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10 Reviews

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

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

Peter Dormer
London W8

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

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
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-

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cal knowledge and experience; and
it is closely related to the needs
of the mass of the Chinese people.

These changes have occurred at
all levels and in all areas of
education, including philosophy.

Almost everyone in China studies
philosophy. Everywhere one goes
there are groups of ordinary
people – workers, peasants, housewives, soldiers etc – studying
philosophy. They study, of course,
from a Marxist standpoint. But,
as Fann emphasises, it is important to understand that they study
Marxism, not merely as an economic
or historical or political doctrine, but also as a method of
analysis – as a theory of knowledge
and as a logic. The history of
Chinese philosophy has also recently become the subject of mass
study as part of the present movement to criticize Confucian attitudes and ideas.

The pamphlet Philosophy is Nd
Mystery contains an account of how
peasants of a Production Brigade
(i.e. village) in Chekiang Province
started to study philosophy and to
use it in their work and in their
lives. Serving the People with
Dialectics contains half a dozen
articles written by such study
groups of workers and peasants,
telling how they put the philosophy
of dialectical materialism to use.

Neither pamph~e~ contains’ any new
or sophisticated philosophical
ideas. The philosophical concepts
they employ are crude and simple
ones. However, the interest of
these pamphlets lies elsewhere;
they describe and explain how
philosophical ideas can contribute.

directly to the solution of very
practical and immediate problems.

We are so used to .thinking of
philosophy as an abstruse academic
pursuit that it is impossible not •
to be sceptical about the idea of
workers or peasants studying philosophy. One imagines the crudest
sort of political indoctrination
in Mao’s thoughts being carried out
under this title. Fann, however,
reports oth~rwise:

In contrast with the traditional
philosophy which begins with
wonder, it may be said that for
the Chinese, philosophy begins
with a task. Bourgeois philosophers wonder about how to prove
the existence of the external
world, or wonder about the existence of other worlds. With good
reason,Ehe~. problems do not
exist for the wo~~rs and peasants
of China: the masses in China
learn philosophy so that they
can apply it creatively to solve
specific problems. Contrary to
the widespread belief in the
West that the intensive mass study
of Mao’s writings breeds dogmatism
in thought and conformity in ac-


tion, it, in fact, inculcates
open-mindedness and introduces
the scientific attitude to the
masses for the first time. IplS]
The Chinese pamphlets also bear
this out. For example, in Serving
the People with Dialectics (what
an unfortunate titlel) there is an,
excellent account of how a poor
peasant, guided by his studies of
philosophy, employed scientific
techniques to increase the yield
of his peanut crop. Rather mundane,
you may think; but one of the main
practical benefits of the study of
philosophy has certainly been to
give rational, methodological and
scientific principles of thought
to the mass of the people. The
mass study of Marxist philosophy
may not reach great heights of subtlety and sophistication, but it
has brought light and progress,
where before were only the dark
and incredibly backward beliefs
and ways of the old China.

The line between education and
indoctrination is not an easy one
to draw. All education produces
its share of dogmatists and conformists, and the Chinese are no
exception in this. But if one
concentrates only on this aspect
of the philosophical education
that is going on in China, one
also loses sight of the vital fact
that a grasp of Marxist ideas has
enabled the mass of the people to
participate in political life.

The call has been made for the
Chinese people to ‘Participate in
state Affairs!’ Philosophical and
political und~rstanding are essential for this. The goal is participatory democracy and freedom.

Fann quotes Engels as follows:

The whole sphere of the conditions
of life which surround man, and
which have hitherto ruled man,
now {with socialism] comes under
the dominion and control of man …

The laws of his own social action, hitherto standing face to
face with man as laws of nature
foreign to and dominating him,
will now be used with full understand~ng and so mastered by him.

Man’s own social organization,
hitherto confronting him as a
necessity imposed by nature and
history, now becomes the result
of his own free action •.. Only
from that time will man himself,
more and more consciously, make
his own history. [pll]

These are the ideals and goals, at
least, towards which Chinese society is a~m~ng. It would be absolutely wrong to give the impression
that they have been achieved,
however. Socialism in China is
still young, and the incredibly
packward habits and attitudes of
the old China remain a strong
opposing force. Socialism is not
a fixed and established fa~t, but
something which must be constantly
struggled for.

Nevertheless, it is equally true
that the experiments which are
b~ing undertaken in education and
ih philosophy are possible only
within a socialist system. This
is stressed in an interview which
Fann had with Professor Fung YuLan, a distinguished historian of
Chinese philosophy at Peking University, and which is included in
the Fann pamphlet (reprinted from
Social Praxis 1/2, 1973). Prof.

Fung says
Some foreign visitors are impressed by some of the specific
measures in our educational system.

They say ‘this way of doing things
is not bad; we should try it when
we go back’. But this is nothing
but daydreaming. What we are
doing in China cannot be done
in a capitalist society. [p44]
As an example he cites teacherstudent relationships. Prof. Fung
is 77 years old, and he is evidently speaking from experience when he
All social problems, in the final
analysis, are problems of social
system. The comradeship between
teacher and student is the most
natural thing under socialism,
but it is impossible under capitalism .•. Under capitalism the
teacher-student relationship is a
.business relationship. I sell
my knowledge and you pay tuition
to buy knowledge. As to whether
the knowledge I sell you is of
any use at all it is not my problem. This is just like the way
capitalists sell their commodities – once the goods go out of
the door they are no longer responsible. Teachers are only interested in fame and money. For
example, if I publish an article
in a famous journal then my marketability goes up immediately.

This will bring me a raise and
maybe a promotion. I may even
get offers from better schools
with higher salaries. As to the
students, they pay their tuition
in return for some knowledge and
diplomas so that they can find
jobs. It cannot be otherwise
under their social system. [p44]
In other words, none of the major
problems in education and i~ philosophy il. capitalist societies: the
academicism, the lack of democracy
and of cooperation between teachers

Socialist Revolation,

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and students, the massive alienation from education and from
society .••. !none of these problems
can be resolved by isolated and
specific changes within universities or ~olleges. They are problems of a wider social sort.

Therefore, the struggles within
colleges and within the different
specialities – within philosophy
for example – must ultimately
take the form of a struggle against
capitalism and for socialism if they
are to succeed.

On the other ~nd, it seems to me
that it would be fundamentally incorrect to conclude from the Chine;e experience that the struggle
~ithin the universities is irrelevaht and that one should there,fore concentrate only on the
struggle Against capitalism in the
wider society. For one of the,
great lessons of China is that.the
class struggle is not merely concerned with questions of the economic base, and it occurs not only
in the struggle between workers and
capital, but also in the superstructure. What one also learns
from China is the extent to which
the struggle within the universities and within the different specialities is a part of the class
struggle, the struggle for socialism. And one also learns the extent to which the apparently universal problems of education are not
a product of unalterable hu~an nature or a necessary part of educational life. Great strides can be
taken towards resolving them – but
only within a socia~ system in
which education is for social use
and benefit and not for private
profit. Thus one learns that the
struggle for true and meaningful
educati~n, so far from being irrelevant to the struggle for socialism, is a necessary part of it.

And unless the struggle for socialism is conducted on all fronts at
once – at the base and in the
superstructure – the result will
ultimately be only a disguised form
of capitalism.

The remaining article in the Fann
pamphlet, ‘The Ethics of Liberation:

The Example of China’ (reprinted
from Monthly Review April 1974) is
perhaps the most interesting of the
three. It takes up a more general
and ‘philosophical’ theme: the
role of morality under socialism
and in the liberation of man. What
he has to say on this topic is of
the greatest significance for the
debate on the nature of morality
~hich has been occurring in Radical
Philosophy during the past year.

Important articles by Richard
Norman, Tony Skillen and Andrew
Collier have all, to varying degrees, expressed scepticism about
the validity of morality and moral

At the extreme, Collier dismisses

all morality as oppressive ideology, alien to socialism. He says,
My assumptions at the outset are
that any moral ideology serves a
socially repressive function …

the elimination of moral ideology
is therefore taken as a rational

[RP9 pS]
Fann addresses himself to precise-,
ly such scepticism:

Living in bourgeois society, we
are justified in viewing the
moralizing of politicians and
the preachings of ministers with
extreme cynicism. And when we
encounter a similar moral tone
of voice in the pronouncements
of .liberation movements and their
leaders we instinctively react
with suspicion. But the apparent
similarity is deceptive •.. [p27J
After a damning account of the
moral realities of bourgeois
society, Fann writes,
Liberation from this oppressive
system requires, first of all,
the reintroduction of ethics as
a motivating force of the revolution. commitment to a new ethical order is the first prerequisite of the revolutionary.

This implies that the revolution
must 1lot only change the economic
structure of the society, but also
change man himself in the process
Changed circumstances alone
do not change man.

This is the
important message of the
Cultural Revolution. (pp32-3J
The changes in man to which Fann
is referring are partly moral ones.

And it is not a matter of abolishing all morality, but rather of
continuing the class struggle in
the field of morality, which means
promoting socialist values and ways
of life in opposition to capitalist

‘Fight selfishness, Repudiate Revisionism’ was the great
slogan of the Cultural Revolution.

And Fann argues that
Unless and until man is transformed
into the antithesis of the selfish, egotistical and aggressive
capitalist man, capitalism will
be restored. {p33J
Liberation is not merely an aconomic or (in a narrow sense) political matter: it must also involve
liberation from perverted forms of
human relationship (such as those
between teacher and student described by Prof. Fung in the above
quotation). However, one~must not
make the opposite error of imagining that one is confronted by
merely moral problems. The moral
transformation of man in China has
been one of the most impressive
aspects of the Revolution – Western observers have frequently
commented on it.

(See Edgar Snow,
Red star over China, Penguin). But
this moral transformation has been
possible only because it has been
a part (though an essential one) of
the overall revolutionary struggle

Special double issue No.2/3
December 1974

GARY WERSKEY: ‘Making Socialists of Scientists’

– the scientists’ movement of the 1930s



to establish and develop socialism
in China.

In ~h~s country there is still
considerable ignorance of events in
China. These little pamphlets will
have served a useful purpose if
they succeed in awakening people’s
interest in the remarkable developments which are occurring there.

Practical Knowledg~
Jtirgen Habermas, Theory and Practice,
translated by John Viertel,
Heinemann Educational Books El.80,
ISBN 0 435 82385 x.

Theory and Practice (TP) is the
third volume of /fabermas’s work to
be published in English translation,
through most of the papers in it
were written before the other two,
Towards a Rational Society (TRS)
(Heinemann 1971), and Knowledge
and Human Interests (KIII) (l!einemann 1972). The twb exceptions are
Chapter 4, ‘Labour and Interaction’,
which was written at about the same
time as ~iI, and should be read in
conjunction with the first three
chapters of that book; and an
Introduction, written for the 1971
Ge~man edition of Theorie und
Praxis, which both summarizes his
work in TRS and ~n, and examines
some problems about the organization of political practice. The
discussion of this last topic
draws upon his work since KHI was
written, which is analyzed in a
useful article by T. McCarthy
(Philosophy of the Social Sciences,
vol.3, 1973): see also llabermas’s
two articies in Inquiry, vol.13,
1970. As far as I can gather,
the most important of his writings
which remains untranslated is Zur
Logik der Sozia1wissenschaften
(Ttibingen, 1967), on the philosophy
of the social sciences: some
features of this are cutlined in
the first section of Wellmer’s
Critical Theory of Society (Herdec
and Herder, 1971).

In common with the early members
of tbe Frankfurt School – such as
Horkheirner and Marcuse – Habermas
is centrally concerned with the
implications of positivism for the
relations between theory and prac-

Science IJournal ,
ALFRED SOHN-RETHEL: ‘science as Alienated Consciousness’ ~ the concept of inertial motion as
an exemplar for the thesis that all scientific
ideas reflect social relations • • . • • • •

tice. By restricting the area of
legitimate knowledge to the result~
and methods of empirical science,
positivism leads to a purely
‘decisionist’ account of values
and norm~, and the concepts of
reason and rationality are confined to the means-end relations
of technical efficiency. In
Chapter 7 of TP – which is a good
starting-point for reading this
book – Habermas contrasts this
positivist view with an alternative,
traditional conception of reason,
which is essentially linked to the
values of human emancipation, and
can thus provide a rational guide
to practice. Habermas accepts the
positivist separation of empirical
science and values, but he rejects
the elimination of values_and norms
as subjects of legitimate knowledge,
and with it, the restriction of
‘theory’ to the discovery of
empirical relationships.

For Habermas, empirical science,
is constituted as a form of knowledge by its relation to a specific
human interest, that of ‘technical
control’ over ~ature (see KHI for
more on this). When, as in advanced
industrial societies, science
becomes definitive of knowledge in
general, and is also an increasingly
important force of production, the
possibility of guiding political
practice by an enlightened public
discussion of norms disappears.

It is replaced by the implicit
values of technical control and
domination, of both nature and
society: for the social sciences
are then also conceived on the
model of the technically-oriented
natural sciences.

Although this conception of the
social sciences did not fully
emerge until the nineteenth century,
Habermas finds an important version
of it in the writings of Hobbes.

In Chapter 1, he discusses how
Hobbes attempted to base hi~poli­
tical philosophy upon knowledge of
the laws of human motivation and
behaviour in the natural state: he
‘investigates the mechanics of
social relations in the same way
as Galileo investigates that of
motion in nature’ (p70). This
knowledge functions both to specify
the problem of political order the war of all against all – and
to indicate the possibility of its
solution, by using the sanction of
force to secure obedience to legal
norms. Habermas argues that, in
adopting this approach to political
theory, Hobbes mades a decisive
break with the classlcal conception
of politics, as examplified in
Aristotle. In t’he latter, politics
is seen as the continuation of
ethics, and to involve a form of
knowledge lacking the certainty of
science: instead it requires
‘practical prudence’, involving,
amongst othe~ things, the making of

‘”normative judgments by means of
public dialogue and consensus.

Further, in making this break
(which, says Habermas, was partly
anticipated by both Machiavelli
and More), Hobbes is faced with a
problem generated by an essential
difference in the relations between
theory and ~ractice in the natural
and social sciences:

.,. unlike the technical application of scientific results, the
translation of [political] theory
into praxis i.s faced with the task
of entering into the consciousness
and the convictions of citizens
prepared to act…

But Habermas argues that Hobbes can
give no coherent account of the
translation of his own theory into
practice: if his view of the laws
of human behaviour is correct, then
any attempt to institute a p~~itica~

Nice’One Nippon’

‘We are about to watch, from seats
high up at the back of the stadium,
a football match in which one of the
teams is Japanese. One of the teams
comes running into the area. I
might say,
(l) “They look like ants”;
(2) “They look like Europeans”.

Now it is plain enough that in
saying (l), I do not mean either
that I am inclinea-to think that
some ants have come on to the field,
of that the players, on inspection,
would be found to look exactly,’ or
even ratber, like ants. (I may
know quite well, and even be able
to see, that for instance they
haven’t got that very striking
sort of nipped-in waist.)’

– J L Austin,
Sense and Sensibilia
‘order of tl)e kind advocated will be
vitiated by the impossibility of
controlling those who are assigned
the task of fashioning the new
arrangements in society, since
cheir behaviour will be subject to
the same l”aws.

Habermas argues that it is because
of this latter problem that the
essentially liberal intention of
Hobbes’s political philosophy based on a modern, non-classical
concept of Natural Law, according
to which laws are instituted to
guarantee areas of free scope for
individuals to pursue their own
interests – is devoured by the
absolutism of the state and its
sanctioning power. In Chapter 2,
he examines the different ways in
which the appeal to modern Natural
Law f’unctioned in the American and
French Revolutions. “Though both’

involved the declaration of a Bill
of Rights, the Americans were mainly
-formating an inventory of the exist-

SHElLA YOUNG: ‘The Politics of Abortion’

DAVID DICKSON: ‘Science and society'”- the
implications of incorporating radic.l ideas into
the mainstream curricula of science ;- technology
This double issue 60p

ing rights enjoyed by British
citizens, which guaranteed the
protection of a private autonomous
sphere free from state intervention.

The French, by contrast, were faced
with the task of actually instituting these rights, and providing a
theoretical justification for them.

In America, the justification was
found in ‘common sense’: in France,
in philosophy. Further, Habermas
examines the competing philosophical
justifications present in the
National Assembly discussions, disti~guishing Lockean, Physiocratic
and Rousseauan conceptions of modern
Natural Law.

The next three chapters, 3-5, are
all about Hegel. In the first,
Habermas argues that, in his earlier
writings, Hegel articulated a con~
ception of philosophy such that it
is possible for theory to be
critical of the existing social
order, and to thus guide a practice
aimed ,at changing it. But in his
later work, Hegel’s conception of
philosophy is such that it can only
attempt to comprehend a reality that
is already completed. Nonetheless,
in both periods, Hegel is firmly
opposed to revolutionary, violent
political practice; and because of
this, his attitude towards the
French Revolution was always ambivalent. on the one hand, he
celebrated the triumph of abstract
right, the legal freedoms and
principles of bourgeois society;
on tRe other, he opposed the
revolutionary activities through
which these were in fact, and
necessarily, realized. In Chapter
5, Habermas examines these changes
in Hegel’s attitude to political
practice in more detail, by relating the purpose of, his political
writings, directed towards
particular events in Germany and
England, to his general conception
of the relations between theory
and practice.

In bot’h chapters, Habermas gives
support to L8with’s claim ‘that
the propositions of the Young
Hegelians were anticipated by the
young Hegel himself’fpI29]. But
in Chapter 4, his support for this,
at least in the case of Marx, is
more guarded. Here Habermas discusses Hegel’s early Jena lectures
on the Philosophy of Mind! in which
he rejects Kant’s conception of
the ‘I’, and substitutes an account
of self-consciousness which results
from the interaction between the ‘I’

“and the ‘Other’ in the medium of
the process of mutual recognition.

For ‘Hegel, there are also two other
media of this self-formative
process: language, (the use of
symbols), and labour (the use of
tools upon nature). But in his
later writings, these three
irreducible and heterogeneous
categories became subordinated as
different real conditions in the

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construction of spirit. Habermas
concludes this chapter by making
the same criticism of Marx that is
made at greater length in KHI: that
he fails to note the distinctive
epistemological statuses of the
knowledge involved in the technical
control of nature (labour), and in
communicative interaction; with
this goes the tendency towards a
mechanistic interpretation of the
relations between base and superstructure.

In Chapter 6, Habermas makes a
n~mber of further criticisms of
Marx, the most important of which
concern the labour theory of value.

Habermas examines some passages
from the Grundrisse, where Marx
appears to suggest that, as
scientific knowledge becomes an
increasingly important element
in the forces of production, labour, as such, ceases to be the
appropriate measure of value.

Habermas argues that this is
correct, and that Marx was mist~en in later abandoning this
rev~s~on to his theory, in Capital
~t also, in this chapter, Habermas
outlines the defects of various
non-Marxist approaches to social
science, such as role theory,
systems theory, and the general
tendency to dissolve the totality
of society into a set of separate
areas investigated by different
social sciences. The chapter concludes with some remarks on changing
conceptions of history, with respect
to its being the result of human
activity, and to ‘the possibility of
its being ‘made’ consciously and
rationally for human emancipation.

To make history in this way,
however, poses another set of
problems about the relation of
theory to practice:’ the nature of
the organizations directed towards
revolutionary political practice.

In the Introduction, Habermas
examines this problem – I think
this is the most interesting part
of the book, which, in general, I
found less ex~iting than some of
his later work. He argues that
there are three distinct functions
in political practice: the formation
of theories about the nature of
society, from a critical standpoint;
the process of enlightenment, by
which, for example, the members of
a class come to understand their
objective interests and the distorted character of existing
ideologies; and the making of
tactical and strategic decisions
about the conduct of political
struggle in specific circumstances.

He insists that these three

… cannot be fulfilled according
to one and the same principle: a
theory can only be formulated
under the precondition that those
engaged in scientific ~rk have
the freedom to conduct theoretical

discourse; processes of enlightenment (if they are to avoid exploitation and deception) can only be
organized under the precondition
that those who carry out the active
work of enlightenment commit themselves wholly to the proper precautions and assure scope for
communications on the model of
therapeutic ‘discourses’; finally,
a political struggle can only be
legitimately conducted under the
,precondition that all decisions
of consequence will depend on
the practical discourse of the
participants – here too, and
especially here, there is no
, privileged access to truth.

An organization which tries to
master all three of these tasks
according to the same principle
will not be able to fulfill any
of them correctly. And even if
this organization is successful
, according to the usual criteria
, of merciless history, as Lenin’s
Farty was, it exacts the same
price for its success which
ambivalent victories have always exacted till now in the
unbroken continuity of a history subject to ‘natural’ uncdntrolled causality. [’34-5)

The argument is conducted partly
by reference to the possibility
of transferring the model of
psychoanalytic theory to the
process of political enlightenment; a reading of Habermas’s
discussion of Freud, in KHI,’is
necessary to understand what’s
going on here. And, as with all
Habermas’s writings, there is a
considerable obscurity and complexity of style and content.

I’ve found it difficult, even
where I thought I understood
what he was saying, to then
‘write it down so that it still
made sense’ – but I’m pretty sure
it’s worth the effort.

Ru ssell Keat

Russian Semiology
V. N. Voloshinov: Marxism and
the Philosophy of Language,
translated by Ladislav Matejka
and I. R. Titunik, Seminar Press
(London and New York), 1973,
205pp, £5.40.

Voloshinov’s text, first published in Leningrad in 1930,
appears now in this English
critical edition with supplementary essays by the translators,
placing it usefully in the cultural context of Russian linguistic research during this fruitful
early period. It makes a substantial sequel to the collection
of Russian Formalist texts published recently by M.I.T. (1971),


most of which followed out the
more specialised critical implications of ideas which are here
developed as a general theory of
language. As the translators
point out, Voloshinov is writing
a compressed survey of ideas and
terminology which ,had been
current in Formalist circles for
some years, and which received
more refined and brilliant application at the hands of literary
critics like Ejxenbaum and
aaxtin. Nevertheless, the
present text has virtues of its
own, not least its impressive
power of generalised statement
and the st~iking sense of deja
fU for those familiar with modern
French criticism.

Voloshinov basis his broadly
Marxist semiotics on the qualified
acceptance of Saussure’s linguistic paradigm. Saussure set out
a programme of clear and rigorous
distinctions for what Voloshinov
calls an ‘abstract objectivism’

in language study. Taking issue
with Bally and the systematic
disciples of Saussure, Voloshinov
rejects the notion that language
can only be studied as an abstract
articulate whole, divorced from
the instance of individual
utterance. On this assumption,
he argues, there is no access to
the crucial problem of linguistics, the constitution of all
significant language by the interaction of subjective promptings
(loosely ascribed to ‘psyche’)
and objective social deterrninations. Philosophy of language
needs both halves of the equation
if it hopes to provide more than
an impressionistic romp or an
abstract and hermetic system of

So far, one could parallel
Voloshinov’s argument with
various Western philosophies
lately fetched up to extend or
qualify Saussure’s semiotics:

phenomenology, for instance, as
combined by Merleau-Ponty with
the concept of a social semiology. Voloshinov, however, is
unconvinced that Husserl’s
phenomenology was more than a
gestural reaction against the
psychologism it sought to replace. No ‘dialectical synthesis’

has yet resulted from this ‘dialectical flux of psychologism
and antipsychologism’ (p32). He
proposes that the philosopher of
language return to the primary
concept of the Sign, but bear in
mind the extraverbal – that is,
the social and historical – as
well as the intra linguistic functions of communication. ‘Only
an utterance taken in its full,
concrete scope as an historical
phenomenon possesses a theme’

(plOO). This is to take account
of both the prodUctive moment of
language, its origins in perform-

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TEACHING LONDON KIDS is concerned with
exploring, among other’ things: ••

ance, and the social conditions
which.encompass it. ‘Theme’,
in this extended special sense,
is ‘a complex, dynamic system of
signs that attempts to be
adequate to a given instant of
generative process’ (plOO).

The terminology is important

‘Theme’ is a theoretical
concept which applies to language
only in its social context of
achieved communication. It is
the attribute ‘of a whole utterance only’; it can deal with an
individual word ‘only inasmuch as
that word operates in the capacity
of a whole utterance’ (plOI).

Thus the socialising aspect of
Voloshinov’s theory consists in
its taking the most complex and
developed examples of languagein-use – ‘whole utterances’ and calling up the widest
possible context of social relations and conventions in order
to explain them. This gives the
linguist his methodological
bearing on the ‘generative’

process of language, its origin
in the dialectics of creative
“psyche’ and social constraint.

A ‘generative’ linguistics in
this sense has little in common
with the analytic procedures of
Chomskyan grammar. Chomsky also
takes the complex unit of language, the grammatical utterance,
as the topic of enquiry; but he
undertakes to provide a purely
immanent analysis, arriving at
his general theory only by abstracting from the internal pro~
erties of the well-formed utterance. It is interesting to
compare these two senses of
language ‘generation’ and their
consequence for the theory of
linguistics. voloshinov appeals
to context, to a rich and complex
register of social communication~
which has to be accepted as an
undifferentiated total experience
before the various components of
its many-levelled rhetoric can be
sorted out. Chomsky, although he
rejects the Saussurian concept of
la langue as the abstract, synchronic field of linguistic
study, still seeks to reduce the
performative aspect of language
– speech as process – to the
theoretical basis of a classified
system of forms and relations.

By keeping the notions of ‘competence’ and ‘performance’ rigidly
,distinct, Chomsky is able to maintain a high degree of abstract
generality. It may be noted that
he recently met the criticisms of
several linguists – George Lakoff
among them – who argued that room
must be found somewhere in the
generative model for the modifying influence of social constraints and intimations – the
understandings which often make
‘sense of an otherwise impenetrable

piece of common usage. To this
extent, Transformational Grammar
may be moving of its own accord
into something like the area
claimed for linguistics by

However, the rapprochement is
far from complete. Voloshinov
takes a strong stand against
Cartesian rationalism – Chornsky’s
avowed philosophy – especially
where it gives rise to a Sausserian dualism in the concept of the
Sign. A linguistics which views
itself as existing over against
the object of study, failing to
perceive the interpenetration of
knower and known, naturally cannot grasp the dialectical function of the social Sign as the .

very locus and creative implementation of man’s presence in the
world. Hence the self-confirming,
solipsistic dualism of Saussure’s
.semiology: the indefinite suspension of eXperiential content the ‘signified’ – in theoretical
favour of the abstract system of
‘signifiers’. voloshinov is able
to show up the ideology of all
such premature abstractions,
leading back to the reductive
rationalism of Leibniz and the
‘universal grammar’.

It is here that Voloshinov’s
text bears most pointedly on the
modern French structuralist movement deriving from Saussure. The
critical notions given currency
lately by Roland Barthes and the
journal Tel Quel are here to be
found in original form, with
perhaps a clearer conception of
their background philosophy.

Barthes is the most important of
later French exponents. His
critical practice rests on the
idea, expressed first in his
Mythologies (1957), that signsystems are best opened to historical criticism by exposing their
forms and constantly refusing the
supplementary content which bourgeois ‘mythology’ attempts to ~.

pass off as ‘natural’ meaning.

This principled regression from
• con~ent to form enables Barthes
to defend, like Brecht, the idea
iof a Marxist critical formaliSm.

This attitude carries over into
his literary texts. In the recent
book on Balzac (S/z, Paris, 1970),
Barthes adopts an ultra-formalistic technique of segmental
narrative analysis, qualified
evasively by occasional, offhand
paragraphs re-emphasising the
ambivalent, paradoxical, irreducibly ‘plural’ business of

the practice and dilemmas of progressive/socialist
teachers in state schools, especially as 8%perienced by new teachers;
the concentration of educationaJ. problems in .Londo~

productive reading. Barthes’

formalism allows him only a null,
reductive treatment of Balzac’s
text, saved from laborious triviliaty by his striking (but
finally mystifying) appeals to the

In Le Plaisir du Texte (1973)
subjective compensation is all’

that remains. Barthes now
rejects the grim paternal law
of the formalist approach,and
suggests that the reader open
himself to all the polymorphous
pleasures of seduction by the
hedonistic text. To recall
Voloshinov’s central distinction:

Barthes has travelled from the
one closed universe of- abstract
objectivism to the other of
psychological individualism
without conceiving of a semiological middle ground where
individual experience discovers
itself as part of the linguis~ic
community. The same charge can
be levelled at the critical
practitioners of Tel Quel, whose
radical philosophy remains a
matter of abstract and mainly
terminological persuasion. Such
is the continuing attempt by
<theorists of the group to construct a rationale of textual
'production' joining the relativised Saussurian notion of the
Sign to a loosely Chomskian
grammar of 'productive' narrative
competence. 2 This remains, for
all its energising hints of analogy, a product of formal convention imprisoned by its abstract

voloshinov’s positive arguments
stand out more clearly against
this negative history. Firstly,
there is the insistence – as
opposed to the hermitism of Tel
Quel – on the material reality of
the ideological Sign in communication.

‘Ideology’ in this sense
has not the negative force it
possesses automatically for
Barthes and the exponents of a
purely critical demythologising
Marxism. The ideological Sign is
the medium and theme of all
possible social accentuations, and
it is left to the later French
ideologues to dream of a literature ideally devoid of all meaning
and cultural compromise. Voloshinov speaks of signs – to which
one might add concepts of the
Sign – which withdraw from the
social struggle, ‘degenerating
into allegory and becoming the
:”,’bject not of live social intelligibility but of philological
comprehension’ (p23). ~is own
programme avoids the nemesis of
abstraction by constantly working
back, not from content to form
in the structuralist manner, but
from form to the amalgam of
expressive content and the social
real which is here contained in

the ways in which the power structure of society.

affects the organization and curriculum of schools;
the potential role or the school in the community
and vice versa


the general term ‘theme’. This
leads in turn to the concentration of linguistic philosophy on
the h!gher-order units of language composition, whose organisation gives a hold to the
synthesising critical mind.

Thus, as Titunik shows in his
Appendix, the real testing-ground
of these theories was in the
advanced literary studies of
critics like Baxtin.

His concept of a ‘thematic’

linguistics allows Vo10shinov to
project a generalised typology
‘of social discourse, distinguishing the various rhetorics of
management entailed by changing
social and political orders. In
the present book this amounts to
a survey of the forms of implicated speech-habit – reported
: speech, direct and indirect discourse – which characterise the
different historical structures
of social identity and submission
to authority. Of course there is
a valuation implicit in the
analysis, and Voloshinov ends with
a diatribe against what he calls
the ‘thematic depression’ of
language brought about by latebourgeois subjectivism. He disapproves the extreme blurring of
thematic and ideational boundaries
in the now prevalent mode of
‘quasi-direct’ discourse, and
calls for ‘the word permeated with
. confident and categorial social
value judgement, the word that
really means and takes responsihility for what it says’ (p159).

Voloshinov finds plenty of
passages for comment in
Dostoevski, Pushkin and Gogol,
where the texture-analysing
subtleties of indirect discourse
provide exactly the social
orientation – satirical or otherwise – which makes them historically thematic.

His attitude to the quasidirect marks a qualitative
distinction which, once again,
sets his work apart from the later
structuralists. They have admired
Baxtin for his more extreme formulations of textual ‘polyphony’,
the con6eption of literary process
in certain writers as a multiple
dialogue of narrative voices in
non-hierarchical arrangement,
none of which therefore can be
identified with the faded presence of the author himself.

These ideas have been taken up
by Julia Kristova (Le Text du
Roman, Mouton, 1971), and are
fundamental to Barthes’ S/Z.

They support what I have criticized as the undifferentiating
semiology – the reductive abstract
methodology – of French neostructuralism. For literary
critics, the chief importance of
Voloshinov’s text is that it
places questions of style at the

centre of linguistic study, and
that style thus defined is an
indispensable concept for historical criticism. Most of the
book’s outstanding passages including the lucid discussion
of Marxist base and superstructure
– rest on this mediating theory
of social semiology. Voloshinov
never loses sight of the essential
distance between ideology and
material forces of production,
or of the epistemological tact
. needed to argue their connection.

One might reflect that the orders
of discourse he describes are
similar in kind and scale of
complication to the rhetorics of
class attitude distinguished by
Bernstein. That Vo10shinov
reads a quite different history
in the elaborated codes of
literature is merely another
token of the point he makes
throughout, that ideological
superstructures are not uniformly
determined, and that the ‘multiaccentuality’ of the thoroughly
social sign is the measure of
its dynamic independence.

In this respect, the translators
are right to stress the absence
from Voloshinov’s text of explicit references to Marxist
author,ity. On the other hand,
as I have suggested, this is still
a worthwhile contribution to
Marxist theory of criticism, not
least for its avoidance of the
simplistic analogical arguments
of the current French enterprise.

The translation is clear and
analytic, if rather artless, and
the supplementary essays are useful pieces 6f documentation.

C~ristopher Norris
Furthermore, your laws seem to me
to be contrary to the general
order of things. For in truth is
there anything so senseless as a
precept that forbids us to heed
the changing impulses that are
inherent in our being, or commands
that require a degree of constancy
which is not possible, that violate the liberty of both male and
female by chaining them perpetually
to one another? Is ther~ anything
more unreasonable than this perfect
fidelity that would restrict us,
for the enjoyment of pleasures se
capricious, to a single partner than an oath of immutability taken
by two individuals made of flesh
and blood under a sky that is not
the same for a moment, in a cavern
,that threats to collapse upon them,
,at the foot of a cliff that is
~crumbling into dust, under a tree
that is withering, on a bench of
!stone that is being worn away.

[Diderot, SUpplement to BougainI ville’s ‘Voyage’, 1772]

An international and interdisciplinary quarterly
of social thought, providing a forum for the
expression of all relevant ideas in the social
sciences. Edited by K T Fann, Atkinson College,


Radical Psychology
Phil Brown, (ed’ Radical Psychology
Tavistock £1.40
Psychiatry has suffered for several
years from a lack of underlying
theory. There has been no attempted
revision, let alone revolution, of
its theoretical aims and scope. In
fact it seems that the last great
tpheaval was due to Freud, and the
rise of Psychoanalysis and was based
on the rather shaky anatomical ideas
of the late 19th century. Thus
Psychiatry seems to have remained
a descriptive science, drawing
theory from practice rather than
using the theory-into-practice
method of more experimental sciences. And where data were available they were epidemiological and
statistical: even the currently
fashionable drug therapy is based
on the ‘suck-it-and-see’ ideology
of the clinical trial.

The legacy of this descriptive
background has been double-edged in
recent years. Following the other
biomedical sciences, one branch of
Psychiatry has attempted to gain an
experimental footing, a biomo1ecular validation: regrettably without much success. The other has
involved the development of concepts largely divorced from experimentation, and thus, in some
sense, is in the mode of its progenitor. There,’however, the similarity ends, for Radical Psychology
as the second likes to call itself,
is an attempt to show up the old
Psychiatry for what it is: the
tool of a repressive society.

This tool has been available to be
used as a means of control over
subjects who are malignant in the
eyes of society, but not sufficiently criminal that they may be
summarily incarcerated.’

Thus the
therapeutic claims of Psychiatry
have been neglected in practice,
though played up for the sake of
the public it might ‘defend’.

Phi1 Brown’s ‘Radical Psychology’

is an attempt to draw together the
various threads in the anti-shrink
campaign and, I suppose, put the
Alternative case (at least, the
case developed at Alternate U. at
which Phil Brown taught). Feminist,
Marxist, Freudian and Anti-Freudian, Psychiatrist and Anti-Psychiatrist, therapist and radical therapist: presented as though fully
complementary. For instance, Szasz
is taken at face-value in his views
of the mental patient as scapegoat
– forgetting his agreement with
Popper on the poverty of Marxist
historicism. Early work of Reich
is taken as representative of the
views of a man who later came to
respect democracy and reject Communism. Anyone can change his mind ,but surely editors shou1d’remember

York University, Downsview M3J 2R7, ant, Canada
Published by Mouton’Publishers, Box 1132, The
Hague, Netherlands, annual subscription $8.50,
$6 students, $19 institutions

that and note it in their introductions.

The longest section is that on
‘The Marxist Foundation’, although
it contains only one paper by Marx
himself. The other papers are
.classics by such as Frantz Fanon,
or essays on (and by) later Marxists like Reich: the paper by Keith
Brooks being the new star in this
familiar sky. Here he fairly convincingly destroys the notion of
Freudianism as a Marxist view of
psychology by contrasting the internalism of Freud with the socialism of Marx. He does, of course,
lean on Marcuse’s view of Freud,
a view criticised sternly by Erich
Fromm: the uncertainness of the
premises do not detract from the
excellence of the argument.

The shorter sections are on ‘Sex
Roles’ (though Phil Brown’s view
of Freud as male chauvinist pig is
made old hat by recent Juliet
Mitchell); ‘The Therapy Rip-Off’

(where one finds Radical Psychology as she really is spokel) and
‘Fighting Back’ (which is surprisingly very short and extremely
disappointing). Apart from some
of the articles on Marxist influence, those best known already in
this neck of the woods are on
‘The Sociological Approach’ and
‘Antipsychiatry’, mainly because of
Szasz, Goffman, and Laing and
Cooper are well known here, though
the latter’s brand of existential
psychiatry is now less trendy than
hitherto. Perhaps more of the
contributors will be household
words (whatever they are) soon, for
Penguin has just published an
anthology of extracts from
Radical Therapist, the journalwith-the-jargon to which they
regularly contribute.

In his Preface and his Introduct~
ions to the sections, Mr Brown
shows these to be the central
points of value in a coll~ction of
readings. His criticisms of Szasz,
who remains a prime member of the
medical profession and a conservative in practice, are especially
valid. Scheff and Goffman come in
for similar criticism, t~s time
for omitting the class differential
in psychiatric diagnosis. The

notes on Laing, et al., are just
as good and note the male-centredness of Cooper’s view of approaching
family dissolution. However, the
Introduction to ‘The Marxist Foundation’ puts the psychology of
alienation and class-related
psychosis in the weakest of simplistic terms, such that everything
of value is instantly doubted as a
na!ve con. For instance the point
is vali~ that a people’s psychology
is only possible in a new, socialist society; but the mista]~e is
that a trendy, cliquish approach
is used to present that psychology which automatically excludes

the ‘people’. The style is thus
irritating and condescending – in
these sections only, thank heavens.

My final criticism is that in this
‘English edition all references are
to American editions, even though
English versions are usually

The basic attraction of this
book, at least for the student, is
not the Varoomshkaesque exterior,
but that it is a collection of
readings and comes in paper covers
(at an almost reasonable cost).

Mahy of the papers form part of
larger individual works, but usually the essence is found here:

possibly with little loss of detail
but much gain in force. Better
28 readings for El.40 than at a
quid-a-time under separate covers
– and just hope that the reader
allows for editorial blinders.

Perhaps this is the Age of Readings as much as it is of other
pre-selected, predigested goodies,
so it is a shame that the weeklies
seem reticent to review this

Teifion Davies
Wrilings of Passage
Miriam Glucks;ann, Structuralist
Analysis in Contemporary Social
Thought. A Comparison of the
Theories of C1aude Levi-Strauss and
Louis Althusser, Routledge and Kegan
Paul, E4.50; Abner Cohen, TwoDimensional Man. An Essay on the
Anthropology of Power and Symbolism
in Complex Society, Routledge and
Kegan Paul, E2.75

In the course of a University life,
the successful academic who writes
is likely to produce discourses of
several distinct types. First comes
the Ph.D thesis; then the monographic studies, perhaps leading up
to a major work; at some point, a
textbook; later on, a reflective,
synthesising or programmatic essay
(perhaps a Professorial inaugural
lecture); finally, a predominantly
autobiographic work.

Ms Glucksmann became Dr Glucksmann
on the basis of a Ph.D thesis which
is the original text of her book.

I doubt that the book much differs
from the Ph.D. It is scholarly and
objective, but also myopic and turgid. It signals to the reader evidence of its own exhaustiveness and
labels those passages where ‘evidence of original thinking’ is to
be found. It is an intellectual
exercise which I found increasingly
unreadable. At pl09 I abandoned it.

At one time” theses in which the
apprentice deepened his or her

knowledge of a particular fiel,l and
proved capacity for sustained intellectual work would sit on library
shelves, at best consulted by
fellow-specialists and friends, at
worst gathering dust. Copyright
would be jealously guarded, as anyone who has tried consulting theses
knows, and as Gwyn Williams’ recent
difficulties (solicitors’ letters
for allegedly plagiarising a thesis
on Gramsci) show. But nowadays the
expansion of higher education guarantees a sufficient (mainly Library)
market for publishable Ph.D’s actually to be published.

In cases like the present one, it
seems to me that the publication of
these Ph.Ds functions as an obstacle
to reading the really important
original texts. Only by a supreme
~ffort do I ever read Levi~Strauss
(or Marx, or Freud) and not yet
another commentary. Partly, it is
that there is imposed on any intellectual an obligation to keep up
with published work in the field,
though not on unpublished work.

Partly, it is that one hopes for a
short-cut. One hopes that Dr
Glucksmann has done all the ‘r~ad­
ing’ that is necessary and that
one can simply carry on from where
she le~es off, dispensing with
private note-taking on one’s own
reading of Levi-Strauss or Althusser.

We look to Dr Glucksmann’s book for
the benefits of a division of labour.

Unfortunately, it is rare for the
commentary to provide the desired
short-cut. Sometimes the short-cut
is impenetrable unless the eriginal
works have already been consulted.

Sometimes it is misleading, as when
Dr Glucksmann writes” that ‘Les Structures E1ementaires (1949) aeals with
the different types of communication
system implicit in marriage rules
but is little influenced by linguistics and makes no reference to it.’

[p72l. But chapter XXIX, section
V of The Elementary Structure of
Kinship discusses the ways in which
‘the progress of our analysis is
thus close to that of the phonological linguist’ [p493l; Levistrauss does not merely make a
‘reference’ to Jakobson as Glucksmann states [p180l, but says that
‘a great deal’ is owed to him ‘for
theoretical inspiration’ [pxxvil.

On the other hand, the one reference to Saussure that Glucksman records (plOB) is a reference to Raymond, not Ferdinand, whose course in
General Linguistics does not figure
in Levi-Strauss’s Bibliography.

Professor Cohen’s book is of a
different genre. The author of
several monographs, he now turns
(as only someone who has professorial status can) to an overview
of the state of anthropology, and
the isolation of a crucial dimension for future research:

The HwnancOOtext
Volume VII No.l 1975 now on sale
The Human Context explores the philosophicalassum
tions and the methodology of the human scieric~s
(the different fields of psychology, sociology and
anthropology). It aims at a critical dialogue

Subscription per volume (3 issues) ElO.OO (S30)
Single issues and back numbers E3.50 (SlO.50)
SUbscriptions should be sent to Basil Blackwell &
Mott (Journals Dept), 108 Cowley Road Oxford

authors see the main-reason for
Now, perhaps more than ever before,
this inadequacy in teachers who make
is the time to develop a discipline
no attempt to make their subjects
which analyses the inter~onnections
relevant to the wider culture that
between symbolic action – patterns
their pupils are part of outside
of ‘mumbo-jumbo’ behaviour – and
. schools and which they often share
power relationships in modern
themselves. They don’t think the
society. [pp137-8]
fault lies in either compulsory
This book is light, digressive,
schooling per se or in the tradimildly interesting but unoriginal.

tional subjects themselves. DeAt moments, Cohen’s directive for
schooling and ‘progressive’ defuture research reads like a laststructuring, they point out, run
ditch effort to save anthropology
the risk of leaving the working
from extinction. symptomatically,
class child more ground down,
whilst the title alludes to Marcuse’s
divided, and speechless than before.

famous work, the sub-title of OneWe may have been taught that tradiDimensional Man is incorrectly
tional subjects were existing stategiven in the Bibliography.

ments to be swallowed whole, but as
Readers of Radical Philosophy need
they say
read neither of these books. Anyrecorded knowledge is only suspenone working on a comparison of Levided conversation of a highly
5trauss and Althusser is welcome to
organised kind
have my review copy of Glucksmann’s
that needs a critical mind to enbook.

gage with it to make it real. And
traditional subjects can be made
real and vital, they argue, if the
teacher ‘intervenes’ in the experiences and questions students
already have, and doesn’t attempt
to ‘initiate’ knowledge. In history, for instance, the industrial
revolution is often taught to working class pupils as something
totally alien to them, whereas
there is a sense in which the
working class pupil knows more
about the industrial revolution
than the teacher ever will.

And it can indeed be taught to encourage just that critical faculty
necessary for pupils to analyse
their own situation. It’s these
things – intervention, the development of critical awareness and an
ability to use the knowledge
Gabriel Chanan and Linda Gilchrist,
accumulated that should be availWhat School is for, Methuen, 65p
able in education – that the authors
see as the most important contribuThis book looks at the positive contion a ‘radical’teacher can make in
tribution a ‘radical’ teacher can

make in educational institutions
There are some things to criticise
now. There. aren’t many books or
in the book. The authors become
papers at present that do that. It
dangerously near ~o sayi~g that
examines what school is in society
schools can be vital organs of
at the moment, and touches in quite
social change. And in their eagera stimulating way on most of the
ness to show the complexity and
current educational themes – detangled nature of working class and
schooling, middle class/working
middle class culture they come near
class culture, language codes, structo suggesting that there is no
ture, subject divisions, curriculum
such thing as class, just conflict
evaluation, examinations … and so
in us all. I also don’t think
on. All this in 130 pages and in
they’re aware enough of the
highly readable form, which is no
limitations imposed on teachers who
mean feat.

are thought too radical in their
On the school as it stands, the
approach. But – as a socialist and
authors say:

a teacher who has felt uneasy about
The most glaring fault of the
deschooling (which seems like the
schools is not their successful
ghost of laissez faire returning to
inculcation of undesirable values,
haunt us) and equally uneasy about
but their failure to convey to
the view that there is n~t~ing to be
most pupils even the questionable
done in schools at all – I have
skills and knowledge they say they
found this book and some of its
are trying to convey.

ideas important, and I urge you to
They say that school subjects rely
read it.

heavily on university disciplines
and bear no relation to future
manager’s requirements, let alone
to the pupils themselves. The

.Women’s History

Trevor Pateman



Sheila Rowbotham, Women, Resistance
and Revolution, Pelican 60p, first
published 1972, AlIen Lane
ISBN 014 021615 4

When Sheila Rowbotharn wrote this
book the Women’s Liberation movement
was just beginning to get off the
ground in England. Those of us
who were refugees from the Socialist movement felt the need for
general books which would connect
feminism with Socialist and Revolutionary ideas in a way that
Germaine Greer, Eva Figes, or even
Simone de Beauvoir had not been able
to do. This book and her two
others, Hidden from History and
Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World,
were written to fill that gap, and
come out of that early experience.

It is still difficult for anyone
involved in Women’s Liberation to
properly criticise its published
work. We have a fragmented historical tradition and we are desperately anxious to keep this movement
going, knowing how easy it is for
autonomous feminist issues to get
swallowed up in times of crisis.

We need time and encouragement to
deepen our intellectual positions
and strengthen our politics. We
also know how difficult it is for
women to write about feeling agonies of self doubt about entering
traditional male areas of achievement.

(We usually feel safer exposing ourselves sexually, an
. ‘allowable’ area of female ‘achievement’. It would be extremely interesting to analyse the one excep-‘

tion to this, that of women novelists, as Virginia Woolf tried to do
in A Room of One’s Own.) The reactions of Richard Cobb to Claire
Tomalin’s Mary Wollstonecraft and
the normally sane Peter Sedgwick to
Juliet Mitchell’s Psychoanalysis
and Feminism demonstrate how edgy
men still are when confronted with
ideas about women-sex-personalpolitical issues and how quickly
they reduce the issue to an argument
ad feminam. Even in the ‘alternative culture’, as Radicaj. philosophy shows, it is unusual to find
articles by women on predominantly
male subjects.

This is beginning to break down
both here and in the United States.

It’s surely no longer possible to
keep up with Women’s Liberation
literature as a sideline or for
bed-time reading. OUr published
work does still tend to ‘span the
centuries’ and we have a long way
to go before we can persuade publishers that a feminist book does
not have to be a general book on
women’s oppression from the stone
age up to the present day. But
within the movement and around a

Feminist Studies

Volume 2 Number I, 1974 $2.00



is available only by direct
order. Single issue $~.OO, personal subscriptior
$6.00; institutional/library subscription $9.00.

Write: 417 Riverside Drive, New York NY 10025 US}

number of academic subjects there
is a lot of detailed and rigorous
filling out of the problems going
on. For example, Jean Gardiner’s
work on the political economy of
housework (to be published shortly
by New Left Review) is much more
interesting and original than anything yet published on the subject.

Women, Resistance and Revolution
is an attempt to trace the history
of a certain variety of feminism It is a very simple idea, but one
with which we have lost touch,
that the liberation of women
necessitates the liberation of
all human beings.

The idea is picked up amongst 17th
century Puritan sects in England
and America where ‘sexuality and
female theorizing combined dangerously’.

It turns up particularly
strongly during the Enlightenment
through Condorcet and Diderot and
erupts magnificently, if briefly,
during the French Revolution, where
the revolutionary feminists’ argued,
in a Petition to the Assembly in
You have destroyed all the prejudices of the past, but you allow
the oldest and most pervasive to
remain, which excludes from
office, position and honour, ana
above all from the right of
sitting amongst you, half the
inhabitants of the kingdom.

This was echoed in England, of
course, by Mary Wollstonecraft much
of whose vitriol was directed
against Rousseau’s notion in Emile
the education of women should always be relative to that of men.

To please, to be useful to us,
to make us love and esteem them,
to educate us when young, to
take care of us when grown up;
to advise, to console us, to
render our lives easy and-agreeable.

(It would be interesting to compare
this doctrine of Rousseau’s-with
his detailed descriptions of women
in The Confessions.)
Women, Resistance and Revolution
also describes attempts to organise
women and legislate for them within
20th-century revolutionary movements in Algeria, China and the
Soviet Union. These chapters make
sad reading. There is the familiar
trajectory of hopeful beginnings
on divorce, abortion, child care,
legal and social equality, degenerating into an ignominious return to
traditional forms. The one exception is work and educational opportunities. But scarcity and the
need for a work ethic in postrevolutionary societies, always
postpones changes in domestic
arrangements, freer sexual life,
experiments in living w’lich would
alter feminine stereotyping.

Sheila Rowbotham’s great strength
as a writer is that she has not

borrowed the language of the male
left – as Juliet Mitchell and
other women influence by the New
Left so often have. Her writing
is simple, accessible and marvellously direct and she is particularly good on the relationship between the personal and the
political, a subject feminist
Socialists work hard on.

I think she underestimates difficulties, obstacles and failure.

Because she has chosen to trace an
expression of women’s emancipation
which happens to coincide with
her own idea of what freedom for
women should mean, she tends to
make all the women who hold these
opinions sound the same whether
they are from Massachusetts in the
17th century, France in the 18th,
or Algeria in the 20th.

It becomes
rather like jumping from the tip
of one iceberg to the tip of another. optimism is no substitute
for an analysis of why, for
example, revolutionary and social
democratic movements, trade union
and labour movements, actively
discouraged autonomous feminist
socialist practice; or of the
effects on the suffrage movement
in England of reaching its most
militant and successful phase at
a time when the working class was
most disillusioned with suffrage
extensions and parliamentary politics – in the ten years prior to
the first world war.

It i~ a’n unfair criticism, of course,
because these sorts of problems cannot be thoroughly discussed until
the groundwork has been prepared by
feminist historians digging away at
. local and national records. When
the results of this kind of research
begin to appear it will be much less
tempting for us to idealise the
socialist feminist heroine Sheila
Rowbotham is interested in in this
book. It will b,ecome easier, too,
to see the position of women in the
overall context of relations between
the sexes.

Historians of black Africa, trying
in the late 1950s to get away from a
Euro-centred history of that continent, were forced to excavate
sources which would normally be ignored. Hence botany was used to plot
the course of a possible separate
neolithic revolution in’ the Western
• Sudan; archaeology and carbon dating
helped in assembling evidence of
‘settlement and contact between societies; comparative linguistics could
suggest Bantu migration patterns and
a chronology of this dispersal; medi-.

cal reports sometimes hinted at possible trade routes if new diseases had
been brought across the desert by
travellers; talking to old Arabic
scholars and the skills of ‘oral’history often brought out old manuscripts
which reported on events new and old,
known and unknown. Herstorians
please note.

John Burnett (ed.), Useful Toil Autobiographies of Working People
from the l820s to the 1920s, AlIen
Lane, 1974,

To anyone interested in working
class history this ought to have
been a fascinating book.

It contains written accounts by ordinary
~orking people of how they saw their
lives, and such first person accounts are rare_
Information about
the lives of working people usually
pas to be taken from witnesses giving evidence before government
officials or from reports by dedicated middle class Victorian investigators.

Beatrice Ivebb, for example, investigating the Lancashire
cotton industry at the end of the
19th century, had to dress herself
up in shawl and clogs and get a job
in a mill before she could describe

conditions there accurately.

was highly unlikely that a working
mill girl would offer her a written
description of her work. The autobiographies collected here are
mostly unknown and make extremely

The difficulty with the book is,
I’m afraid, the attitude of the
‘editor to his material. The very
title, Useful Toil, taken from a
nauseating little stanza in Grey’s
‘Elegy’, betrays a sentimentality
about the poor which is reminiscent
of the days before Labour histor¥’s

In fact much of the toil
performed by these people was sin-‘

gularly useless, and they were very
well aware of it. The domestic
servants, when they weren’t avoiding the advances of the young masters, spent much of their time in
excessive dusting and polishing of
the houses of the rich, putting up
with gratuitous insults while doing
so. One busy mistress of a big
house is described as having deliberately left money or a pack of
cards under the carpet every morning
in order to catch out her maid this trick serving the dual purpose
of making sure the maid cleaned
under the carpet and of checking on
her honesty.

Burnett says there is !lot much evidence of class antagonisms in these

But some of the descriptions by highly skilled men and
women of how they did their work and
what it meant to them, show a deter-

Monthly journal of the NUS (during college
university terms)
Articles in the last issue on Community
Festivals and Urban Trails.

Prlce l2p per issue. £1.40p for a yearly
subscription •
Subscriptions, inquiries to NUS,
Street, NWl


mined pride in doing it well, not
to please their masters, but as a
way of rejecting the humiliations to
which capricious employers sUbjected

This attitude to work is particularly noticeable in the rural
areas where class relations are
still personalised even towards the
end of the 19th century. The urban
accounts show a much more pronounced
alienation from work, bitterness
towards employers, and a greater

Here, unemployment and
the fear of it dominates many of the
experiences and the ceaseless search
for work all over the country means
long separation from family and

The real problem with this kind of
material, as with the increasing
amount of oral history being collected, is how much value the labour
historian can place on it in comparison with the other sources such
as newspapers, legal records, trade
union and co-op histories etc.

is a question not just of faulty
or distorted memory which has to be
checked against more ‘reliable’

sources, but also of how far we can
use personal reminiscences for making generalisations about the way
the mass of the population lived,
and, more generally, of what exactly is the relationship between an
individual lived experience and its
historical co~text.

It is particularly important for a
social history of women that we
start to think about this. We can
use conventional historical methods
in discussing the exceptional women
or the organisations which they were
active in, as Claire Tomalin has
done in Mary Wollstonecraft [Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 19741. We can
also, as Anna Davin and- others are
doing, discover new ways of looking
at existing documentation like local
court records on marriage cases, or
school board reports.

But we are
going to have to rely a great deal
on oral history, particularly for
this century, if we want to investigate the effects of the decline in
the birth rate, the extended lifespan of women, the women’s ~ote etc.

How we deal with women’s reminiscences will determine how good our
history is going to be.

If the pUblication of this book
means that there is an increasing
market for this kind of history then
we should welcome it.

But it should
also mean a lot more hard thinking
about what we are going to do with
tIle information than Burnett has

Jean McCrindle


to the struggles which led to the
threatened expulsion of eight philosophy teachers at Belgrade University.

Their jobs seemed to have been saved
RP9 showed examples from Chilean
when, folloy/ing publicity and protests
childrens comics of the regime’s
from the West, Tito advised against
virulent anti-left propaganda.

measures “Which would do us more harm
Evidence of the way in which reoutside our country”. However the
pression continues in fo;mal’ educaBelgrade City Committee of the Communtion comes from a report by John
ist Party, which controls half the
Platt-Mills QC, ex MP and defence
seats on the faculty management comlawyer to the Shrewsbury building
mittee (a concession wrung from the
workers, who was sent to Chile by
faculty in 1973), is understood to be
the NUS.

The following is based on
re-mobilising and to have announced
his report:

its intentions of dismissing Stejanovic
The four man military government of
Zivotic, Golubovic and others.

Chile has set out to eradicate from
The recent series of measures taken
the minds of Chilean young people
students in the Philosophy
any understanding or even knowledge
Faculty follows public declarations
of what happened in the three years
made by the students of support for
of the Presidency of Allende and
the eight teachers, demands for the
the Popular Unity Government and to
free development of Marxist criticism
install a highly nationalist and
and the practical application of Marxnarrowly conservative system of
ist theory, and condemnation of bureducation.

eaucratic interference in the running
The minister of education Admiral
of the university.

Castrol says we have no time for
The students’ views were expressed in
politics of any ki~d in school or
a draft resolution of the Students’


He is asked when will
Unions of Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljublyoung people gain any sense of sojana Faculties of Philosophy, of 31st
cial responsibility and replies
January 1974. This text includea
‘Plenty of time for that after they
statements to the effect that Marxare educated; besides we are to
ist criticism was being strangled
have brownies and then scouting from
and that the Universities were becomthe beginning. ‘

ing technocratic factories on the
Indeed there is shortage of time
It came out in defWestern model.

in the curriculum: several weeks
ence of the eight teachers and deeach year are devoted to the study
clared its support of the dictatorof Chile’s ancient heroes and such
ship of the proletariat, of a praccontentious international issues as
tical application of Marxist theory
the claim to Antarctica and to the
and of freedom of creativity.

Beagle Channel; 96 hours a year
On February 9th a temporary ban
‘National Security’ for every stuwas placed on the draft resolution
dent, full military instruction for
by a Zagreb Court. On the same day
all students with three weeks in
a search without warrant was carried
camp each year. There is an arbiout in Belgrade, six students were
trary approach to knowledge which
interrogated (several of them office
is not consistent – every left book
holders in the Committee for Student
is purged and rewritten; many asAffairs), and a large number of textpects of world history deleted,
books, other books and private papers
e.g. no French Revolution or Induswere confiscated. A few days later,
trial Revolution or Russian Revowith Faculty permission, the offices
lution or Cromwell; every publicaof the Faculty Committee for Student
tion and Radio or T.V. utterance
Affairs was unsuccessfully searched
under military censorship.

for copies of the draft resolution.

A military prosecutor in each uniOn the 26th of February, at the
versity; every Rector an Admiral or
Annual Assembly of the Belgrade FacGeneral; military police in every
ulty, Vladimir Palancin read out the
College; all these have power of
entire decision of the Zagreb Court
dismissal of stUdents and staff
which banned the draft resolution.

without appeal,
22,000 students
Palancin (but not the Zagreb judge)
have been dismissed from universiwas charged with an act of hostile
ties for supporting Allende from a

total student population of
At the same Assembly Jovan Vukelic

presented a resolution calling for
It seems that the junta aims at
normal conditions of work for all
brainwashing a whole generation.

members of the Philosophy Faculty
and condemning the use of administrative and bureaucratic measures in
the campaign against the Faculty.

Among the charges brought against


Repression of Sludenls

Hore information is availabl~ about
Vukelic was that of making statethe continuing harass
t i h

ments of a kind liable to arouse
men 0 t e ph1l- ,alarm among the population”.

osop y Faculty at Belgrade University. charges against him rested partly on
The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
has reported that the jobs of the
a claim that the proceedings of the

Assembly were unconstitutional. lfuat
1ss1dent teachers are once again in
danger and has also obtained disturb- seems to be at issue is the right
ing news of the persecution of studof members to submit draft resolt
ut ions to their Assembly, and the
en s t rough out the year, including
right of the Assembly to publish
those resolutions it accepts (VukS1X students currently awaiting trial. elic’s resolution was passed by 864
In RP8 we reported on the background votes to 4).


The University Communist League,
which in 1972 drew up the list of
teachers to be fired, has continued
its attacks on the Philosophy Faculty.

In June it issued a statement
de!11anding the expulsion of six “extremist” students (including Vukelic),
against whom legal action was being

This statement criticised
the Philosophy Faculty for supporting “the extremist activities of a
group of teachers and students”
which, it claimed, IYere condemned by
the rest of the University.

The indications are that the Philosophy Faculty has given strong support to the students, as it did to
the teachers.

In any case the voting
figures on Vukelic’s resolution belie
the authorities’ attempts to blame it
all on a small group of extremists.

Vucelik, says the First District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade,
“unauthorisedly and in spite of the
opposition of a number of those present read out a Resolution which expressed his own personal attitudes ••• ”
All four of them shouting hard, one
supposes. And the results of the case
must further circumscribe free discussion in the Faculty.

It may be a measure of the effect of
Western publicity and protests that
when, earlier this year, Tito anpeared to have called off the hunt against
the Philosophy Faculty, the teachers,
whose cases were well known, kept
their jobs, but the students did not
even get a reduction in their prison
sentences. However, for such help as
it does give, it is very i!11portant
that protests are made in support of
the students, as well as in further
support of the teachers whose jobs are
once again threatened.


More from Yugoslavia
On 9th April 1974 at the Valjevo District Court, Dragoljub S. Ignjatovic
was found guilty of the crime of hostile propaganda. committed at the Winter Meeting of the Serbian Philosophers’ Association.

Ignjatovic had described Yugoslavia
as a “primitive economy, unprofitable
and uncompetitive industry … inflation, poor health service, 19th century school system ••• etc.” He had
denied the existence of legal, civil
and creative freedom and represented
the government as totalitarian.

He was sentenced to three years and
six months imprisonment and is banned
from making a public appearance for
two years after his release.

On … ~t:~ ,pril 1974 the Titograd District Court issued a writ against
Ljiljana Mijanovic-Jovicic, accusing
her of damaging the reputation of
the State, its bodies and president.

The evidence included allegations
that she had said “our society is
heading for capitalism” and called
Tito a pig.

There is no record of court judge-

Counter Course Conference
A national ‘countercourse’ conference was held in Cambridge at the
beginning of November.

It was a
follow up to the Canterbury conference in March, reported in RPB
It was organised by a group of
Cambridge University undergraduates who are trying to devise
alternative modes of intellectual
work, and in general to make the
actual contents of their courses
a field for political action and

‘You do not have to
get out of the university and go
down to the factory gates to find
class struggle’ said one speaker.

Several counter-course groups are
established in Ca:mbridge, and coordinated by a weekly lunch. There
is the urban studies group (where
students from geography, architecture, history, English, criminology and sociology meet to discuss the interdisciplinary study
of the problems of the city, concentrating on the social geography
of Cambridge itself); the women in
literature group; the education
group (formed to combat sexist
education in children’s books and
which has produced an alternative
children’s story book already in
use in schools); the science for
non-scientists group; and the
economists for non-economists

Both of the last two are forums
where scientists and economists
try to demystify their subjects
and show how deeply they touch on
the lives, welfare and interests
of students from all disciplines.

Academic work, they believe,
should not be isolated and competitive, exclusively confined
to the requirements of the
academic curricula.

The conference fulfilled some
ideals by adapting itself to participants’ ideas and interests; in
the morning the Plenary Session
we had intended talking about the
theory and practice of countercourses, but ended up discussing
the role of higher education in
society, because most people felt
this was an essential startingpoint. The chairman was removed
and the discussion was spontaneous
without becoming chaotic.

Two main approaches to countercourse were apparent: one which
saw it as small groups of ‘intellectuals’ within universities
developing a counter-culture, and
the other which saw it as an
attempt to reach outside the
university and attack the structure of education in society. This
led to a discussion of the Present
aims of higher education: it was
agreed that universities are
largely concerned with producing
a self-perpetuating academic
elite, doing research which is
usually of little relevance to
most people.

But where it is
relevant it is designed for the
needs of capitalist production providing the technologists and
managers that industry needs to
run itself.

Within higher education, subject
division, teachers’ authority and
exams limit what we study and
define the questions we ask: our
own experience of life is irrelevant. And any breakdown in distinctions in one area makes the
others seem still more arbitrary.

The evening session, after hearing the reports of the various
afternoon discussion groups, went
on to emphasise that countercourse should not be an intellectual wank, with privileged students
simply improving the learning
process to which they have access.

They could use their knowledge to
provide counter-information for
those who need it: like trained
lawyers who help people fight the
conspiracy laws.

Students researching into the financial
interests of company directors
should give worker~ information
about them.

This would be a useful but limited part of countercourse activity: it has a more
continuous role in questioning
the dominant ideology, the control
a few people have over the means
of communication, and d~veloping

It was felt that some coordinating body was needed for countercourse at a national level, and
some members ot the conference
agreed to run a stall at the next
NUS conference to spread information and stimulate discussion about countercourse. The NUS community action representative agreed
to expand the section on Countercourse in the NUS magazine
Communus, and as a result of the
conference an additional countercourse group was set up in
Cambridge, on the ideology of
teacher training courses.

Some participants at the conference were depressed at the end of
it and complained that it had not
achieved anything.

But others were
more enthusiastic. The very
occurrence of the conference was
significant. Nothing like it would
have happened a few years ago, and
even if it only affected a small
number of students, the countercourse movement was completely
transforming their experience of

History or Philosophy
Kolakowski has now replied to J:dward Thompson’ s Open Letter to him in
the current number of the Socialist
Register J974, and the two met each
other in a strange debate last month
at Balliol College.

Strange, because to hear the!11 talk, as to read
their respective contributions, is
to realise that they communicate out
of a historical experience of the
past three decades which has produced in each of them totally different ideas about Socialism, particularly the potential of its future.

Thompson has always been a disside.nt


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