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7 Reviews

LelleJls
Dear Editors
The trouble with most Marxists,
would-be Marxists, left-wing
intellectuals, and bannercarrying hangers-on, is that they
live outside!the real classstruggle; they live in cloisters,
like monks; and only very rarely
do they ever descend into the
suppurating wound where the
organisms of inequality originate.

There is sound reason for the
belief.that no revolution will ever
take place in this country because
the intellectual forces which would
be required to give such a revolution leadership are too busy
arguing the trivial points of
socialism to be bothered with
anything as menial as a revolution.

This attitude of the left-wing
intelligentsia has done/a great
disservice to the movements of the
left; lessening their credibility
and weakening their forces.

I wonder how many readers of
this journal, radical philosopters
though they may be, have ever
lived in a slum, or been at the
receiving end of a charlatan
factor’s unscrupulous practices.

Or’ how many of them have been at
the brink of death, surviving only
by eating pieces of cardboard.

I
suspect most of you have come from
secure middle-class backgrounds,
and the class-struggle presents
you with a little spice; a little
revolution of your own. Do you
really care to dirty your hands
investigating the realities of
poverty?

A true revolutionary socialist
should be with the workers offering them something which they

clearly lack – knowledge; how to
fight the forces of oppression,
how to recover the dignity which
the workers have lost in this time
of mass indoctrination. You should
be at the factory gate, in the
workers canteen; the workers will
never come to you, you will have
to go to them.

Endless hours of poring through
masses of socialist literature will
never right a social wrong, or
fight a revolution. An old woman
dying of hunger in Liverpool derives no consolation knowing that
in the university round the corner
there is someone talking about the
wrongs that exist in this society
which watched her die; but he is
only talking about it.

So, as a working man, who
incidentally was introduced to your
journal through the carelessness
of the cleansing department, I ask
you to throw your copy of Das
Kapital away, stop arguing, leave
your monasteries, and go out into
the streets. That is where the
fight is all happening.

George Provan
Glasgow

Dear Editors
Are you actually trying to move
in on the Mind market? Or is
there so little movement inside
British tertiary schools that
you are forced into almost pure
articlism? I don’t object to
the articles themselves – on
second reading I understand most
of them quite well, despite the

verbal flatulence radicals share
with their straighter colleagues
– but who is communicating to

who?

The whole thing would start
to look more serious if, just
for a start Ca) people started
commenting on what goes on in the
journal without feeling obliged
to build verbal cathedrals;
(b) the pages of the journal
were actually usea by people who
need to get help from each other,
or just to communicate ideas
they are working on, about things
they have read, even about courses
they are trying to put on, with
‘essays’ or ‘dissertations’ they
are writing. For example, I am
trying to work out what dialectical materialism is, in the context of a third year course.

I’ve read Engels, Stalin and
Althusser.

I am still ‘very
unclear’. Could someone send a
useful bibliography to the
editors so they could, if they
would, publish it for me and
others like me? Maybe some
even have useful mate~ial they
could remove from under their
backsides, without solicitation.

(c) it was not felt beneath the
dignity of radical- heavies to
contest the terms in which
politicians, the media etc,
are now posing, e.g. ‘the
crisis we are all faced with’,
to descend to agitatio~a1 philosophy. Or do the masses need
to understand the labour theory
of value to know they are being
taken for a ride?

I remain, but do not rest,
Neil Thorley

Reviews
of coming to grips with what
OIlman says is still in every sense
worthwhile and rewarding.

Alienation is divided into
Bertell Ollmann: ALIENATION: Marx’s
conception of Man in Capitalist
three main parts: (1) an account
Society, Cambridge University Press, of Marx’s philosophical position,
hardback £4.00, paperback El.80.

(2) an account of Marx’s view of
human nature, and (3) an account
of Marx’s theory of alienation
At a time when books on Marx and,
It is OIlman’s view – and he is
surely correct – that one cannot
still more, books on ali~nation,
understand Marx on a specific topic
lie thick on the ground, I should
like to point out that in my view
without having grasped his overall
philosophical approach. Without
OIlman’s work is something quite
this, we shall be continually
special.

It is what occurs
asking of Marx the wrong questions
depressingly rarely in the literaand assessing him by the wrong
ture: a serious and lucid exploracriteria.

It is in OIlman’s
tion of Marx’s philosophical
account of Marx’s general philopresuppositions.

If its thesis
sophical presuppositions that the
is found convincing, then it
originality of Alienation lies.

constitutes a major original
In what follows, I shall comment
reinterpretation of Marx.

If it
fails to convince, then the exercise on each of OIlman’s three main

Marx’s metaphysics

34

sections in turn.

1. Philosophy
In this, to me his most interesting
section, OIlman starts by considering an interpretation of Marx to
be found in the writings of H B
Acton 1 and John Plamenatz 2 . On
this interpretation, Marx divides
man’s activities into a set of
separate and mutually exclusive
‘factors’, certain of which are
said to change independently of,
and be ultimately responsible for
changes in, the others. Having
interpreted Marx in this way, these
critics then object that social
reality cannot be so divided, that
one cannot conceive of a ‘purely
economic’ base without introducing into it legal or even moral
elements which Marx at the same

time supposes to be part of the
superstructure. On this view,
technological determinism appears
as the most ‘plausible’ variety
of Marxism, although of course it
too is open to objection.

Oilman, rightly, will have no
truck with this whole interpretation.

Marx, he argues, was not
trying to isolate a separate and
independent ‘determining factor’

in society3. Rather, ‘through
its internal ties to everything
else, each factor is everything
else viewed from a particular angle
(Alienation, p23). Strikingly,
Oilman goes on to attribute to
Marx a full-blown ‘philosophy of
internal relations’ (p28) applicable to the social and natural
worlds alike (p29). Concepts
themselves are held to be internally related to their objects,
and their meanings change both
as their objects change and as
our knowledge of their objects
grows.

Sometimes a word is
used to denote a wider, sometimes
a narrower, aspect of a given
relation: and this is held to
provide the key to certain contradictory usages in Marx’s texts.

The philosophy of internal
relations has a long and respectable history. Finding its fullest
expression in English idealists
such as F H Bradley, it is also
evident in Spinoza and Leibniz.

Hegel is frequently held to have
advocated this view, but this is
questionable. One commentator
has poi”nted out that Hegel does
not say there are no external
relations, and that he acknowledges
‘vast reaches of experience where
contingency rages unchecked,.4
Holding that all relations
between terms are intrinsic to the
terms themselves, and that there
are no externally related terms but
only relations, the philosophy of
internal relations faces certain
serious difficulties.

Of these,
the most fundamental is the problem
of ‘individuation’.

How can we
refer to anyone ‘thing’ if there
are no ‘things’ at all but, ultimately, only a bundle of relations
holding between each and every
‘thing’ in the world? And if we
do succeed in pinning an object
down, how do we communicate our
findings when the distinctive
meaning of each and every concept
is eroded by the relations of which
‘it’ and its ‘object’ are comprised?

All distinction in the world
dissolves back into a blank and
abstract monism, a ‘night in which
all cows are black’ (as Hegel
called it).

In the case of Spinoza
and Bradley this monism, in which
the only ‘thing’ that exists is
the sum total of all relations, is
adopted as an explicit doctrine.

Oilman is aware of these problems, but holds that the philosophy
of internal relations ‘can be
defended’ (P42).

His defence, as
I understand it, is on an empirical
level: people do in fact succeed
in resolving the problem of individuation in their daily practice

because, fortunately there are
sufficiently broad sets of SiMilarities in nature for us to get
a hold of. Similarly, the communicability issue is held to be
settled if someone holding a
relational view does in fact
succeed in communicating his
findings. However, it can be
objected to this that such practical success is evidence against
the relational view rather than in
support of it, and the question of
how individuation is possible
remains.

Oilman gives a ‘relational’

interpretation of Marx’s view of
dialectics.

His approach is that
of ‘subsuming the laws of the
dialectic under the philosophy of
internal relations’ (p61, f.n.).

This procedure is, I think,
questionable.

In the first place,
since the philosophy of internal
relations is itself metaphysical,
it transforms dialectics into a
metaphysic. 5 Perhaps this is why
0llman sees no conflict between
Marx’s and Engels’ views on dialectics, and indeed bases his own
account of ‘dialectic as outlook’

largely on Engels. Further, this
interpretation tends to underplay
the critical and negating aspect
of dialectical thought, seeing it
rather as a means of dissolving
all difference and dissonance into
a homogeneous unity.

We have said that the weakness
of a ‘relational’ conception of the
world is that it dissolves all
different kinds of object, and
indeed all different kinds of
relation, into a homogeneous and
monistic unity. Of course, one
might object to the philosophy
itself and yet agree with Oilman
that Marx presupposed such a
philosophy. However, as I hope

~~

the following sections will show,
such a philosophy conflicts with
some of Marx’s most central concerns. Marxism is a philosophy
of discrimination and separation
in which all unities are structured unities. 6 By contrast,
Ollman’s Marx is rather in the
position of those ‘Hegelians’

whom Marx himself criticizes in
the 1857 Introduction. 7 If one
has to choose between Marx and
the attribution to him of the
philosophy of internal relations,
Marx himself must be given precedence over the attribution.

2. Human nature
I shall discuss only a few points
in Oilman’s account of Marx’s
conception of human nature. Marx
presupposes, in Oilman’s view, an
antrhopology of ‘powers’ and ‘needs’.

These powers and needs are of two
sorts: ‘natural’ (i.e. those
shared by men with animals) or
‘species’ (1. e. specifically human) .

It is with man’s species needs and
powers that his account is most
concerned.

The relation between powers and
needs is interesting: ‘needs exist
as the subjective aspect of powers’;
‘Each power is coupled in man with
a distinctive need for the objects
necessary for its [i.e. the power’s]
realization … Likewise a power is
whatever is used that “fulfills” a
need’. (p78).

Oilman does not
appear to distinguish between
powers which we ‘need’ to realize,
on the one hand, and powers which
we bring into play i~ order to
bring about the fulfillmenc of the
need, on the other.

That is to
say, he does not distinguish
between powers as means and powers
as ends.

>””,

‘.,.

From an 1842 cartoon of
Marx as Prometheus tied
to a printing press,
with the Prussian eagle
eating at his liver;
used as the jacket
illustration for
Alienation by Bertell
Ollman.

35

p

This, I think, has important
consequences for the view of human
nature he ascribes to Marx. For
if means and ends coincide in
Marx’s anthropology, then communist
society (in which man qua species
is fully realized) can be envisaged
as embodying complete internal and
external harmony. This indeed is
how the early Marx envisioned
communism 8 , and it is on the
writings of the early Marx that
Ollman largely bases his own account
of this topic. However, the mature
Marx considered that even under
dommunism man’s relation to nature
would remain antagonistic: a ‘realm
of necessity’ 9 would remain in which
work is a means to an end outside
itself.

Work can never entirely
become playlO, and man’s rationality must remain, at least in one
of its aspects, what the Frankfurt
school call a ‘technology of
domination’.

Ollman is aware of
Marx’s discussion of the ‘realm of
necessity’ in communism, and gives
his own account of it (ppl18-l9);
my point is that, in his general
interpretation, he does not give
these passages sufficient weight.

Further, I would suggest that
the reason he underplays them lies
in his attribution to Marx of the
philosophy of internal relations.

If all terms are internally related,
and indeed ‘identical’ (as Ollman
frequently says, putting the term
in inverted commas as though it
left. him uneasy), then certainly
there is no basis for distinguishing powers as means from powers as
ends. ‘Nor is there any basis for
regarding communism as anything
other than a condition of blissful,
explicit. harmonious unity. But
the mature Marx does not regard
communism in this way: already we
can see Marx himself, and Ollman’s
Marx, beginning to diverge.

For Marx, the surface structure
of capitalism is systematically
misleading; the categories which
it ‘offers’ (in the form of
ideologies) for its own comprehension are hopelessly inadequate.

The task of science is to penetrate
to the deep structure of production
relations, to reveal the human
relations from which the misleading ideological appearances spring.

Again, Ollman is aware (see e.g.

p197) of Marx’s discussion of
‘science’ and, again, my criticism
is that the attribution of the
philosophy of internal relations
to Marx prevents him from doing
Marx’s concern justice. A
‘relational’ view tends to treat
appearance and reality as, so to
speak, on the same ‘level’: they
become just like any other two
terms, and the relation between
them becomes no different in kind
from that between, say, two
‘appearances’, or between two terms
having ‘reality’. Appearance
becomes absorbed into reality and
vice versa. The critical dimension
of Marx’s science disappears.

My reservations here centre on
Ollman’s chapters on ‘value’.

In
the first place he argues – corr~ct­
ly, it seems to me – that ‘value is
the relations of alienated labour,
transmitted by such labour, as
they appear in the product’ (p178J.

It follows fro~ this that ‘value’,
as a category, has full application
only to capitalist society, and
with this, too, I agree. But
Ollman then goes on to treat usevalue and exchange value as two
parallel and mutually necessary
facets of value as such: ‘the two
vacets of value [use- and exchange
value] presuppose one another, and
really cannot be conceived of
apart.

Like exchange-value,
therefore, use-value expresses
capitalist production relations’

(p186). Thus use-value, as a facet
of value per se, exists only under
Once again, I shall cover only
capitalism.

In arguing thus,
certain points in Ollman’s
Ollman bases himself directly on
account.

In general, I think that
‘Marx’s relational conception of
while Ollman’s view is adequate
reality’ (p185): use- and exchange
for the Marx of 1844, it does not
value appear as parts of the same
do full justice to the Marx of
complex of internal relations
1857 and later.

I do not mean to
which make up capitalist alienation.

suggest that there is any ‘break’

Now it seems to me that Ollman
between the young and old Marx and, is quite mistaken in his treatment
indeed, I agree with Ollman when
of use-value. ~ Marx does not regard
he argues that the unity of Marx’s
use- and exchange value as two’

thought throughout his life is
parallel ‘facets’ of value per se.

fundamental.

Nevertheless, some
I suggest that Marx makes a basic
of Marx’s characteristic concerns
distinction between use-value
emerge explicitly only in the later
(produced under all forms of
texts, and any ‘unified’ intersociety) and value as such
pretation of Marx must give them
(produced only under conditions of
an appropriately central place.

commodity production). Further, I
suggest that the distinction
Basic to the mature Marx, and·
in no way conflicting with his
between value as such and exchange
value is a distinction between the
humanism, is his concern with
reality (the concept of ‘value’

‘scientific’ enquiry. Running
indicates the alienated nature of
through all the mature texts is a
. relations in the sphere of production)
distinction between the sphere of
and the ‘form of that reality
circulation and the sphere of
when in appears in the sphere of
production, between competition
circulation. Failing to grasp the
and coercion, exchange and approimportance of the latter distinction
priation, equality and exploitagoes hand-in-hand with denying the
tion, ‘form’ and ‘essence’,
former: Ollman dissolves all terms
‘appearance’ and ‘reality’.

3. Alienation and society

I

36

in the Same reductionist, homogeneous, internally related unity.

Ollman’s denial that the
production of use-values is common
to all societies flies in the face
of Marx’s pro~ouncement, which
Ollman himself quotes (p186) ,that
production of use-values is ‘the
ever-lasting nature-impo~ed condition of human existence, and
therefore is independent of every
social phase of that existence, or
rather, is common to every such
phase,ll.

Ollman’s denial is of
course linked with his conception
of communis~, based on the 1844
as opposed to the 1857 Marx, which
we considered in (2) above.

It
is because he plays down the
‘reality principle’ conception of
communism in the Grundrisse and
Capital, and overemphasises the
‘pleasure principle’ communism of
the 1844 Manuscripts, that Ollman
is led to deny the universality
of the production of use-values.

This becomes clear if we
consider the concept of ‘use-value’.

In producing a use-value man
adopts an antagonistic relation
to nature: he tears out of nature
some part or thing which, from then
on, exists only to satisfy his
requirements. The being of a usevalue lies outside of itself: it
is ‘for us’, as producers. Conversely, our own being lies outside of ourselves in it: we
‘recognize’ ourselves in the world
of use-values. This contradiction
between man and nature is irresolvable, and this is the justification
for calling man, as Marx does, an
‘objective’ being. To deny the
contradiction is to colla~se
objectivity into alienation 12
Human rationality must always remain,
in one aspects, a ‘technology of
domination’. Productive activity
and products whose being or raison
d’etre lies outside themselves,
which are means to ends other than
themselves, remain necessary in
all forms of society13.

So far, my discussion of Ollman
has been mainly critical.

I have
tried to show that the attribution
of a philosophy of internal
relations to Marx involves a
serious distortion of Marx’s meaning.

But, as I have said, a
merely negative attitude to
Alienation would be entirely out
of place.

Ollman’s book commands
our respect.

It raises very basic
issues and represents a courageous
attempt to grasp by the horns the
formidable bull of Marx’ s philosophy.

Ollman might feel that certain of
the points I have raised are incorporated in his book: I would accept
this. Following him over some very
difficult terrain, one may not
always keep as close to the trail
as, ideally, one would like.

Besides, much of what Ollman
says in his discussion of alienation
is extremely good. He is very much
to the point when he argues that,
in Marx’s ecomonics, ‘labour is
always alienated productive activity’ (p17l), and that ‘grasping
“labour” … as “alienated labour”

in its full multidimensional sense
is the key to understanding Marx’s
economic theories’ (p172). The
brief comments on class consciousness in his last chapter suggest
a fertile and stimulating approach
and his discussions of social
class, the state and religion as
modes of alienation are clear and
useful.

Ollman’s Alienation is, in the
very best sense, a serious and
important treatment of a serious
and important subject.

10

Grundrisse, p6ll

Kantian version of what the
Enlightenment was, and tries to
11 Capital, Vol.I, Allen & Unwin,
throw light on it by referring to
pp163-l64
what he calls both an ‘atomistic’

12 Already in 1844 Marx criticizes and an ‘individualistic’ attitude
Hegel for doing this. But in
to knowledge. This attitude, he
this regard the Marx of the
says, is essential to all Enlight1844 Manuscripts does not escape enment thought, and is the underhis own strictures
lying assumption of both sides in
the great struggle between ‘the
13 cf. Hegel’s discussion of the
two great world visions character’useful’ as the outcome of the
istic of the European outlook, that
dialectic of the Enlightenment,
dominated it up to the time of
Phenomenology of Mind, Baillie
Pascal, of Kant, and even longer’

translation, pp578 and 595
(p18). These two visions are ‘the
rationalist and empirical traditions’ – roughly the same as
NOTES
Kant’s ‘dogmatism’ .and ‘scepticism’.

Goldmann goes on to discuss what
1 Acton, The Illusion of the
he regards as ‘the fundamental
Epoch, 1955. See the discussion
categories of Enlightenment thought’.

of ‘productive relationships’ ,
These categories, according to
Lucien Goldmann, The Philosophy
pp160-8. See also his exchange
Goldmann, are: autonomy of the
of the Enlightenment, Routledge
with G A Cohen, ‘On Some Critiindividual, contract, equality,
and Kegan Paul, £1.50
cisms of Historical Materialism’,
universality, toleration, freedom,
Proceedings of the Aristotelian
and property; and Goldmann’s thesis
Society, Supplementary Volume
is that eighteenth century thought
The idea that the human race is
XLIV, 1970
consisted of permutations of these
just emerging from a dark night
categories. This thesis is,
of superstition into a bright day
2 Plamenatz, German Marxism and
however, fantastically untrue, if
Russian Communism, ch.5, section of enlightenment has appealed to
2
nearly every generation of thinkers only because it ignores the development of ideas about cosmology,
since the Renaissance. But today
3 cf. G Petrovic, who similarly
about materialism, about the shape
the phrase ‘the Enlightenment’ is
rejects interpretations of Marx
and size of human history, about
used only to refer to eighteenth
which reduce man and society to
the power of an individual or a
century thought, particularly that
the sum-total of a set of
society to take charge of its
associated
with
the
philosophes
‘factors’ (Marx in the Middestiny, about the artificiality
and the Encyclopaedia.

Twentieth Century, Doubleday,
or otherwise of human society,
But
why
is
it
assumed
that
pp77 and 106)
about the relation between private
eighteenth century thought is a
4 J N Findlay, ‘The Contemporary
unity which deserves to be entitled morals and social and political
issues, and many other crucial
Relevance of Hegel’, in his
‘the Enlightenment’? From what
eighteenth century themes. The
Language, Mind and Value
point of view, if any, can doccategories Goldmann lists are in
trines as diverse as those of,
5 In ‘Marxism and Dialectical
Method’ (Marxism Today, July
say, Diderot, Voltaire and Rousseau fact much more characteristic of
seventeenth century thiqkers like
1973) I have attempted to clarify I be seen as expressions of some
Hobbes and Locke than of the
the relation between dialectics
common essence, called Enlighteneighteenth century thinkers
ment?

and metaphysics on the basis
Goldmann tries to describe.

This concept of ‘the Enlightenthat each represents a characment’is inseparable from the idea
Having crammed eighteenth centeristic style of thought.

that the most important watershed
tury thought into this package,
Dialectics is the attitude of
in the development of philosophy
Goldmann makes an easy transition
the ‘open’ mind, metaphysics
is Kant.

Kant himself expressed
to an interesting sort of structthe attitude of the mind that
the concept both in his 1784 essay
uralist explanation of it in terms
is ‘closed’

‘What is Enlightenment?’ and in
of its material base in the econ6 Althusser convincingly argues
his frequently reiterated stateomic individualism of early capithis (For Marx, pl03 and 202ff); ments to the effect that his own
talism, argl,ing that ‘the fundanor does Ollman wish to deny it
philosophy was the final outcome
mental categories of Enlightenment
(see Alienation, note 41 to
of a struggle between scepticism
thought have a basic structure
ch.3). However, I think a
and dogmatism. The Enlightenment,
analogous to that of the market
‘relational’ interpretation of
for Kant, was the last phase of
economy’ (p20).

The bold simpliMarx is in fact open to
this struggle.

In the present
city of this theory is very
Althusser’s objections.

century, the Kantian concept of
attractive.

It is a pity that
Regarding Hegel, I would suggest ‘the Enlightenment’ has been
it is based on such a stale thesis
that, pace Althusser, a concepreinforced by the rich researches
about what eighteenth century
tion of structured unity is to
of the Kantian Ernst Cassirer
thought consists of.

be found in him too. As Findlay
(Die Philosophie der Aufklarung,
In a rather disarming Preface,
has argued, Hegel did not sub1932) and reinforced again recently Goldmann owns up to ‘lack of
scribe to a full philosophy of
by Peter Gay’s impressive The
scholarly research’, and mentions
internal relations.

Enlightenment.

the fact that the essay was not
In 1960, Lucien Goldmann wrote
originally meant to be published
7 Marx, Grundrisse (trans. Martin
an essay which attempted to give
on its own as though this were an
Nicolaus), Pelican, p93
an historical materialist account
excuse. He even says that he puts
8
‘Communism … as fully-developed of the Enlightenment, with special
forward ‘certain hypotheses that
naturalism, equals humanism, and emphasis on the role of ChristianI should hardly have ventured to
as fully-developed humanism
ity in it. This essay is now
advance in a more substantial
equals naturalism; it is the
translated as The Philosophy of
work’. But the lack of scholargenuine resolution of the conthe Enlightenment and published as
ship is not the only thing that’s
flict between man and nature
a book (a very slim book – the
wrong with the essay. The unand between man and man … ‘

critical, unhistorical approach
binding is nearly as thick as the
(Marx, 1844 Manuscripts, Moscow,
text}.

In the first section, on
exemplified in Goldmann’s unp95
‘the structure of the En lightenment’ , questioning acceptance of the
9 Capital, Vol. Ill, Moscow, p820
Goldmann expouIlds a traditional,
concept of the Enlightenment,

Richard Gunn Th

h
emyt
of the enlightenment

37

J

,

-7

-r’

carries over into the strange
moralising which occupies the
latter part of the essay, which
is mainly ,about Christian’ belief.

At the end of this section, and
in the brief third and final
section, Goldmann tries to resurrect Christian values for the
sake of socialism. He claims
that the old choice between ‘two
world visions’ still confronts
‘us’ today:

We have to choose between
morally neutral technical
knowledge and the synthesis
of knowledge with immanent
faith in a human community
to be crea ted by men .,.

between capitalism and
socialism. It is for us
to determine which of these
is to be the future vision
of mankind.

(p82)
Thus, for Goldmann, the prospect of socialism has to be seen
in terms of ‘our’ choice between
‘world visions’, and this choice
somehow takes us outside science
into the realm of faith.

The
mistake of abstracting knowledge
from action, and of treating
knowledge a-historically, of
which Goldmann unconvincingly
accuses eighteenth century
thinkers as a whole, is made by
Goldmann himself.

Jonathan Ree

Anthropology
and imperialism
Talal Asad (ed.), Anthropology and
the Colonial Encounter, Ithaca
Press, E5.50 hardback El paperback
Many social anthropologists undoubtedly have felt that LeviStrauss and his structuralism
brought new and vital theoretical
manure to their wilting subject.

It may be no exaggeration to
suggest that for some – perhaps
those most conscious of the crisis
in their subject – structuralism
somehow snatched anthropology from
the jaws of general social science
by which it seemed imminently to
be devoured.

Levi-Strauss, then,
may be said to have done to social
anthropology what Wittgenstein did
to general philosophy: he offered
an apparent panacea to a multitude
of ills in the form of a new (if
obscure departure which was at
once rich and strange.

If shifts
in a discipline’s account of
itself have intrigued you, then

Anthropology and the Colonial
Encounter may offer some valuable
demystification.

For Asad and most of his coauthors, British social anthropology needs to be treated as a
problem in the sociology of knowledge~
More precisely, i t is
situated in very specific relations
to colonialism: funds, impetus,

38

and logistical conditions for the
contributors to Anthropology and
work were provided by British
the Colonial Encounter only Peter
colonialism (notably in Africa) ,
Forster raises the problematic of
while the consciousness of the
British versions of Levi-Straussfield-workers was informed by a
ism. Students (who will after
colonialist society (anthropologall be the main readership) are
ists get socialized too!). And
already armed with critiques of
the theoretical positions of anBritish and American functionalism
thropology during its formative
and empiricism; sorely need2d is
years (say, 1925-1946) no less
a reckoning with structuralism,
than the methodology it espoused
which has become the prinCipal
(and vis-~-vis which it tended to
mystification and no doubt is
be defined) must be traced to the
hardly less an embodiment of
needs and conditions of colonial
bourgeois ideology than its theorendeavours: the functionalism of
etical antecedents. British
Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown
anthropologists will have to
as well as emphasis on particidesert historical essays if they
pant observation are related most
are to confront or even explain
effectively by Stephan Feuchtwang:

that ideology in its contemporary
to specific ideological and poliforms.

tical necessities within imperialism of that period. The question
of anthropologists’ direct contribution to colonial activities als0
recurs: all are charged with a
degree of (perhaps unwitting)
complicity, and some are directly
accused.

The essays, however, are not in
Lucio Colletti, Marxism and Hegel,
clear agreement with one another:

tr. Lawrence Garner, New Left
there are hard and soft-liners,
Books, E5.25
with some attempt at salvaging both
the subject and the reputations of
The philosophical doctrines of
some of its most influential pracdialectical materialism have too
titioners – most of the contribuoften been argued in a spirit of
tors are, after all, teachers of
factional heat.

Its leading proanthropology themselves.

The
positions are usually defended in
salvage operation has two arms.

scruffy and hastily-published
It is argued (by e.g. Wendy James
pamphlets, to be refuted at leisure
and Talal Asad) that anthropologand with scholarly fastidiousness
ists have necessarily developed
by plump and articulate professors.

genuine commitment to people among
Leading Marxists seem to have
whom they lived, and therefore
recorded their views on the nature
were strongly inclined to protect
of the universe only in time
them against the crude racism of
,snatched from barricade rhetoric
both colonials and 19th century
or sectarian political infighting.

evolutionist theory. Moreover,
It is therefore a pleasure to pick
they mounted such protection in
up a copy of Lucio Colletti’s
the shape of monographs which
Marxism and Hegel, in which an
aimed at revealing the integrity
unhurried and mainly sympathetic
and rationality of language, law,
scrutiny, free of political partiand economy of so-called primitive
sanship, of the main ideas of the
peoples. Cultural relativism
Hegelian and Marxist philosophies,
constituted something of a moral
is contained between New Left
weapon against both colonial
Books’ solid and luxurious covers.

ideology and practice. During
It would be a double pleasure to
the inter-war years, therefore,
be able to report that the book’s
field anthropologists were in some
author is as much master of his
degree radicals, only subsequently
material as its binder – unfortunbecoming reactionaries relative
ately this is not so.

to nationalist and revolutionary
Colletti’s main thesis is
movements among the colonized.

striking and simple: that the idea
The second arm of defence (suggesof a dialectical materialism is a
ted by Stephan Feuchtwang and
contradiction in terms, and thereJohn Clammer) lies in indicating
fore, from the standpoint of philowhat anthropologists did not do,
sophical coherence or truth, a
but could well still do.

chimera.

Hegel’s philosophy was
authentically dialectical only
The essays inevitably are
because he was an absolute idealist;
strongly historical, and provide
an excellent patchwork of backthose,- who, like Engels and Lenin,
thought they had discovered in
ground – though i t sometimes seems
Hegel’s dialectic a’method valid
that the achievement of the confor modern materialism were guilty
tributors (e.g. Roger Owen) lies
of an ‘error which by now lies at
in showing how history should be
the basis of almost a century of
written rather than in exposing
theoretical Marxism’ (p27). Dialecthe contradictions in bourgeois
tic, the assertion of real contraideology as they are expressed in
diction, requires idealism; thus
anthropology and its theory. That
‘Hegel, who affirms logical contracomplaint would be less serious
if the volume included a confrontdiction, does so by making i t the
ation with (or at least an assesssubstratum of opposition in reality
ment of) the most recent develop•.. just as objects are only the
ments in anthropology. Of the
incarnation of reason, so all ob-

HughBrodie

Colletti’s Marxism

l

jective or real oppositions, all
specific oppositions, become the
‘existence’ or the ‘phenomenon’ of
rational opposition, i.e. generic
opposition. (pplOO-10ll
A review can touch only on some
of the main shortcomings. Colletti
accuses Engels (with Lenin hard on
his heels) of ignorantly copying
Hegel’s ‘dialectic of matter’ in
the belief that it stemmed from a
latent materialism. Their ‘mechanical transcription’, he argues,
resulted in a ‘dialectical materialism’ worthy only of relegation ‘to
the museum, alongside the stone
axes’. I They become, in Colletti’s
account, the first of the ‘Marxist
heretics’, responsible for having
desecrated modern materialism by
smuggling into it an untransubstantiated chunk of Hegel’s
Christian metaphysics.

The nub of the case for the prosecution expresses itself as a
simple misrepresentation (p22 et
seq). Colletti lumps together (a)
Hegel’s insistence on the absolutely self-contradictory character
of finite material objects, on
their movement, on the fact that
they are and are-not, that a logic
is required to embrace them in
their movement, and that this logic
consequently cannot accept as
absolute the law of non-contradiction (these being the essential
points ‘annexed’ by Engels and
Lenin); with (b) Hegel’s attempt
to escape from the movement resulting from contradictions into the
Absolute Idea, stably residing and
free of the self-contradiction of
the finite.

Ironically he cites
in his support the very passage
in which Hegel idealistically
proposes to move on from the transcience of nature and life (‘the:

non-being of the finite’) to the
permanence of God (‘ the being of the
absolute’).

(see Colletti p25 and
Science of Logic, p443).

But what
Colletti fails to do is examine
whether this movement is legitimate
or scientific. For the self-contradiction of finite objects does
not self-evidently entail the
existence of God; Colletti merely
quotes Hegel to the effect that the
one is the other. Both reason and
the understanding require him to
demonstrate that Engels’ extraction
of a materialist logiC of becoming
from Hegel is incorrect.

If one can apply a single term
to the cast of Colletti’s thinking
it is that it is itself idealistic,
tending always to erect a complete
and consistent structure from those
elements of Hegel’s thought which
are most visible to him and to which
he is most partial.

Thus he fails
to set against Hegel’s transition
from the dialectic of the finite
into theology the well-known paragraphs from the History of Philosophy in which Kant is reproached
with finding things too fragile to
endure contradiction, even though
the ego itself ‘does not melt away’

by reason of its contradictions,
‘but continues to exist .,. for i t
can bear them’ (Lectures on the

political – among the left intelligentsia in Britain.

It has
already done so in the circles of
the-New Left Review – widely seen
as the main arena of philosophical
debate among socialists. The
philosophical affinity with NLR
is crystalised in an article by
‘Gareth Stedman-Jones (‘Engels and
the End of Classical German
Phi losophy’, NLR 79, ~lay-June
1973) which is largely a preview
of Colletti (in whose early chapters virtually all Stedman-Jones’

quotations from Hegel may conveniently be consulted).

Yet there
is also a commonality, of political
In so far as it is dialectical,
the finite negates itself, substance. NLR is something of a noman’s land in which the favoured
lates itself, and disappears;
intellectuals of various left
i.e. i f one wants to consider
the finite, one must not conpolitical organisations meet on
terms of amiable dissonance. The
sider the finite, but rather
dissonance accounts for its continthe infinite; in order to
ued separate existence; the amiagrasp being one must grasp
bility explains why it has never
thought, the Idea; there are
established any political indepno things, there is only
reason; there is no exclusive
endence from Stalinism or Social
Democracy. Essential to the
determinacy, a ‘this right
here’, that excludes its
milieu is the polite separation
‘of philosophical discourse from
opposite, but a rational
the minutiae of individual
inclusion, a ‘this together
with that’ – i.e. the unity
political affiliations – a separa’tion also evident in the eclectic
of ‘sameness’ and ‘otherness’,
of ‘being’ and ‘non-being’,
spirit in which Colletti draws on
his many ‘authorities’.

In the
of finite and infinite, in
long run, though, politics cannot
the infinite.

be excluded. Colletti (a member
(p18, Colletti’s emphasis)
of the Italian Communist Party
from 1950 to 1964) himself concedes
more to Stalinism than would most
Excluded here are Hegel’s many
in his assertion that dialectical
analyses of the dialectical develmaterialism has become ‘a state
:opment of determinate objects in
philosophy’. And his claim to
which the outcome is not the inhave identified the error at the
finite but a new or altered
origin of ‘almost a centu;y of
determination – analyses wholly
theoretical Marxism’ rings strangely
within the spirit of dialectical
in a book whose index mentions
materialism, if one r:,-ay thus exCroce sixteen times and Trotsky
press it. Colletti does not
not at all.

If you think (as I
justify (except by quotation
do) that a prudent agnosticism in
from Hegel) the view that the
philosophy and in politics are
finite material object may be
truly negated only in the infinite. Siamese twins, Colletti’s book
will confirm your opinion.

And he accepts an (approximately
Hegelian) equation of the finite
with the material and of the
There are also, unfortunately,
infinite with the ideal. Yet it
some secondary but important
is precisely this equation which
faults.

The appearance of
contains the fundamental differcareful erudition is marred in
ence with dialectical materialism,
a number of places – for example
for which the ideal is finite and
by the attribution to Hegel of
imperfect relative to nature’s
Jacobi’s view regarding Spinoza
infinitude.

The fact that this
(p28, line 5). For a book inpoint of opposition is explicitly
tended to have an impact in the
indicated (for example in Lenin’s
labour and socialist movement it
Philosophical Notebooks, p182) is
is – at £5.25 – exorbitantly
what makes the accusation of a
expensive, Disappointingly, NLB’s
‘mechanical transcription’ so
usually creditable standard of
misleading.

If there is a single
translation is not maintained.

‘error’ lying at the foot of the
The essential object of a transmany facets of the book which
lator from the Italian should be
could be criticised, it is a
to shed the baroque while preservsystematic ambiguity on the
ing the sunlight; in this case
opposition between materialism
the opposite has been achieved.

and idealism..

As a result long passages read
like a recitatif from ‘Pseud’s
Almost any writing about the
Corner’, making even the book’s
philosophical positions of others
tone remote from what the
tends to become a platform for the
imprisoned Gramsci wryly called
author’s own; Colletti’s book and
‘the philosophy of action’.

this review are no exceptions.

It
is very probable that the book
will generate considerable resonance – both philosophical and
History ofPhulosophy, Vol. Ill,
p451)
This restriction of dialectic to
subjectivity explains why Colletti
declares himself unmoved by possible
accusations of Kantianism.

Such
accusations would be in some
measure correct. The ‘dialectic’

which he perceives in Hegel is ortly
a pale, paradoxical reflection (a
cerebral ‘tautoheterology’, to use
his term) of what is to be found
there. The essential paragraph is
worth citing:

Adam Westoby

39

f •

Owenism
Robert Owen, A New View of Society,
Macmillan, £4.50
These four essays published in
1813-14, midway through Owen’s
long life, represent the first
detailed exposition of his social
ideas. The arguments, though not
in essence original, were in sharp
opposition to the received ideas
of the time. Man’s character, he
insisted, was socially determined;
hence deliberate social policy,
which was concerned solely to
punish crime, might more effectively seek to create characters
averse to criminality. The young
child was totally malleable; but
because upJ5ringing was normally
based on wholly erroneous principles, the outcome was vice, disorder and irrationality. By
contrast, the system introduced
by David Dale (and developed by
Owen himself) at the New Lanark
mills showed the valuable results
of more rationally based education.

Other employers should follow this
example, while the government itself should institute a national
educational system. Among other
desirable consequences, the proper
training of the young could be
combined with limited state intervention in the labour market in
ord~r to eliminate unemployment.

This ‘New View’ comprises many
ideas which were to become uncontroversial elements of social
policy. At the same time, the
theories which were so powerfully
to influence early British socialists – in particular the notion of
co-operative production – scarcely
appear in these essays: they were
first explicitly elaborated in the
Report to the County of Lanark
in 1821. Yet many of the weaknesses of Owenism were already
clearly apparent. The rigid deterministic materialism with which
he explained the formation of
character contradicted his belief
in rational intervention to reform
society; as Marx commented, ‘this
doctrine necessarily arrives at
dividing society into two parts,
of which one is superior to
society’.

It is a commonplace
that the working class, the main
victims of the political economy
then developing, were seen by Owen
as the passive beneficiaries of
social reform; its agents would be
members of the ruling class, whose
enlightened self-interest would
perceive that an educated proletariat would provide more
efficient employees and more
governable citizens. The notion
of the proletariat as the revolutionary class whose interests
were antagonistic to those of the
capitalists was altogether foreign
to Owen (which in view of his own
position as, at this time, a
highly successful ~apitalist is
readily comprehensible).

Hence
the contradiction inherent in his

40

I

social philosophy: while the
emergent socialist movement was to
draw inspiration from many of Owen’sl
insights and develop these into a
radical critique of capitalism (as,
example, in the writings of Smith
and Morrison), his own analytical
perspective was far closer to that
of such conservative critics of
early capitalism as Carlyle.

This republication, a facsimile
of the first edition in book form
in 1816, includes an introduction
by John Saville which is short but
clear and useful. Those who consider the price outrageous can
always buy the Penguin at 35p, which·
includes the Report to the County
of Lanark and in addition a
lengthy and provocative introducItion by V A C Gatrell.

I

I

Richard Hyman

Intellectual
archeology
Michel Foucault, The Archaeology
of Knowledge, translated from the
French by A M Sheridan Smith,
Tavistock, £3.00 ISBN 44 73650 3
There are hundreds of wonderful
treasures in this book.

It is an
attempt to explain what ought to
become of the study of the history
of ideas in the aftermath of
structuralism .. Foucault says that
what ought to come is ‘archaeology’

– his name for the study of the
fragmented ‘discursive formations’

and ‘discursive practices’ within
which theoretical options arise:

‘It is concerned with discourse
in its own volume, as a monument.

It is not an interpretative
discipline’. (p139)
There is plenty in this book
which will irritate many readers
of Radical Philosophy: a parochial
and self indulgent academicism;
an obsessional worry about the
constitution of intellectual
‘disciplines’; an amazing sketchiness in the main, central, theoretical chapters (which discuss
the theory of meaning without any
reference to Frege or Wittgenstein);
and a lot of wordage generated by
the metaphorical deployment of
ideas about breaks, continuities,
points, series, levels and thresholds. Most annoying of all, a
lack of historical concreteness:

Foucault attacks conventional
notions of the history of ideas,
but makes no attempt to locate
them, to explain why they might
seem attractive, or to work out
what function they perform; and
he discusses history writing
without ever mentioning any
actual historians.

But it’s worth it for the
development of remarks like these:

Can one accept, as such, the
distinction between the major
types of discourse, or that

between such forms or genres
as science, literature,
philosophy, religion, history,
fiction, etc., and which tend
to create certain great
historial individualities?

We are not even sure of ourselves when we use these
distinctions in our own world
of discourse, let alone when
we are analysing groups of
statements which, when first
formulated, were distributed,
divided, and characterised in
a quite different way: after
all, ‘literature’ and ‘politics’

are recent cate~ries, which
can be applied to medieval
culture, or even classical
culture, only by a retrospective hypothesis, and by an
interplay of formal analogies
or semantic resemblances; but
neither literature, nor politics,
nor philosophy and the sciences
articulated the field of
discourse, in the seventeenth
and eighteenth century, as
they did in the nineteenth
century. In any case, these
divisions – whether our own,
or those contemporary with
the discourse under examination
– are always themselves reflexive categories, principles of
classification, normative rules,
institutionalised types: they,
in turn, are facts of discourse
that deserve to be analysed
beside others…

(p22)

Jonathan Ree
ON

TREA~ING

THE END AS A MEANS

‘All crimina carnis contra
naturam (masturbation, homosexuality, bestiality) degrade
human nature to a level bwlow
that of animal nature and make
him unworthy of his humanity.

He no longer deserves to be a
person. From the point of view
of duties towards himself such
conduct is the most disgraceful
and the most degrading of which
man is capable. Suicide is the
most dreadful, but it is not as
dishonourable and base as the

crimina carnis contra naturam.

It is the most abominable
conduct of which man can be
gUilty. ‘

(I. Kant, Lectures on Ethics)

NOW BREED ON
‘Contraceptive intercourse is
worse – is a graver offence
against chastity – than is
straightforward fornication,
or adultery.’

(G E M Anscombe, The Human World)

;CEEPING PHILOSOPHY PURE
‘I see nothing harmful about
mythologies myself – as long
as people like them.’

(M. Warnock on the Virgin Birth
etc – TV comment)

Ideology and
economic theory
Maurice Dobb, Theories of Value
and Distribution since Adam Smith;
Ideology and Economic Theory,
Cambridge University Press, £3.60
On the face of it, Maurice Dobb’s
new book is a re-examination of
the history of economic thought
in the light of the modern controversy over capital theory. But
the subtitle, ‘Ideology and Economic Theory’, gives a clue as to
the point of undertaking this awesome-sounding task: to show that
modern, post-neoclassical economic
‘science’ is not supra-ideological,
and thus gain some recompense for
the snide asides suffered over
the years by academic economists
who have attempted to take
seriously any of the ‘unorthodox’

figures in the history of political economy.

The possibility of this project
is the now well known collapse of
the notion that the income of
‘capital’ (in the aggregate) is
equal to, and can be seen as a
reward for, the additional increment of output obtained through
the proportionally greater employment of means of production.

The difficulty is that there is no
way of aggregating the heterogeneous means of production to make
a fund of ‘value’ without first
postulating a rate of profit.

This is an important result, and
while inconsistency within a
theory (or complaints of its lack
of realism) merely shows it to be
inadequate, not ideological, it is
suspicious that academic economists in capitalist societies
should so long have systematically
confused ‘capital’ as a fund of
value and source of income and
‘capital’ as produced means of
production, particularly as Marx
made the distinction clear over
one hundred years ago.

Dobb recognises that it is
inadequate to his purpose to leave
the question at the level of internal inconsistency.

But by
telling the history of economic
thought in such a way that the
continual ‘inability of postRicardian economists to appre-

ciate the dependence of pricestructure on distribution’ was
due to ‘their preoccupation (at
any rate since Jevons and the
Austrians) with the converse dependence of distribution upon a
demand-determined price-structure’

one really is posing hard questions about the scientificity of
modern economic analysis. So
Dobb’s historical discussion is
an attempt to establish the
reality of two traditions of
approach to analysis (one starting with production and the other
with exchange) where previously
only one had been recognised.

Anyone who has been fed on exchange-oriented analysis and is

I

finding i t difficult to discern
where the science leaves off and
the ideology begins would be well
advised to take Dobb’s antidote.

Whether Theories of Value and
Distribution is to be taken as
more than an antidote, is not so
clear. For all the acute, even
witty, things Dobb has to say
about the partiality of even the
most (apparently) pure analytic
statements, he does not press his
discussion of ‘ideology and economic theory’ towards the foundation of a more definitively
scientific political economy, but
is content to show all theories
of value and distribution to have
been socially and historically
conditioned, hence ‘ideological’.

Dobb is really raising questions
about the possibility of ‘social’

science, but in his eagerness to
clear the ground of any supports
for the theory he is attacking
he is in danger of leaving nothing
standing but arbitrary choice or
agnosticism.

Dobb sets aside his first chapter to an account of ideology and
science in economic theory. He
begins by rejecting any refurbishment of the old verification/falsification criterion, and thus
disagrees with Joan Robinson’s
dismissal of both ‘labour’ and
‘utility’ theories of value as
‘metaphysical’. His real starting point is Schumpeter’s contention that theory begins with
vision, a preanalytical cognitive
act that is necessarily ideological. What he doesn’t accept is
Schumpeter’s view that what is
ideological about preanalytic
vision is an ’emotional commitment prompting men to draw pleasing pictures of themselves’ and
that this is overcome by the
development of ‘a hard core of

formal techniques and instruments’.

For Dobb, historical relativity
is what is meant by calling preanalytic vision ideological, and
this is not transcended by formalisation: ‘Either the ‘analysis’

of which Schumpeter speaks is a
purely formal structure without
any relation to economic problems
or sets of questions to which it
1s being designed as an answer
(or aid to answering) – in which
case it does not constitute a set
of propositions or statements with
any economic content – or else it
is a logical system designed as
the vehicle of certain statements
about economic phenomena or activities’. There is a suggestion

slightly at odds with the historical discussion of theories of
value and distribution, which
implicitly presents one central
problem for economic theory. The
Introduction may be taken as implying that the disaggregation of
the history of economic thought
into distinct problems ought to
be taken much further than it is
by Dobb himself, while the historical discussion suggests that
there are grounds for preferring
one theory, or problem, to another,
which are not discussed in the
‘methodological’ Introduction.

Both these implied ~elf-criti­
cisms have point. To take the most
obvious and important example of
the need for disaggregation, it
hardly does justice to Marx’s
‘theory of value’ to treat it as
being solely, or even primarily,
directed to Dobb’s and Ricardo’s
problems of value and distribution.

‘If things were exchanged
in proportion to labour expended,

changes in this rate (surplus
value) could not ~ se affect
relative exchange values, nor
could changes in the latter
react upon the exploitation rate
when represented in this way.’

This interpretation completely
sidesteps the crucial importance
(for Marx) of showing that exchanges of commodities are exchanges of social labour, which
is the real reason why the discussion of value comes first in
Capital. Secondly considering
theories in relation to distinct
problems would enable one to recognise the usefulness of certain
neoclassical arguments for dealing
with particular problems of the
allocation of scarce resources
within a socialist plan, without
fear of conceding something to
neoclassical claims to timeless
truth.

Only after the full extent and
significance of the problem orientation of social theories has
been recognised can the question
of the basis of ‘economic’ or
‘social’ science be adequately
posed. Arguments about the
grounds for preferring certain
theories, or problems, as better
science than others must be able
to comprehend the nature of the
partiality of those set aside as
ideological.

TimPutnam

here, and elsewhere, of a blurring
of the distinction between analysis and its prenalytic problem
and the logical separation of
analytic techniques from applications, insisted upon by the ‘box
of tools’ approach – leaving a
doubt as to whether Dobb is
against each for different reasons,
or thinks they amount to the same
thing.

The impression of almost unqualified relativism gained from
this opening chapter is more than

41

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