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52 Reviews



Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract, Oxford, Polity Press,
1988, 264pp., £27.50 hb, £8.95 pb.

In the good old days when education was not yet subordinated
to the market, and the study of politics was presumed to
include acquaintance with classical texts as well as a working
knowledge of computers, I used to teach social contract theory to first year politics students. It was always difficult to
disentangle history from theory, as students expressed their
stunned disbelief that any such contracts could ever have been
made. Future students lucky enough to have The Sexual Contract on their list of required reading may find themselves
even more incredulous. Carole Pateman argues that the original social contract was in reality a sexual-social contract, in
which men overthrew the rule of the fathers, but only to
institute a fraternal agreement which guaranteed men access
to women’s bodies. Drawing on Freud’s conjectural history of
the origins of social life, she argues that the historical defeat
of the fathers was necessary, not just to create civil freedom,
but to transfer their sex-right to the sons. Patriarchy was
transformed; a new fraternal order came into being that rewrote male sex-right in contractual terms.

Carole Pateman is of course crystal clear that she is dealing with story rather than history, but it is a story that helps
illuminate the premises of modem society, and in particular
what is implied in viewing society through contractarian eyes.

Her book is a sustained critique of contract, which cannot, she
argues, provide the theoretical basis for a free social order.

Implicit in contract theory is the notion of individuals as
owning their own persons and capacities, but owing nothing
to anyone else; the whole point of a contract is to make
possible an orderly (legitimate) access to someone else’s
body or services. This is one of the senses in which contract is
profoundly patriarchal- that it reflects a male quest for access
to women’s bodies and control over their reproductive powers, and conceives of all relationships on this pattern. The
other sense in which the sexual-social contract is patriarchal
is that it is a deal struck between men. In the classical theories
of contract, women are parties only to a marriage contract but
not to the social contract itself; no mere oversight, argues
Carole Pateman, but essential to the nature of the original
38 Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989

contract, which simultaneously established the conditions for
marriage and the conditions for civil freedom. Women are the
objects rather than the subjects of this process.

The Sexual Contract is considerably more than a contribution to the history of political theory. It takes issue with those
(including many feminists) who conflate patriarchy with its
traditional paternal form, and argues that modem patriarchy is
expressed through the principles of individualism and civil
contract, not in opposition to them. There has been a long
tradition of writing on women that views the .contemporary
world as a profound contradiction – a running battle between
the ‘gender-free’ principles of modem society and the patriarchal remnants that sustain masculine power. This was how
John Stuart Mill conceived of the subordination of women;
this has the underlying premise of the dual-systems approach
that talks of an interaction between a supposedly sex-blind
capitalism and patriarchy. Carole Pateman’ s arguments represent a decisive alternative to this: contract is not in tension
with patriarchy but the medium through which patriarchal
right is now upheld; nothing can be salvaged from the contractarian position; indeed the very concept of the individual
is imbued with patriarchal norms.

Much of the argument hinges around the ‘political fiction’

that our selves can be separated from our abilities and our
services, a fiction that legitimates both employment and marriage contracts. Yet both contracts submit one party to the
command of another, both ‘create social relations that endure
over time – social relations of subordination’. To describe either as an exchange’ – of services for support, or services for
money – suggests that we can deal in bits of ourselves while
retaining our selves intact. Pateman regards this as dangerous
nonsense; earlier socialists who talked of wage labour as
wage slavery were closer to the truth, for they made it clear
that subordination was the essence of the deal. Contracts that
involve property in persons always involve one party agreeing to obey if the other party agrees to protect; they are of their
nature unequal.

If this is true for employment, where the physical body is
a necessary adjunct of the employment contract, but not really
what the employer is interested in, then it is a fortiori true for
marriage, and overwhelmingly so for prostitution. Those

feminists – primarily in the United States – who have pursued
visions of a non-sexist marriage contract, are therefore heading off course. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would
make marriage a mere contract of sexual use, and this, believes Pateman, ‘would mark the political defeat of women as
women’. The language of contract allows women no alternative but to turn themselves into replicas of men; it cannot
provide the basis for sexual equality or freedom.

In similar vein she considers what is wrong with prostitution. One route travelled by feminists is to say that women get
forced into prostitution by economic necessity, and/or that
once they are in this line of work, they operate at a disadvantage in securing fair conditions of work. By implication, the
problem would be solved if first, we had a more equal labour
market with a wider range of opportunities for women so that
prostitutes were freely choosing this as the kind of work they
wished to do; and second, those choosing prostitution had the
same rights to trade union and legal protection as other workers. Remove the inequalities of entry and the inequalities in
the conditions of employment, and no problem. What gets left
out, Pateman rightly argues, is the defining characteristic of
prostitution, which is that women enter into a contract which
gives men a ‘right’ of command over their bodies. The effect
of the contract is the subordination – if for a limited time – of
a woman and her body to a man. Can we seriously say that the
requirements for equality are satisfied as long as the woman
had equal standing when she makes the contract? Isn’t there
something wrong with contract itself!

The argument adds theoretical weight to reservations
feminists have long expressed over approaches that seek to
dissolve the differences between men and women, and illuminates the kind of problems that arise when we try to think of
sexual equality in terms of equalising the basis for fair deals.

If sexual difference is already inscribed in the apparently
gender-neutral language of modem society, then we cannot
see the pursuit of equality in terms of making this language
consistent. We cannot just strip away our differences till we
emerge as the supposedly ‘abstract’, but in reality male,
individuals of liberal thinking; we must abandon ‘the masculine, unitary individual to make space for two figures: one
masculine, one feminine’. Sexual difference has to be acknowledged not denied if we are to advance towards sexual

Much of this I find extremely powerful and convincing.

But some of it I find overstated, and my doubts hark back to
the discussions I used to have with my students over the
relationship between theory and history. It is not that I seek
documentation of the events of the primal scene or the original contract; I fully support the argument set out in the final
chapter that the political fictions through which we represent
ourselves shape our visions of freedom or equality, and can
deny a language to women. But The Sexual Contract sometimes reads as if the stories create the reality, and tends to treat
patterns of social or economic change as largely irrelevant to
the founding assumptions. Thus the marriage contract is defined through the woman’s duty to serve her husband and the
man’s duty to support his wife, and carries with it extensive
patriarchal powers. The fact that these powers have been
substantially reduced over the last century, or that many
husbands would not dream of using the full range of rights
that remain, is not, Carole Pateman believes, the point, for it
‘is to confuse particular examples of married couples with the
institution of marriage’. But surely some changes will be to
the point? No law court in the country would now try to
enforce the return of an unwilling wife to a brutal husband,
and it is surely conceivable that legal systems will be re-

formed to acknowledge the possibility of rape within marriage. What is left then of the notion that marriage creates a
‘right’ of access to a woman’s body? One might say that at
this point there is no contract of marriage, for a contract that
never binds you to do things you would prefer not to do is
arguably not a contract. From the perspective of The Sexual
Contract this would surely be an event of astounding importance, for the argument rests on the centrality of contract in
the way patriarchy is sustained. But important as the admission of rape in marriage would be to many wives” it would not
transform our world.

I am not in other words sure what to make of the status of
the arguments which seem to claim for contract such a central,
defining role. The great strength of the book lies in the case it
develops against socialist or feminist deployment of contractarian arguments, a case that it makes with superb skill, and to
my mind complete success. It is I think less successful in
setting out the sexual-social contract as the founding principle
of modem society, for in challenging those who have viewed
patriarchy as the opposite of contract, it tends to understate
the possibility of contradiction, tensions, inconsistencies in
the modem world view. This puts a tremendous strain on the

In the history of socialist and feminist critiques of liberalism, two broad patterns have emerged. We can treat liberalism as a tradition that has refused to accept the logic of its own
argument, a tradition that has remained inconsistently wedded to class or male power, despite the emancipatory implications of its own notions of equality and the free individual.

From this perspective, we can say that liberalism is at war
with itself, and can trace the effects of its internal contradictions in subsequent patterns of social change. Or we can say
that liberalism is founded on principles of class and patriarchal power, and that what might seem like paradoxes within it
(like the paradox that women are ‘individual’ enough to enter
a marriage contract but not ‘individual’ enough to enter the
social one) merely confirm what liberalism is about. From
this perspective there will also be changes, but they will be
consolidations of the basic principles which remain depressingly enclosed within its terms.

The Sexual Contract is the most impressive example of
Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989 39

this second approach, and like all of Carole Pateman’ s work,
a highly original and thought-provoking contribution to political theory. It almost convinces me – but not quite – that
nothing can be salvaged from the liberal tradition. It leaves us
with a central question. Is there a version of the ‘individual’

that we can rescue from this sorry history, a version that
serves men and women alike? Or is the individual, as Carole

Pateman suggests, a patriarchal category, inseparable from
the principles of contract, a subversion of the feminist dream?

At a time when many socialists are re-appraising and reclaiming the concept of the individual, The Sexual Contract
should be required reading for all.

Anne Philllps

Richard Dien Winfield, The Just Economy, New York and
London: Routledge, 1988, 252pp., £25 hb
The issue at the heart of this densely written and challenging
book may be formulated as follows: Is it appropriate to make
normative judgements concerning the economy and economic
relations, and if so, what form should the just economy take,
and what principles should we use in organizing it? Adopting
what he identifies as an Hegelian approach, Winfield answers
the first of these questions affirmatively, and uses Hegel’s
account of freedom to provide the focus for his response to the
second. The discussion falls into two parts: in Part I Winfield
examines why economic issues have often fallen outside
ethical theory, and why the notion of ‘the just economy’ has
proved problematic for many thinkers; in Part 11 he suggests
that an Hegelian approach may help solve many of the difficulties faced by other theories, and uses it to discuss the
question of economic justice in a novel way.

In general, Win field argues, the reason why the organization of the economy has been excluded from ethical consideration is that economic activity has been concevied in either
naturalistic or mono logical terms. Conceived naturalistically,
the economy is taken to be determined by our natural needs
and inclinations, and is thereby reduced to a sphere of necessity, rendering it normatively neutral; and conceived monologically, economic activity merely concerns a single agent,
and does not involve the kind of interaction between individuals which brings in the issue of respective economic rights
and duties, as a result of which normative issues arise. His
aim, in the first part of the book, is to illustrate how such
naturalistic and monological conceptions have made it hard to
offer a consistent normative approach to the structure of the
economy, by showing how a number of thinkers have failed to
do just that.

Winfield begins by examining how prescriptive economics has been rejected by the two main types of practical
philosophy: what he calls the ‘praxis theory’ initiated by Plato
and Aristotle, and the social contract theory of Hobbes, Locke,
Rousseau and Kant. Praxis theory excludes the economy from
the domain of justice by attaching no ethical value to economic behaviour: society is good if it enables man to lead the
best life, but this life does not include the pursuit of particular
wants and needs, so that the normative assessment of a given
social organization is confined to the level of the state, and
does not extend to the nature of the economy. Social contract
theory also ‘touches on economic affairs only extrinsically’,
being basically monological and naturalistic in outlook. Thus,
Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau treat labour as the act of an individual upon nature, and only the legal question of owner40 Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989

ship falls into the domain of justice; this means that all
reference to economic need and satisfaction lies outside civil
society, and their picture of the just state. Winfield treats Kant
as the logical culmination of this tradition of practical philosophy, in that he took economic principles to be hypothetical rather than categorical imperatives, excluding them from
the laws of freedom, and thus from his Kingdom of Ends. The
upshot (according to Winfield) is that neither praxis theory
nor social contract theory offer any normative principles on
which to discuss the workings of the economy, or any criteria
to which ajust economy must conform.

From these theories, in which the notion of economic
justice can play no part, Winfield then moves on to an assessment of those political economists – like Fichte, Rawls and
Marx – who prime facie attempt to treat the economy as a
sphere of justice. Winfield claims, however, that the work of
these theorists is flawed, in so far as they ‘attempt to conceive
an intrinsically just economy with principles borrowed from
praxis or liberal theory’. Thus Fichte and Rawls are condemned on the grounds that, although they introduce questions of economic practice and distribution into the terms of
their contract theory, their principles of justice are ad hoc and
not defensible against critics (like Nozick) who reject them as
inconsistent with the presumptions of the social contract
scheme. Likewise, the young Marx is criticised for failing to
transcend ‘the natural and monological terms of praxis and
liberal thought’, while his later work is said to be ‘marred by

his appeal to natural factors and history, his failure to supply with this doctrine of economic freedom.

Winfield’s goal is therefore to defend a broadly Rawlsian
an independent theory of justice, and his inability to systematically establish the universality of economic categories or conception of the nature of the just economy, using a principle
locate the economy in relation to other institutions’; as a of economic freedom he claims to have found in Hegel:

result, Winiield claims, he could not construct a theory of namely, the freedom of satisfying personally chosen needs
capital that was normatively relevant, and so failed to provide with goods acquired through exchange with others. Despite
the ingenuity and originality of Win field’s strategy, two quesa satisfactory account of economic justice.

After this (admittedly tendentious) analysis of how and tions arise: on the one hand, how far is he justified in calling
why no theorist mentioned so far has succeeded in construct- his approach Hegelian, and on the other, how satisfactory is
ing a prescriptive economics, we now move on to Part 11 of the this principle of economic freedom as a basis for a theory of
book, in which Winfield tries to show how Hegel alone offers the just economy? In response to the first question, I would
the sort of practical philosophy in which an intelligible ac- say that, while Winfield’s position might be Hegelian in
count of the just economy can have a part. Winfield argues as
follows: Beginning his social theory with the claim that ‘the
system of right is the realm of freedom made actual’ (P hilosophyofRight, section 4), Hegel takes freedom to be endemic in
any just social structure; but the will cannot achieve this
freedom by acting upon nature or in isolation, but only by
interacting with others, in pursuit of freely chosen ends. Now,
in treating economic relations as non-natural and intersubjective, Winfield suggests that Hegel took economic exchange as
carried on in civil society to be free in exactly this sense, in so
far as commodity relations involve ‘the respected freedom to
satisfy needs of one’s own choosing in reciprocity with others’. Thus, Winfield argues, Hegel was able to make economic freedom the central principle in his account of civil
society, for only that economy which respects the individual’s
freedom to acquire personally chosen goods in exchange with
others can be called just.

In the remainder of the book, Winfield draws out certain
consequences of Hegel’s conception of economic freedom,
and elaborates it. Using Hegel’ s account of free economic
exchange as a criterion, he offers a defence of the major
features of the market economy on normative grounds. First,
he argues, the exchange value of commodities should be
determined by ‘the mutual decision of the traders involved’,
and not fixed by any natural or intrinsic qualities; and he
rejects Marx’ s labour theory of value as unjust, because it
‘automatically violates the economic rights of commodity
owners to choose their market needs and trade their property
as they see fit’. Secondly, in opposition to Marx’ s theory of
exploitation, he maintains that capital’s realization of profit is
just, as it ‘need [not] involve any curtailment of the legitimate
freedom of commodity interaction’. Thirdly, Winfield de- inspiration, it is hardly Hegelian in spirit, for Hegel’s aim was
fends the existence of classes~ as ‘a classless society cannot be to transcend the purely economic freedom of which Winfield
established without depriving everyone of their personal eco- makes so much, and to reach a higher political freedom
nomic freedom to choose their own needs and to decide beyond the particular ends of ‘the system of needs’; in this
independently what activity they will engage in to satisfy respect, of course, Hegel is closer to the tradition begun by
them in conjunction with others’. Nonetheless, Winfield ac- Plato and Aristotle than Winfield allows. As far as the second
cepts that, while enshrining freedom in these respects, ‘the (doubtless more important) question goes, Winfield’ s posijustice of the market economy has an endemic limit’, and tion rests on the claim that commodity relations and the
must be regulated accordingly. He therefore attempts to show exchange of goods have a normative validity, as an exercise
how the right to economic freedom is not infringed by a of freedom in reciprocity with others, and that it is in virtue of
degree of public intervention, but rather requires it, if all its respect for such activities that the market economy is just.

individuals are to be able to exercise their right to act freely in This claim seems to me to be mistaken, however: commodity
the market place. In general, as he admits, the types of inter- exchange is not a necessary feature of any just economic
vention Winfield allows are similar to those recommended by system, as commodity exchange does not possess the overridRawls-namely, the curtailing of monopolies and inefficient ing normative value that Winfield requires of it. Free ecopricing, the maintenance of reasonably full employment, the nomic activity is simply a feature of the market economy as
establishment of a certain minimum standard of living, and such; and I remain unconvinced by the supposedly Hegelian
the just distribution of wealth; but, he emphasises, this inter- . arguments he uses to elevate it into a fundamental principle of
vention receives its proper justification from the Hegelian prescriptive economics. If this is accepted, then Winfield’s
doctrine of interactive economic freedom, rather than the whole normative defence of the market economy becomes
latter’s social contract principles. Finally, Winfield argues problematic.

that, although the market economy cannot eliminate all
wrong, injustice should be righted in a way that is consistent Robert Stern
Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989 41

William E. Connolly, Political Theory and Modernity,
Oxford, Blackwell, 1988, 196pp., £22.50 hb.

William Connolly claims that this book was written in ‘troubled times’. The sense of historical crisis which informs the
text has persuaded its author to stand back a long way from
current modes of political discourse, and to attempt to call
into question their own presuppositions. Something has
clearly unsettled Connolly. Quite what has unsettled him I
wouldn’t know, but this is surely a familiar contemporary
feeling to those who have, for example, come into contact
with any of those writers generally deemed to contribute to
the postmodern interrogation of modernity. Connolly does
not subscribe to the term ‘postmodernity’, at least in its guise
as a move beyond modernity (and here he is in agreement with
Zygmunt Bauman in Legislators and Interpreters). Connolly
sees ‘postmodernism’ as ‘one of the paradigmatic ways of
being modem’ in the sense in which he aruges that ‘in modernity, modernization is always under way’ and postmodernism
is just another form of modernisation. Unwilling to claim any
substantial originality for postmodernity, then, Connolly prefers to use the less obtrusive term ‘late-modem’.

If the sense of destabilisation which has prompted this
reading is familiar, then so is the worry at leaving behind (if
only temporarily) the frames of reference and consequent
prescriptions which typically inform the modem project. ‘If
one seeks to rethink radically dominant theories of self,’

writes Connolly, ‘one is called into court for failing to live up
to established theories of freedom and responsibility.’ Similarly, it becomes hard to find firm ground from which to propound universal standards of equality and justice. Connolly’s
wish to ‘lift thought to the conditions and prospects of latemodernity’ finds him hard-pushed to give prescriptive content to these projects, and also forces him to question the
unquestioned status of the projects themselves.

In many disciplines postmodernity (or late-modernity) has
already made itself felt, but I believe this is the first book
about it by a political theorist. One of Connolly’s principal
contentions is that a late-modem perspective allows similarities to emerge between thinkers who have always seemed
disparate. Even more interesting and potentially explosive is
Connolly’s contention that this may allow us to see how
certain ‘elements of life are subordinated in modem political
discourse’. Connolly argues that modernity, ‘in its optimistic
moments … defines itself by contrast to earlier periods which
are darker, more superstitious, less free, less rational, less
productive, less civilised, less comfortable, less democratic,
less respectful of the individual, less scientific and less developed technically than it is at its best’ . Modernity thus seeks to
liberate, but it seeks to liberate in its own terms. With the help
of the patriarchical discourse which nourishes it, it sets up
polarities (rationaVirrational; male/female; science/myth)
which are then cast in hierarchies of value, of good/bad.

Hence Connolly’s assertion that some elements of life are
subordinated in modem political discourse.

Connolly’s strategy is to subject Hobbes, Rousseau and
Hegel (centrally) and Sade and Marx (less so) to interrogation
by Nietzsche. Put briefly, modernity’s task has been to respond to the ‘death of God’ ,an event which killed the Being
that ‘could ground an entire way of life in common injunc-

42 Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989

tions and assurances’. Modernity’s response has not been to
abandon the terrain which God provided, but to reconstruct it.

Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx all provide different
forms of reconstruction – different ‘solutions to homesickness’. The common themes of their enterprise, though, are a
reliance on the notion of the transparency of self (,the last
slumbering outpost of the view that the world is a design’), a
will to mastery and universalisation, and a belief in Truth.

Moreover, the failure of their programmes results not in the
abandonment of the presuppositions which inform them, but
in the ever more aggressive exclusion of ‘that which does not
fit’. Nietzsche makes us aware, for example, that ‘in a world
without a divine designer knowing is not a correspondence
but an imposition of form upon the objects of knowledge’.

Again, a certain sort of reason is called into question: ‘Human
life is paradoxical at its core, while modem reason, penetrating into new corners of life, strives to eliminate every paradox. This is a dangerous combination, with repressive potentialities.’ Imposition of standards and the repression of alterity thus become the common themes informing the work of
Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx – themes which postmodernity seeks to uncover in modernity.

In Nietzsche, Connolly discovers an alternative. This
‘counsels us to come to terms with difference and to seek
ways to enable difference to be. It is an ethic of letting be. It
calls into question the project of perfecting mastery of the
world on the grounds that, given resistances built into the
order of things, the project would reduce everything to a
straitjacket while pursuing an illusory goal.’ As I understand
it, this is a typically postmodern cri de coeur whose genealogy (from Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment through Foucault’s Discipline and Punish to Lyotard’s
The Postmodern Condition) is now pretty familiar. The novelty lies not only in William Connolly so clearly placing
himself in that line of descent but also in the manner in which
he arrives at his conclusions. Connolly prefaces this brave
book by suggesting that, ‘to modify the terms of interrogation
is to move the boundaries of political thought.’ He has done
just that, and the strategic adoption of this late-modem perspective would do much to enliven any teachers of political
theory who think that either they, their students or their
courses are in need of agitation. I hope that Connolly’s book
will be widely read.

Andy Dobson





Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, Volume Ill, London:

University of Chicago Press, 1988, 355pp., £23.95 hb.

Graham McCann, Marilyn Monroe, Oxford, Polity Press,
1988, 241pp., £7.95 pb.

Paul Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative is one of the most imposing works of constructive philosophical theory to appear
since the war. Its three volumes came out in French between
1983 and 1985, and all of them are now available in English.

The first volumes began with an interpretation of
Augustine’s Confessions, which led to the conclusion that the
experience of time is intrinsically bewildering or ‘aporetic’.

This was followed by a presentation of Aristotle’s Poetics
which argued that narrative or ’emplotment’ is the appropriate response to these ‘aporias of the experience of time’.

Augustine, in other words, was called as a witness for the
‘phenomenological’ perspective on time, based on the subjective ‘present’; Aristotle, for the ‘cosmological’ one, based on
the objective ‘instant’. Ricoeur’s next task was to illustrate,
through detailed investigations of the ‘configuration’ of time
in historical and fictional narratives, that both of these apparently contradictory approaches are correct. The resulting
theme was that ‘time becomes human time to the extent that it
is organised after the manner of a narrative,’ and that ‘narrative is meaningful to the extent that it portrays the features of
temporal experience.’

In this final volume Ricoeur draws these inquiries together
in an investigation of the processes of ‘refiguration’ which
constitute ‘human time’. With the help of Hussed, Kant,
Heidegger and Hegel he adds two further items to his
‘aporetics of time’. The first concerns the ‘totalisation’ in
virtue of which it is impossible not to regard the dimensions
of past, present and future as stages of a unique all-inclusive
time, which is ‘always spoken of in the singular’ , but equally
impossible to conceive of time as a completed totality. The
second is that ultimately time is ‘inscrutable’ or ‘unrepresentable’, so that any hope (such as he himself might have
been suspected of harbouring) of ‘saturating the aporetics of
time with a poetics of narrative’ has, eventually, to be abandoned.

The spirit of the book is stoical. Ricoeur believes that the
‘henneneutics of suspicion’ has exposed the ‘hypocrisy and
naivety’ of that old philosophical fiction, ‘the egotistical and
narcissistic ego’. But he salvages a nuanced account of personal identity, as embedded in the social heritage of stories;
for, he argues, ‘life itself’ is just ‘a cloth woven of stories
told.’ So we are left with a ‘network of interweaving perspecti ves of the expectation of the future, the reception of the past,
and the experience of the present’, but bereft of the restful
solace of a Hegelian totality. We must give up Hegel, says
Ricoeur; but this itself is the kind of world-historical tragedy
which only Hegelians can understand. It is a personal sadness
too, since those who ‘have been seduced by the power of
Hegel’s thought,’ he says, will experience the end of Hegelianism as ‘a wound, a wound that, unlike those that affect the
absolute spirit, will not be healed.’ In welcome contrast to
those who work themselves into a dare-devil ecstasy over the
‘end of modernity’, Ricoeur believes that the event requires
‘the courage of the work of mourning’. The author of Time
and Narrative has the courage.

Graham McCann’s Marilyn M onroe draws on a wide range of
theoretical resources. Walter Benjamin is used to make the
point that in film and photography something of a performance or gesture and its historical context is lost, both to the
audience and to the performer. Star performers in film are cut
off from their personal biography by the film image, which
interposes and dehistorices, and a sense of disenchantment, of
the inauthenticity of the filmic representation ensues.

McCann’s other tack is to pursue Marilyn Monroe’s identity
through previous biography and other texts about her; the
message here is that ‘there is no body in the library’, only a
series of texts. It is suggested, however, (via Benjamin) that
the truth of Marilyn Monroe’s subjectivity can be glimpsed
through the folds or dislocations in the narrative of her career.

The text oscillates uncertainly between these two points of
theoretical reference.

Jonathan Ree

Although McCann emphasises the distance between
Monroe and her stereotypical film roles he senses her immediacy there and tends to read her through them. He nonetheless remains concerned with his subject’s ambiguity throughout the book – he is held or ‘fascinated’ by it.

For McCann ambiguity is loss of the authentic. Indeed, the
whole text is pervaded by Benjaminesque disenchantment;
popular culture is seen in terms of Bellow’s Moronic Inferno,
modem life is said to suffer ‘the disintegration of coherent
experience’ – which is what makes Monroe’s image ‘at once
so touching and so tacky’. Ironically enough, it is precisely
through what the book describes as ‘the machine-made mediocrity of commercialised culture’ that its subject celebrates
her individuality.

McCann prefaces his chapters with photo portraits of
Monroe and, through Barthes’ work on the photograph, these
stills achieve a significance greater than the 30 film performances. The beguiling sense of immediacy which Barthes noted
in the photographic image appears crucial to the quest for
Radical Philosophy 52, Summ.. 1989 43

Monroe-the-historical-subject. Unfortunately, in the search
for the ‘real’ Monroe, Benjamin’ s idea of the loss of the authentic in film becomes elided with McCann’ s own sense of
personal loss, which is rehearsed in terms of a preoccupation
with Monroe’s death. Indeed, the narrative is structured by
the idea of an impending doom. It is as if Monroe’ s negotiation of the contradictions and hiatuses of gender stereotyping
which provide the space where she generates her own image
cannot, ultimately, be allowed because it makes her inaccessible to the narcissistic requirements of patriarchy. The ‘incommunicability’ of desire which the author senses here is in
fact often characteristic of male writing about women depicted as strikingly attractive (to men). She is a figure who
cannot give, doesn’t know how to receive and consequently
causes hurt to men. McCann frames Miller’s marriage to
Monroe in this way. Anthony Powell’s vamp figure, Pamela
Flitton, is another example. She, like Monroe, is the cause of
consternation in her men, who cannot satisfy her. Like
Monroe she meets a sticky end.

Some moral tale of this sort would appear to be inscribed
in the ‘loss/doom’ problematic underlying McCann’s book.

The semblance of Monroe the author produces works against
this grain, showing her not as a passive or pathetic victim of
the Hollywood star machine but as someone capable of using
the system to assert her autonomy within it, and perhaps
towards the end, breaking with it.

consideration simply by being what they are, where they are
and interacting with other items the way they do’. Along the
way he dismisses two strategies which he attributes to deep
ecological theorists, and which he characterises as ‘idealism’

and ‘various kinds of global holism’, and makes some pertinent remarks about the problematic conclusions which such
theorists have drawn concerning the implications of scientific

Brennan’s comments about scientific ecology are essential reading, although I think he pushes thinkers like Fritjof
Capra too far. Brennan asks: ‘Is the duality of objective and
subjective false?’ and suggests that ‘so far, nothing said about
scientific ecology seems to suggest that the duality in question needs to be abandoned’. I had always thought that Capra’s questioning of the duality has more to do with his work
as a physicist than as a student of ecology. Finally, the distance between Brennan and the global holists whom he criticises seems to decrease as the book progresses.

But these are small points. Andrew Brennan has written
this book because ‘if it makes sense to think about worth and
value in human life, then it makes sense to worry about the
emptiness, triviality and banality of life in the consumer
society.’ His work ought to be read in that context, even if his
dispassionate philosophical style of claim and counter-example ultimately puts out the fire of his preface.

Andy Dobson

Howard Feather

Andrew Brennan, Thinking About Nature: an investigation of
nature, value and ecology, London, Routledge, 1988, 221pp.,
This book is a valuable contribution to the often arcane, but
currently extremely important, debate concerning the relationship between human beings and the non-human natural
world. With environmentalism presently fashionable, it’s as
well to be made to pause to consider just why we should
concern ourselves with making our peace with the environment. The loudest noises undoubtedly come from those who
argue that a truce should be called in the interest of human
beings. The ozone hole will increase skin cancer, deforestation alters the climate adversely (for us), and global warming
will result in melted ice-caps and the possible flooding of
Downing Street. Little wonder that – along with the Tory
cabinet – we’re all environmentalists now.

Quieter voices have been arguing for some time, however,
that these anthropocentric reasons for care for the environment are at least as much a part of the problem as they are a
solution: this attitude has underpinned the dominant view of
the environment as a resource, rather than as having intrinsic
value. The work of these theorists has been aimed at shifting
the onus of justification from those who want to interfere with
it. This attitude is often referred to (after a distinction first
pointed out by Arne Naess in 1973) as ‘deep ecology’, to
distinguish it from its ‘shallow’, or anthropocentric, counterpart.

As I understand it, Andrew Brennan’ s book is an attempt
to arrive at a deep ecological position without subscribing to
the kind of metaphysics usually deployed by deep ecological
thinkers. His conclusion is that ‘objects, systems, even the
land forms around me deserve my respect, deserve ethical
44 Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989

H. Tudor and J. M. Tudor (eds.), Marxism and Social Democracy: The Revisionist Debate, 1896-1898, Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press, 1988, xii + 384pp., £30 hb.

David Forgacs (ed.), A Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings
1916-1935, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1988, 447pp.,
£20 hb, £8.95 pb.

Gramsci and Bernstein – beauty and the beast. ‘New Times’

or ‘New Revisionism’, current political debates on the left
continue to be structured by reference to a past which grows
more mythic by the day. Each of these two books should help,
in its own way, towards a more informed discussion of the
relationship of these debates to the history to which they
remain, despite themselves, in thrall.

Marxism and Social Democracy is a translation of a selection of the main contributions to the ‘first phase’ of the
revisionist debate within the German Social Democratic Party
in the closing decade of the last century: from Bernstein’ s
early exchanges on colonialism with the English Marxist
Belfort Bax, through Parvus’s and Luxemburg’s critiques
(and Bernstein’s defence) of his growing ‘revisionism’, to the
debate on the press at the Stuttgart Conference of October
1898, at which the party leadership joined the radicals in
repudiating Bernstein’s position. It opens with a substantial,
scene-setting introduction by the editors, contextualising and
analysing the debate. And whilst the book is obviously primarily directed towards an academic audience, it should be of
interest to anyone who is concerned, in any detail, with the
history of the European socialist movement.

A number of things stand out. One is the level and volume
of theoretical debate in the party press (Sozialdemokrat, Neue
Zeit, Justice, Vorwarts, etc.). Another is the peculiar ambiguity of Bern stein ‘s arguments. Was he, for example, as he
himself clearly believed, at least to begin with, contesting
what was essentially the same theoretical and political ground
as his opponents? Or was he always, as the editors suggest in
their introduction, ‘advocating a completely different point of
view’? The instability and lack of clarity in Bernstein’s position during this period makes it hard to tell. Bebel probably
comes closest when he castigates him for undergoing a fundamental change of views every time he is exposed to a new set
of influences. It is here, perhaps, as much as in the theoretical
content of the debate itself, that the current political relevance
of these exchanges lies.

It is ironic, in this respect, that the theoretical meaning of
Bernstein’s position should have become so unequivocally
fixed in the historical consciousness of the left, whilst battles
continue over the Gramscian heritage. For there can be little
doubt, on inspection of his writings, of the main line of
Gramsci’s thought. A Gramsci Reader collects into one volume a selection of the most important pieces from the four
volumes of Gramsci’s work already published in English by
Lawrance and Wishart, along with a handful of short, previously untranslated pieces. Arranged chronologically, the text
is sub-divided into fourteen thematically defined sections,
each with a brief editorial introduction. The bulk of the
material is drawn from the existing Selections From the
Prison Notebooks, but it is rearranged. The glossary of key
terms at the back will be particularly useful to those struggling with Gramsci’ s work for the first time.

The editorial material wears its scholarship lightly, and is
free of the more dubious political interpretations to which
Gramsci’s work has recently been subjected in England. The

book should serve as a convenient teaching text, since it
presents a representative range of material which would otherwise be difficult to muster. The collection is especially
valuable for the way in which, by showing the development of
Gramsci’s thought, it places it firmly in the context of its
place and time.

Peter Osborne

Richard Bernstein, Philosophical Profiles, Essays in a Pragmatic Mode, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986, xii + 313pp.,
£19.50 hb, £7.95 pb.

In the introduction to this provocative collection of essays,
Richard Bernstein tells us of the ‘sense of scandal and even
moral outrage’ felt by the ‘analytic establishment’ at the
popUlarity of Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of
Nature and Alasdair MacIntyre’ s After Virtue. This he contrasts with the welcome given by younger and more radical
philosophers and theorists in adjacent disciplines both to their
thesis and to their recognition of the significance of the works
of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Habermas, Gadamer, Derrida and other continental philosophers. The source of this
concern Bernstein considers to be that these two ‘insiders’,
like himself, were supping with the devil, and were trying to
deconstruct the ‘foundational’ assumptions of the CartesianLockean-Kantian tradition.

‘Anti-foundational’ philosophy, as Bernstein calls his own
position, recognises the inevitability of philosophy spawning
a complex plurality of contending paradigms about its methods, patterns and tasks, and of incommensurability in their
relationships. His uncomfortable position leads him to search
for a ‘post philosophical philosophy’ . In the first essay, Bernstein opts for the notion of philosophy as conversation, originally made famous by Michael Oakeshott in 1959. This apparently radical approach emerges from a critical dialogue
with Hegel and Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Wittgenstein, Habermas, Arendt, Rorty, MacIntyre, Derrida, Dewey,
James and Pierce. Bernstein’s own position is set out in his
Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989 45

The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory (1979) and
Beyond Objectivism and Relativism (1984), and in this collection we can observe the history of the critical engagements
which have focus sed his views.

Much of Bernstein’ s optimism for a new syncrety seems to
rest on the claim that if only thinkers would apply their own
logics to themselves and make explicit what is implicit in
their arguments then agreement would follow. Marcuse’ s
negative dialectics are considered to imply a positive philosophy, Heidegger’s anti-humanism conceals a new humanism,
Gadamer turns out to concede much more to Habermas than
he admits and vice versa, Rorty to be more deeply touched by
what he is attacking than he realizes.

While rejecting objective foundations Bernstein argues
that we can rationally adjudicate between different claims and
while nailing his flag to the contextual, historical, heremeneutic mast he sometimes tries to speak across generations and
cultures as if the conversation were a contemporary debate.

Bernstein writes with great clarity and precision; he is
insightful and fairminded and, somewhat ironically, he contributes a great deal to the tradition that is modern philosophy.

John Glbblns

Christina Howells, Sartre: The Necessity of Freedom, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988, 285pp., £30 hb.

Christina Howell’ s intentions in this book are at least twofold: to provide us with a survey of the whole of Sartre’ s work
(literature, philosophy and political reflections) and to show
that the distance between his thought and that of his poststructuralist critics is not as great as is generally believed. In
terms of the first intention the book’ is highly successful.

Howells provides us with a sustained and original perspective
on Sartre which from now on will have to be read alongside
longer-serving interpretations such as Aronson’s lean-Paul
Sartre: Philosophy in the World. She has picked up where she
left off in Sartre’s Theory of Literature and added a philosophical dimension which allows her to challenge the Structuralist and Post-Structuralist ‘cacophony of polemical criticism to which Sartre’ s views have been subjected’. At this
point, I think, the twin intentions referred to above come into
conflict: the breadth of the study precludes the depth of
analysis required for successful blunting of the Derridean (for
example) challenge. Howells’ lucid interpretation of Sartre’s
intentions in the Critique of Dialectical Reason (‘is there a
Truth of man?’) does not wholly convince me that Sartre’s
answers to his own questions were not, respectively, ‘Yes’

and ‘Everything’. Sartre was once asked, ‘Aren’t the people
you fully respect the ones who have a “thirst for the absolute” ,
as they used to say in the nineteenth century?’. He replied:

‘Yes, certainly: the ones who want everything. That’s what I
wanted myself!’. My own feeling is that the spirit of Sartre’s
work is more totalising than Christina Howells allows, and
that in this context his reading of Marx and Alexandre Kojeve
left him a legacy not so easily neutralised. It is this spirit
which – despite his description of the ‘decentred subject’, so
persuasively argued by Howells – consistently separates him
from Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard.

M. c. Taylor (ed.),Deconstruction in Context, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986, 42Opp., £35.95 hb., £13.50

Very favourably reviewed when it first appeared in the United
States in 1986, Mark Taylor’s edited collection of writings
associated with Deconstruction has only just become available in Britain and Europe owing to rights problems. Taylor
has selected texts from Kant, Hegel, Kojeve, Husserl,
Saussure, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger,
Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Bataille, Blanchot and Derrida and prefaced them with an introduction described by Derrida as ‘remarkable’. Both the introduction and the selected
texts are designed to show that at least since Hegel ‘the
Western philosophical project … of overcoming plurality and
establishing unity by reducing the many to the one’ has been
haunted by an uncomfortable ‘excess’ which refuses to be
reduced. ‘For Bataille,’ writes Taylor, ‘the history of Western
theology and philosophy, of which Hegel is the culmination,
represents so many efforts to exclude the negative in its
multiple guises. What Hegel cannot tolerate is senseless sacrifice, meaningless loss, and profitless expenditure. Constructed upon the religious belief in crucifixion and resurrection, Hegel’ s dialectic works by transforming loss into gain.

Since this dialectical process is intended to be all-encompassing, there is supposed to be nothing left out, no lingering
remainder – nothing desoeuvre, no hors d’ oeuvre. The closure
of absolute knowledge overcomes time by a-mortizing death
itself.’ As for Bataille, so for post-modernity in general:

modernity has sought to unify at the cost of suppressing
heterogeneity. Taylor’s collection tells this story by identifying a dominant Western philosophical project (Descartes,
Kant, Hegel, Hussed) which has always been called into
question by subordinate voices (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche),
whose contemporary representatives (Bataille, Blanchot,
Derrida) appear likely to constitute a new orthodoxy. In this
sense post-structuralism provides us with an alternative vantage point from which to view the history of Western philosophy, and reveals agendas which otherwise remain hidden.

Deconstruction in Context shows a route to that vantage

Andy Dobson

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Andy Dobson
46 Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989


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First published in French in 1968, Jacques D’Hondt’s Hegel
In His Time (translated by John Burbidge, with Nelson Roland and J udith Lavasseur, Peterborough, Ontario, Broadview
Press, 1988, xiv + 224pp.) aims to help those who wish to
claim Hegel for the left by exploding the myth that when in
Berlin between 1818 and 1831 he simply acted as a supporter
of the oppressive Prussian regime. D’Hondt begins by examining the difficulties Hegel faced in securing his academic
position there in 1818, and how he owed it not to the forces of
reaction, but to the more enlightened reformers, like Hardenberg, Altenstein and Schulze. He then considers Hegel’s relation to the progressive elements in Prussian society at the
time, and argues that, in spite of some appearances to the
contrary, many factors point to Hegel’s sympathy with those
who worked for change. Finally, D’Hondt considers the
judgement on Hegel offered by Marx and Engels, pointing out
that neither made the mistake of simply treating him as a
reactionary; however, he does suggest that, had Marx raised
the question ‘of whether Hegel in his own times was progres-

sive or conservative’, he might have come to acknowledge the
latter’s status as ‘a progressive reformer’. This translation of
D’Hondt’s classic study is very much to be welcomed; Burbidge and his associates have done an excellent job in preserving the lively and impassioned style of the original, conveying
in full the conviction with which D’Hondt puts his case for the

Exceedingly Nietzsche, edited by David Farrell Krell and
David Wood (London, Routledge, 1988, 179pp., £22.50 hb) is
the first book in a new series called ‘Warwick Studies in
Philosophy and Literature’. Its theme is the attempt to get
outside metaphysics, and the object of discussion is Heidegger’s Nietzsche, and Deleuze’ s, Derrida’ s, and Foucault’ s,
rather than Nietzsche’ s. The papers (by Alison Ainley, Peter
Dews, Michel Haar, Alphonso Lingis, David Pollard, John
Sallis, Alan D. Schrift, Hugh Tomlinson, and the editors)
range in style from straightforward summary and critique to
clever and self-conscious performance. Except for the suffocating coyness of the title, the book is an attractive sampler of
contemporary Nietzsche interpretation.

In The Cunning of Reason (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987, 222pp., £25 hb, £8.95 pb), Martin Hollis sets
out to challenge the methodological assumptions of microeconomic theorists. Through a discussion of rational
choice theory and game theory, Hollis shows the severe limitations of understanding human agency and rationality on
premises derived from methodological individualism. The
chicken and egg paradoxes of the social sciences are resolved
by Hollis, following Rousseau, in arguing that it is not possible to conceive of individuals prior to the institutions which
form their (social) identity. This social determinism does not,
it is argued, need to be corrected by adopting a notion of a
pure, independent ego, because ‘the social factor is not a
moulding force but an arena where role-players learn and
shape their relationships. A self robust enough to resist being
absorbed into the social system need not be so independent
that it vanishes into darkest privacy. On the contrary, it
belongs in the arena, where its identity is at stake’ .

Although the conclusions Hollis reaches about rationality
(that, essentially, it is the expression of the self in a social
world) are far from constituting a set of earth-shattering
revelations for radical social and political theory, his book
does succeed in exposing, in a lucid and entertaining manner,
the severe epistemological weaknesses of current economic

Interpretations of Marx (edited with an Introduction by
Tom Bottomore, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988, 328pp.,
£9.95) brings together two earlier collections of essays edited
by Tom Bottomore, Karl M arx and Modern Interpretations of
Marx to form a wide-ranging survey of writing from a variety
of political traditions.

Making no comment on the texts he presents, Bottomore
provides them with an excellent introduction which surveys
those areas of Marx’ s work which have received the most
critical attention, and establishes, without insistence, his own
interpretation ofMarx. Although this collection tends to present a Marxism valuable for its contributions to the debates of
social science rather than the development of revolutionary
theory, it neverthless provides an excellent basis for the study
of both discourses.

Selections from a huge body of literature will inevitably
be determined by their editors’ own sympathies. Bottomore’s
collection does not pretend to be a definitive survey of Marxist thought, but to indicate the directions in which subsequent
interpretations of Marx’s work have moved. The result is an
ideologically and historically broad collection of works which
reveal their points of departure in Marx and the significance
of the social context in which they develop. A passage from
Croce is followed by excerpts from Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks and Lukacs’ History and Class Consciousness, with
more than twenty passages, often short, charting the subsequent development of Marxism. At the other end of the
historical scale, the selections from Habermas and Poulantzas
represent the somewhat premature conclusion of the debate.

Any text as diverse and succint as this may be criticised on
the grounds that significant figures are either omitted or
misrepresented by truncated passages removed to a context
dictated by the editor’s interests. While Bottomore cannot
escape such criticism, he is on the whole to be corn mended for
the scope and eclecticism of his collection.

Radical Philosophy 52, Summer 1989 47

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