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Raymond Williams, 1921-1988

tially pragmatic form. However, he does insist that normative
assent is often surprisingly widespread, and that a shared belief
in reciprocal service between dominant and dominated lies at
the heart of symbolic consensus. It is not clear whether
Godelier holds this to be true transhistorically, or whether he
thinks that there must always be some material advantage involved if dominated groups are to accept their oppression. On
neither point is the argument fully established: neither seems
intuitively right Here as elsewhere there are (for the nonspecialist) fascinating examples drawn from anthropological
literature showing that the exotic rituals and myths through
which forms of dominance are secured are never mere exercises in delusion or rationalized subordination. They often involve (perceived) material benefit.

In this strand of discussion Godelier seems to me to underemphasize the brute force which often lies behind the rituals of
consent, but he does bring out the complex intermingling of
symbolic and material modes. More generally, he has managed
to concede some standard objections to vulgar Marxism rejection of base superstructure, centrality of symbolic forms whilst retaining a minimal but basic commitment to historical
materialism in its classical sense. A more contentious issue,
touched on at the end of the book, is whether the very term
‘class’ itself can be validly applied to pre-capitalist societies.

Godelier thinks not, on the whole, but again sees no drastically
upsetting consequences for historical materialism. Whatever
the resolution to this question, Godelier’s thoughts always
strike me as extremely valuable, representing a satisfying blend
of theory and empirical detail, openness and orthodoxy.

labour systematically obscure patriarchal class relations.

However, this implies a sort of functional ‘fit’ between
capitalism and patriarchy, whereas there can in fact be considerable tension and contradiction between the two systems.

Secondly, the account rests far too much on the concept of
reproduction.

The second half of the book contains several practical, empirical and political essays applying the theoretical framework
to professionalisation, the management of reproduction, and
the politics of fatherhood and childcare. For me these chapters
are the least satisfactory in the book. Specifically I think that
Hearn over-generalises his concept of patriarchy by seeking to
use it to explain hierarchies amongst men principally in the
state.

Despite these criticisms I think The Gender of Oppression
is an extremely valuable text, frequently provocative, and at
times quite original.

Paul Bagguley

NEWS
Raymond Williams (1921-1988)

Gregor McLellan
Jeff Hearn, The Gender of Oppression: Men, Masculinity and
the Critique of Marxism, Brighton, Wheatsheaf Books, 1987,
xv + 239pp, £28.50 hb, £7.95 pb
In this book Jeff Hearn attempts to construct a general theory
of gender relations in contemporary societies. The central aim
is to present gender relations as separate from but articulated
with capitalist social relations, and this involves a deep and
wide-ranging critique of the concepts of reproduction found in
Capital. However, Hearn wishes to retain a concept of
reproduction in which to ground his theory of patriarchy.

Reproduction includes at least six different types of social practices: biological reproduction; the reproduction of labour
power; ideological reproduction; the organisation of sexual
practices through sexual reproduction; physical reproduction
including violence and generative reproduction through practices of nurture and regeneration. These provide the material
bases of patriarchy around which the class relations of
patriarchy are constructed to form men who oppress and exploit women through the direct appropriation of ‘surplus
human value’. This involves the appropriation by men of
women’s various reproductive labour powers which may be accumulated by individual men. Since there is no recompense involved, patriarchy ultimately hinges on the potential or actual
violence of men towards women.

I think there are two main problems with Hearn’s theory.

The first is his account, or rather lack of it, of the relationship
between capitalism and patriarchy. This is simply not
elaborated in any detail, although there is an interesting and
potentially useful suggestion that patriarchal social categories
such as ‘women’ and ‘men’ systematically obscure capitalist
class relations, and that capitalist social categories such as

46

Raymond Williams’ writings in the late 1950s and 1960s offered a formulation of socialist ideas which shaped many
people’s way of thinking, including my own, for probably a
whole lifetime. The conception of the socialist project which he
advanced as one of extending democracy made socialism seem
a natural and logical culmination of British social traditions to
which (at that point at least) it seemed important to feel oneself
related. His identification of the crucial cultural dimensions of
emancipation, rooted historically in Culture and Society, and
developed as a social theory, as a history of various cultural institutions, and, in The Long Revolution, as a programme, spoke
to the particular preoccupations of those then entering universities or other forms of education, yet not inclined to identify
themselves with the dominant class culture. Raymond Williams’ writing had an astonishing reasonableness-I remember

being equally amazed and admiring of his calmness with
audiences, at meetings when I and the other students who had
invited him to speak would be finding it hard to contain our
hostility and intolerance, born of course of uncertainty and inner conflict. I’ve always imagined that his lifelong practice of
reasonableness owed something to the context of adult education in which he worked throughout the 1950s.

Looking back, one can now see that the mainstream Labour
tradition in Britain should have embraced Williams as the
central figure of his generation, as it had earlier been able to
acknowledge G. D. H. Cole andR. H. Tawney. T. H. Marshall’s
trilogy of citizenship rights-civil, political, social and
economic-has its proper extension in Williams’s idea of cultural entitlement, and it is an index of the deep failure of
British labourism that it has so far been unable to recognise
this, or to absorb Williams’ work in any significant way into its
politics. It is notable that while his death has been widely
mourned by intellectuals-and not only of the left-it seems to
have been scarcely noticed publicly by any figure from
Labour’s mainstream political institutions.

Williams’ central theme was the emergence and claim by
the working class of its proper human entitlement. He set himself to refute those influential versions of bourgeois theory
which identified this emergence as a cultural threat or crisis.

Instead, he sought to reformulate the dominant account of cultural change as a historic enlargement of the meanings and
range of culture. His work, and that of several contemporaries,
signified the emergence of working class voice and expression
in a culture which had long suppressed or excluded it.

Williams repeatedly rethought and transformed the
positions of the radical bourgeois cultural tendency he encountered during his own intellectual formation, that of F. R.

Leavis and Scrutiny, to insist on the just claims of class, or,
otherwise put, full and equal citizenship. The Scrutiny view of
popular culture as mass culture was reformulated as the deformation of potentially democratic cultural institutions by a
commercial culture; The Long Revolution being followed in
this vein by Communications and Television: Technology and
Cultural Form. The ‘great tradition’ of the English novel was
rewritten to make central the suppressed voices of class
represented by Thomas Hardy. Perhaps more important in
demonstrating the continuing relevance of realist fiction, Williams himself published four novels, and a final three-volume
novel lies unfinished. He offered a critique of idealised versions of a past ‘organic’ social order in his The Country and the
City. The tradition of English cultural criticism which had led
to both Scrutiny and his own work was shown to have its
authentic and major socialist development in William Morris.

Williams, however, followed the insistence of Leavis and his
school that a specific quality of attention was due to cultural
forms, and that these could not be viewed reductively as effects
of economic or social forces. His most original work probably
lies in his deep and subtle readings of the ways in which the
pressures for change rooted above all in the experience of class
expressed themselves through crises and transformations of
literary forms. It is remarkable that Cambridge English should
have been the reluctant location of major work in two successive generations to transform the dominant framework of thinking about English literature.

Later, having single-handedly developed (or sometimes improvised) new theoretical frameworks for thinking about these
issues, Williams found that he had become part of a wider
tradition of theory, mainly Marxist, which had not been available to him during the earlier years of his work. He warmly
welcomed the emergence of this more open and international

intellectual community-although not without some reservations about the formalist turns these cultural debates soon
took. It became clearer during the 1970s that his writing connected to a much broader development in neo-Marxist cultural
theory to the ideas of Goldmann and Gramsci, for example, and
he made use of these new theoretical resources in such later
work as Marxism and Literature. One concomitant of this
development was a sharpening and polarisation of conflicts
within English culture. While the resources of radical cultural
theory were being extended, it was also becoming easier, in the
new political context of the 1970s, to isolate, ignore, and even
seek to suppress its arguments. The bitter battles of the
Cambridge English Faculty were one instance of this hardening
of positions, which at times was visible in the tone of Williams’

work too. But his recent political writing – Towards 2000 for
example – has the hopeful quality of his earlier work, and
demonstrates his continuing openness to younger currents of
radical thought: those represented in ecological concerns, for
example, and in the reassertion of the different national identities existing in these islands, including the Welsh, with which
he felt a deepening identification. Nevertheless, the idea of a
common democratic culture which was at the centre of
Raymond Williams’ political thinking now seems very far from
realization, and we sadly lack at this point a political practice
which is able to make much use of his ideas. The distance between a vigorous practice of cultural criticism and dissent, on
which Williams has had great influence, in education and elsewhere, and a still predominantly utilitarian politics, remains
seemingly as wide as ever.

Raymond Williams has always been very solidly and permanently present in my mind, I realise, even though it was relatively infrequently, and mainly on political occasions, that I
met him in recent years. He had an exemplary commitment to
the socialist movement, which had the quality of being both
unwaveringly loyal yet also quite without self.:delusion. He has
been one of the major intellectual foundations of the left in
Britain for over thirty years, and his death is a great loss.

Mlchael Rustln

Heidegger and the Nazis
The darker side of recent European history continues to haunt
the European present. The French historian Faurisson’s denial
of the holocaust, the trial of Klaus Barbie, and most recently,
and perhaps most devastatingly of all, the historians’ commission report on the wartime activities of Austrian president and
ex-United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, have all
focused attention upon the unresolved continuities of the
European present with the fascistic elements of its past
It was perhaps inevitable that the renewed interest and concern in the heritage of European fascism provoked by these
events (amongst others) should once again turn the spotlight
upon Heidegger, and raise once more the question of the
relationship of his philosophy to fascism. And it is fitting that
this renewed debate, now that it has begun, should again find
its centre in France. For France is both the European country in
which the issue of anti-semitism remains of most immediate
political significance; and that in which, ironically, Heidegger’s
philosophical heritage has been most reverently, if creatively,
preserved.

The focus of the current debate, which has been conducted
throughout the French intellectual press with a stridency and
vigour unknown in British intellectual life, is the recent publi-

47

cation of a book by Victor Farias, Heidegger et le Nazisme
(Editions Verbier, Paris, 1987). This book collects together for
the first time a series of unpublished letters and documents,
supplemented by interviews and already published material
(for which, see Hugo Ott’s Der lunge Martin Heidegger (Sonderdruck aus dem Frieburger Diozesan-Archiv, 1984)), which
finally lays to rest the claim that Heidegger’s association with
Nazism can be restricted to the ten-month period in 1933/4
during which he took on the Rectorship of Frieburg University.

The charge of some essential complicity between Heidegger’s philosophy and European fascism has been a common
one on the left (see, for example, Mark Tebbitt, ‘Lukacs,
Heidegger and Fascism’, RP 31). Such charges, however, have
often been repudiated on both biographical and philosophical
grounds (see, for example, Richard Keamey’s letter to Radical
Philosophy, ‘Heidegger Against Nazism” RP 33, in which
Tebbitt’s accusations are challenged on the basis of a series of
articles by the French philosopher Francois Fedier, published in
Critique during 1966/67). The primary importance, and impact,
of Farias’s book lies in the decisiveness with which it appears
to resolve the narrowly historical dimension of the question.

The philosophical aspect of the problem, however, has also
been posed anew. For the two are clearly related Quite how,
though, remains the central issue at stake in the debate.

In the past, two opposing and equally unsatisfactory stances
have tended to dominate discussion of the issue: an interpretation of the fascistic character of Heideggerian philosophy on
the basis of the political sympathies of its author; and an acknowledgement of the ‘monstrous error’ of Heidegger’s political
affiliation, followed by protestations of its strictly philosophical irrelevance. Neither seems to engage adequately with either
the depth or the complexity of the problem; although there is
clearly some truth in each of the two approaches.

Following on from the earlier exposure of Beaufret’s sympathy for Faurisson (Baufret was Heidegger’s main philosophical disciple in France, recipient of the famous Letter on
Humanism, and a member of the Allied Army which liberated
Germany – a key fact in some defences of the politics of
Heideggerianism), Farias’s revelations have rocked the French
philosophical community. Followed as they have been by the
recent revelations about Paul de Man’s collaborationist past in
Belgium (for which see Christopher Norris, ‘Paul de Man’s
Past’, London Review of Books, Vol. 10, No. 3, 4 February
1988), the debate looks likely to gather force. Blanchot, Derrida, and Lacoue-Labarthe have already added their voices to
the throng (the latter two in a manner especially critical of
Farias). The spill-over of the debate into the Anglo-American
context will doubtless be hastened by the recent translation of
Habermas’s broadside against post-structuralism, The
Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (polity Press, 1988), in
which its Heideggerian roots are subjected to some close
scrutiny.

Readers interested in catching up on the French debate so
far should consult, in particular: the special section of La
Quinzaine Litteraire, No. 496, 1987, and the articles in the subsequent issue of the same journal, no. 499; the dossier on
‘Heidegger et la pensee nazie’ in Le Nouvelle Observateur, 22
January 1988; and the dossier in Le Debut, No. 48, JanuaryFebruary 1988.

Peter Osborne
(with special thanks to Andrew Benjamin)

48

After Chesterfield
Following our report of the Chesterfield Socialist Conference
in RP 48, it is gratifying to be able to note that the initial enthusiasm generated by the conference has in no way
diminished. A wide range of initiatives directed towards the
reinvigoration of socialist thought and action in Britain have
been undertaken, amongst which we can report the following:

• The publication of a detailed statement of the Aims and Objectives of the Socialist Conference, presented as a ConsultationPaper.

• A conference with the Campaign for Non-Alignment (,Out of
Nato and Into the World’), held in Manchester.

• A conference aimed at encouraging co-operation between
Greens and Socialists, and debating their differences, which
will be held in London on May 14/15. (This conference is
being co-sponsored by Radical Philosophy. Further details
may be obtained from Penny Kemp at the Green Party
headquarters, 10 Station Parade, Balham High Road, London
SWI2).

• A Women For Socialism group has been formed. It aims to
work both within the Socialist Conference (with groups such
as Women Against Pit Closures), and outside, with women’s
campaigning groups on anti-sexist and anti-racist issues. (For
further information, contact: Mandy Moore, 89 Woodside
Gardens, London N17 6UN).

• The main Recall Socialist Conference will be held in Chesterfield on 11/12 June.

• The Conference is also setting up a series of Policy Discussion Groups to prepare reports for the Conference. Policy
Groups are open and have so far been established on:

Economic Policy, International Affairs, Green and Socialist
Issues, The State and Democratisation, Women, Black
People, People with Disabilities, Gays and Lesbians, The
Media and Culture, Education and Training.

• There are also plans afoot to publish a Socialist Directory
which would contain comprehensive information on campaigns of all kinds around Britain.

• Finally, there are plans for a number of Local and Regional
Socialist Conferences, the details of which remain to be
finalised.

Details of all of the above may be found in I nterlink, the
journal of the C.S.E./Socialist Society. Alternatively, they may
be obtained by writing to the Socialist Conference at 9 Poland
Street, London WC2.

FRANKFURT CRITICAL THEORY
Readers may be interested to know that Joseph McCarney
has written a reply to the critique by Peter Dews and Peter
Osborne (‘The Frankfurt and the Problem of Critique; A
Reply to McCamey’ ,RP45-Spring 1987) of his article ‘What
makes Critical Theory Critical?’ (RP42-Winter/Spring
1986). Copies of this reply may be obtained from him at;
Department of Social Sciences, Polytechnic of the South
Bank, Borough Road, London SEl OAA. Enquirers will also
receive a copy of a response to this reply by Dews and Osborne; a contribution which brings the debate to a close for
the time being.

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