Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The death agony of academic Marxism

Interesting post from Doug, a Canadian post-graduate student, on his experiences of being a revolutionary Marxist in the world of academia here.



At 4:07 pm, Blogger Gajendra said...

Marxism is 'dead' in academia? Since when? I can't speak for all disciplines, and I certainly can't speak for Canada, but those who see themselves as Marxists and those who draw inspiration from Marxian thought are very much alive in my experience (and the university I attend is not exactly a bastion of great radical thinking).

It seems as if what Doug wants is academics to throw up some barricades and plant the red flag on the dean's desk. That isn't going to happen. If, however, one looks at the activity of the UCU - the trade union for academics in Britain - one can see evidence of less-exciting but worthwhile activity. For instance the near-successful effort to have an academic boycott of Isreali institutions and the opposition to British Governmental calls to spy on 'muslim looking' students.

The problem as I see it is not a lack of radicalism on the part of academics, but the fact that in Britain and many other countries there is no role for the public intellectual. Does anyone outwith academia read any historical works written by actual historians instead of right-leaning, photogenic tv historians? And is that not due to the wider cretinization of the printed and televisual media? In India the state broadcaster invites academics to enter the studio and answer questions on, for instance, historical materialist literary analysis. In Britain the best we have is Richard Dawkins - oh dear.

At 10:23 pm, Blogger DJN said...

"It seems as if what Doug wants is academics to throw up some barricades and plant the red flag on the dean's desk."

Really, you think? I was thinking more along the lines of getting my colleagues to do some petitioning, help flyer for a rally or organize a committee (on whatever) in their locale.

Is Marxism dead in the academy? Obviously not. But my point was that students and academics yammer on about connecting theory with practice but they simply talk about this. They don't actually practice practice. Get it?


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