The following text has been automatically reproduced by an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithm. It may not have been checked over by human eyes. For matters of precision please consult the original pdf.

13 Reviews

industry demands more than narrow
special ism. Gorz analyses the
growth of student militancy in this
context, but beyond students he
sees the contradiction as the source
by the social democratic parties
of the ‘real needs’ of the ‘modern
that came to power in Europe during
worker, the needs that will lead to
the last decade, – by no means
challenging the oapitalist system

as a whole. The essential need is
This, taken with the inflexibility
for power to control his own life
of the system in the face of tradiand work, to break free of the
tional demands, means that effectoppression of work as it is exive opposition must come to
perienced in the framework of capchallenge the capitalist organisaitalist relations of production.

tion of production as a whole if it
The ideology of the ‘consumer
is not to be drawn into the planning
society’ of course acts ~o mask
structure.and castrated. However,
this need, to substitute for it the
this generalisation of the class
false need for luxury consumer
struggle must take place in the
goods. The worker is persuaded to
context of a capitalism that no
accept the oppressive and destruclonger bases itself on naked opti ve nature of his work in exchange
pression, but rather on a complex
for what he can get outside his
network of ideological institutions
work, to accept a quantitative comwhich emphasise in particular the
pensation for a qualitative deprivsystem’s ability to supply, and go
ation; as a consumer, moreover, the
on supplying in ever increasing
worker is isolated from his fellows,
quantities, luxury consumer goods
his needs are defined as private
that satisfy the needs of its workneeds for which he must seek private
force. The basic demands that stem
satisfaction; he becomes isolated
from poverty are no longer capable
and impotent. Here we find the
of questioning the basis of social
roots of the surface contradiction,
and economic organisation. In this
noted by some bourgeois ec~nomists,
context, the traditional forms of
between ‘private affluence’ and
working class organisation and poli’p~lic squalor’, and there
tics are likely to become irrelevant. implicit critique of the privatisaHowever, there are new contradiction theme of modern sociology.

tions emerging in modern capitalism
‘Consumerism’ can play a similar
that offer the basis for the develrole in Eastern Europe, and Gorz
opment of a revolutionary socialist
rightly criticises the ‘liberalisamovement. In the first place, of
tion’ that involves the partial recourse, the affluence of modern
introduction of the ‘free’ market,
capitalism is by no means universal:

and the production of goods for
there are sizeable sections of the
individual consumption rather than.

population, in Europe often made up
the improvement of communal
of immigrants, who are deprived of

all but the minimum necessary to
The task of the revolutionary party
keep them working; their existence
is to generalise the class struggle
appears to be essential to the
and break through these mystificamaintenance of capitalism yet their
tions, and for this task, the tradeprivation, glaringly obvious in
ditional form of Bolshevik organisthe consumer society, is a constant
ation is no longer appropriate.

source of danqer. These groups are
It must of course provide leaderalways likely to explode into colship but not by imposing itself on
lective violence and there is a
the various groups involved in the
continuous undercurrent of individstruggle, subordinating some to
ual violence – ‘consumption by deothers and all to itself. Rather
struction’ – of what they are ~ot
it must articulate the ‘real needs’

allowed to consume in any other way.

of the modern worker through showBy themselves, however, these exing how the discontents and demands
plosions do not present a fundaof each group find their ultimate
mental threat to capitalism; the
significance in the socialist orgserious threat still, comes from the
anisation of society. The revoluindustrial working class, the only
tionary party must not set itself up
conceivable agent of change, and
as a straight alternative to the
here a second contradiction comes
social democratic leadership, it
into play. The technological demust claim to be no more than an
velopment of capitalism requires a
instrument in the class struggle;
work force increasingly intellectuit cannot be set up in isolation
ally capable and flexible, but the
from the class, but only on the
hierarcRical social and technical
basis of a spontaneous struggle
division of labour required by capthat has revealed a need for it,
italist relations of production is
and, in its early stages, it is
unable to countenance any autonomy
little more than a servicing organon the part of the worker; the resisationfor otherwise isolated
ponse is to attempt to train narrow
militants. Its policy and straspecialists, uninterested in any~
tegy is developed thro~gh theorthing outside theii specialism,
etical, educational and ideological
but the rapid development of knowwork that involves all its members
ledge and the work situation it”in an active way, and its eventual
self in technologically advanced
aim is to be the means by which

From philosophy to practice
Andri! Gorz: Socialism and Revolution, London, AlIen Lane, 1975
Andr~ Gcirz is clearly different

from the other ‘revisionist’ theorists of modern capitalism who
emerged during the fifties and
sixties: he does not attempt a
radical revision of Marxist class
analysis, he shares none of
Marcuse’s pessimism, and he does
not attempt to subordinate the
revolutionary transformation of
advanced capitalism to revolutions
in the Third World. His position
seems neither dated nor overshadowed by events since 1968. The
majority of essays in this collection are digests or texts of lectures delivered in various parts
of the world in the mid-sixties,
covering the political development
of the student movement, the nature
of the ‘socialist bloc’, trade
unions and the modern capitalist
state, imperialism and the relationship between reform and revolution. The speciall~ written introductory essay is a general
survey and a programmatic development of his ideas on the revolutionary’ party in the light of the
events of May ’68. There is a
fairly coherent overall analysis
running through all of them, and I
hope the following summary does not
do it too much violence.

His starting point is the increasing dominance in modern capitalist
society of one section of the ruling class – the monopoly bourgeoisie. The technological development
and organisation of monopoly capital urgently requires long-term
planning and social and economic
stability and to this end the
monopoly bourgeoisie must transform the state from the arena for
compromise between different sections of the ruling class to the
direct instrument of its power;
economic and political power moves
to corporate planning bodies and
parliamentary assemblies are left
with real but limited power only
in the area of civil liberties.

Bourgeois democracy maintains its
liberal forms but the democratic
content is eaten away from the inside; the system as a whole becomes
increasingly inflexible in ~~e face
of traditional wage demands and
reform, programmes. The sections
of the bourgeoisie and pettybourgeoiSie excluded from the
decision-making process have neither
the economic nor the ideological
ability to challenge the process real opposition can come only from
the working class. In order to
secure its position, monopoly capital must integrate the trade unions
themselves into the planning structure, and this was the task attempted


·power is taken and transferred to
the class, not to set itself up as
.an agency to hold power on behalf
of the class. If it reproduces
within itself the centralised organisation of the capitalist state
and the bourgeois political parties,
then it defeats its own object,
which is precisely the destruction
of that form of organisation. Its
goal – socialist democracy – must
be reflected in the internal organi sa tion of the party and the
lives of its members; it must offer
a qualitatively different life, not
just an alternative analysis of the
economic system. Finally, it must
be able to expand and contract with
the ebb and flow of class struggle
– an orvanisation bigger than it
needs to be can only result in
bureaucratic deformation.

There is obviously a great deal
even in this sketchy s~ry that
is worth further research and argument, and there is much more in the
book itself, yet it remains an
oddly disappointing and frustrating
work. In part it is due to the form
of presentation: perhaps inevitably
in a delivery that falls between
polemic, empirical survey and theoretical argument, the tendency is
towards overgeneralisation and the
glossing over of problems, the
production of empty formulae rather
than solutions. The scope of the
introductory essay, for example,
prohibits a proper treatment of any
of the topics covered. There is
more to it than that, however.

Gorz is one of the f~w Marxists
anywhere to have been directly influenced by Sartre’s theoretical
Marxism, and the essay’ Sartre and
Marx’, reprinted here in a rather
more readable form than in its
first appearance in New Left Review
in 1966, is one of the best introductions in English to Sartre’s
untrans~ted work.

Gorz does not
play pupil to Sartre’s master,
systematically developing or employing the latter’s theoretical frameWOrk, but the influence is clear
and it is worth tracing for several
reasons. In the first place it is
rare that a complex philosophical
Marxist humanism such as Sartre’s
can be found behind an attempt to
analyse concrete situations and
develop a practical strategy, and
Gorz’s inadequacies and his insights illustrate the central dangers and possibilities of Sartre’s
Marxism; secondly, an examination
of some of Sartre’s ideas enables
a much needed clarification and
even an extension of some of Gorz’s
more promising analyses and prescriptions.

Sartre’s philosophy is primarily
one of praxis, of action rather than
structures, and he aims at a philosophical foundation of Marxist concepts such as class and mode of
production, not at their refinement
or employment which must ~e place
on a different epistemological
level. In this sense, he can be
grouped with writers such as Lukacs
or those connected with the Frankfurt school in that they all fail to
provide a satisfactory way of
analysing specific concrete social and
,8Conolmic structures and situations,

a ‘means of ‘hard’ empirical analysis.

Hence the way is open for. Gorz’s
generalisations about class structures and economic developments,
his tendency to simple assertion,
perhaps backed up with the odd
empirical fact and research acknowl~ged in a footnote.

This style
of analysis is dangerous because it
is open to attack “from empirical
sociology which can always produce
damaging facts poib,ting in the opposite direction, and dlsappointing
because an essential difference
between Sartre and other philosophical humanists in the Marxist
tradition is that Sartre leaves a
‘space’ in his work for the development and employment of the scientific concepts necessary for ‘hard’


It is predictable that a ‘philosophy of praxis’ will have most to
offer to an ~.alysis of consciousness and action, and Gorz’s most
interesting ideas are centred
around his~critique of the consumer
society and his pre~criptions for
the revolutionary party; even here
however there is the same tendency
to generalise, slipping into what
appears to be a combination of
moral criticism and wishful thinking, where some indication of a firm
theoretical foundation would be more
productive. The foundation, however, is not hard to find in Sartre.

In his exploration of the limits and
potentialities of human praxis – the
‘di~lectic of freedom and necessity’

that he finds in Marx – Sartre
develops what can best be called a
phenomenology of social formations,
an a,nalysis of the possible structures of relationships that may form
between individuals and groups on
the basis of their membership of a
social class. Two of these seem to
be particularly important for Gorz,
although he does not refer to them
by name outside of his essay on
Sartre. The first is the ‘series’:

a structure of interpersonal relationships conditioned by economic
scarcity and dominated by social
and economic structures that have
become independent of human activity. Each individual is assigned
his place within and by these
structures which separate him from
those around him: he grasps himself
as ‘Other’ than those around him,
isolated and dependent upon their
actions; to the extent that his action is limited and guided in this
way from the outside, he is also
‘Other’ than himself – a profound
double alienation that leaves him
impotent and, as we shall see, open
to manipulation. The second formation’ the ‘group-in-fusion’, is the
radical opposite: under an external
threat that defines the series as
a group, serialised individuals come
to grasp themselves as the ‘same’

as each other thro~gh the actions,
initially separate and individual,
they take to protect themselves.

The group-in-fusion is the essence
of the revolutionary movement, and
Gorz’s description ~s as good as

The active unity of human praxis
which then emerges … is the
paradigm of all egalitarian .concepts of what a liberated, frat-

ernal communi tg should be •••
In the fused group alienation is
– at least temporarily abolished. (pp258-9)
Gorz is right to emphasise that,
for Sartre, the .shortlived; the necessity fo~ the group
to organise and maintain itself
sets it on the path to institutionalisation and re-s~rialisa­
tion; nonetheless , it remains the
means by which men collectively
and freely make history.

It should be evident that a notion
of serialisation lies behind Gorz’s
critique of the consumer society,
and a notion of the group-in-fusion
behind his ideas about the revolutionary party, although in neither
case is it simply a matter of applying Sartre’s concepts. In the first
case – in this collection at any
rate – he only begins the critique
of modern capitalism that Sartre
makes possible; clearly, the creation of needs related to personal
consumption reinforce, if not
create, serialisation and impotence, but the ‘consumer society’

involves more than just this:

Sartre argues that serialisation
provides the basis for manipulative control, what he calls
‘extero-conditioning’ (a notion
not mentioned by Gorz even in his
exposition of Sartre). The class
or class fraction in power (or
rather its ‘sovereign’) ‘works’

upon the series to push seriality
to the limits and endow it with a
false unity. Each individual, in
his isolated impotence, is kept
separate from others and at the
same time encouraged to become more
like them through the adoption of
various ‘external’ anonymous qualities: ways of dressing, tastes,
clich~d political beliefs etc.

The alienation is cemented: in my
serial isolation and impotence, I
am persuaded that I can find power
and unity by making myself more like
other people I do not know, that in the last analysis – nobody knows.

This provides a way into an analysis and critique of a host of cultural and political institutions
not touched on or only mentioned by
Gorz yet which play vital roles in
maintaining the present system.

The notion is useful not just on
the level of fashion and popular
culture – the most obvious examples
– but it is also applicable to the
mass media and parliamentary democracy itself. Extero-conditioning
gives rise to a whole ‘rhetoric of
anonymity’ through which news is
filtered and political questions
posed: ‘public opinion’, ‘the
silent majority’, the wishes of the
Portuguese people’, ‘the ordinary
working man’ become anonymous arbitrators, points of identification
for those addressed as “free independent individuals’ by the media
and politicians; and all serve to
mask the possibility of taking real
collective decisions in co-operation
with specific other people in concrete situations.

The need to work against this conditioning offers. a justification for
some of Gorz’s prescriptions for the
revolutionary party which would
otherwise appear to have a utopian


or ethical basis only; in this respect, Gorz illustrates a further
danger of sartre’s position: that
of producing a rhetoric of liberation and freedom as a substitute for
analysis of organisation and

Gorz argues rightly that the theoretical and organisational activities
of the revolutionary party must not .

be the preserve of specialist intellectuals, but must involve everybody in a positive and active way:

it is not a matter of handing down
a line but of articulating and
theorising common experience.

Given the analysis of extero-conditioning, the reason for this is
clear: the alternative is a counterconditioning that reproduces, within
the organisation, the very serial
~potence that it is trying to overcome in the wider society. Yet in
his emphasis on this aspect of
organisation, Gorz tends to overlook the point that he makes very
clearly in his exposition of
Sartre: the necessity for organisation and survival requires some form
of centralised hierarchy and control,
and this is true before as well as
after a revolution – in a sense it
is more necessary before than after
since the capitalist state is still
capable of resorting to physical
oppression of a type against which
a completely open revolutionary
organisation would have no defence.

There must be a constant strain
between two necessities: the necessity for internal democracy advocated
by Gorz, and the centralised organisation necessitated by the fact of
being involved in struggle. The
fact that Gorz frequently ends by
presenting only a more attractive,
but equally empty, set of formulae
in opposition to the traditional
Leninist version serves to illustrate one of his own points: the
need for a ‘new language’ in which
experience inside and outside the
party can be expressed, for, if the
balance is to be maintained, it is
essential that relationships within
the organisation be discussed honestly and clearly. Conceptual formUlations – whether sartre’s or
Lenin’s – can, in this context, all
too easily serve to hide what is
really happening.

Ian Craib
Method in Marx
Kar 1 Marx: Texts on Method
translated and edited by
Terrell Carver, Blackwells, 1975,

Two pos~usly discovered manuscripts axe presented here: Marx’ s
Introduction (1857) to the
Grundrisse; and Marx’s Notes on
Adolpb Wagner (1879-8:6). The Notes
have not been easily available in
English hitherto. In the case of
the 1857 Introduction, however, the
~glish translation of 1904 had
long been out of print when a veritable explosion of translations
started a few years ago. In this
case Carver is in direct competition

wi th S. W. Ryazanskaya, David McLellan
and Martin Nicolaus. 1
Each of the texts is a little over
forty pages long, while Carver surroupds them with no less than one
hundred and thirty-seven pages of
editorial matter, not to mention
notes in the texts themselves.

This allows him to deploy the full
scholarly apparatus (in truth
definitely over-full).

Since Carver rightly considers that
the texts ‘demonstrate that Marx
brought his stUdies in philosophy,
logic and history to bear on political economy’, the translations
tend towards philosophical, rather
than everyday, usages.

One useful innovation in the 1857
text is the rendition of vereinzelter Einzelne as ‘individuated
individual’ rather than the more
usual ‘isolated individual’ (p9O).

This gets round the difficulty that
the latter phrase has the connotation of physical separation and independence, whereas the individual
of ‘civil society’ has a muluiplicity of social relationships on
which he depends. Marx ‘s point is
that ‘the different forms of social
connection first confront the individual as a mere means for his
private purposes, as external
necessity’, in the ‘civil sqciety’

of the eighteenth century. Later
in this section Marx refers··to ‘production-byan individuated individual outside sce iety ‘., i. e. an
isolated individual.

However, in this same passage
Carver reverts to ‘bourgeois society’ (instead of ‘civil society’)
to render bargerliche Gesellschaft,
even though this commits him to
rendering a quotation from the
German Ideology: ‘Bourgeois society
as such is developed only with the
brougeoisie’. (p9l) What sort of
insight is that!2
The truth is that Marx had inherited a tradition in social philosophy
in which the ter,m ‘civil society’

referred to the social organisation
developed directly from production
and commerce. It was ideologically
presented by bourgeoiS theoreticians
as the network of transactions
established by ‘free’ and ‘equal’

individuated individuals having
property in their own persons and
possessions. Marx linked this
latter ideological content to an
historically determinate society
arising when property relations had
been set free. The ‘individuated
individual’ is thus an historical
result rather than the starting
point (p48). The bourgeois ideologist presents the self-image of a
modern form as an ahistorical or
abstract assumption. Furthermore,
ra ther than a very Eden of the
innate rights of man, this individualistic ‘civil society’ should
be seen as a class society, developed concomitantly with bourgeois
rule. This inSight by Marx into
the connection of ‘civil society’

(understood as the ideologists
presented it) and the bourgeois
epoch, is obscured by the tautological translation above.

It might give something of the
flavours of the four translations

of the 1857 Intr?duction to compare
their versions of a nice remark
Marx makes about the rule of law.

Marx is discussing the claim that
it is a precondition of production
that property is safeguarded. Now
we have:

The bourgeois economists have a
vague notion that production is
better carried on under the modern
police than it was, for example,
under club law. They forget that
club law is also law, and that
the right of the stronger continues to exist in other forms even
under their ‘government of law’.


The bourgeois economists have
merely in view that production
proceeds more smoothly with modern
police than, e.g., under club-law.

They forget, however, that clublaw too is law, and that the law
of the stronger, only in a different form, still survives even in
their ‘constitutional state’.

All the bourgeois economists are
aware of is that production can be
carried on better under the modern
police than e.g. on the principle
that might makes right. They
forget only that this principle
is also a legal relation and that
the right of the stronger prevails
in their ‘constitutional republics’

as well,/ only in another form.

The bourgeois economists have in
mind that a modern police force
lets us produce better than, for
example, the law of the jungle.

They simply forget that the law
of the jungle is also a law, and
tha t the law of the stronger
persists in another form even in
their ‘Rechtsstaat’/
(Carver – and in the note the
following definition is given of
the German term: ‘A state whose
aim is the protection of the
rights of all its citizens’)
Marx 1 s point here is that the
bourgeois contrast between ‘the
law of the jungle’ and ‘the rule
of law’ does not compare.. like with
like. There are really four terms.

In ‘the jungle’ there is a mechanism of dominance (physical strength)
and a kind of order. In civilised
conditions there is the order of
‘the rule of law’ and a different
mechanism of dominance. Marx does
no~ of course identify these
different forms. For one thing the
order imposed in ‘the jungle’ by
‘the stronger’ represents their
rule in unmediatErl fashion. The
rule of ‘the stronger’ in ‘civil
society’ is mediated by ‘the rule
of law’. The rule of law is an
impersonal objective mechanism
under which both plaintiff and
defendant are ‘equal’. This
allows the protection of property
to appear as a function of the
social order generally, rather
than as the dominance of the
bourgeois class.

ReaderS may consider for themselves which of the four versions
above seems most felicitous.

However ~ it must besaid that, on

this occasion, Nicolaus is guilty
of a mistranslation, in equating
‘Reahtsstaat’ with’ consti tutional
republic’. The questio~ of republican and· monarchical forms is
not the issue: the issue is the
rule o’f law. The Rechtsstaat
could be a constitutional monarchy;
even Hegel’s political programme is
comformable with the concept.

Carver’s plausible case for the
importance of the 1857 Introduction
is that in it Marx comes to views
and conclusions which were used in
various later works. In the manuscript he recorded certain methodological innOvations which provided
him with the impetus to embark on
the Grundrisse, the first rough
draft of his critique of political

Turning now to the Notes on Wagner,
‘it should be observed that, although
this text is roughly the same length
as the 1857 Introduction, it is less
‘meaty’ because of its form as a
scrappy response to another text.

Nevertheless serious students of the
method of Capital should consult the
key sections on the derivation of
the concept of value (pp189-208).

It is here that Marx contrasts
Magner’s quibbling over the word
‘value’ and its supposed species
‘use-value’ and ‘exchange-value’,
wi th his own starting point, a
concretum – the commodity. It is
commodities that on the one hand
have use-value, and on the other
hand have value in exchange.

I do not start out from ‘concepts’,
hence I do not start out with
‘the concept of value’ ••• what
I start out from is the simplest
social form in which the labourproduct is presented in contemporary society, and this is the
‘commodity’. (198)
on the question of Marx’s analysis
.of commodity exchange, Carver
permits himself a rare criticism,
via a passage from Wittgenstein~
Marx says that commodities exchange on the basis of something
common to them – value (which is
wholly independent of the various
use-values). Carver (P173)
counterposes to this Wittgenstein’s
well-known .adage – ‘Don’t say there
must be something common ••• ‘ Yet
Carver has already given us a long
paraphrase of Marx’s point that he
does not deal with concepts in a
vacuum but with I social forms’ and
‘the economically’ given social
period’. And, in the passage
referred to above, Marx twice
points to the term ‘value’ in
chemistry (in true Wittgensteinian
fashion) in order to show that it
is no good starting with words
instead of concrete social forms.

In demarcating one social form
from another even where they are
superficially similar Marx is doing
exactly what Wittgenstein recommended, namely ‘look and see whether
there is anything in common’. For

Objects that in themselves are no
commodities, such as conscience,
honour etc., are capable of being
offeredffor sale by their holders,
and of thus acquiring, through
their P!ice, the form of oommo-

dities. Hence an object may have
a price without ha.ving value. 3
Carver, by the way,. is out of
sympathy with Marx’s theory of
value, because, as he has made clear
else~re (‘Marx’s Commodity Fetishism’, Inquiry 1975), he himself
holds ‘a subjective view of value’.

Although Carver’s editorial commentaries on the ~extsprovide some
useful background, hls mode of work
does not permit a systematic enough
discussion of the issues to make a
major advance in the debate on
Marx’s method. In conclusion:

libraries must get a copy of this
book, but I cannot see many individuals finding it worth while to
lash out £5.50 on the present edition – especially when one considers that the Grundrisse (in
paperback) contains one of the two
texts involved.

1 Marx, A Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy
trans. S.W. Ryazanskaya, ed.

M. Dobb, London, 1971;
Marx’s Grundrisse, ed. David
McLellan, London 1971 and 1973;
Marx, Grundrisse, trans. Martin
Nicolaus, London, 1973_
McLellan’s version is based on
N.I.Stone’s 1904 translation.

The version appended to Marx and
Engels German Ideology Part One,
ed.C.J.Arthur (1970) is an
earlier draft of the one in the
aforementioned Dobb edition of
the 1859 Critique.

2 Carver actually gives a reference
to the English translation that
gives ‘civil society’: Marx and
Engels, German Ideology, London,
1965, pp48-9.

3 Capital ch.3, pl02. See also
A. Anton’s article in Philosophy
and Phenomenological Research
March 1974.

Chris Arthur
Latin American
D. C. Hodges: The Latin American
Revolution: Politics and Strategy
from Afro-Marxism to Guevarism,
William Morrow & Co Inc, New York,
1974, $9.95
Written after the dust of the sixties has begun to settle, this is
the best book in English so far to
survey the revolutionary process in
Latin America from the period initiated by the Mexican and Russian Revolutions to the present. Hodges,
viewing events from the perspective
of the mid-seventies, avoids the
twin errors of enthusiastic support
for the immediate prospects of the
Latin American revolution and of
assuming that the defeat or ‘stale~ting’ of most rural-based insurrectionary movements in the
revolutionary offensive of the midsixties (e.g. ELN in Bolivia; HR-13
. and FAR, Guatemala; ALN, Brazil;
MlR and ELN, Peru) and’the killing

or imprisonment of key leaders (e.g.

Guevara, Marighella, Sosa, Blanco)
signifies an end to the continuing
displacement of the Latin American
revolution ‘toward the left or
toward ever more revolutionary
alternatives.’ In J:act, Hodges
maintains the thesis that the
repressive military dictatorships
which spread through Latin America
in the sixties are a sign of the
ultimate strength of the revolution,
are unstable in the long-run, and,
being explicitly counter-revolutionary (with the exception of Peru),
have unmasked ‘democratic regimes
as flimsy facades readily sacrificed
by the oligarchies in the event of
a major crisis’.

Based on first-hand interviews and
primary sources, and containing
some new interpretations, Hodges’

work is an original contribution to
the history of Latin America, but
it is important to notice that the
book is at the same time a philosophical work. Hedges note’s in his
‘Preface’ that his study embodies
‘a way of doing political philosophy
that combines field work and historical investigations with critical
analyses of revolutionary documents
and their intellectual foundations’.

The philosophical tools of logical
analysis, discrimination of ambiguities ete, are used to clarify
what is involved in the complex and
heated disputes between various
left-wing groups and to assess the
bearing of practical experience on
the resolution of these disputes.

Thus, though not primarily intended
for this purpose, the book serves
aamirably as an introduction to
left-Wing politics, as a vehicle
for beginning to achieve a rational
grasp of revolutionary issues.

More importantly, however, it helps
make the intuitive notion of a
‘logical’ development in the revolu~ionary process usably precise
without becoming bogged down in the
analysis of such abstract Marxist
ideas as that of ‘praxis’ and of
‘dialectical development’. This is
not to say that these notions are
irrelevant to Hedges’ study, but to
say, rather, that the philosophical
recommendation implicit in Hodges’

work is to use the concrete in
order to get a handle on the abstract. So the philosophic mood
evidenced by the book seems closest
to what Hao Wang, in a different
context, has called ‘substantial
fac tUal ism , in contrast to positivism, linguistic philosophy or
phenomenology. The point of substantial factualism is to insist
on the importance of ‘gross facts’

to philosophy and to criticize
traditional epistemology for being
too ‘detached from actual knowledge,
often too one-sided to take into
consideration the anthropic element
in the pursuit of knowledge, often
too piecemeal to permit t;he emergence of any larger connected and
coherent outlook. ,1 Again, substantial factual ism is after what
is important, -fundamental and gen=eral and is anxious, accordingly,
to avoid the ‘shift from the fupdamental to the ultimate and to feel
that unless ultimate truths are a


bilities and the choice of some
priori, we have not found a solid
possibilities over others cannot
foundation. ,2 From this point of
be understood independently of ‘the
view, then, the power of Hedges’

anthropic element’. The profound
book is to force upon philosophers
a series of questions which commonly ” import of these points can be
illustrated by Hedges discussion
go unasked.

of the conflicting roles of the
The final chapter of HedgeS” book,
Communist and Socialist parties in
for example, is on the first socithe Popular Unity government of
alist revolution in the, Americas.

Salvador Allende in Chile (1970It is a gross fact of the contemp73). As Hodges notes, the Chilian
orary world that while there has
ep, like other CPs in Latin America
been little progress toward reducing
(wi th the exception of Colombia,
the inequality of income and wealth
the Dominican Republic after 1965
since the turn of the century in
and Bolivia after 1971) ~~ifested
, capitalist nations such as the US,
‘the Krushchev syndrome’. They
England and even such welfare
had decided to retain only ‘the
oriented countries as Sweden 3 (much
less Latin American countries),
outer shell of a Leninist vanguard
Hedges’ study brings out the proparty – its centralized and bureaugress toward distributive justice
cratic structure and its policy of
made by the relatively poor and
a united front against imperialism’

underdeveloped country of Cuba in
while dropping all of the other
roughly fifteen years. The ratio
main features of a Leninist strategy
of maximum to minimum incomes has
(as opposed to politics): opting
been legislated (with relatively
for the parliamentary road to pow’er,
few exceptions) not to exceed eight
accepting the possibility of a
to one and a ceiling of 450 pesos
peaceful transition to socialism,
monthly has been placed on salaries.

dropping Lenin’s dual strategy of
Hedges argues that this indicates
simultaneous preparation for both
considerable progress toward both
‘legal and illegal struggles, opena more just society and also toing their ranks to anyone willing
wards socialism (defined ~n the
to accept party discipline rather
sensa of ending the exploitation of
than insisting on a vanguard of
man by man).

He argues further,
professional revolutionaries. Their
following Fidel Castro, that given
politics, however, remained Leninthe realities of population growth
ist in the sense of calling for an
and mOdern technology, ‘almost three
anti-imperialist agrarian revolutimes the investment is needed to
tion f accepting Lenin’s diagnosis
obtain the same per capita growth
of our times as ‘the epoch of
rate (1% per annum) as the European
imperialism and ~~e eve of proletarcountries achieved during the
ian revolutions’ and assuming the
initial stage of industrialization
possibility of proletarian power
a century ago’ and that such a rate
through class alliances, prior to
of growth – involving an investment
the proletariat’s being a majority
rate of 25% of the GNP per year class in society and the military
is not possible within a capitalist
being under the control of the,
framework and only possible in a
proletariat. Thus, for the Chilean
socialist framework under the conCP I ‘the fundamental alternative
ditions of what Hodges terms ‘the
was a national revolution or no
parallel construction of communism’

revolution at all’. Under the in(a uniquely Cuban concept). The
fluence of tr~ Cuban Revolutio~
clear implication of this argument
the Socialists argued that the antiis that, for underdeveloped counimperialist agrarian revolution and
tries, distributive justice a.’1d a
the socialist revolution were to be
general level of m,aterial well being
accomplished simultaneously or not
is unthinkable outside of a socialat all. Strategically, this differist framework. SUrely, such facts,
:ence came dcwn to whether to dilute
even if they are not indisputable,
‘revolutionary goals and even temp~
must be relevant to any ‘living’

orarily retreat from power in order
social and political philosophy of
to win over middle sections of the
the day. They show us that the
population, and not antagonize the
question of distributive justice
mili tary, or to retain the goals
cannot easily be separated from the
of the revolution and isolate
questions of capitalism and socialmiddle sections from the ‘big·
bourgeoisie’ by promoting the

The theme of ‘the anthropic element’

organized strength and demands of
in human knowledge and the need for
workers, peasants and the’ unorganized and unemployed. Allende,
a large connected and ~oherent outlook are again brought out in Hodges’

of course, was caught in a crossfire between the CP and the Sociallogical dissection of left-wing
ists which, despite enormous polidebates about theory and practicp..

Hodges distinguishes, in the first
tical skill, forced him finally to
accede to,CP pressure and not veto
place, between politics and strategy.

the gun-control law in 1972, and he
‘Politics’ is ‘defined as the art
thus gave the armed services a free
of formulating collective goals and
and legal hand in enforcing this
preparing for concerted action on
the basis of a knowledge of historlaw. Curiously, Hodges holds that
ical realities and possibilities;
either the CP or the Socialist
strategy could have succeeded if it
strategy, as the complementary art
of achieving those politica1 objecthad been followed consistently and
ives’. Politics, here, obviously
had the firm backing of the other
involves a theoretical account of
party. Such a view, despite its
the socially possible andimpossnoble anti-sectarian implications,
ible, but just as obviously, the
seems implausible to me.

interest in certain sorts of possiA Leninist way of fo~~ this

question is in terms of subjective
and objective conditions. ‘By objective conditions’, Badges tells
us, ‘Lenin meant those that were
l;>eyond the control of a revolutionary class, by subjective conditions,
those under its control’. The
notion of subjective conditions, as
is well known, was crucial to Lenin’s
break with Kautsky and the Second
International. But it is less
well-known, as Hedges brings out;
that Guevara sought a theoretical
basis for widening the concept of
subjective conditions. Whereas
Lenin was concerned with the conditions necessary to seize and hold
power in the context of a mass uprising, Guevara was concerned with
‘forcing the facts’ When such conditions do not obtain. For him,
therefore, subjective conditions
concern what is necessary ‘to begin
an insurrection (or revolution) and
survive and grow. in struggle against
repressive forces’. Lenin’s notion
presupposes the existence of an
economic, political, ideological
and/or military crisis, whereas
Guevara’s notion concerns the possibility of precipitating such a
crisis and, in this way, creating
a revolutionary situation. It
follows from this that ‘fascism today is the price that revolutionaries must be willing to pay for
failure in a revolutionary situation.’ But Hedges argues that
the development of Guevara’s ideas
into various forms. of urban guerrilla warfare and the ultimate untenability of repressive military
regimes in Latin America indicate
the possibilities in Guevara’s

At any rate, the lesson for contemporary Anglo-American philosophers in all of this discussion is
clear. The current debates over
the nature of practical reascning
are doomed to remain sterile until
it is discussed how real options
are determined ~~d how real sequences of collective actions can
bring about these options. Piecemeal concentration on cases where
what is believed to be possible
obviously coincides with What is
actually possible, where theory is
not a factor in determining possibilities, and where collective
agents can be treated on analogy
with individual agents, leaves out
of account most· of ~nat is interesting in the relation between
theory and practice in the important context of revolution.

What emerges, in fact, from Hedges’

description of the Latin American
revolution is that the concept of
revolution cannot be understood in
terms other than those of a long
extended, international process,
having a definite direction. ‘The
revolutions throughout Latin
America,’ Hodges tells us, ‘ ••• are
not isolated occurrences but interconnected aspects of a single ongoing process constituting the mainstream of Latin American development ••• One cannot describe this
mevement: accU:;I”atell~,'” ileferrinq
only to its earlier stages or even
to the last act of the revolution
in, a single country.’ In Hac wang’s

terms, this is a fundamental, though
not a priori, point about our concept of revolution. It ~nvo1v~s
the notion of indirect as well as
direct consequences of revolutionary
activity. It is impossible to grasp
the Cuban revolution of 1959, for
example, or the shortlived Guatemalan
(1945-54) or Bolivian (1952-64)
revolutions Witllout grasping their
‘intentions’, point of origin,
in the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance founded by the Peruvian
Haya de la Torre in 1924 and extending its influence throughout Latin
America. –But the distinctive characteristics of the APRA movement
(the attempt to struggle for national democracy on a continental
scale, the abandonment of the concept of a proletarian vanguard, the
acceptance of progressive aspects
of imperialism in Latin America and
the attempt to create a unified,
anti-imperialist movement including
the national bourgeoisie), cannot
be grasped except as de la Torre’s
response to and as an indirect
effect of the ultimate reversal of
the Mexican Revolution and of the
sense of inadequacy of the Comin ..

tern, European analysis of Latin
American reality. The failure of
APRA-sty1e parties in tile brief
Cuban revolution of 1933-34,
Guatemala (1945-54), Bolivia (1943,
1952-64), Peru (1945-48), and other
places invalidates the APRA con.ception, but, as a response to such
failures, men such as Fidel Castro
and Caamano Deno of the Dqminican
‘Repub1ic, formerly committed to
AP~~-style politics, were led to
the views of the new left, streSSing
Guevara’s conception of the irisurrectionary foco, which, in turn,
as a result of initial failures and
under the influence of ‘the legendary Joe Baxter of Argentina’,
gradually becomes transformed into
the strategy of the urban guerrilla.

Similar developments take place with
respect to the failures of the CPs
in Latin America in relation to the
development of what Hodges terms
‘the revived left’, namely the
Trotskyist andl Maoist left. Though
Trotskyist groups in particular
have made numerous contributions to
the progress of the Latin American
Revolution, Hodges argues, ultimately they have either come to
converge strategically with the
Castro-Guevara inspired New Left
or they have been superseded by
the New Left.

It is with the concept of ‘supersession’ that the book comes open
to criticism and the ~arxist abstractions of ‘praxis’ and ‘dialectical development’ return to
haunt it. One wants to grasp the
rationality tllat Hedges suggests
is implicit in the Guevarist
abandonment of Leninism. Related
to this, one wants to grasp why,
rationally speaking, Latin American
revolutionaries are willing to pay
‘th~ price of fascism’ for failure
in a revolutionary situation. A
simple but inadequate reply stresses
the test of practice: success in
practice is a test of rationality
and failure is proof or irration.a1i ty • But here is where Dr Bodges’

book is weakest. His explanations
of revolutionary failures are often
facile; under-emphasizing, for
example, the extent of tile indirect
economic warfare waged by the US
against the Bolivian and Chilean
reJblutions and placing all emphasis
on the strategic and tactical question of armed struggle and policy
toward the milit~ry. Or again,
Hodges often argue-s for the irrationality of sectarianism, insisting that there is no one model.for
revolution in Latin America, whereas the situations he describes, as
in Chile, tend to show the impossibility of rational strategic I, if
not political, agreement. The major
cri ti.,cism of this book is, then,
tllat while it admirably describes
and analyzes the theoretical and
strategic issues of the Latin
Ameri9an revolution, its approach
to resolving tl1ese issues (in principle, if not in practice) is less
clear and Hodges’ anti-sectarian
principle of tolerance for united
actions stands in need of further
argument and development.

There are some other minor, though
related, criticisms to be made.

Hodges is often arbitrary in the
definitions he uses to explicate
the process of revolution. For
example, he distinguishes between
Marxism and Leninism, by associating Marxism with what he s·tyles as
the parliamentary, proletarian
>majority attitude of the later Marx
and by associating Lenin’s politics
with Marx’s political writings
‘between 1848 and 1850, which were
directed to formulating a model for
revolution in Germany.’ But this
is written as if Marx never wrote
on the Paris Commune in the l870s
or never, in effect, advocated a
worker-peasant alliance in The
Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis
Bonaparte and as if Lenin never read
Marx’s writings on these subjects.

Again, a central premiss in Hodges’

argument is the so-called dependency
thesis characterising relations between neo-colonia1ism and its
colonies (at the level of the market) in terms of limits and types
of economic growth imposed on colonies, but the relation between the
dependency thesis and the various
issues in the Latin American revolution is only rarely and unsystematically brought out in the text
(e.g. in discussing the ‘Balkanization’ of Latin America or in discussing the defense of a proletarian
as opposed to a national line by the
Argentine Trotskyist, Silvio Frondizi).There is a need to describe
the explicit connection between
theories of this sort and the politics and strategy based upon tilem
and, also, to describe the politics
and strategy implicit in theoretical
debates about the dependency thesis.

Fur~hermore, the present reliance
on material incentives- in Cuba is
unrealistically minimized and,
thereby, the ‘subjectivity’ of the
Cuban Revolution is unrealistically
maximized. Moreover I though the
book is presented as an introduction and is written in a lively,
energetic manner, it is dense with
new information, subtleties of

interpretation and simply assumes
familiarity on the reader’s part
with the social and economic misery
in Latin America which is behind the
political and strategic issues of
the Latin American revolution.

In sum, the book is excellent as
an introduction to the over-all
sweep, unity and dev.elopment of the
Latin American revolution; it has
the additional merit of raising
profound philosophic questions in
a clear and realistic manner, but
it does not pursue tr~se questions
sufficiently for a total account of
its subject-matter and it pursues
them in greater detail and depth
tl~ would be suitable for an introductory account. Yet, whatever
its defects, Professor Hodges has
produced a work that is original
and, one would hope, seminal both
as history and philosophy. This
is a remarkable achievement.


1 Hao Wang, From Mathematics to
Philosophy, Humanities Press, NY,
1974, p19
2 Ibid, p2
3 A general survey of the evidence
wi th respe c t to these matters in
the US, Great Britain and SWeden
aan be found in J.H. Westergaard,
• Sociology: the Myth of Classlessness’ in RobinB1ackburn (ed.)
Ideology in Social Science,
Vintage Books, Fontana, 1972,
pp1l9-l63. For the US, see
Richard Parker, The Myth of the
Middle Class, Harper & Row, NY,
1974. See also Letitia Upton and
Nancy Lyons, Basic Facts: Distribution of Personal Income and
Wealth in the United States,
Cambridge Pol. lnst (2nd printing), Cambridge, Mass, 1974.

Anatole Anton

Culture and- Nature
Richard Spilsbury, Providence Lost:

A Critique of Darwinism, Oxford
University Press, £3.50
The publisher’s blurb states that
Richard Spilsbury is a philosopher
‘/ho ‘has studied genetics, a,’ld is
thus able and prepared to challenge
both philosophers and scientists in
their own terms’. In his preface,
Spilsbury complains about the narrowness of most academic philosophy and
expresses the belief that it is
possible for philosophers to make
‘a critical and constructive contribution to questions of natural philosophy that have the deepest relevance for our world view’. Specifically, he is concerned with questions
about the nature and origin of man
and with an exploration of the limitations in scientific thinking about
man as expressed in the Neo-Darwinian concept of evolution which, he
suggests, cannot account adequately
for the uniqueness of man. He
claims to have reformulated the
perenhia1 objections to Neo-Darwinism, to have added some new ones,
and to have ‘laid bare underlying
assumptions on the acceptance of
which the theory depends’.





I found something of interest in
this book, but not much. With respect to Spilsbury’s more general
points concerning the complacency,
superficiality and dogmatism of
much present-day writing in biology,
I am in agreement.

I also think
that there is substance in his claim
that the extension of Neo-Darwinian
concepts to cultural phenomena is
ideological: ‘Darwinism has stood as
a kind of representative-paradigm or
symbol of the dominant philosophy of
our times and our culture’. His
brief discussion of the relations
between this ‘dominant philosophy’,
i.e. empiricism, and Darwinism in
terms of a common principle of a
posteriori selection, was for me the
most interesting part of the book.

However, when Spilsbury actually
comes to discuss human phenomena,
the results are disappointing.

There ,are chapters on language, music
(treated here as an area of human experience not susceptible to formulation in verbal or mathematical i.e.

‘scientific’ terms), consciousness,
pain, love and death; I found them
for the most part rambling, superficial and plain dull and it was an
effort to read to the end. He
touches on all the perennials: materialism, physicalism, reductionism,
genetic determinism, chance and
necessity etc, but seems to have
little to say that is new.

I found
‘the constant references to the
author’s powers of imagination or
belief irritating and pointless:

‘It seems extraordinary ••• ‘; ‘I
cannot believe ••• ‘; ‘Surely there
must be more ••• ‘. Although the inability to ‘imagine’ may be a necessary condition for the rejection of
a theory, i t can hardly be a sufficient one. However, there is also some
argument and a good deal of this
stems from what the author sees as a
basic and unsatisfactory dualism between ideas about the organic world
and particularly organic evolution seen as purposeless and mechanical and those about the human world seen as the creation of purposive
agents. Such a dualism, Spilsbury
contends, ‘throws doubt on the adequacy of present evolutionary concepts’ •
I can see no substance whatsoever
in this argument.

I certainly agree
with Spilsbury that the relation between Culture and’Nature is a central
issue and I believe that most writing
on this problem from an evolutionary
point of view in which the human
world is assumed to be an extension
of the biological is rubbish. Var~a­
tions in human eating and sexual behaviour, for example, cannot be explained in biological terms, for what
sharply distinguishes the human order
from the natural one is that all
human activities, including those
tha t man has in common with the animals, take place within, and constitute, s~olic systems which give
them specifically human meanings.

But I think i t is true to say that
we have only the most rudimentary
understanding of how this is possible
and therefore of how cultUre is possible. Until we have a theory which
.accounts for this difference between
natural and human, and for the varia-

tions in the latter in terms of its
own specific organisation, there is
no possibility of a fruitful discussion of the relation between Culture
and Nature and the emergence of the
one from the other.

In the absence
of a ‘specific theory of culture,
individual human phenomena provide
no evidence one way or the other
with respect to a theory of the
organic world and organic evolution.

Spilsbury’s argument, since it is
based on the same assumption of a
necessary continuity between the
natural and the human is, therefore,
no better than that of evolutionists
which he is attacking.

It would take too much space to
consider Spilsbury’s discussion of
biological theory in detail, but in
general I felt slightly more sympathetic towards those sections of the
book dealing with biological problems (though not towards Spilsbury’s
‘alternatives’) than I did towards
the rest. There is indeed much that
is facile and uncritical in the writing of contemporary biblogists and
Spilsbury manages to highlight some
of this.

His example of the migrating
birds, for instance, with their ‘starinformed genes’, whose ‘germ cells
have become a kind of coded microcosm
of the heavens’ accurately reflects
an attitude not uncommon among molecular biologists which manages to
combine mechanical preformationism
with mysticism in its attribution of
almost magical powers to the DNA.

With regard to Neo-Darwinism,
Spilsbury claims that this is an unsatisfactory theory not only within
the domain of the human but also
within that of the biological in that
i t can not account for the fact that
genetic variation which is independent of the environment results in
organisms which ‘match’ the environment: ‘How can changes that are
independent match or mirror one
another?’. Spilsbury regards orthodox explanations as ‘paradoxical’ ‘inner changes as chancing to reflect outer conditions’. He suggests
as an alternative that the causal
independence of inner and outer
changes constitutes the ideal condition for their matching, on the
assumption that there has been a
‘purposive guidance of evolution’

which brings about ‘useful correspondences which would not otherwise
be effected, but rather hindered by
the unassisted operation of causal

I do not understand what this

Spilsbury’s dismissal of orthodox
theory is perverse in its failure to
acknowledge the considerable successes
of Neo-Darwinism in dealing with those
biological problems that can be formulated in terms of the theory. On
the other hand, he is obviously
correct in insisting that ‘no theory
should be turned into an institution’., There are problems within
evolution theory and it seems to me
quite possible that there will be
changes – perhaps of a drastic sort
– in the future.

Whether these will
come about ‘as a result of the sort
of ‘philosophical criticism’ with
which Spilsbury is concerned is a
moot point. Within biology, however,
theoretical innovation in the prob-

lem areas of individual development
(epigenesis) and ecology is almost
certain to have’some effect on evolutio,n theory. At the moment we
have no theory of epigenesis and
progress here may well lead, as
Spilsbury hints, to modifications
in our views of the mechanism of
inheritance. As far as orthodox
Neo-Darwinism is concerned, inheritance is Weismannist – that is,
changes in the hereditary ‘material’

(the genotype) are independent of
changes in the soma (the phenotype)
which develops under coded instructions (the ‘genetic programme’) embodied in the former; and Mendelian
– that is, atomic, the hereditary
factors existing in discrete, alternative states. An adequate theory
of epigenesis may well lead away
from this static, material-based
conception of inheritance towards a
more dynamic state-based or processbased theory; such a theory might
well lead to profound changes in the
concepts of genotype and phenotype
and to the relations between them and
to an understanding of the constraints which are placed upon
selectable (phenotypic) variation
and therefore on possible evolutionary trajectories.

In addition, a
theory of epigenesis is required
before questions about increases or
decreases of complexity in evolution
can be framed in a meaningful
fashion. This is one of th~ ‘perennials’ which crops up in Spilsbury
and it is a real problem.

ecology, theory is also required to
understand the factors involved in
the stability and instability of
interacting populations and therefore evolutionary changes at this
level such as species diversification within an ecosystem. Within
both these crucial areas it is possible that theory will come from the
ways of dealing with complex systems
recently developed by Ren~ Thom. From
this perspective (if I understand it
correctly) evolutionary changes in
biological systems are viewed not in
terms of the random fluctuations of
a set of specific determinants (the
genes) but in terms of a set of possible trajectories having certain
relatively stable features in which
the genotype is only one factor in
the total set of processes.

In this
view the specificity of epigenesis
would reside in the various alternative states or trajectories which
are possible for the system rather
than, as in current thinking, being
embodied as a ‘programme’ in one
material part of the system. l
These ideas, though somewhat speculative, seem to me potentially more
fruitful for piolog~cal theory than
Spilsbury’s vague ‘alternative’ of
a ‘suprahuman but limited rationality operative in evolution’. Whether
such ideas, if they do produce
changes in our view of the organic
world and organic evolution, will
enable Providence to be Regained is
another matter. What Spilsbury
seems to findlnecessary, and lacking
in Neo-Darwinism, is a concept of
nature which provides the basis for
a religious view of life, a ‘sense
of the deep-rooted dependence on the
non-human’. This indeed seems to be

the crux of his Objections to Darwinism and those who are sympathetic
towards it may get more out of this
book than I did.


It is perhaps worth mentioning
that these ideas have their source,
at least in part, in speculative
philosophy. Thom’s concepts,
as applied to biological problems,
are formal developments of some
ideas of Waddington which he
derived from Whitehead’s metaphysics. Those who wish to pursue
them might look at the various
volumes of Towards a Theoretical
Biology, ed. C H Waddington,
Edinburgh University Press.

Gerry Webster

Frankfurt Views
Max Horkheimer and Theodore W. Adorno
Dialectic of Enlightenment, London,
ALIen Lane, 1973, 258pp, £3.50
As the joint and seminal work of
Horkheimer and Adorno – leaders of
the Frankfurt School and two of
Europe’s most influential postwar
thinkers – the Dialectic is an important text in the history of modern

Its philosophical task is
directly related to the authors ‘. understanding of contemporary society.

Placing freedom at the centre of their
theoretical concern, they aim at ‘the
discovery of why mankind is sinking
into a new kind of barbarism’ (p.xi).

They see liberating reason or enlightenment as subject throughout history
to a dialectic wherein i t all too
easily gives itself an absolute status
over against its objects, thereby
constantly collapsing into new forms
of the very conditions of primeval
repression which it earlier set out
to overcome.

In the development of
this thesis, their procedure could
be characterised as a r~-opening of
certain fundamental themes of
German thought within a Marxist context. Thus their demand that
‘Enlightenment must examine itself’

(p.xv), is not a call to the traditional forms of philosophical criticism. On the contrary, the critique
of reason hitherto exercised within
epistemology can only be accomplished
now, they argue, if the sociohistorical experience of Western man
is recognised as an internal and
essential element of the whole enterprise; our meditations can no longer
be Cartesian in character.

This becomes clearly evident in the
Dialectic from their use of Hegel’s
Phenomenology of Mind.

Kierkegaard (on whom Adorno wrote in
1933) had frozen the Phenomenology
in religion at the moment of Unhappy
Consciousness and Marx began with
the economic relationship of Master
and Slave, they take their philosophical bearings in the section
which examines the contradictions of
social experience, the moment of
‘Spirit’ (Phen. VI) at which individuaiity finds its universal content in
the order of society. And within
that section they draw particularly
on ‘Spirit in pelf-Estrangement’

(Phen. VI.B), for in contrast both to
Kierkegaard who raised the· Unhappy
Consciousness to a universal
theological condition and to Marx,
who saw the Master-Slave structure as
a material-historical condition, with
Adorno and Horkheimer alienation
b~comes the general spiritual condition of society.

Even this, however, does not indicate
the full exten~ of their relation to
the Phenomenolog9~ Beginning his analysis of ‘Spirit’ with an examination
of Man’s social pre-history, Hegel
posits a tension between the individual and the social order which finally
results in repression by the absolute
‘lord of the world’ (Phen. VI.A.c).

Now it is precisely awareness of this
tension which characterises the
Dialectic, and just as Hegel’s source
here was the Graeco-Roman world, so
Horkheimer and Adorno turn to Homer.

For Hegel, furthermore, Western
civilisation is marked by its Baconian
mode of knowledge; it treats knowledge as power, as the tool by which
man obtains control over both fellowmen and nature. Again, directly picking up Hegel’s reference, the
Dialectic opens with a long quote
from Bacon defining rationality as
control. And it is from Hegel’s
treatment of the Baconian theme in
his section on ‘Enlightenment’ (Phen.

VI.B.ii) that Horkheimer and Adorno
draw the fundamental elements of
their critique of reason as domination, with its dictatorship of the
subject (cf.Phen. p55) resulting in
a social order of utility and reification (cf .PiJen. p579).

At this point, however, their use of
Hegel becomes a Marxian inversion;
indeed, i t is this very section on
‘Enlightenment’ which provides them
with their basic objection to his
thought. Utilising his own insights
against him, they see his absolute
concept of reason as absolutist, as
culminating both epistemologically
and historically in the very ‘Terror’

(Phen. VI.B.iii) he had recognised
to be a threat which constantly
accompanies the effort of enlightenment. ~hus Hegel succumbs precisely
to that repressive and absolutist
moment in the dialectic of enlightenment which he so brilliantly elaborated and which it was the very motive
of his philosophy to transcend.

In contrast, recognition of this
dialectic as a continuing condition
of Western historicai effort is, for
Horkheimer and Adorno, the peculiar
achievement of Nietzsche (Dial.

pp44-45). And it is his insight
here which offers them the pOSSibility of a radical reinterpretation
of Homer’s Odyssey. Nor is their
analysis of the Odyssey to be
mistaken for a weird scho~arly
eccentricity. Their intention,
instead, is to save ‘the basic
text of European civilisation’ (p46)
from its traditional role in classical scholarship as the Western
sacred dawn which legitimises subsequent Western history and society (pp44-45).

In liberating the
text, so to speak, from its repressive cultural cocoon, Horkheimer
and Adorno are attempting to endow
hermeneutic activity with a transformative function. Against the

crude activism of orthodox Marxism,
their analysis is offered as a model,~.

enactment of the practical role of ”
theoretical engagement. Moreover,
the very choice of a literary text
to develop an adequate historical
perspective on Western man strikes
at all forms of historical reductionism. The Odyssey is represented as delineating crucial areas
of freedom and domination inaccessible to an orthodox materialist
approach. And by directly relating
its contents to the social aspects
of Freudian ego-theory – with its
themes of sacrifice, renunciation,
etc – Horkheimer and Adorno wish to
expose, against Marxist economism,
the spiritual relations of repression. Such an analysis, furthermore, no longer allows the specificity of a literary text to be reduced to the status of epiphenome·_·
non. The Odyssey is not conceived
of as a mere receptacle of important experiences whose real substance is independent of their
expressive mode. On the contrary,
the overall structure and movement
of the text is recognised as a substantive content which enacts the
dialectic of en·lightenment. Thus
the Odyssey becomes, in itself, a
mode of knowledge and insight, and
as such stands on the side of liberating enlightenment.

Horkheimer and Adorno argue (Dial.

pp78-79) that its narrative structure is a form of memory – for Hegel
the very element that saves the
repressed Spirit (Phen. p565) through which i t retains awareness
of the primeval ‘lands of origin’

(Dial. pp40,42) when man had not
yet adopted the posture of dominance.

It is precisely its memory
of this original condition which
enables the poem to ‘point beyond
thralldom’ (Dial.p78); in fact,
Horkheimer and Adorno see i t as
marked with what Hegel recognised
to be the characteristic of Western
enlightenment – ‘the stain of unsatisfied longing’ (Phen.p589; cf.

Dial. p76).· But the Odysseyean
homecoming of Western man (a central
motif of German thought) cannot be
the philhellenic – and fascist phantasy of a return to remote antiquity. Rather, for Horkheimer and
Adorno i t must be a movement towards a homeland understood as
‘wrested from myth’; homeland now
becomes ‘the state of having
escaped’ (p78), through reason,
from the repressive (mythical)
forms into which reason so easily

Clearly, however, Horkheimer and
Adorno are here engaged on much more
than the interpretation of a single,
albeit important, Greek text.

Indeed, their work plainly involves
the development of the concept of
the dialectic of enlightenment as a
philosophy of history.

But this
is not offered as a structure which
can be systematically imposed from
above. Such philosophies of history
have all too often contributed towards actual historical repression
(Dial. pp224-5). Rather, the philosophy which Horkheimer and Adorno
wish to bring to bear upon history,
aware as they are of the ever-·




present threat ,of domination in the
dialectic of enlightenment, is critical rather than constructive in
form. Thus, in line with the book’s
_subtitle, ‘Philosophical Fragments’

– unforgivably omitted from the
title page of the English translation – the authors offer their
philosophy of history in the
Kierkegaardian spirit as a ‘project’

(cf. Philosophical Fragments, chap.

I). This is brilliantly developed,
in the various chapters or ‘excursi’, through examinations of certain representative historical
forms taken by reason and its
dialectic; besides the Odyssey,
they treat the eighteenth-century
polarity of Kant and de Sade as in
fact a complementary relationship,
as well as examining the modern
culture industry and the phenomenon
of anti-semitism. Finally, there
is a closing series of ‘Notes and
Drafts’ which anticipate later works
,and themes. But the Dialectic of
Enlightenment is much more than a
prolegomenon. It stands in its own
right as an original and important
contribution to neo-Marxist philo,s~phical thought.

The first conference of OPOYAZ
(Society for the Study of Poetic Lariguage) took place in the kitchen of the
abandoned apartment on Zhukovskaya
It is presumably gratifying to know
Street. We used books to make a fire, that RP sometimes makes an impact in
but it was cold and pyast kept his
non-academic circles, even if it is
feet in the oven.

only on the feature writers of the
Tolstoy restored the perception of
THES. Not surprisingly, Roy Edgley’s
everyday reality by describing it in
article on Free Speech and the
newly found words as though destroyHuntington affair (RP10) has attracing the habitual logic of associations ted the attention of one Kenneth
he distrusted.

Minogue (THES 31.10.75). Minogue’s
This new attitude to objects in
portrait, which accompanies his
which, in the last analysis, the
article, presents him as combining
object becomes more perceptible, is
intellectual toughness with a lightthat artificiality which, in our
ness of touch. The article belies
opinion, creates art.

the image: it is superficial and
,The Symbolists studied the sounds of clumsy, if not downright incomprehenthe language, but attributed ema’tive
sible. The argument – if one can
and even mystica~ meanings to the
call it that – pivots on a radical
sOlIlds themselves.

distinction between thought and acAs early as 1916, we published
tion, and an associated distinction
collections dealing wi t..11 the theory
betwe,en open and closed minds, both
of poetic language and in the first
of which were criticised in Edgley’s
book, we printed translations of
article. But to no avail. Armed with
Grammont and Nyrop. They were French these dichotomies, Minogue first has
and Danish scholars who demonstrated
a swipe at RP for being a ‘hybrid’ fairly accurately that sound as such
for ‘Radical’ implies a ‘settled conhas no fixed emotional value but is
clusion about practice’, and ‘Philovariously emotional. we thus cleaned sophy’ an open-minded pursuit into
the table on which we were going’to
‘theoretical presuppositions’. He

goes on to criticise Edgley for being
Mayakovsky’succeeded’in reforming
melodramatic, because he used the
Russian verse because he aimed at
example of a paper on the final solureflecting the new world.

tion to the Jewish question to argue
I argued the compieteindependence
that constraints on free speech might
of art ,from the development of life.

be necessary in an academic context.

I had an ‘~ncorrect theory that poetHowever, Minogue does not propose that
ic genes develop spontaneously.

such a paper should be tolerated. On
Because of this incorrect attitude
the contrary, he asserts that it has Viktor Shklovsky, Mayakovsky and his
toward the Revolution, ~ found myself no place in academia, ‘not because it
~ircle, translated from the first
an ~igi~ in Ge-rmany in’1922.

is an evil proposal, but because it is
(1940) Russian edition by Lily Feiler
No 2 Lubyansky was then the home of
any sort of proposal at all’.

Pluto Press, 1975, 259pp
the Moscow Linguistic Circle.

Universities are not supposed to deal
E2 paperback, £4.50 hardback
There in the fireplace, I burned up
in proposals, which Minogue implicitly
cornices and the cases of the butter- links to practice and to Closure, but
If, tomorrow, we were propelled fifty
fly collection, but still did not get ‘with hypotheses’, which are tentatyears forward, many of us would bring

ive and encourage openness.

back from the future our past.

Denikin’s offensive was under way.

One could not hope for a more sweepBroadmindedly, Benois discussed all
It was imperative that the streets
ing or absurd restriction on’ freedom
world art as slowly progressing toshould not be silent. The shop winof speech. For example, it condemns to
ward The World of Art.

dows were blank and empty. They
silence any suggestion as’ to what
Presumably, there would be no time.

should bulge with ideas.

course of action to follow in order to
There would be a bloc of right-thinkBefore Mayakovsky, each window was
solve a problem raised in a ‘Work in
ing people; thus humanity, developing
a random collection of drawings and
Progress’ seminar. Ironically, it
correctly, on the whole, would attain
captions. Each drawing was a separalso denies to Huntington the right to
at last the ability to wear ties,
ate ~~it. Mayakovsky introduced
put forward any proposals in an acaread the morning papers and be concentral ideas: a whole series of
demic milieu – including his forced
cerned about responsible government.

drawings connected by a rhymed text
draft urbanisation policy. And since
I believed that art was not a method
that went from picture to picture.

Huntington has proposed this in acaof thinking, but a method of restorMayakovsky is said to have done
demic journals, we might expect
ing sense perception of the world; I
1500 windows, and that is true.

Minogue to be sympathetic to those who
believed that art forms change in
We are not priests of art, but crafts-wished to deny him a platform. Of
order to preserve the perceptibility
men who fulfill a social command.

course he is not. On the contrary,
of. life.

The practical examples printed in LEF Minogue suggests that the freedom of
, The death of objects. Strangeness as
are not ‘definitive artistic revelathe academic rostrum is sacrosanct.

a means of fighting the familiar. The
tions’, but only samples of our
Good manners and civility (servility?)
theory of shift. The task of Futurism
current work…….

demand that speakers be given an unis to resurrect objects, to restore to
_ V.V.Mayakovsky, O.M.Brik
impeded hearing – but presumably only
man his ability to sense the world.

after the academic censors have elimVladimir Vladimirovich made a very
inated in adVance all proposals from
funny imitation of Brl~sov waking up
the paper in question, leaving only
in the middle of the night, howling:

the hypotheses.

(This exercise is
‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid~’

guaranteed to generate a fiood of
‘Afraid of what?’

R. Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of
papers on the general topic ‘Hypo’Afraid, that Mayakovsky won’t amount
thetical imperatives: Are they hypoScience
to much.’

theses or are they proposals?’.)
Mayakovsky’s usual method is revealed
One can only wish that Minogue had exin this witticism: the transference of This book is published by Alma
tended his criteria to his own article.

Book Company and not Leeds Books
emphasis onto a secondary word, the
At least readers of the THES would
as stated in the last issue. It
reinterpretation of that word, and
then have been spared the idiocy of
the destruction of a familiar meaning. may be obtained from booksellers
his proposals for ‘dealing with the
or direct from Alma Book Company,
Mayakovsky was saved by the October
freedom appropriate to an academic
lOb Low OUsegate, York, England

rostrum’ •
He enjoyed the Revolution physically.

He needed it very badly.

Free Speech Again


Not What I. Expected

{Trevor Pateman}



Download the PDFBuy the latest issue