[OPE-L] Theories and Practices

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Dec 07 2005 - 10:00:06 EST

Hi Ian W., Howard and others,

I am only going to reply to  brief sections in Ian's and Howard's posts
because those sections, in particular, caught my attention.

1)  Ian wrote:

> Some general observations. Ruccio's essay encourages my belief that
> "postmodern Marxism" is both anti-science, at least science as I
> understand it, and anti-Marxist. (These are not arguments against
> Ruccio's propositions, but I think it is helpful to categorise the
> postmodern current).

I  think it is worthwhile noting the following historical trend:
ever since the mid-19th Century, Marxists have been fragmented
into different intellectual traditions and political tendencies and groups
which have often claimed that _other_ Marxian traditions and
tendencies are 'anti-science' and 'anti-Marxist'.    I can think of no
historical experience where the individuals and groups making
these claims have not moved on towards dogmatism, sectarianism,
and -- in cases where the accusers had power -- repression.

I am accusing you of none of these things, but I think it is worthwhile
given this historical experience to reflect upon this praxis.  While I
think it is often worthwhile to situate a perspective within a historical
and intellectual  tradition (or, as you put it,  "categorize" a current),
let us not forget how categorization has been abused by so many
Marxists in the past as a way of dismissing alternative perspectives.

This is not a call for relativism.  Nor is it an endorsement of the
perspectives you are critiquing.  Nor is it an objection to the thrust
of your critique.  Rather, it is simply a precautionary note that Marxists
should consider at the outset of the 21st Century.

2).  "the relevance of practice"

Howard:  Perhaps I'm not understanding you correctly, but when you
suggest that there is a rejection of the "relevance of  practice to theory"
by post-modernism and post-modern materialism,  I think this is

I think that post-modernist materialists emphasize the importance of
praxis.  Indeed,  this tradition might be seen in part as being a
response to Marxian traditions which simplistically derive practice
from theory:  e.g. a response of sorts to traditions which "derive"
on the basic of abstract theory the need to prioritize praxis "at the
point of production."   In emphasizing gender, race, and class
_together_ , rather than ranking and separating them, they recognize
and _emphasize_ the relevance of practice!    Similarly, when they
emphasize the _variety_ of struggles by different communities, including
the many communities that are formed outside of the workplace,
they are offering a critique of some traditional perspectives on praxis
and are putting forward alternative visions of practice.  It should
also be noted, I think, that postmodern materialists not only conceive
of practice, but also practice practice: i.e. they tend to be engaged
in a wide variety of struggles.  When, for example, they are housing
activists, environmental activists, feminist activists,  gay and lesbian
activists etc. they are engaging in a particular type of praxis which, it
seems to me, is consistent with their theoretical  perspective.

If I have misunderstood your point, which is entirely possible, please
feel free to correct any improper impressions that I may have.

In solidarity, Jerry

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