Butler, Nussbaum, Paglia

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Fri Feb 26 08:49:39 PST 1999

digloria at mindspring.com wrote:

> >
> this privileging of practice really bugs me. normally i'd side with you but
> i'll have to say that there's something to be said for theoretical
> reflection,

There is *everything* to be said for theoretical reflection; there can be little excuse for the very existence of these maillists except for the purposes of theoretical reflection. On one point I take Lenin as axiomatic (axiomatic because every serious marxist who has ever lived has made the same point in one form or the other: Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary party.

In fact, I cannot think of a single thing to be said *against* theoretical reflection. It is the single most important thing any of us can engage in at the present.

It is because I put so much emphasis on theoretical reflection that I am engaged in my present campaign of everyone on these lists who engages in poisoning the wells of discourse by substituting empty labels like "elitist" or "pomo" for the description, naming, and critique of concrete positions. (To call such procedures "generalizations" is as misleading as calling cyanide "merely a chemical." True, but the excuse of a scoundrel.)

There remains one little problem. Reflection on WHAT?

Marxism is a the summary of the practice of the international proletariat. So it is impossible to make any sense out of Marx, and it is absurd to criticize him, without having worked out and achieved some understanding (theoretical) of the profound priority of practice to theory. And that *usually* (though not I think necessarily in principle) involves having come to one's marxism out of the experience of struggle to change the world around one (however tiny or even in itself inconsequential that struggle may be in itself).


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