Re: [OPE-L] Scare Quotes (note 'Scare Quotes')

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Dec 08 2005 - 09:51:24 EST

Jerry Levy wrote:

> Ian:
> I see nothing wrong with Ruccio's  usage of quotation marks in the
> excerpts below.  If you will read a few descriptions of  scare quotes
> on the Net, you will see that their are appropriate and legitimate
> usages.  From the wikipedia entry:
> "In spite of their pejorative label, such quotes may be used
> legitimately.  An author who uses quotation marks in such a manner
> may do so in order to disclaim responsibility for the words, or
> to emphasize that in the context a specialized or narrow or historical
> sense is being suggested."
> Ruccio is simply disclaiming responsibility for the words [law,
> economy] below.
It was his disowning and thus implicit rejection of the concepts
of economic law and the of the economy that Ian was objecting to.

Ian was saying that in rejecting these concepts he was rejecting
some of the fundamental concepts of Marx, and was thus anti-Marx.

> What is _more_ objectionable, imo, is the purposeful use
> of an expression which has a pejorative implication  to dismiss
> another's perspectives.  It seems to me to border on being an act of
> the writing police to object, or even call attention to, whether an
> author uses quotation marks in a context other than to identify a
> direct quotation.   What you call scare quotes have been used by
> most radical and Marxist writers of all perspectives -- most notably
> Karl Marx (see e.g. the "Marginal Notes on Wagner"  which is
> chock full of them).
> Perhaps most objectionable to a writer calling attention to the usage
> of 'scare quotes' (note 'scare quotes') by another writer, is that the
> discussion often shifts from content to writing style.  This is generally
> an unwanted consequence for the person who originally calls attention
> to the scare quotes.  Isn't that just what happened now?  By
> highlighting scare quotes you have encouraged me to write this post.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> "The specificity of Marx's concept of value ... instead of being an
> expression of an underlying `law' [note scare quotes] of the division
> of labor ... is now seen to be a way of focusing on the cultural and
> political mechanisms whereby diverse communities are stripped of their
> identities and needs in order to be molded into the subjects of a
> single economic calculus."
> "Thus, the ``economy'' [note scare quotes again] would emerge not as a
> primitive foundation, an independent and singular underlying reality,
> but as a forced attempt to create a closed space whose principle of
> existence is based on negation of social specificity, heterogeneity,
> and openness"

Paul Cockshott
Dept Computing Science
University of Glasgow

0141 330 3125

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