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The Cuts at NELP, Conference Against Biological Reductionism

This lies, first, in the clarity of his
presentation of the various approaches to
ideology, and his critical discussion of
each. Secondly, it lies in the questionopening form of many of his comments. For
example, he criticises (p120) Goldmann’s
attempt in the critique of literature to
distinguish that which is expressive of a
worldview of a class, from non-significant

He objects that there are no

criteria for making such a distinction in
practice, and therefore Goldmann has to do
it arbitrarily.

That may well be true, but
may we not need the distinction anyway? Or
are all works of literature equally and in
the same way ideological? If I disagree
with Larrain’s conclusion, I shall have to
think about how criteria might be developed.

Once again, an enormously useful book.

Martin Barker

‘Is it coincidental that the management of
North East London Polytechnic wants to
bury the humanities and social science
departments, which have traditionally
produced some of the poly’s more meddlesome members of staff, and is at the same
time courting NATO for financial support
and backing for a new course in war

This pertinent question was asked by Time
Out (February 29 – March 6 1980) which goes
on-to quote NELP assistant director, and
former wing-commander, Colin Milner, as saying he would like to see counter-insurgency
and the use of the military to aid the civil
powers being studied in the proposed course.

As many of our readers will by now know,
a working party of the board of governors of
NELP produced a report early this year which
advocated by far the most sweeping and draconian cuts in staffing and services yet
seen in the higher education sector since
the Tories came to office.

The cuts are to
include dissolution of the facilities of
Humanities and Environmental Studies, and
the closure of the Departments of Sociology,
Applied Economics, and Mathematics, and of
the Humanities part of the School of Education and Humanities.

Services concerned
with student counselling, services for disabled students, and the Poly’s only two
autonomous research centres are also for the

Finally, higher student/staff ratios
are to be imposed in the remaining departments.

These cuts if fully implemented would
cost more than 280 teaching staff jobs, over
200 non-teaching staff jobs, and up to 300
job-losses in the local areas due to reduced
Poly spending.

The working party justifies
the proposed cuts primarily in terms of an
estimated shortfall of over £3 million on
estimates for 1980-81, because of Government
cash limits.

Although some of this shortfall may be met by the three local authorities involved, an estimated deficit of some
£2.45 million remains.

The recognised unions have been fighting
a united, vigorous, and well-argued campaign
against the cuts.

They explicitly reject
the necessity for cuts of any kind, but go
on to point out that the Governors’ working
party, having accepted the need for cuts,
imposes a massive change in the whole aca-

demic and educational shape of the institution without further rationale.

Where are
the alternative plans? Where are the reasons for selecting this rather than some
other pattern of cuts? The THES quotes
Poly Director Dr Brosan as arguing that
‘If any courses must be closed they must
surely be those for which there is national
over-provision, for which the quantity and
quality of recruitment is declining, or
which do not suit the needs of the new

As the Unions point out, comparison of these criteria, on any reasonable
interpretation, with the actual pattern of
proposed cuts, makes a nonsense out of the
whole exercise.

Among the closures and
departments and courses which are among the
most popular in recruitment terms, and the
most innovative.

Many are also highly
vocational, and/or offer indispensable
service and back-up to other vocational

The unions have also criticised the almost complete lack of clear costing of the
proposals in relation to the financial
situation of the Poly.

On the analysis
provided by the unions, any ‘economies’

achieved by the cuts in the Poly will have
adverse economic effects for the local
community, as well as for the funding local
authorities themselves, as rent and rate
income, jobs and services which are directly
or indirectly dependent upon the activities
of the Poly are lost.

Finally, the unions
have pointed to the complete lack of prior
consultation, not only with the unions, but
also with the Academic Board of the Poly.

The events at NELP illustrate several
important features of our situation in
higher education as well as providing valuable lessons in resisting the cuts. First,
the unity achieved by the unions is exemplary, as is the quality of their analyses
and written responses.

There is a vital
need, now, to coordinate support for alJ
those under threat at NELP.

Second, we can see quite clearly in the
lack of any plausible publicly expressed
rationale for these cuts, beyond an assumed
financial necessity, that the financial
crisis of higher education is being used as
a cover for a radical restructuring which
has quite other motivations.

The general
climate of uncertainty, division, and pessimism among students and staff is the condition of possibility for this restructuring
to be imposed with minimal resistance from

Fortunately, the strategy seems not


to be working at NELP!

As the unions point
out, one of the central educational principles set out by the NELP Academic Board
in 1971 was the provision of education for
self-development. The restructuring envisaged by the current plans amounts to the
complete burial of any such educational
philosophy in favour of a narrowly vocational approach. This shift of perspectives
was, of course, initiated and boosted by
Callaghan and Shirley Williams during the
latter part of their term of office.

It has
been intensified and imposed by the Tories.

But the shift from a ‘self-development’ to a
‘vocational’ perspective is by no means all
that is going on. Many vocational courses
are to be cut, too. Preparation for professions in the public sector, and especially welfare-state functions, is most heavily hit, whilst private business and management-oriented courses are being restructured
away from any broader cultural, intellectual
or ethical context-setting. The shift is,
therefore, not just towards vocational education, but also towards a very narrow and
blinkered ‘training’ for a selected range of
future careers (business management, law and
order, and warfare).

So much for another of
the educational principles adopted by the
Academic Board in 1971: ‘ … a student is
encouraged to make a positive contribution
to the development of our industrialised
society or to promote changes in that society by legitimate and democratic means. ‘

What is also highlighted by these events
is the complicity of the Labour leadership,
both locally and nationally in them.

only was the reorientation of education
towards identifiable business requirements
initiated by the CalJaghan/Williams ‘great
debate’, but the local authorities whose
refusal to fund the deficit on the 1980-81
estimates is responsible for the financial
crisis at NE LP , and which were represented
on the governor’s working party are all
labour-controlled. This illustrates the
need for those of us who work in education
to be actively involved in the political
life of our local communities in a continuous. way, and not just at times of crisis,
when the need for local community support is

To me, it also indicates the great
importance of the fight being waged in the
Labour Party for democratic reform of the
party’s constitution. This applies just as
much to the question of accountability of
local councillors as it does to the parliamentary party.

For others, of course, it
will be seen as further evidence of the
obsolescence of the Labour Party as a
vehicle for progressive political aims.

Finally, the whole episode is a further
reminder of the immense concentration of
power within the institutions of higher
education. Despite the struggle and reforms
of the 60s and 70s, the replication of
committees, and the semblance of democratic
participation in some areas of institutional
life, decision-making power over the key
issues of distribution of resources, institutional structures, and educational objectives remains in very few hands. Moreover,
the subordination of the academic hierarchy,
never mind auxiliary and manual employees,
to the top administrative staff is made

quite explicit. Not only this, but the
links between the top administrators,
through the board of governors, to powerholders and vested interests in the external
community (which are exhibited in the composition of the working party) are a useful
guide to the way in which external interests
can shape the priorities of an apparently
self-governing institution.

Ted Benton

Vive le Discours
(Foucault Conference, Central London
Polytechnic, 29-30 March 1980)
‘First, commentary.

I maintain, but without being very sure, that there is hardly
any society ‘where there do not exist
major writings that are retold, repeated
and varied. Formulas, texts, ritualised
ensembles of discourse that are reiterated
according to quite clear circumstances;
things once said that are conserved because of the suspicion of some kind of
secret or wealth within them.

In short,
one can suspect that there is quite often
in societies a sort of levelling off between discourses: the discourses that
“say themselves” in the course of time
and exchanges, and which pass away with
the very act that utters them; and discourses that are at the origin of a number of new verbal acts which take them
up, transform them or talk about them, in
brief the discourses which definitely,
through their formulation, are said,
remain said and remain to be said. We
know them in our own cultural system:

they are religious or legal texts, they
are the texts which are strange when one
thinks about their standing and which are
called “literary”; to a certain degree
they are scientific texts.’

(Foucault, L’Ordre du Discours, 1971,
pp23-24 )
The conference, a private initiative by one
of the staff of the Polytechnic, but enjoying substantial support from Ideology and
Consciousness, drew up to 150 people over
its two days.

Foucault received a variety
of treatments: intellectual biography;
exposition of obscure entanglements with
critics; critique from within the Structuralist principles (Is there a secret reversion to the subject of the utterance? Is his
concept of power a secret globalising
unity?); rearrangement to show how he resolves our problems (situating theoretical
work in the social domain) or cannot resolve
them (Does his theorisation of history replace real history and normative discourse
with ‘police’? Does his concept of sexual
repression amount to denying plain
reali ty?) .

It was all there. But all of what? In
the final session some irritated and some
puzzled fnterjections were heard.

Why, said
one, had so little of the pleasure of reading Foucault come across? What would someone who had not read him expect to find in
his work? He would, I’d say, expect concepts, structures, debates, but none of his
sceptical realism about the foundations of

our debates, and none of his ironic, critical penetration of the hidden undertow of
others’ writing. Would such a person bother
to look, then?

Another asked, were we being required, as
we had been ten years ago with Althusser, to
swallow an imported theory whole in order to
sustain any pretensions to be in the swim of
the left intellectual current?

Well, of course, it is not new for the
Left to put itself through such agonies.

But it is ironic to see it happening with a
thinker who can write the passage I have
quoted above, a thinker, that is, who can
teach sO much about understanding debates by
insisting on the place of the ‘discursive
practices’ in them. Foucault himself (in
the lecture I have cited) goes on to say
that the ‘genealogical analyses’ he engages
in are also ‘critical analyses’ that ‘describe the forms of exclusion, limitation,
and appropriation’ in discourse.

If we want
to take him seriously, we must take this to
heart and ask about the practices that are
at work in this importation of which the
conference was a part.

Something was heard during the conference
from one of Foucault’s translators, about
the problems of translation.

That makes a
good starting pint, I think, for the obvious problem of translation (namely that of
finding in the language into which one is
translating a word with the same connotations with other words and experience as the
original word one is translating from)
appears at two further levels: that of finding a style that reaches an analogous readership to that which enjoyed the original; and
that of finding a point of entry for the
translated works into pre-existing ways of
thought and debates.

Now each of these
searches could, I would say, be regarded as
discursive practices in themselves, though
necessarily subordinate to the discursive
practice into which they hope to integrate
the imported work.

But (of course!) it does
not really matter whether you can, or wish
to, see this in ‘Foucaldian’ (yes, I promise
you that is the expression) terms.

point is that translation is only the beginning, we must also be aware, and more aware
if we take Foucault seriously, of the way
translated works are transposed into a new
intellectual environment.

In transposition
a work cannot escape, I am saying the pressures of intellectual habit, roles, and
institutions (‘discursive practices’ in
fact) of the environment into which it is

That is a clear implication of
Foucault’s own studies. Let me cite some
of these practices.

It is not difficult to observe the manner
in which someone who studies an unfamiliar
way of thought can assimilate its style more
easily than its ideas.

I will freely confess to a Wittgensteinian style on my own
part when first set to study his illusive

Of course, the style and vocabulary of the writer have their rationale and
hence to assimilate them has too.

But doing
so is also a device whereby the shadow of
understanding can obscure the trail to the
substance, either followed by the student
himself and others or by the student’s critic.

Now, the transposition of foreign

thinkers on the Left has in recent years
been accompanied by a widespread barbarism
of style, motivated, I feel, by a concern
not just to translate faithfully, but also
to impress and overwhelm. Some critics at
the conference confessed to the difficulty
they experienced in breaking into the discussion. One reason was the language in
which the debate was couched. A questioner
asked How was Foucault applicable? There
were, came the reply, ‘various applicabilities’. Foucault’s efforts to define a
political position in his historical studies
became ‘rediscovering a positionality which
will open the historical terrain to interpretation’ (no kidding!).

Abstract nouns
never came singly, but always mob-handed,
bands of heavies with latinate endings, but
with none of the grace that Foucault can
sometimes manage in the original.

Now, it takes two to tango, and two (at
least) to make a discourse. There is evidently another practice (which is hardly the
fault of the organisers of this conference)
of not being able to understand which has
some sway in Left intellectual circles
(though it probably carries over from school
and from our education practice).

that we cannot account for the patience and
persistence of a large audience who evidently had the very greatest difficulty in
following papers read out at speed which
were designed to be read, not heard, and to
be read by an esoteric readership at that.

The audience assumes, I would say, that it
ought not to be able to follow and~ the
corollary of this, the speakers assume
authority over the audience. Though it is
hardly their limit, I cannot think of a
better place for critical analyses to begin
than with the power relations assumed at an
event of this kind between those who know
and those who do not.

It may be this assumption of authority by
those who know that produces the discursive
practice which dominated, and of course, confined, the work of the conference:

I am not referring to the effort to explain
what Foucault says, though there were some

Look at the list of what was done:

Foucault was defended against his critics;
he was attacked from within; he was rearranged; he was presented as the solution
to our present difficulties.

By working
from within an esoteric source of authority
speakers could make of their own position a
discourse that ‘says itself’, that is ‘is
said, remains said, and remains to be said’.

But not just that.

As Foucault goes on to
say, a commentary is ‘nothing other than the
reappearance, word for word (but this time
solemn and expected) of what is being
commented upon’.

The commentary upon continental imports allows us to hide novelty (or
indeed, banality) in the authority of what
has already been said, in a way too difficult for most of you to understand, across
the channel.

I would share Foucault’s scepticism about
escaping from the sway of discursive practices.

So I have not made these points about
the transposition of foreign writings to
suggest that those involved in what is an
important and valuable task can simply override these practices.

But surely, in trans-


posing Foucault of all people, one should
be aware of them.

The full transposition of foreign writings, I have argued, requires a conscious
integration of them into our own discourse.

This caution applies in particular to

Now, one questioner (himself
close to Althusser) expressed the view that
Foucault lacked a philosophy of science.

The point was not taken up in any of the
work at the conference.

It so happened that
I do not think this comment on Foucault is
accurate, but it is vital to raise it.

Althusser underwrote in this country a claim
to scientific status for social science on
the Left.

If Foucault’s theory is to replace Althusser, it must do so at the cost
of all scientific clout for Left social

Can we then find any effective
philosophy of science in Foucault if we
import him? The difficulty is that, whereas
in France his work can be a step in a debate
around a structuralist philosophy of science
that continues to be the accepted starting
point, in this country structuralist leftwing social science may be too weakly
established to survive the introduction of
a fifth column.

If it cannot, we must
quickly look for an alternative.

Noel Parker

A Conference against
Biological Reductionism
I was lucky enough to have the chance to
take part in a conference in Bressanone,
Italy last April. The conference, with biologists (of many descriptions), mathematicians, psychologists, sociologists and philosophers taking part, had as its aim to discuss the ‘dialectic of biology and society
in the production of mind’. The immediate
impetus was the resurgence of biological
reductionism in sociobiology, psychosurgery,
biomedicine, and many fields of behavioural
science. The need to combat these went hand
in hand with the need to develop our alternative accounts of the place of biology in
our human lives.

Incredibly, given the scope of conference
and participants, it was a big success. A
real exchange and development of ideas took
place, and valuable groundwork was done for
future exchanges. A volume of papers (all
of them significant contributions to the
field, but also accessible outside their
specialist origins) is in preparation with
Allison and Busby. The conference has a
real significance, I believe, for Radical
Philosophy. Philosophers have generally
been very backward in dealing with biological issues. Philosophy of biology is seen
as one of those fringe areas best left to
failed epistemologists and logicians.

But the fact that evolutionary theory,
for example, sets important challenges to
all fields of philosophy, most obviously to
the philosophy of mind (where a case can be
made that mind-brain identity theories have
already made a bridgehead – unrecognised for reactionary political ideas). And the
uses of various reductionisms for political

and moral purposes seriously needs our

The hope of the conference was to widen
the circle of involvement in formulating our
ideas, and I would very much like to see
more people involved from in and around
Radical Philosophy. I will happily supply
further inf6rmatlon to anyone writing to me.

Martin Barker

D E Cooper, Illusions of equality, RKP,
£8.95 hc
M Curti, Human nature in American thought,
Universlty of WIsconsln, £13.65 hc
R Dhavan and C Davies (eds), Censorship and
obscenit~, Martin Robertson £7.95 hc
D Elson (e ), Value: the representation of
labour in capltal, CSE Books, £12 hc,
£4.95 pb
N Fischer, Economy and self, Greenwood Press,
no price
P Hain et aI, Policing the Police Vol.2,
John Calder, £8.95 hc, £4.50 pb
J Harris, Violence and responsibility, RKP,
£8.50 hc
J Hornsey, Actions, RKP, £7.50 hc, £3.95 pb
J Israel, The language of dialectics and the
dialectic of language, Harvester Press
IStItUtO UnIversItarIo Orientale, The StUdy
of En~lish Culture, I.O.U. (80134 Napoll ,
no prIce
D Lee (ed), Wittgenstein’s lectures 1930-32,
Blackwell, £7.95 hc
M Liebman, Leninism under Lenin, Merlin,
£4.50 pb
D Locke, A fantasy of reason: William Godwin,
RKP, £8.95 hc, £4.50 pb
. .

G Lukacs, The ontology of social being: Vol.

Ill, MerlIn, £2 pb
J Mackie, Hume’s ethical theory, RKP, £8.95
hc, £4.50 pb
J McCarney, The real world of ideology,
Harvester, £12.50 hc
W Newton-Smith, The structure of time, RKP,
£10.85 hc
P Pettit, Judging Justice, RKP, £8.50 hc,
£4.50 pb
M Platts (ed), Reference, truth and reality,
12.50 hc, £6.50 pb
L Portis, Georges Sorel, Pluto Press, £2.95
M Raptis, Socialism, democracy and selfmanagement, Alllson &Busby, £7.95 hc,
£3.95 nb
W Reese,· A Dictionary of Philosophy and
Religion, Harvester, £40 hc
R Rosdolsky, The making of Marx’s ‘Capital’,
Pluto Press, £4.95 p
J Rosenberg (ed), The genius of John Ruskin,
RKP, £9.95
K Shrader-Frechette, Nuclear power and Eublic
policy, D Reidel, $19.95 hc, $10.50 P
P Thomas, Karl Marx and the Anarchists, RKP,
£15 hc
E P Thompson, Writing by candlelight, Merlin,
7.50 hc, 2.70 pb
J Trusted, The logic of scientific inference:

an introductIon, MacMIllan, £8 hc, £3.95 pb
M Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, Penguin,
£2.95 pb
A Wilden, System and structure (2nd edition),
Tavistock, £6.95 pb
J Zeleny, The logic of Marx, Blackwell,
£12.50 hc
Social Praxis, Vol.6, Nos.1-2, 1979
Alternatlve Press Index for April~June 1977,
Vo1.9, No.2


Dear Editors,

Roger Waterhouse writes:

A brief note on the inside front cover of
RP23 announced to the reader the appearance
of a (hitherto unsuspected?) cash crisis,
seemingly of pretty chronic severity if a
50% price increase is deemed necessary. It’s
impossible to glean from the contents of the
magazine any idea of the significance, financial or otherwise, of local college sales,
but assuming them to be of some interest,
here are some views as to Radical
Philosophy’s situation with regard to its
readers, especially students.

One of the undoubted good points about
selling in colleges is that it can act as a
focus of interest in RP on a kind of level
which is obviously not possible with bookshop sales. To me this interest should be
reflected in some kind of dialogue between
the editorial collective and readers. However, a glance through recent RPs is sufficient to establish that this kind of relationship does not now exist, and in this
respect RP comes to resemble the purely
academic journals. This raises the problem
that the very idea of local sellers seems to
presuppose a certain relationship between
readers and editors, and if this can’t be
maintained, presumably neither can local
sales initiatives.

Injecting a little more dynamism into
these links might be achieved in a variety
of ways. For example, carrying articles on
student concerns, such as attempts at pushing through course reforms; publishing
r~sum~s of major points of policy brought up
in discussion in editorial meetings and news
of how the magazine is progressing all round;
notes on contributors; and maybe encouraging
a letters page! Some of these suggestions
could only be realized by students and readers generally themselves, but this in turn
relies on more editorial accessibility.

Publishing discussion of editorial meetings
shouldn’t be too difficult for the collecti ve to manage …

Nigel Dick’s letter stimulated a lot of discussion in the Editorial Collective. We
returned to a host of issues which regularly
come up at our meetings – the magazine and
its readership, the collective and local
initiatives, the pressures towards academicism, and so on. What follows is a personal
response, not only to Nigel Dick’s remarks,
but also to some of the problems which other
readers will have been aware of.

The journal Radical PhilOSothy is now in
ninth year of publicatlon. at er RP activities have waxed and waned in accordance with
local situations and student interest.

Local groups have come, gone and been reformed. Annual festivals have been replaced
by termly dayschools. The magazine has, as
we intended, remained a crucial focus of our

Radical Philosophy has established itself
on a permanent footing, both as a journal
providing a forum for philosophical discussion on the left, and as a broader movement
which sometimes erupts into acti-vity. Our
readership has grown steadily over the years:

we are currently printing (and eventually
selling) 3,600 copies of each issue. Our
subscribers are found throughout the British
Isles, in Europe, North America, Australasia, and a few in more exotic places.

Contributions have been received at one time
or another from most of the places where we
have subscribers – and that includes most
British institutions of higher education
where philosophy is taught, as well as some
where it isn’t.

Nigel Dick was perhaps right to pick us
up on what we meant by ‘comparable journals’.

We have avoided both the style and the content of orthodox philosophy journals, but
have held serious and important philosophic~
al discussions. What we had in mind more
was other theoretical journals of the left.

Compared with many of these we are a remarkably open, undogmatic group, with a distinct
distaste for anything which smacks of the
esoteric or the ~lite. The Editorial
Collective is large – currently twenty-two
members – and encompasses a wide spread both
in philosophical and in left opinion. It is
not normally given to factional disputes.

Our editorial procedures are quite elaborate:

most articles submitted are read by a good
proportion of the Collective before being
discussed at a meeting. When we reject an
article we tell the author why we took that
decision, and if we think that a re-written
version might be acceptable we indicate the
broad direction the new version ought to
take. We have a wide circle of book review-

A final note on the price increase, hopefully demonstrating some justification for
what I’ve said: I doubt many people would
begrudge RP an extra 25p, but it would be a
far healthier situation for readers to
accept it on the grounds of e.g. a £2,000
debt, rather than because ‘for some time now
RP has been underpriced in relation to
comparable journals’, whatever these might

Yours etc.

Nigel Dick
(local seller, North London POlytechnic)


ers, and are always prepared to add to this
list – so if anyone wants to review a title
from the ‘Books Received’ column, just write
to Martin Barker. Sometimes reviewers have
become involved enough to join the Editorial

Now for the bad news. We depend to a
very large extent on voluntary labour. We
pay for typing and printing, and recently we
have been paying also for the production
work which turns the raw typescript into the
layout the printer reproduces. That leaves
a lot of work, much of it of a clerical or
menial kind, which we do ourselves. The
editorial process involves a lot of correspondence. Each article considered probably
generates twenty or so letters before it is
discussed at a meeting – and that’s ignoring
phone calls. Members of the editorial
collective are scattered throughout the
British Isles. We meet as a group only
three times a year: for the rest we rely on
the postal services. The process of reviewing books again involves much correspondence
– with publishers, with potential reviewers,
in dispatching books, in receiving (or not
rec~iving) reviews on time, in circulating
these to referees, in collecting reports for
the editorial meetings, in reporting decisions to reviewers and authors … and so on.

Then there are the really boring things,
like keeping lists of subscribers, making
sure subscriptions and addresses are up to
date, and that they receive the issues they
have paid for; like parcelling up bundles of
back issues (for which regular orders come
in) and duplicating copies which are out of
print; like distributing bundles of each
current issue to college sellers; like keeping the accounts; like dealing with library
subscriptions, and so on. All these things
we do ourselves in our spare time. But
sometimes we are less efficient than a professionally run operation would be. We try
to rotate the different jobs amongst members
of the Collective, and some people are
better at them than others. Which brings me
to the matter which triggered Nigel Dick’s

A while ago we had a financial crisis.

It was not due to any long-term viability
problem, but to a hiatus in the cash-flow.

Most immediately this was caused by a serious failure in dealing with library subscriptions. The subscriptions were coming
in, but we weren’t keeping them up to date,
and the money wasn’t getting through to our

fhis forced us to review our whole
financial position, and we realized that in
any case we could no longer keep the price
of the magazine down when costs were escalating. Hence the price rise. There was no
simple debt we could mention – rather it was
an asset and liability calculation of some
complexity, with the crucial question being
the timing of various payments. By now it
has sorted itself out and we are on an even
financial keel again, though some readers
may find that their libraries have not yet
caught up with the latest issues.

A more recent breakdown has come in relation to our list of individual subscribers.

Some people have found that they were not
getting issues they had paid for, or reminders that their subscriptions had expired.


Anyone still in this position should write
to Ian Craib (Department of Sociology,
University of Essex, Colchester). In fact
he would welcome a note from anyone with a
subscription so that we can check expiry
dates etc.

A lack of efficiency which particularly
affects college sellers is the variability
of our publication date. Our aim is always
to get a new issue out by the beginning of
each term. We are usually a week or two
late: this time we are even later.

Every time we run into difficulties like
these the Collective discusses possible
changes in our mode of operation. A recurrent topic is the ‘professionalization’

of an aspect or aspects of the work. For
example, if we were to put ourselves under
the wing of a commercial publisher we would
probably be much more efficient about production deadlines etc. We have so far
resisted this, because it would probably
mean a sharp rise in price, and might affect
drastically our relationship with college
sellers, to say nothing of other readers.

Another possibility, which would simplify
our operation without adversely affecting
price, would be to change from our present
large format to the standard journal size of
AS. This would mean sacrificing our individually designed pages for something more conventional and visually less interesting.

These issues are far from closed. If any
reader wants to contribute to these discussions we would welcome his or her views.

Now to the specific suggestions which
Nigel Dick makes for improving the relationship between readers and editors. He
suggests we carry articles on student concerns, and instances course reforms. We
have done in the past and would like to do
so again. We usually have a ‘news’ section
and are always anxious to receive contributions for it. The same applies to letters.

When we receive them we usually publish
them (unless they are very specific comments
on minor points in earlier issues).

on contributors’ is something we used to
have, but dropped for the not very good reason
that the effort of compiling them seemed
more trouble than it was worth. I can see
that ‘news of the magazine’ will be of interest to some readers, which is why I have
put some in. But as for publishing discussions of editorial meetings, I think that
readers would find them exquisitely boring.

Minutes of the last all-day meeting, for
example, ran to five typed pages, contained
about 35 separate items most of which involved decisions, but none of which involved
‘major points of policy’ which would be of
interest to readers. The Editorial Collective has no undisclosed policies: its decisions are directly reflected in the pages
of the journal.

Finally, can I say that we would welcome
a more active readership, which told us more
about what it thought of the journal, or
what it thought about Radical Philosophy in
general. Letters please!

Secretary to the Editorial Collective

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