan, Day School on Utopianism

right sources to draw on, and I am in general
sympathy with Pilling’s approach. However, it must
be said that he does not go beyond his sources.

Much of the book consists in the rehearsal of familiar
passages from Marx. I would say therefore that the
book is likely not to be too exciting for specialists.

On the other hand it would be a very useful compallior..

volume to anyone tackling Capital for the first time.

One gripe ~bout presentation that I have is that
the system of referencing employs that ugly method
currently gaining ground which inserts dates but not
titles in the text. This leads to such meaningless
formulae as ‘Marx 1963’ and ‘Hegel 1968’. In

scientific literature it usually makes sense because
the date given refers to the announcement of research
results. To employ it when the date is that of the
printing used is nothing but an unpleasant distraction when one knows perfectly well that Marx did
not publish anything in 1963 and one hasn’t the
faintest idea to which text it refers without grubbing
in the notes. I would also find it helpful if
bibliographies using later editions would also cite
the original date of publication.

C.J. Arthur

NEWS
Oilman V. University of Maryland
In June last year, Bertell OIlman lost his lawsuit
against the University of Maryland over the rejection
of his appointment at the University’s College Park
campus. OIlman had claimed that the University’s
president, John Toll, had rejected him for the chair
of the Department of Government and Politics because
of his marxist politics. The district court dismissed the charges, however.

In his decision the judge agreed that it was Toll’s
‘considered judgement that OIlman did not possess the
qualifications to develop the department •.. in a
manner which President Toll thought it should develop.’ He said the court was not evaluating OIlman’s
credentials, but merely arguing that Toll had acted
‘honestly and conscientiously’.

The case goes back to March 1978 when OIlman was
recommended for the U.M. position by the faculty
search committee, the Provost and the Chancellor of
the College Park campus. The recommendation was then
sent to the U.M. president Wilson Elkins for his
normally routine approval. The appointment hecame a
national controversy when the Governor of Maryland,
Blair Lee, said that it would be ‘unwise’ to appoint
a marxist to chair a U.M. department. The issue was
debated in the editorial pages of most major newspapers throughout the USA. Elkins retired before
making a decision on the appointment. The incoming
president, Toll, then reviewed the matter and rejected
the appointment, saying that OIlman was not the best
qualified person for the job. Although he refused to
elaborate at the time, Toll testified at the trial
that his decision was based mainly on OIlman’s lack
of administrative experience and judgement.

During the trial a great deal of evidence showed
that Toll, Elkins and the U.M. vice-president, Lee
Hornbake, were under considerable pressure to reject
OIlman because of his marxist politics. For example,
Hornbake said that OIlman’s role as department chairman would be negatively affected by his refusal to
seek Defence Department funding for his own research.

Hornbake also said that OIlman’s appointment would
hurt the department’s image and would make it more
difficult for other faculty members to do consulting
and receive funding from other government agencies.

The Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, both of
which had questioned Toll’s original decision, argued
in editorials that the trial had ‘vindicated’ the U.M.

president. Toll said the decision ‘gives extremely
important support for a University’s right to make
its own appointments in accordance with a careful
evaluation of candidates, without regard to external
pressure’ .

Harry Magdoff (of the Monthly Review) and others

48

have circulated the following statement: ‘OIlman must
come up with $15,000 to $20,000, which he does not
have, in the next three to four months to launch his
appeal. (Most of this money will pay for typing up
the month-long-trial transcript.) For that he needs
our help. The issue of academic freedom affects us
all, directly or indirectly, now or potentially!, and
asked for contributions to be sent to the ‘OIlman
Academic Freedom Fund’, clo Michael Brown, 210 Spring
Street, New York, NY 10012.

(Report adapted from the (US) Guardian of 26 August
1981)

‘Praxis’ Professors Reinstated in Yugoslavia
In an important gain for the fight for democratic
rights in Yugoslavia, seven dissident Marxist
professors have been reemployed at the University of
Belgrade, reversing an earlier decision by the
authorities to fire them.

In 1975, eight professors associated with the
philosophical journal Praxis were barred from teaching and their journal was banned. One subsequently
found work at a sociological institute in Belgrade.

In December 1980, the authorities moved to dismiss
the seven other professors (who had remained on staff
at 60 per cent of their pay).

In reemploying the seven, however, the authorities
have taken care to try to keep them isolated from the
student body as a whole. They now form an autonomous
Center for Philosophy and Social Theory, which is
involved only in graduate work with young scholars.

Nevertheless, the seven professors called the
move ‘an important step toward normalization’ of
their status.

In addition, the passport of one of the seven,
Mihailo Markovie has been returned, following its
revocation in January. All seven are now free to
travel and teach abroad.

Chris Arthur

Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the
Mind Association
One useful symposium on aesthetics aside, the recent
Joint Session at Manchester University (10-12 July
1981) gave more insight into the politics of
philosophers than into philosophy.

Rumours of professorial disapproval preceded a
meeting to discuss the U.G.C. report; philosophers at

J,~

i

,

“”‘.” .”,:'”

Surrey, Aston, Hull and Stirling faced redundancy.

The meeting itself was small, cool and dispassionate,
with no mention of union activity. The strong views
of the affected philosophers and of the few senior
academics who supported them were almost smothered in
p~tty arguments and in the general sense of impotence
fostered by some of the more secure members of the
profession.

a letter
was drafted and
a national
coordinating That
committee
of philosophers
set up
to
fight the cuts was quite a victory in the circumstances. *
The final evening was devoted to an unplanned discussion of socialism. D.A. Lloyd Thomas and Richard
Norman initiated a discussion of equality, liberty
and property. The detailed arguments were barely discussed before Anthony Flew rose to attack Norman’s
final suggestion that socialism is necessary to
secure liberty and equality. There followed much illinformed discussion from the floor in which egalitarianism, socialism, the Soviet Union and genetic
engineering were equated. The rest of the audience
retired to the bar, some voicing the suspicion that
political philosophy is merely a matter of flagwaving.

The socialism discussion, while showing the political illiteracy of some of the participants, raises
important strategic questions for Radiaal Philosophy
readers. l~ile the conventional political wisdom of
the philosophical establishment should be challenged,
is this best done in the philosophical ‘mass meeting’?

What should we hope to gain from such discussions and
how is success to be judged? Given the potential
radicalization of academics in the face of cuts in
government spending, these issues might fruitfully be
reassessed.

Jennifer Todd
*See the separate report on this meeting for
subsequent developments.

Hegel Conference –

150 years of Hegel

An international conference commemorating the 150th
anniversary of Hegel’s death took place last
September at Merton College Oxford, hosted by the
Hegel Society of Great Britain. The Americans and
the Continental visitors must have been struck by
the lack of home support. Except for Professor
Walsh, Oxford residents were conspicuous by their
absence. Nonetheless, there is a Hegel revival going
on in Britain and the enfeebled state of analytical
philosophy gives it every chance to make strides.

The proceedings of the conference will be published.

, Next September the HSGB will be having a conference
on the Phenomenology. Details of the Society and the
Conference may be obtained from the Secretary, Dave
Lamb, Philosophy Department, University of Manchester,
Oxford Road, Manchester 13.

Chris Arthur

Thesis Eleven –

A New Journal

Thesis Eleven is a new journal of socialist scholarship that has emerged from Down Under. The first
issue contains at least three articles that should be
of great interest to readers of Radiaal Philosophy.

One is a translation of Hans-Georg Backhaus’ seminal
paper ‘On the Dialectics of the Value-Form’. Another
brilliant piece is George Markus’ ‘Four Forms of
Critical Theory – Some Theses on Marx’s Development’

which periodizes Marx’s work in a novel way and
relates the philosophical transitions to his ambivalences on the division of labour. A third useful

article is Agnes HelIer’s ‘Is Radical Philosophy
Possible?’ I don’t agree with her Utopian approach
but it is a bravura performance. The second issue of
Thesis Eleven is just to hand and contains a stimulating, if controversial, article by HelIer and F. Feher:

‘The Fear of Power: The genesis of Eurocommunism’!

Thesis Eleven can be contacted clo Alastair Davidson,
Politics Department, Monash University, Clayton,
Australia 3168.

Chris Arthur

Jean-Paul Sartre Conference
The British Society for Phenomenology Conference last
July brought together intellectual resources from
three academic disciplines and three countries.*
It takes that kind of breadth to tackle a figure like
Sartre – though even that proved limited in a way.

Perhaps the most academic approach was to be found
in those papers built upon the exegetical history of
ideas formula ‘Sartre and X’. Thus Hugh Silverman of
NY State University gave us ‘Sartre and Barthes’,
painstakingly expounding the chasm between Sartre’s
view of the writer’s role in ‘Qu’est-ce que la
litt~rature?’, and the way Barthes undermined the very
role of literature by his view of the tension of the
speaker’s ‘parole’ and the institution of ‘langue’.

And Christine Howells from Oxford traced the common
opposition of Sartre and Derrida to the deceptive
negativity of negative theology.

Philosophical treatment of Sartre was made on two
quite different planes. On the one hand, Anthony
Manser from Southampton University seemed locked into
a fairly sterile debate with D.Z. Phillips on the
logical incoherence of the self-deception element in
‘bad faith’, understood in common-sense terms. On
the other hand, Phyllis Morris from Hamilton College
began by locating Sartre’s concept of t~anscendance
in comparison to that of Kant and then, in defending
Sartre against recent criticisms of his use of transcendance, provided some valuable clarifications for
understanding his position. She set out the role of
the body and of the fundamental project as conditions
for a variety of experiences which were transcendant
in Sartre’s sense, and which he undoubtedly pursued
in his varied cultural and political activities.

But the approach that seemed to offer most was
that which began in literary analysis, perhaps
because in pursuing literary themes the speakers were
most easily led by Sartre to the profounder questions
that he himself was trying to get at in his literary
works. David Reeves of Bath University outlined the
problem that the hero of Nausea has in exposing his
self-consciousness and his self-identity in his
writing, which alters even as it describes. Then he
showed how phenomenology appeared to offer Sartre a
solution to this problem by inverting the cornmonsense relationship between consciousness and its intensional object. For insofar as consciousness is
intensionally related to objects rather than being
determined by them, to read the expression of a consciousness in a novel may be, in Sartre’s words, ‘to
assume a world of consciousness’. Here we are tackling a real problem, albeit one posed largely in a
literary culture. It was a problem found also in
the commentary on Sartre’s Flaubert as a case of
existential psychology provided by Ross McKenna from
Bordeaux University.

Hazel Barnes, who has both translated and written
about Sartre, attempted to bridge the gap between the
literary and the non-literary in the theory of the
emotions. She did this by asking whether various
emotions did or did not elide human freedom and were
in consequence cases of bad faith. In the case of
love, for example, she found that the paradigm,
falling in love, was bad faith, but that comradely

49

love, which generates common goals and praxis was not
– with the love of parent and child holding a position in between because its inherent instability
makes it a stage of bad faith that gives way to a
realisation of freedom. Sartre’s interest in the
special role of comradeship was echoed, too, by
Eleanor Kuykendall of NY State University in a discussion of the attitudes to the possibility of transparent mutual understanding within the group and to
group violence which Sartre expressed in interviews
he gave in 1979 and 1980.

But it was strange that the conference failed to
deal more squarely with the ways that, in the words
of that last interview, ‘consciousness is engendered
by the other’ in the full complexity of the social
world. For behind Sartre’s remarks on the ‘groupe en
fusion’, and the political commitments he embraced,
lay the full-scale analysis of social ontology in the
Critique. Yet this failure was not, I am sure, by
design. Rather the academic disciplines brought to
bear upon Sartre here did not stretch to that level.

It would be nice to think that sociology could have
plugged the gap. Yet I am not so sure; for, as Joe
McCarney argues in the correspondence page of this
issue, there are limits to the capacity of conventional academic culture to embrace what is subversive in
continental thought.

Noel Parker

* Manchester University Press hopes to publish papers
of the proceedings, in conjunction with Sartre’s
later interviews, some time in 1982.

The Death of Jacques Lacan
It was characteristic that the final years in the
life of Jacques Lacan, who died in Paris on the 9th
September 1981 at the age of eighty, should not have
been spent in calmly enjoying the recognition of a
lifetime’s labour. Towards the end of 1979 yet
another movement against the autocratic and peremptory manner in which Lacan presided over his psychoanalytic school, the Eaole Freudienne de Paris, began
to gather momentum. And on 27 September 1980, after
many months of wrangling and mutual recrimination,
the School voted – at Lacan’s prompting – for legal
dissolution. Even before this formal vote took place,
however, Lacan had begun to assemble his closest
followers into a new grouping, La Cause Freudienne.

Under this banner would be gathered the circle of the
unreservedly faithful. The School of La Cause
Freudienne would be – as Lacan wrote, in an almost
pathetic acknowledgement of his inability to separate
personal and theoretical allegiance – , the school of
my pupils, of those who still love me’.

If many well-disposed observers in France found
the debacle of the Eaole Freudienne a severe trial of
their sympathy, its effect on this side of the
Channel could only be to enhance an already deeprooted suspicion of Lacan and of Lacanianism. The
dominant ideological reflex in this country has long
been to dismiss the leaders of French thought as
verbose, over-speculative, and unable to distinguish
between rhetoric and rational argument. In Lacan’s
case the offence is compounded: not only does his
writing appear tortuous-and obscure, but these qualities are paraded as positive attributes of his style.

For many this was enough: Lacan’s success – his
influence over an entire generation of writers and
thinkers – could be adequately explained by a
peculiar French susceptibility to intellectual

so

charlatanry. For the scattered groups of devotees,
on the other hand, for those who had fallen under the
spell, the oracular brilliance with which Lacan
deployed his high erudition was sufficient to excuse
his personal shortcomings and the notorious innovations of his psychoanalytical technique: the shrinking
of the session to a matter of minutes, and the
studied – almost contemptuous – silence of the
analyst.

Nei ther of these attitudes is justified. f1uch of
Lacan’s writing is obscure, perhaps in a number of
places irredeemably so. Yet anyone who has worked
systematically through an Earit such as the ‘Seminar
on “The Purloined Letter'” cannot doubt that here the
poetic resources of language are being harnessed in a
theoretically cogent way: a possibility which analytic philosophy finds impossible to grasp, although it
has been a commonplace of European thought since
Hegel. On the other hand the difficulty and allusiveness of Lacan’s style cannot be assumed to exempt him
from careful examination and coherent criticism, as
has been the case to a large extent even in France
itself.

In the long run, as such criticism comes to be
undertaken, it is possible that Lacan will appear
primarily not as an innovator in the theory and practice of psychoanalysis – the proportion of clinical
material in his writings is minimal – but as a contributor to a long-standing debate on the relations
between language, subjectivity and self-consciousness.

For Lacan, from the moment we begin to speak, we are
caught up in a world of symbols and meanings which
we are never fully able to master (this is essentially what he understands by the Unconscious). The
central problem then becomes: how to give theoretical
expression to this situation without that false
assumption of mastery which the concept of theory
itself implies? To this question Lacan’s teaching
– in its very preference for evocation rather than
statement – represents one kind of answer. .

Peter Dews

Day School on Utopianism
On a very wet Saturday last October a dozen or so

people participated in a very interesting seminar on
Utopia, organized by Radical Philosophy, which culminated in some quite lively exchanges. The speakers
were Barbara Goodwin from Brunei (author of a recent
book on Utopian thought) and Keith Taylor from
Lanchester Poly, Coventry. Both argued forcefully
the case for Utopian thought. Watch out for a forthcoming book on which they have collaborated.

Chris Arthur

News Items
If you attend or hear of events related to Radiaal
Philosophy’s broad interests or aims, or belong to
a group with goals in common with those of Radiaal
Philosophy (whether or not the group is concerned
with the narrowly philosophical), other readers may
like to hear about it. Why not send us a short
report for the News Section, at the editorial
address?

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