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.

14 Reviews

Reviews
Anarchy, State and Utopia
R A Nozick, Anarchy, State
and Utopia, Blackwells, 1974
367pp £5.50
By elaborating A theory of
Justice in terms of a general
social, political and moral
theory, and by arguing specifically for a form of welfarestate liberalism, John Rawls
brought political philosophy
back to the academic groves
from the wilderness. No
longer will bourgeois academic philosophy be at ease in
disguising its apologetics in
the form of ‘analysis’ and no
longer will the ‘fact /value’

dichotomy have the status of
official doctrine. Nozick’s
book (he is himself, like
Rawls, a Harvard professor)
is at once smarter and shallower than Rawls’ and it is
explicitly joined in debate
with Rawls. And so, while
Norman Daniels’ Reading
Rawls confronts Rawls from
the left, Nozick’s criticism
comes from the far ultraReaganite right, through a
difficult marriage of convenience between Locke and Kant
or at least such elements of
their philosophy as Nozick
finds useful in the defence of
inviolable property rights.

What Nozick does is to work
from a ‘state of nature’ of
property-hugging individuals
to the development of the
state as a ‘protective agency’

guaranteeing property. Since
private property does not itself involve the violation of
any rights, the state which
guarantees those rights itself does not violate rights.

Only if it interferes, especially by robbing the rich’ to
give to the poor, does the
state violate rights. Hence
Nozick’s book is an attack on
the welfare state and a fortiori on socialism. As there
are 6, 791 arguments and
‘examples’ in the book (on
last count) I think it might
be most useful if, instead of
trying to sketch and abuse
the whole book, I rather ad~ertise its approach’by a
reasonably close look at o’ne
small part. Nozick’s book
was enthusiastically
received: Quine clearly
thought it divinely inspired
26

and even Peter Singer in the
New York Review of Books
hailed its ‘exciting brilliance’

(while modestly exposing its
fragility). Mary Warnock
thinks Nozick ‘the handsomest young philosopher in the
business’ and the author of a
‘handsome book’ (New Society).

My impression is that the book
is impressive but flashy and
that it will not stand up to examination even as a major
text in right- wing thought.

Because the topiC interests me
I shall focus on Nozick’s
attack on equality and specifically on industrial democracy.

As I have indicated, the book
is a defence of the rights of
owners, especially against
state interference, through
such things as taxation to
bring about greater equality of
income; its message is that
you are entitled to have what
you own. Nozick calls himself
a ‘libertarian’ and makes great
rhetorical play of the bullying
interventionism of the allegedly ‘redistributionist’, or ‘welfare’ state. But when it comes
to the protection of property,
Nozick is a member of the lawand-order brigade (more
money on police and army less on welfare scroungers; )
and when it comes to control of
working people’s working lives,
Nozick belongs to the orthodox
regimental school. In short,
Nozick is a ‘free-enterprise’

man.

Rawls, positing self-respect
as a basic value whose absence
makes other goods devoid of
positive worth, claimed that it
was in equality within the
‘civic’ sphere that people’s
self-respect could primarily
be established. ‘Economic’

inequality, into which Rawls
packs both inequality of income
and inequality within the organization of production, is regulated only by the uncertain operations of the ‘difference principle’ – and it is at that point
that the state comes in to ‘redistribute’ wealth. Now,
enough has been said to raise
the question whether people
brought up to think of themselves as defeated hacks and
spending their lives doing
degrading work would find the
charms of ‘equal citizenship’

sufficient props to their selfrespect. But Nozick has a short
way with all this talk about
equality of self-respect. Selfrespect, says Nozick (equating
it with ‘self-esteem’) is invidious. Considering Trotsky’s
olympian vision of a time when
‘the average human type will
rise to the heights of an
Aristotle: a Goethe or a Marx.

And above this ridge new peaks
will rise’, Nozick remarks that
the unfortunate average human
will then feel pretty inadequate
as, from the level of a mere
Marx, he looks up at the new
peaks. As a comment on
Trotsky’s macho formulation,
the comment is apt. But
Nozick insists on a general
moral:

People generally judge themselves by how they fall along
the most important dimensions in which they differ
from others. People do not
gain self -esteem from their
common human capacities …

Self-esteem is based on
differentiating characteristics; that’s why it’s selfesteem … ‘ (P243) – As an expression of the f,ate
of the ego in an individualistic
and competitive culture such
as that of capitalist societies,
Nozick’s remarks are pertinent. Within such societies,
rooted as they are in maintaining scarcity as a condition of
maintaining value, price and
profit, ‘differentiation’, of
product and of personality,
occupy a central place. Hence
it matters, not so much
whether you have a good thing
or do a good job as whether
you have what others lack or
do what others haven’t done a veritable recipe for manicdepressive psychosis. But it
is possible and common, even
in our culture, for people to
take pride in the adequate
performance of valued tasks,
where the pride comes principally ‘from the object’ and
only secondarily, if at all,
from the receipt of special
praise. A boat builder is happy
if his boat has what a boat
needs; he doesn’t need a reserve army of incompetents to
keep up his self -esteem.

USing competitive games as
his paradigm, Nozick says that
‘there is no standard of doing
something well independent of

how it is done or can be done
by bthers’ (p241). But this is
utterly distorted – a boat
either floats or it doesn’t,
a fishing net either holds or
it doesn’t, people either can
do mouth-ta-mouth resuscitation or they cannot, and such
things are valued without the
need for point-scoring and all
the paraphenalia of winning and
losing with which Nozick is so
preoccupied. What Nozick’s
idea that there have to be
losers does, of course, is
blind him to the culturally
specific viciousness of a system which confines human
beings to jobs which, however
the fact might be disguised by
wage-differentials and competitions for the tidiest kitchen,
are tedious, degrading, and
as often as not, useless.

Nozick then considers the
idea that ‘meaningful work’ is
a condition of self-esteem and
that the mechanical repetitiveness and subordination characteristic of capitalist industry
should be done away with. But,
says Nozick, look at the ordinary members of symphony
orchestras, army draftees,
socialist factory organizers,
‘persons on the way up organizational ladders’. Such people
do not suffer lack of selfesteem (p246). Well, that is
questionable. But suppose
Nozick is right – let us ask:

why? People who get into
symphony orchestras enjoy
contributing to something

BEAKELEY…JOl..ANAL
OF SOCK>lOGY
410 BARROWS HAll
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
BERKHE Y, CALIFORNIA 94720

AOjOOTHfR ARTICLES

……………………………………….

The BJS tocu .. e. on radical alternatives to
currently doainant paradiS-S in so<:ial theory.

Subscriptions tor tbe annual issue lLI”e $2.50
ror individuals, $5.50 for institutions.

Subs. troll outdde the US IL1d ClLIlada are 50<t
.ore due to postage. Please send US bank
ch .. ck 01' US .one), order .

……………………………………….

beautiful. They also enjoy a
certain prestige. Draftees,
assuming a random draft process, cannot think that their
subordination is a function of
their own failings (unless in
respect of their failure to
dodge the draft). Socialist
factory organizers exercise
initiative during working hours
challenging the power of a
class whose position they consider illegitimate. They do not
see their own or their workmates’ subordination as a
function of personal shortcomings; that’s part of their
socialism. Continuing this
(necessarily tedious) rebuttal
with Nozick’s young men on
their way to the top, we can
take it that such spiralists,
given that they are truly upward-bound, perceive their
present subordination as a
temporary necessity, as part
of their career. As long as
they assume that they are on
the way up they will not attribute their pOSition to personal
failings. In all cases we do n01
not have that characteristic
situation of the subject
classes in liberal capitalist
society where myths of
ity of opportunity and social
mobility meet realities of
static hierarchies and mindless drudgery to induce that
sense ~personalfailure, ~
damaged and low self-esteem,
that is so characteristic of
working- class psychology.

(For an exploration of this,
see Bennett and Cobb, The
Hidden Injuries of Class,Vintage Books, 1972). The
question of self-respect, selfesteem, and of the psychology
of class is much more complex than this brief rebuttal
suggests. But there is little
evidence that Nozick has
thought about it very much at
all.

Nozick hints that the reason
for workers’ low self-esteem
may be that they are personally inferior (pp246-“7 ) and
that subordinates’ defeatist
psychology
. .. may be due to the fact
that those predisposed to
show low independent activity are just those who are
most willing to take and
remain with certain jobs
involving little opportunity
for independent flowering
(P248)
Think of the assembly-line
as a kind of asylum for the
unenterprising, or the home
as a shelter for the weaker

sex! Looking at our schools
and bearing in mind that
career ‘success’ is generally
a function of number of years
spent in them, we might well
conclude that the opportunity
to do independent things in
later life is a reward for refraining from them in earlier
life. But if Nozick is ignorant
of the processes that prepare
people for ‘their place’, he is
ignorant too of the bitter
struggle that capitalist industrialists had to wage to bring
production under their control
and out of the relatively free
hands of the artisan class.

The drudgery-habituated
worker inhabits the site of
centuries’ battles and defeats.

Nozick assumes (p248, 251)
that since capitalists and
unions haven’t invested in
firms which provide meaningful work or are under workers’

control, such forms of production must be less efficient.

Nor are such forms of production attractive to workers,
who are fortunate enough to be
able to ‘choose among their
employment activities on the
basis of the overall package
of benefits it gives them'(p249)
But, as the government’s
special commission concluded
in its study Work “in America
(M. 1. T. 1973), the introduction of more ‘meaningful’ and
autonomous job patterns in
certain firms has proved
profitable. More important,
you cannot equate capitalist
profitability with efficiency
in production. Given a situation where a boss wants to get
as much out of his workers as
possible and given the rival
disposition on the part of the
workforce, it is in the boss’s
interest to establish as much
control over the work process
and product as he can – otherwise his subordinates will
exercise their initiative in
avoiding work or appropriating for themselves some of
the product. The reduction of
work to maximally controllable and accountable units, in
other words, is in large
measure, a function of the
fundamental conflict in the
production situation itself.

And this reflects itself in the
fact that the schemes of
‘meaningful work’ that have
been tried and have succeeded
are in factories where there
is little history of militancy
or insubordination. A problem for Nozick: capitalist
initiated amelioration of work,
inviting the subordinates to
27

ex~rcise

initiative, is successful precisely among
workers who on other grounds
could be said to be unenterprising and obedient.

Nozick wonders (p250) why
workers haven’t gone in for
worker-controlled firms,
setting up ‘microindustrial
schemes’ within the capitalist
economy. Such questions,
like questions of the continuing
subjection of women, require
historical exploration and it
is a sort of insult to consider
them within the framework of
a priori psychology. Nozick
talks about workers leaving
‘risk’ to big investors. But a
big investor, unlike a proletarian co-operative, is able by
diversifying to minimise the
risk to him of a factory’s
failure; unlike his employees
his many eggs are in many
baskets. Given the pressures
and vagaries of a system of
production for profit, it is
little wonder that most
‘worker-control’ oriented
proletarians look to smash
the capitalist system rather
than to set up vulnerable
islands of co-operativism
within that system.

Nozick attacks the general
idea that ‘people have a right
to a say in the decisions that
importantly affect their own
lives’ (p269). In his usual
style he brings up two putative
counter-examples. Toscanini’ s
leaving an orchestra, he says,
‘importantly affects’ its members; but that doesn’t give
them the right to a say in
Toscanini’s decis ion. Now
talk of rights here may be ~b­
scuring, for there is no question that Toscanini ought to
-give weight to the impact of
his leaving on an orchestra whether that amounts to their
having a right to a say, which
is not a right to decide, is
unclear to me. But note the
peculiarities of the case: it’s
Toscanini, so the orchestra
has been extremely lucky to
work with him. And he hasn’t
entered a situation where the
established expectation is that
he is a member of a sovereign
mutually beneficial collective.

But if we want to ask the general question whether orchestras should be so organized,
whether such rights should be
defended, Nozick’s example
leaves us dangling; for its force
depends on the very features of
the status quo, the established
expectations that it seeks to
support. So it is with Nozick’s
second example, that of lend-

28

ing someone a bus for a year
and finding on your return tha t
it has become important in the
borrowers’ lives so that it
might be claimed that they
therefore have a right to a say
in who keeps it. Again the talk
of rights is ob~curing, for it
suggests clear criteria of
whether or not a right exists.

In England, for example,
squatters ‘have’ rights similar
to those whose existence
Nozick is denying. But, given
that private property in motor
cars persists with all its attend·
ant expectations, needs and
obligations, Nozick’s claim to
have his bus back has a prima
facie force. Notice that ~
(generously) lent it, that it,
like Toscanini, is a big unreciprocated bonus to its
beneficiaries. Notice too, as
the examples get mentioned in
the broad context of an attack
on industrial democrats, that
neither example is a case of
people not having a right to a
say in the government of their
own lives, to a say, for example, over whether they are
fired from a job. To establish
the general injustice of such a
demand, Nozick would have to
be prepared to defend by parity
of reasoning the idea that as
long as positions of governmental authority were bought
and sold on the open market
thos e subject to such authority should not think their
rights were being violated.

Even Nozick might shrink
from that pOSition. Certainly
the capitalist boss stands in a
different relation to his
employees than Toscanini
stands to his orchestra or a
gratis lender to a borrower.

Nozick abstracts details of
every day life under capitalism and uses them to defend
the structure within which
those examples have their very
intelligibili ty . (Any social
system can be defended thus. )
That Nozick should consider
it philosophically relevant to
attack the workers’ control
movement signifies a major
advance in bourgeois academic
thought, for it marks the end
of a period when the conditions
under which people spend
much of their waking lives
have, like other subjects not
fit for polite conversation,
have exercised a latent impact
on the whole framework of
philosophical inquiry, from
moral philosophy to aesthetics.

Nozick, though clearly ignorant of the things about which
he writes, at least has the

hide to write about them. And
once people start to look at
the way work is organized in
our society, it will emerge
fairly soon that any publicity
for capitalist industry is bad
publicity.

Tony Skillen
Labour Process and
Class Struggle
Conference of Socialist
Economists, ed., The Labour
Process and Class Strategies
(Stage 1, London, April 1976)
Zerowork 1
292 Warren St, Brooklyn
New York
‘A Crisis of capital is equally
a crisis of revolutionary organisation and theo ry. ‘ Melodramatic, perhaps, but a fair
indication of the ferment on
the left which has accompanied
the stuttering collapse of the
‘long boom’, not least in the
debates within the Conference
of Socialist Economists
which has registered a ~apid
turnover of theoretical preoccupations within the past
few years. The first casualty
of the developing crisis was
Keynesianism, unable to comprehend simultaneous unemployment and inflation
which gave way to a Neo-‘

Ricardianism capable of recog
nising a genuine crisis of
profitability when it saw one.

The Neo-Ricardian tracing of
the root of the crisis to wage
struggle was in turn attacked
by a ‘fundamentalist’ Marxism
as failing to recognise that
Capital was a contradictory
social reI ation of self -expanding value. NOW, the inability
of this ‘value-logic’ approach
to seize the specificity of the
present situation has given
rise to a new turn which questions the basis of the abstractions upon which Political
Economy rests, to judge from
the number, variety and enthusiasm of participants at a
‘Pre-conference’ called by the
C. S. E. in February to prepare for this year’s annual
conference (Coventry, July
10-12) which is to be given
over to an examination of the
‘Labour Process’. (For
information, contact John
Humphry,6 Bloomsbury Place
Brighton)
Political economy must

come to terms with the way in
which commodity; economies
themselves abstract products
from their particular condition of production and
compare them against competing products, complementary products, and social
needs. As Marx recognised,
this abstraction of ‘value’ is
the means by which a society
based on private property in
the means of production allocates labour in the proportions needed to ensure its
own reproduction. This general form of property, based
on ‘socially necessary labour’

time, provides the measure
in terms of which capital
analyses and transacts the
world.

Capital asserts itself as
‘self-expanding value’; but
there is a certain amount of
bravado in this: ‘It is clear,
that no labour, no productive
power, no ingenuity and no
art, can answer the overwhelming demands of compound interest”, wrote the
Ricardian socialist Thomas
Hodgskin in a work which
argues that ‘actually these
demands are constantly
made and as constantly the
productive power of labour
refuses to satisfy them. ‘

Political economy, then, as
a science of social reproduction based on values, ignores
the material basis of that
‘real abstraction’ at its peril.

Nor can it assume the command of capital over labour in
production and treat the contingency of value expansion
Simply as a question of technique, of the most objectively
efficient transformation of
nature. Because the labour
process is carried on under
antagonistic social relations
there canbe no question of
technique which is not also a
question of control over labour
and resistance to that control.

The ‘secret history’ of cycles
of aC’cumulation, of the end of
the long boom, is to be found
according to this perspective,
in an historical understanding
of the concrete class relations
in the capitalist division of
labour.

To inSist, with Marx, on the
contradictory unity of the
‘technical’ forces and ‘social’

relations of production, has
important political consequences, as capitalist. social

relations of production cannot
be attacked simply as the
juridical ownership of the
means of production by some
which compels wage labour on
the part of others, but, equally, as a practical control
which the former exert over
the latter and the struggle
against that control. The compatibility of capitalist technology and socialism is
brought into question, and this
reflects on the adequacy of
classical conceptions of the
subjective and objective
aspects of transition to socialism.

At Coventry, one gained the
impression that the range of
concerns had surfaced simultaneously in a number of quite
distinct political tendencies.

It is also reflected in a collection of articles published by
the CSE this month under the
title The Labour Process and
Class Strategies, which presents in English Raniero
Panzieri’s attack on the identification of socialism with
planning which was the point
of departure for much of the
exploration into the ‘labour
process’ made in Italy during
the 1960s. Beginning with an
account of how the young
Lenin, in his battles with the
Russian Populists, developed
a one-sided conception of capitalism as the anarchy of the
market, Panzieri draws from
Capital a demonstration of
how capital develops its planning mechanisms in produc. tion and extends them, over a
long historical period, into
the circulation sphere.

Juxtaposed with this piece is
Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s argument that capital develops, in
Taylorist ‘scientific management’, an objective time
measure of man and machine
at the level of ‘plant economy’

which clashes with the operation of value- economy in
circulation. Sohn-Rethel concludes that Taylor’s work
measurement, used by capital
to fragment labour, could, if
appropriated by the working
class, provide the objective
basis for a socialist economy.

This approach parallels his
analysis of the basis of conceptual abstraction in the
development of value formation in market exchange.

Completing the first section
of the book is Christian

Palloix’s recent attempt to
situate the current capitalist
initiatives of automation and
humanisation of work within
a schema of the development
of capitalist production relations and techniques which is
firmly rooted in Marx’s analysis of the contradictory
tendencies in the expanded
reproduction of capital.

The· second half of the book
concerns itself with the process by which the working
class forms an adequate response to the initiatives taken
by capital to ensure its continued development. It incorporates two products of the
reappropriation of history
forced on the Italian left in
the 1960s during a period of
accelerated accumulation and
unprecedented class formation
in that country. Sergio Bologna
sets the classic debates about
the theory of the party which
took place in the Social Demo”:·
cratic movement at the turn
of the century in the context
of the forms of self-organisation (workers councils)
adopted by skilled engineering
workers before the liquidation
of their control over production by scientific management.

Carefully put together and
modest in its conclusions,
Bologna’s piece implicitly
raises the large and disturbing question of the adequacy
of models of organisation
outside the material conditions
in which they were created,
and indeed the class significance of their survival independent of those conditions,
emphasiSing our need to situate in an historical materialist way the ‘classic writers’.

Part of this task involves
forming a more satisfactory
‘conception of the epoch’ than
we have in Imperialism as
‘mature’ or ‘putrescent’

monopoly capitalism. Mario
Tronti’s ambitious essay aims
to aid us in establishing such
a perspective by sketching the
history of capitalist society
since 1870 as international
cycles of struggle in which
workers and capital have
endeavoured to form strategies to meet each others’

initiatives in production.

Tronti provides us with the
elements of a multi-dimension·
al conception of the epoch
which relates the separation
of the control over production

29

from hl.dividuals or groups of
workers with a strategy for
the circulation sphere which
starts with the wage demand
as an independent variable.

This characterisation of the
epoch is taken as a starting
point by the collaborators in
the new American journal
Zerowork, although they
develop a position rather
different from that of Mario.

Tronti. They see capitalist
crisis as a product of a complex cycle of struggles
defined by different concrete
relations between labour and
capital. In their view a capitalism characterised by the
anarchy of production and the
control of the working class
by a ‘wage cycle’ was replaced
during the interwar period of
restructuring with the control
of the working class by mass
production machinery and the
‘wage pivot’ of Keynesianism.

Expanded reproduction on this
basis was itself brought into
crisis by the ‘refusal of work’

or a demand from the working
class for income independent
from productivity, which is
seen to arise from the breakdown of workers’ identification with an increasingly fragmented and uncontrollable
work, and the provision of
non-wage incomes to ‘plan’

circulation and accommodate
working class demands in a
period of very rapid and uneven development. This perspective is followed in
accounts of struggles in
particular sectors, out of
which is drawn a political
orientation asserting the
present primary importance
of the unity between waged
and unwaged members of the
working class and the end of
any relevant distinction between politics and economics.

This involves a rejection of
‘socialism’ as representing
either a ‘romantic restructuring of work’, or a guise for
the reassertion, of capitalist
planning and work diScipline,
which fails to exploit, or even
see, the contradiction between
between the desire of capital
to free itself from dependence
on the working class and its
need to reimpose work discipline as a means of social
‘I actually don’t think my
television discussions interfere
with my philosophy, because if
I consistently worked a fourhour day on my subject I could
produce a philusophical work
every six months.’ Ayer
30

control. Behind this perspective lies the premise of the
working class as an historical
subject which recomposes
itself at higher and higher
levels of power, in overcoming capital’s attempts to
decompose it. Must attempts
to de-objectify Political
Economy and re-awaken
historical self-understanding
lead us to endorse historicist
(in this case, rather Hegelian)
formulations of class relations?

TimPutnam

Housework
Ann Oakley, Housewife (Allen
Lane £3. 50), The Sociology
of Housework (Martin
Robertson £1. 95)
Both these books, but especially
The Sociology of Housework, bear
the marks of a paiIlful emergence
from the methodology of academic
sociology. Together with her
earlier book, Sex, Gender and
Society, they are made up of
material which was gathered from
Ann Oakley’s PhD theSiS, but they
are nonetheless important contributions to the theory of the
women’s movement.

Housewife has a fairly general
approach, placing the material in
its historical context; she draws
on the studies of people like Alice
Clark and Ivy Pinchbeck which are
still the best labour histories of
women (see Alice Clark, Working
Life of Women in the Seventeenth
Century and Ivy Pinchbeck, Women
Workers and the Industrial
Revolution). She also looks at
some of the general theoretical
questions surrounding the issues
of women and work, and at the
more biased assumptions of recent
sociological and anthropological
accounts of women, patiently
providing counter-arguments to
ethologists and others.

The Sociology of Housework is
more ambitious and more creative
theoretically and I’ll spend the
rest of the review mainly talking
about this book, though some of
the arguments (particularly to do
with her political conclusions) are
duplicated in Housewife. The
Sociology of Housework begins
with a lengthy critique of the
treatment of women by mainstream
sociology, in which Oakley argues
a systematic blindness of sociology
to the existence of women.

However, while she claims that
this probably amounts to a
structural defect in sociological
analysis, and invalidates many of

the concepts and categories, her
own approach to the study of housework starts well within mainstream
sociology. What comes of this,
is a book which is sometimes
more successful in showing the
limitations of sociology than in
analysing the situation of women.

But I think any limitations on her
own sociological approach are
made apparent because her aims
are feminist and her questions
are not all internal to the
academic discipline.

As I mentioned, Oakley’s arguments against current sociological
discussions of women begin with
noticing the way in which sociology
has concealed the social presence
of women. And she points out how
this is connected with the way in
which the various subject divisions
of sociology present themselves
as natural or obvious:

The broad subject divisions
current in modern sociology
appear, at first sight, to be
eminently logical and nonsexist. Social stratification,
political institutions, religion,
education, deviance, the
sociology of industry and
work, the family and marriage,
and so on: these are, surely,
just descriptions of different
areas of human social life
(pp3-4)
One of the main aims of her
book is to show how these ‘logical’

divisions have obscured part of
the reality of women’s experience
through ruling out the possibility
of talking about housework as
work.

Work studies, effectively
by definition, deal with the sphere
outside ‘the home’. So when she
talks about housework as work,
one of her ploys is to use concepts
and approaches which have been
thought inappropriate to talking
about ‘the home’. For example,
she has a chapter devoted to
‘Work Conditions’, which uses
such concepts as ‘work satisfaction’, as well as raising questions
of working hours and technical
conditions – all in relation to ‘

housework. This way of importing ‘work’ concepts into the home
helps demystify the apparently
natural categories of sociology.

It also helps demystify the
distinction between housework
and ‘real work’, which is found
socially as well as in sociology,
but which is the sort of distinction notoriously enshrined by,
for example, the functionalists’

expressive /instrumental distinction, where housework will come
out as emotional support, in
contrast, say, to men who
‘manipulate the environment’,
working the assembly line.

1

I

l

Oakley shows another implication of the sociological concealment of women when she points
out a relationship between the
areas of sociological study and
the exercise of social power.

There’s a sociological importance
attached to the various institutions
of social power, which institutions
are dominated by men. What
might be described as avenues of
specifically female power – e. g.

gossip – are scarcely respectable
areas of study. (Of course, the
relative sociological importance,
here, reflects the reality of
social evaluation). At the same
time, there’s a tendency through
all areas of sociology to deny or
distort women’s social experience;
for example, work studies tend
not to talk about female workers,
stratification studies assume that
social status attaches to family
units through a man’s job status
(so single women, unmarried
mothers, and other abnormal
cases, are scarcely held to
exist.) The tendency of sociology
to reflect the specific experience
of men at the expense of that of
women, can be seen in terms of
the affirmation of (male) social
power through the denial of
women’s experience. And with
this phenomenon of the affirmation of the reality and power of
the ruling class or group. It’s
a demonstration of the actual
non-neutrality of sociology, in
contrast to common claims that
it’s !value free’.

However, when she comes to
giving a description and analysis
of the situation of women as
housewives and houseworkers,
Oakley often seems still to be
hampered by the categories and
concepts of the sort of sociological analysis she’s trying to supercede. This seems to be the case,
for example, in her important
central discussion of the identity
of women as housewives through
an identification with the mother.

Her suggestion is that the role
of housewife is central to women’s
self-identity. Her definition of
identification is pretty much a
simple role-model type:

… (identification with the
housewife role) is defined
as a condition in which
responsibility for housework
is felt as feminine, and
therefore a personal attribute,
normally as a result of
childhood identification with
the mother as role model
(p117)
She seems to take this childhood
identification to be operating
through such mechanisms as
training in housework, playing

with housework toys etc and, I
think, copying the mother. The
evidence for identification with
the mother seems to be a
frequency of remarks like “I like washing. I like to
see the washing out on the
line – especially sheets and
the boys shirts. I think this
is a bit of my mother – she’s
extremely particular my
mother” Office manager’s
wife (P116)

recreated as the woman’s lack
of power (or perhaps loss of
power) and the realisation of that
lack or loss. This account is at
a different level of generality
than Oakley’s, for ‘castration’

doesn’t just refer to sexuality,
as the housewife role does just
refer to domesticity. ‘Castration’ can be regarded as a
structural concept which, presumably, would help to explain
the possibility of some of the
processes described by Oakley.

(However, almost everything
still remains to be done for a
feminist recreation of psychoanalysis, and it’s still not clear
how modified an appropriately
‘socialised’ Freud would be. )
However, at an everyday
descriptive level of what being
a housewife is about, both
Oakley’s books are very good.

The life comes over mainly via
chunks from the depth interviews
she had with 40 London housewives. Perhaps only one of these
women seems really to enjoy
housework:

–“I love it. (Cleaning?) I just
love it. I’m just happy when
I’m doing it. (Washing?) I
love doing my own washing.

I don’t believe in washing
machines … ” (P109)

The social pressure on girls to
accept housework as feminine,
along with other behaviour traits
which are encouraged as appropriate to girls, are well described
by Oakley. But I don’t think she
makes the case that the housewife
rold is central to a woman’s selfidentity, at least not as something which lies at the heart of a
life-long sense of self. It seems
that the role-model account of
identification can’t begin to
account for the insidiousness with
which gender identity is curled
in the heart of self-identity.

This sort of account can be contrasted with something like a
Freudian account – this is an
important contrast because
Freudian theory is currently
being explored by feminists on
the hypotheSis that it can yield
the unconscious structures
which support patriarchy, or
which create male and female
subjects. One aspect of the
Freudian account of identification
which is crucial here concerns
the identification of the little girl
with her mother as castrated.

This is the point where the girl
comes to regard herself as
female, like her mother, where
to be female is to be castrated.

In feminist terms this could be

More believable attitudes range
from the almost obsessional to
the harassed and fairly sluttish.

Finally, there are the political
and strategic conclusions. These
are, naturally, heavily influenced
by the consideration of the
extremely alienating nature of
housework as work – for she has
certainly shown this to be the
case. This is one reason for
placing a priority on removing
the inevitable destiny which
housework represents to most
women. Another consideration
is her view that the housewife
role is essential to the feminine
gender role, hence struggling
against the destiny of housework
is, for Oakley, absolutely central
to the ideological struggle against
gender identities which, in turn,
she takes to be central to the
struggle for women’s liberation.

She draws out useful lessons for
the extension of consciousness
raiSing techniques which would
particularly deal with the question
of domesticity. And she also
usefully demonstrates the complex
ambivalence which many women
feel towards the Women’s
Movement. The most immediate
activities these considerations
suggest are consciousness raising
with the final aim of breaking
down the sexual division of labour
(say through shared housework or

31

socialisation of housework) as it
preseptly operates in generating
housework as women’s particular
responsibili ty.

These suggestions are clearly
all very important, though I
wonder if she doesn’t place too
much stress on ideological
struggle, or at least rule out too
quickly the relevance of social
economic struggle to housewives.

She may be right that “the
revolutionary potential of the
housewife seems immediately
to be less than that of other
women” (p193) and that the
housewife’s daily situation is
efficient at reinforcing gender
ideology. However, immediate
action must have some reference
to the future; the social-economic
implications of the disappearance
of housework, as women’s
unwaged work, would be so great
that they must be reflected in
current analysis and strategy.

Again social economic analysis,
and even action, doesn’t seem
irrelevant to consciousnessraising; when the alternative to
housework appears simply to
be the lowest paid industrial
work (for the sexual division of
labour continues into waged
work), women aren’t necessarily
deceiving themselves to think
that housework is the better of
the two.

JanetVaux

Sex-Pol
WOHKING PAPERS IN SEX,
SCIENCE & CULTURE
Vol 1 No 1, January 1976
Working Papers in Sex,
Science & Culture was
formerly ‘G. L. P. (Gay
Liberation Press): A Journal
of Sex and Politics’. The
change in title marks a change
in direction. The new aim is
to avoid the a-theoretical and
confused (or pluralist) stance
of G. L. P., and to develop an
analysis of sexual repression
within a theoretical/scientific
Marxist framework, and to see
sexual repression, particularly
of women, as a central issue
in Marxist analYSis, rather
than something to be relegated
to the side. The difficulties of
such an endeavour are selfevident; that of balancing crude
economic determinism against
the need for a psychological
approach to the ideological
level which will succeed in
32

avoiding crude psychologism.

It’s an approach that is clearly
much needed, and the journal
has made a promising start,
particularly in the two papers
that present a critique of Juliet
Mitchell’s Psychoanalysis and
Feminism.

The first of these, ‘One Step
Forward, Two Steps Back’ by
Brennan, Campioni and Jacka,
accuses Mitchell of failing to
locate the struggle against
patriarchy within the struggle
against class oppression, and
so perpetuating the impression
that the women’s movement is
peripheral rather than central
to Marxist analysis. Essentially they claim that she has
failed to separate adequately
the concept of the unconscious
from what may be a particular
ideological emergence of the
unconscious under patriarchy,
and has uncritically accepted
the patrocentrism of her
sources. The most interesting
aspect of the analysiS lies
where the writers claim that
Mitchell, in her analysis of the
origins of patriarchy, sees
kinship in primitive societies
as an integral substructural
phenomenon, rather than as a
superstructural reflection of
the mode of production, the
confusion ariSing because, at
this primitive level kinship is
clearly more directly linked
to the substructure. This
means that Mitchell’s claim
that women and kinship structures have been ‘cut adrift
from history’ in capitalist
society is untenable, and it is
rather (as one would expect)
that women’s relation to the
mode of production under
capitalism is very different
from that existing in primitive
societies. This means that
Mitchell ‘s implication that in
the breakdown of the need for
exogamy, and the use of
women as exchange objects
lies the conditions for emergence from patriarchy is confused, and a different theoretical approach is needed from
which to locate the position of
women under capitalism.

Jane Bullen attempts a
critique of Mitchell from an
Althusserian perspective,
which claims that the concept
of patriarchy suggests a unity
of historical development in
the position of women in relation to the material world,
whereas in fact it is a mis1eadingly unifying term used
to cover complex interrelationships within the economic,
political and ideological

spheres. Both these articles
are working papers, and the
writers invite comment.

The remaining material is
less interesting and merits
briefer mention. There is an
interview with Juliet Mitchell
which does not reach a noticeably penetrating level.

Andrew Benjamin’ s ‘A theory
of Heading with respect of
Freud and Lacan’ contains
some remarks of interest, but
does not overall appear to add
much to the concept of the
Symptomatic Reading. Graeme
Tubbenhauer’s ‘Reich’s
Family’ comments on Reich’s
importance in trying to synthesise Marxism and psychoanalYSis, and points to the all
too apparent flaw, that
because of his essentially
positivist view of the world,
he failed adequately to do so.

Hilary Dickinson

Lenin’s Materialism
Anton Pannekoek, Lenin as
Philosopher, Merlin Press
£2. 00 pb £1. 00
The re-pUblication of this key
work for an understanding of the
difference between Marxism and
Leninism is to be warmly welcomed. First published in
German in 1938 by the International Communist Group of
Holland, it was translated into
English by Papnekoek himself
and published tn America in 1948
under the pseudonym ‘J. Harper’.

It is this English translation
which is now re-published by
Merlin Press, together with a
review of the 1938 pamphlet by
Karl Korsch and an obituary
Mattick wrote on Pannekoek’s
death in 1960.

Lenin as Philosopher is a
criticism of the philosophical
views expressed by Lenin in his
Materialism and EmpirioCriticism written in 1908.

Pannekoek begins by explaining
the difference between bourgeois
materialism and historical
materialism. Bourgeois
materialism, he says, was an
ideology of the bourgeoisie in
its fight with the feudal aristocracy for political power. Since
religion was the main ideological
prop of the aristocracy the
militant wing of the riSing bourgeoisie carried on a campaign
against religious superstition

Advallces in physics and chemistry
which the development of modern
industry, the bourgeoisie’s
economic and social base, was
encouraging, provided material
for this campaign.

Bourgeois materialism, in
accordance with the then current
scientific theories, saw the world
as being composed of tiny
particles of physical matter, subject to certain natural laws of
movem~nt, to discover which was
the task of science. Historical
materialism, on the other hand,
says Pannekoek, is based on social
not natural science. While
bourgeois materialism saw consciousness as simply a biological
phenomenon, a physical-chemical
explanation for which would eventually be found, Marx and Engels
pointed out as early as 1845 in
The German Ideology that consciousness was a social product,
both in origin and content.

“Marx”, writes Pannekoek,
“stated which realities determine
thought; Dietzgen established the
relation between reality and
thought”. Dietzgen was the first
to clearly formulate the theory of
dialectical materialism (a term
he himself introduced), though
not – and this is the basic point
of Pannekoek’s pamphlet – of the
State philosophy of Russia which
goes under the same name.

For Dietzgen ‘matter’ was not
the whole world of observed
phenomena, whether tangible or
not, a world which was in a constant state of change and which
existed only as a whole. Human
beings, with their brain capable
of abstract thought, are a part of
this world. Their capacity for
abstract thought means that they
can delay and plan their response
to the stimulus of their external
environment as experienced by
their senses. Human beings
think abstractly with concepts,
which are abstractions made by
the mind from the changing world
of phenomena. The mind discerns
certain regular patterns and distinguishes these from the rest of
reality by naming them. Everything we think about is an abstract
concept, physical objects like
tables and chairs just as much as
general ideas like justice and
honesty. A table has no independent, separate existence on its
own apart from the rest of reality,
except as a mental construct.

The recurring groups of phenomena we distinguish by the name
‘table’ only exist as part of, and
in relation to, the rest of reality.

This dialectical view is expressed
thus by Pannekoek:

Understanding in general and

science in particular segregate
and systeI?1atise into fixed
concepts and rigid laws what
in the real world of phenomena
occurs in all degrees of flux
and transition. Because
language separates and defines
groups of phenomena by means
of names, all items falling
into a group, as specimens of
the concept, are considered
similar and unchangeable.

As abstract concepts, they
differ sharply, whereas in
reality they transform and
merge into one another
(p30)
In the past there was a certain
survival value in men imagining
that the parts of reality they
distinguished by names were
independently existing things and
of course we must all assume
this for our everyday life. But,
according to dialectical materialism, this is just a useful social
convention which becomes inadequate if taken beyond everyday
life into the realms of science and
philosophy.

What applies to ‘table’ applies
equally to scientific concepts
like ‘light’ and ‘gravity’ and even
to ‘matter’. These are also
mental constructs. But this does
not refute materialism since
dialectical materialism does not
identify ‘matter’ with the ‘physical matter’ of the physicists and
chemists of the last century:

If . .. matter is taken as the

name for the philosophical
concept denoting objective
reality, it embraces far more
than physical matter. Then we
come to the view repeatedly
expressed in former chapters,
where the material world was
spoken of as the name for the
entire observed reality. This
is the meaning of the word
materia, matter in Historical
Materialism, the deSignation
of all that is really existing
in the world, ‘including mind
and fancies’, as Dietzgen
said (p83)
The Austrian physicist Ernst
Mach, having shown how the
phenomena of physics could be
adequately explained without recourse to the concept of physical
matter, proclaimed that he had
thereby refuted materialism.

Mach, who can be said to be one
of the forerunners of what has
become the dominant philosophical school in Britain (logical
positivism, linguistic analysis,
and their offshoots) held that the
world was made up, not of atoms
of physical matter, but of ‘sensations’. He then proceeded, in
a manner which will be familiar

to anybody who has had to study
philosophy in Britain, to justify,
on the basis of the evidence
provided by his senses, the conclusion that there are an external
world other minds, etc.

Pan~ekoek notes how Mach did
not go as far as showing how, on
the evidence of our senses, we
could conclude that there is an
external world which would exist
even without human beings. Mach
stopped short at an ‘inter-subjective’ world, a world external
to the individual human being but
still dependent on the collective
experience of all human beings.

Pannekoek takes the argument
further thus:

According to our experience
people are born and die; their
sensations arise and disappear,
but the world remains. When
my sensations out of which
the world was constituted,
cease with my death, the
world continues to exist.

From acknowledged scientific
facts I know that long ago
there was a world without man,
without any living being. The
facts of evolution, founded on
our sensations condensed into
science, establish a previous
world without any sensations.

Thus from an intersubjective
world common to all mankind,
we proceed to the constitution
of an objective world. Then
the entire world view changes.

Once the objective world is
constituted, all phenomena
become independent of observing man, as relations between
parts of the world. The world
is the totality of an infinite
number of parts acting upon
one another; every part
consists in the totality of its
actions and reactions with the
rest, and all these mutual
actions are the phenomena,
the object of science (P54).

Since Lenin called his book
Materialism and EmpirioCriticism Pannekoek next
examines the views of the founder
of ’empirio- criticism’, Richard
Avenarius. Though his views
differed from those of Mach,
Avenarius belonged to the same
general school of those who saw
the world as being composed of
‘sense-data’ and who tried to
logically build up an external
world out of the sense-data experienced by an individual.

Pannekoek makes the following
pertinent criticism of the individualism of this school:

The essential character in
Mach and Avenarius, as in
most modern philosophers of
33

science, is that they start
from personal experience.

It is their only basis of certainty; to it they go back when
asked what is true. When
fellow-men enter into the play,
a kind of theoretical uncertainty
appears, and with difficult
reasonings their experience
must be reduced to our~. We
have here an effect of the strong
individualism of the middle- class
world. The middle-class individual in his strong feeling of
personality has lost social
consciousness; he does not
know how entirely he is a social
being. In everything of himself,
in his body, his mind, his
life, his thoughts, his feeling,
in his most simple experiences
he is a product of society;
human society made them all
what they are. What is considered a purely
personal sensation: I see a
tree – can enter into consciousness only through the distinctness given to it by names.

Without the inherited words to
indicate things and species,
actions and concepts, the sensation could not be expressed
and conceived. Out of the indistinctive mass of the world
of impressions parts come
forward only when they are
denoted by sounds and thus
become separated from the
unimportant mass. When
Carnap constructs the world
without using the old names,
he still makes use of. his capacity for abstract thinking.

Abstract thinking, however, by
means of concepts, is not
possible without speech; speech
and abstract thinking developed
together as a product of
society. (p63)
and concludes:

So this is the difference:

middle class philosophy looks
for the source of knowledge
in personal meditation, Marxism finds it in social labour.

All consciousness, all spiritual life of man, even of the
most lonely hermit, is a
collective product, has been
made and shaped by the working community of mankind.

Though in the form of personal
consciousness – because man
is a biological individual – it
can exist only as part of the
whole. People can have experiences only as social
beings; though the content~
are personally different, III
their essence experiences are
super-personal, SOciety being
their self-evident basis. Thus
the objective world of phenomena which logical thought
34

constructs out of the data of
experience, is first and foremost, by its origin already,
collective experience of
mankind. (p 6 5 )
As can be seen, Pannekoek’s
pamphlet provides s?me u.s~ful
material for a MarxIst crItIque
of modern British philosophy, and
as such will be useful even to
philosophy students. But
Pannekoek’s purpose was not to
provide material for ~t’-1dent .

essays. It was to criticise Lemn
with a view to getting the working class to shun Bolshevik
tactics which could only lead,
as they did in Russia, to state
capitalism and to organise
themselves, in independent
‘workers’ councils’, to overthrow capitalism and establish
Socialism.

Mach’s ideas enjoyed a certain
vogue in Social Democratic
circles at the turn of the century.

The Bolshevik wing of the Russian
Social Democratic Party, to
Lenin’s dismay, was affected
too and it was to combat these
ide~s that he wrote Materialism
and Empirio-criticism. Anyone
who has read this book will agree
with Pannekoek that it was not
written in any scientific spirit,
but purely as an intra-party
polemic.

.

Pannekoek shows that Lenin
misunderstood and distorted both
Mach and Avenarius. Not that
Pannekoek thought that Mach and
Avenarius were not open to criticism; they were, but on the
basis of what they actually
,
thought – and from the point of
view of dialectical l11aterialism.

This latter was Pannekoek’s
main criticism of L~nin: t.hat he
opposed Mach and AvenarlUS not
from a dialectical but from a
bourgeois materialist point of
view. Mach and others had proclaimed the end of materialism
because they identified materialism with the view that the world
is composed of tiny physical .

particles of matter, a view WhICh
by the turn of the century natural
scientists were finding inadequate
as an explanation of physical
Phenomena. Lenin, instead of
denying that materialism wa.s
necessarily committed to thIS
view chose to defend it.

Le~in identified the objective
world with physical matter;
regarded the movement of this
matter as being governed by unchangeable natural laws; and
defended the Newtonian theory
of Absolute Space and Time
(which led, in the 1930s, to the
Astronomical Division of the
Russian Academy of Science
denouncing the theory of relati-

vity as ‘counter-revolutiona~y’).

In short, Lenin was expoundIll~
bourgeois materialism. Certamly
he called himself a dialectical
materialist but on the quite
different ground from Dietzgen
that as he believed, there were
gen~ral laws of diale:tics operating like natural laws III the
universe of physical matter.

Pannekoek noted another feature
of Lenin’s book: it was mainly
directed at religiOUS ideas or
what Lenin called ‘fideism’.

Mach Avenarius and others are
conti~ually accused of opening
the door for fideism, if not
being fideists themselves.

Indeed the book’s last paragraph
sugge;ts that the most important
ideological struggle in the world
is that between religion and
materialism.

For Pannekoek it was not an
accident that Lenin’s materialism was not dialectical but
baSically the same as that of the
riSing bourgeoisie. For in
Tsarist Russia the struggle was
against a reactionary la.nd~based
ruling class, whose mam Ideological prop was religion, just as
it had been for the feudal aristocracies of Western Europe. The
anti-Tsarist revolutionary movement in Russia was confronted
with the same problems and tasks
as had been the bourgeois revolutionaries of a century earlier:

to overthrow a land-based ruling
class which was impeding the
development of modern indus~ry.

Only there was a difference: III
Russia the bourgeoisie was too
weak and too depend~nt on Tsarism to carry out this revolutionary task itself. This there~ore fell
to the intelligentsia, a SOCIal
grouping peculiar to Tsarist
RUSSia, composed of technical
and profeSSional people of nonnoble origin employed by the
State as doctors, teachers,
engineers and the like. Le~in
provided not only the org.amsa~
tional form for the intellIgentsIa
to carry out this essentially
bourgeois revolution (the van.guard
party of professional revolutIOnaries) but also, in militantly
atheist mechanical materialism,
an ideology.

Lenin’s Materialism and
Empirio-criticism was not translated into other languages till the
end of the 1920s. If it had have
been in 1908, says Pannekoe~,
then Socialists in the West mIght
have realised earlier that there
was something lacking in Lenin’s
grasp of Marxism; that in fact he
was not a Marxist at all but that
Leninism was the ideology of a
new would-be ruling class.

AdamBuick

C:P. Politics
Ian Birchall, Workers against
the Monolith, Pluto Press,
£3.75 pb £1. 50
World communism has come to
be identified with the Russian
state bureaucracy and the twists
and turns of Communist parties,
nationally, in defence of
Russia’s position and interpretation of Russia’s policies, internationally. The degeneration
from the high point of the Third
International with Lenin and
Zinoviev crystallising the most
advanced achievements and consciousness of the working class,
through the distortions and
liquidations of class militancy
under Stalinism to the stark
political bankruptcy, and what
Birchall calls ‘polycentrism’

of today’s Communist parties
is a momentous historical decline. The movement from
class conflict to class collaboration has been neither uniform
nor one-sided – it has never
been without opposition and confusion among party militants but it has unequivocally disarmed
the working classes and defused
Marxism from the most potent
political weapon to sterile
dogma.

Are these characteristics of
the CP leaderships part of the
inherent structure and politics
of the Party today? The question
is a crucial one when one bears
in mind that the current period
is one in which a number of
national CPs take part in government outside the ‘Communist
Bloc’. How has the Party
changed from the days when
class forces throughoul the
world were being sharpened by
the very shaky control of one
proletarian revolution over a
relatively backward country?

If 1919 was the zenith – when
Russia waited for European
revolution – and 1943 the nadir
of world ‘communism – when
Stalin dissolved the Third International in anticipation of the
post-war carve-up – how have
the Communist parties accommodated the aim of socialism to the
changing objective circumstances
since the war? And how has the
official machine contrived to
sacrifice preparing the class for
socialist revolution to continuity
of party line and party control on
one hand, and end-politics of
manoeuvre within capitalist
frameworks on the other? Is
there a clear descent from the
revolutionary defence of Soviet

Russia (post-1917) to reactionary
support for a major world power
whose political base is the potential of annihilation not mobilisation – the indefensibility of
Socialism in One Country? The
Communist parties have rewritten history, brutalised their
opponents on the left and themselves in the process, and made
sufficiently fundamental revisions
of Marx and of Lenin to rationalise every balancing act in the
struggle for influence and respectability within state structures and where class power has been
on the agenda outside the Eastern
bloc, they have been instrumental
in disarming it. Theirs – and ours
if we are Marxists – is the wealth
of history, an immense tragedy of
humanity (Moscow trials, Hungary,
Indonesia, Chile .. ) and a desperate poverty of class action, and
ultimately leadership. We can
ask why, but to socialists the
really critical questions are how,
and for how long?

In Workers against the Monolith
Ian Birchall outlines the historical
process, taking 1943 as a starting
point for Situating the degeneration
and strategic ups and downs of CP
politics. Through the period of
the Cold War and Stalin’s matching
of Russian state accumulation with
Western consumption – and a consequent attraction to the emerging
bourgeoisies of the Third World in
the struggle for power with decolonisation – to Detente, relative
affluence in the West, the break-up
of the monolith with Yugoslavia
and China, the nuclear arms
race, and the resurgence of
political demands in the West,
Birchall gives many examples
to catalogue the betrayals, the
class-bereft analyses of events
and the decisive lurches towards
species of populism and social
democracy.

The fundamental truth is that
the monolith has cracked and
the parties in different countries
now seek national solutions and
accommodation to ‘progressive
forces’ which actually relegate
the primary role of the working
class. Russia can survive now
in the permanent arms economy
in which it and the USA are the
two Queens in the game and the
national CPs the pawns far less
important than the national
governments or the occasional
front-figure knight like Sukarno
or Nasser. It is a game which
Communists as communists
lose at every move. The working classes are a stage army
reduced to mythology and the
imagination. Behind it all
remains revolutionary rhetoric
and the abstract notions of a

socialist future and ‘progress’.

Yet none of this is to deny
that CPs have grown in numbers
and influence, and organise a
large proportion of the best class
militants. It is Birchall’s contention that this contradiction
is incapable of resolution within
the CP apparatus, and that whatever damage and isolation have
been marked up, the nature of
class forces demands that the
revolutionary left cOlTle in from
the cold.

What is left in the shape of
Communist analysis and programme? This book does not
really touch in depth on the
nature of Stalinism and its
social-democratic fall-out, on
the relationships between the
hegemony of ideas in the labour
movement or ruling class concepts and CP strategies. But
there is a subtle inter-dependence that we must know more
about. Birchall does show the
inadequacy of CP analysis of
world events and class forces and
how this rebounds, often with
terrible consequences – in
Indonesia with mass support and
hideous politics, or Chile with
an attempt at a socialist programme but an abysmal failure
to mobilise (accepting a general
Allende-CP identity of interests)
– leading to crushing physical
defeats and ideological discredit.

What are the characteristic
strategies? In the labour movement the concern for machine
politics, place-seeking and
electoralism become ends in
themselves. This is the
analogue of the parliamentary
road – one in Britain, which, to
be kind, we can spare the documentation. CPs throughout the
world have developed a replacement strategy: if only there were
enough Communist top civil
servants, judges, chiefs of police
and, yes, captains of industry,
socialism could be ushered in.

Gone is the understanding of the
nature of the bourgeois state.

Democracy is something that
can be handed down without the
self-activity of the working class.

Historically, the parliamentary
contradiction is that Parties
seek respectability and derivative power, and all energies are
channelled in this way, but they
will only be chosen (or permitted)
within the framework to enter
government when the crisis is so
deep that they are necessary to
control working class aspirations. And that is the very point
at which revolutionary politics
and class preparation are uppermost. The penalty is fascism.

In eastern Europe, since the
35

,*ar, ‘socialism’ has been
installed by and large under the
aegis of Russian interest and
control. Allied to the USSR
ruling machine, there is an
inevitable divorce from working
class activity which in any dev·eloping conflict means that class
determination threatens the
whole basis of power. In the
West, revisionism and unbending attachment to the official
inheritance of ‘MarxismLeninism’ requires that a war
of attrition be fought within the
capitalist system which by its
very nature disarms the capacity
for struggle and self-realisation
of working class militants; it
will only accept class movement
when the pace of events gives it
no alternative as in France, 1968
– and then only to defuse the
potential. The working class is
relegated to a passive role in
history. CP strength is dependence on working class passivity
– an obvious enough phenomenon
of bourgeois society in nonrevolutionary periods (most of
the time, in most countries) and founders at the precise
moments when class activity
and historical movement demand
leadership and programmatic
direction. Capitalism will only
bend so far. Then it must be
broken. In that situation when
socialists find themselves as
bosses – as in Portugal now they act as the most frightened
and repressive. How can socialists be bosses? To put the
ideological seal on how capitalist control operates, within
workers’ consciousness, the
CPs go out of their way to relate
to the existing level of consciousness and its limits rather
than activating any sense of advanced class development, and
hence at the same time in the
minds of countless workers
perpetuate the myths of commun·
ism as something unachievable,
not a political necessity and
related to international diplomatic manoeuvring.

The theoretical accommodation surpasses Bernstein – or
for that matter the father of
bastardised class compromise,
Ramsay MacDonald (who believed the Co-op van delivering
at No. 10 made.it all OK).

With ‘communist’ theories like
absolute pauperisation of the
working class, or zero growth,
who needs Marx? Much of
Birchall’s analysis hinges on
the emergence of RUSSia, and
China, as world powers in their
own right, with systems of state
ownership and control, and convergence with the dictates of
survival in the international
36

super-power system – maintaining accumulation for arms buildup – which has more to do with
out-bidding the capitalists by
sweated labour and the containment of proletarian internationalism than it has with liberation
of the exploited toilers of the
world. Hussian, Chinese, Yugoslav foreign policies give
ample verification. The monolith is no more, however.

stalinism is the twin pillar of
social democracy. They can coexist happily in one person’s
mind. Does it mean the atrophy
or resurgence of Marxism? It
cannot be separated, as the
author says, from the struggle
for an alternative revolutionary
organisa tion.

Within the CPs, politics do not
have to be fought for. Their
actual and potential power becomes a latent embodiment for
manoeuvre within the bourgeois
political apparatus. Meanwhile,
the class is denied true leadership, with dependence on ‘left’

figures in a period of deepening
receSSion, thereby illuminating
the seemingly contradictory
position of the Scanlons and TU
bureaucrats holding back fragmented, but incipient, class
struggles. At the same time,
Party militants must be won to
revolutionary politics, if the
historical tragedies are to be
reversed. The economic crisis
and cries of Trotskyist sectarianism were not able to pose a
serious alternative for classconscious workers. But the
impending capitalist current of
doom, the ready acceptance of
economic crisis as a way of life,
the inflationary necessity for
states everywhere to intervene
against working class interests
and the segmented but important
re-emergence of class struggles,
put the analysiS of the state constituting private, or collective (state) capitalism – and the
programmes for its overthrow
right into the centre of the stage.

This book is an important pocket
history, not an explication of
ideological means of control and
their displacement. It does lay
the vital class issues on the line.

There is no way out.

“What is clear above all is
that nothing can do more to
shake the grip of Stalinism on
the Western working class than
struggle by Eastern workers
against the regimes; and nothing
can help to break the ideological
hold of the Eastern states so
much as action by Western
workers independent of
Stalinist leadership. ”

Gordon T. Peters

Theory & Practice
Brian Fay, Social Theory and
Political J?ractice, AlIen &
Unwin 1975, 123pp, £1. 45
paperback ISBN 0 04 30048 7
Fay’s main thesis is that there
is a conceptual connection between the ways in which the
nature of social science is
characterized, and forms of
political practice. He attempts
to demonstrate this connection
for three different conceptions
of social science: positivist,
interpretive, and critical. He
opposes the first two both for
the inadequacies of their
accounts of the proper nature
of a science of society, and
for the undesirability of the
forms of political practice
which they logically support.

In their place, he outlines a
critical social theory, which
includes amongst its many
virtues a correct view of the
relationships between social
theory and political practice.

Fay correctly sees his book
as transcending the limitations
of recent work on the philosophy of social science in the
Anglo-American / analytical
tradition, by incorporating
some of the main elements in
the work of the Frankfurt
School, particularly that of
Marcuse and Habermas. This
emerges most clearly in the
level at which he poses the
problem of the relations between ‘facts’ and ‘values’, and
of the possibility of value-free
social science. Rather than
conSidering whether or not,
for example, the acceptance
of a particular theory relies
upon the adoption of specific
moral or political values, he
is concerned to show how
‘values’ are logically related
to the general conception of
social science that provides
the framework within which
that particular theory is
articulated.

In doing this, he draws
heavily upon the kinds of arguments developed by Habermas,
especially in Knowledge and
Human Interests. Thus the
three conceptions of social
theory examined by Fay
correspond directly to
Habermas’s three forms of
human knowledge – technical,
practical, and critical/reflective; his attempt to demonstrate the political presuppositions of positivist and interpretive social science makes

,

good vse of Habermas’s
theory of knowledge-constitutive interests; and his
specification of the forms of
political practice consonant
with critical social theory
resonates with the concepts of
self-reflective critique and
undistorted communication
developed by Habermas in his
examination of Freud.

The greater part of the book
(chapters 2 and 3) is taken up
by the analysis of positivist
social science. Having outlined its epistemology and
methodology, he then argues
for its constitutive interest in
technical control via an analysis of the structural identity
of explanation and prediction
contained in the D-N model.

He then argues that this
general interest in technical
control gives rise to a particular conception of political
practice, namely as policy
science, ‘a set of scientific
laws and axiomative decision
rules which a politician can
use to determine objectively
the best cour se of action to
take. ‘ (p49) Fay rejects this
conception, both for its internal incoherence, and for its
objective consequences: reinforcement of the status quo of
industrial- capitalist society,
and an elitist relationship between politicians and people.

A methodological critique of
positivism follows, and leads
into the analysis of interpretive social science, which is
criticized for, amongst other
things, the conservative political implications of its constitutive interest in increasing
or re-establishing communicative understanding between
groups and individuals. Fay’s
analysis here, as in the final
chapter on critical social
theory, is much briefer,
though it manages to achieve,
for example, a useful distinction between three levels of
interpretive understanding.

The book is written throughout with great clarity and
lucidity, which compensate
significantly for its generally
schematic nature and absence
of any real advance in the articulation of the nature of critical theory, or in the examination of the difficulties involved
in its program for political
practice. Above all, it can be
recommended as an approachable and helpful application of
a generally Habermassian
perspective.

Russell Keat

News
America
The Radical Caucus of the
American Philosophical
Association met in New York
from December 28 to 30 with
all meetings being well attended and with lively discussion.

On the evening of the 28th,
there was a symposium on
Marxist Theories of Ideology
with Richard Lichtman as the
principal speaker, and Roger
Gottlieb and Syla Ben-Habib.

The meeting was attended by
about 200 people. On the
morning of the 29th, Andrew
Brook read a paper on
‘Political Education’, which
was commented on by Naomi
She man, and Sandra Harding
read her paper, ‘Does Philosophy Support the Values of
the Powerful?’, with Joel
Levinson as the commentator.

In the afternoon there was a
symposium on ‘Marxism and
Critical Theory’ with Trent
Schoyer and Dieter Nisgeld.

The topic for the symposium
in the evening was ‘Ra wls’

System of Social Justice: A
Critique from the Left’, the
main paper being given by
Gerald Doppelt and commented on by Larry Blum. On the
morning of the 30th, James
Lawler, Nanette Funk, Dick
Howard, and Ken Magill were
the panelists discussing ‘The
Role of a Party in Contemporary Politics’, and Wesley
Cooper read a paper on ‘Marx
on Justice’ in the afternoon.

The program was organized
by Joel Levinson, Kai Nielsen
and Bob Ware. The discussion
was generally cooperative,
comradely, and productive,
even though the participants
came from a variety of political positions. It showed that
there is still an active interest
in North America in doing
radical philosophy.

At the business meeting on
the 30th, arrangements were
made for the continuation of
the Radical Caucus in the
Eastern Division with stronger
lines of communication being
drawn with those who have
been organising in the Western
and Pacific Divisions. With
collections made at a couple
of the meefings and generous
contributions from those at the
business meeting sufficient
funds were collected for some
necessary travel funds and for

organizing and advertiSing expenses. The program committee for the next meetings of
the Radical Caucus in the
Eastern Division was agreed
on with the following members:

Roger Gottlieb, Philosophy,
Univ. of Connecticut
Sandra Nicholson, Educational
Foundations, SUNY at Albany
New York
Kai Nielsen, Philosophy, Univ.

of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
Canada
David Travers, Nasson
College, Springvale, Maine
The meetings will be held in
Boston on December 28 to 30,
1976. The members of the program committee are now calling for ideas, abstracts and
papers for possible inclusion
in the 1976 program. Those
who would like to be on the
mailing list for the program
later in the year should write
to Kai Nielson at the above
address.

Educational
«Reform» in France
French education is getting the
once-over from a government
committed, in its own words,
to ‘change in continuity’. Last
year there was the so- called
Haby reform of the schools,
presented, deferred, then rushed
through with some ambiguous
changes, then mysteriously held
back from application. This
year university programmes
are to be reformed. The preposterous rhetoric of reform in
France, plus the French acceptance of upheaval, may nevertheless announce more openly the
thoughts of governments and
ruling classes elSewhere in
Europe.

The government’s aim, to
adapt education to the needs of
work and to save money, shows
in two ways. First, stages and
possible channels that a student
may adopt are being multiplied.

The effect of this may well be
that students stop at an earlier
stage because it presents itself
as a stage. Thus in school education a new Common Programme Certificate granted at
fourteen years of age will be the
last diploma some students will
receive, thereafter sharing their
last years of education between
school and apprenticeship.

Similarly a Diploma of General
37

Buy the newest RP in printDownload the PDF