Doug Henwood on 25 Feb 2001 21:24:40 -0000

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Re: <nettime> In Defence of Cultural Studies

McKenzie Wark wrote:

>But I don't think the answer is (yet another) return to Marx.
>The political economy aproach is equally unable to deal
>with the vectoral form of media in its own terms. It is
>always reduced to an epiphenomenon of an economic
>In any case, one has to wake up to the fact that the cold war
>is over, and the Marxist side lost. Whatever nuggets of
>wisdom may still be there to be gleaned from Marx, the
>project as a whole was a failure of monsterous proportions.
>If one wants to understand the economy, one has to use all
>of the theoretical tools available. Not just Marx but Keynes,
>Marshall, and on into the late 20th century. Social democracy
>has to get over its romantic nostalgia for failed revolutions.
>And no matter how 'theoretically sophisticated' Debord may
>be, its pretty sterile as an approach to political action. People
>want results.

This is all very confused and confusing, leaving aside the creative
spelling of monstrous. Few Marxists would disagree with you, starting with
Marx himself, who "used" Smith and Ricardo, and filled notebooks with
mocking evaluations of Malthus and Say. Few Marxists today would overlook
Keynes or Marshall, especially Keynes, given the massive expansion of the
financial sector, about which Marx himself wrote evocatively, but in
little detail, given the relatively underdeveloped financial markets of
the mid-19th century. (I wrote a lot about Keynes in my own Marxish take
on finance, Wall Street: How it Works and for Whom.) Lots of Marxists use
econometrics and game theory, too. So whom are you criticizing for not
using all of the theoretical tools available?

I'd also like to know which social demicrats today are nostalgic for
failed revolutions; most soc dems today are mild parliamentarians who
define themselves against Lenin and Mao.

And what's with this equivalence of Marxism and the USSR? That's the kind
of thing I'd expect of ignorant editorialists and FBI agents, but not
distinguished globe-trotting professors of cultural studies.  I guess this
is of a piece with the equivalence of Marxism and crude economic

I'm sure after an afternoon of musing on "the vectoral form of median in
its own terms" the phrase will give up its mysteries to me, so I'll
refrain from comment until that magic moment arrives.


Doug Henwood
Left Business Observer
Village Station - PO Box 953
New York NY 10014-0704 USA
+1-212-741-9852 voice  +1-212-807-9152 fax
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