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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: December ::
Re: Politics
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0920.  Friday, 6 December 1996.

(1)     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 13:43:02 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0915 Re: Politics

(2)     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 Dec 1996 12:08:37 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0915  Re: Politics

(3)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 15:50:18 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Is the Bard Bourgeois?


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 13:43:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0915 Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0915 Re: Politics

Belinda Johnston is obviously wearied by the "tired essentialisms" of Andy
Walker-Whyte and other non-Marxists.  Many of us on-line are as tired of the
tired relativisms of Marxists and cultural materialists unlimited, which her
post then goes on to express.  Do you see how easy it is to turn your
non-thought against you?

I think this impasse can be solved if instead of remaining tired we all wake
up--and engage in honest discussion, where adjectives like "tired" are avoided
because recognized for what they are--cheap tactics to avoid debate, reflecting
the essential snobbery of those who use them.

Paul Hawkins

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 Dec 1996 12:08:37 -0800
Subject: 7.0915  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0915  Re: Politics

Hi, Belinda.

>I see I have been accused by Jane Thompson of flippancy and non-argument.
>Indeed, Thompson implies that the non-arguments proferred by 'we Marxists' is
>the reason for the lapses into the hate speech exemplified by Walker-White's "I
>despise Marxists".  Show me an argument for 'human spirit' and 'creativity'
>that doesn't resort to tired essentialisms and I'll accept the charge of
>'non-argument'.

Your answer demonstrates the closeness between "arguments" [sic] for either the
existence or the non-existence of the human soul.  Neither can be defended by
reference to an agreed standard.  It's like a Catholic and a behaviouralist
arguing about morals:  they'll never even agree on what to argue *about*.  If
Walker-White's are non-arguments, then so are yours:  both simply state dogma.

>Few of the Marxists I know would say the human subject is
>'spiritless'- rather they would suggest that our very notions of spirit,
>creativity, and artistic value are variable, culturally-bound and produced out
>of a series of material relations.  Therefore, we must be careful how we deploy
>those terms.

Of course.  Likewise, however, one can certainly conceive a philosophical
position in which material relations are products of spirit.  Perhaps you
should be careful how you deploy terms derived from economics.  The totalizing
primacy of "material relations" is as much a dogma as the belief in a human
soul.

>It is precisely this language that I object to in Walker-White-s
>argument and my flippantly insulting response was intended simply to point out
>that the notion of a sovereign individual subject (employed in Walker-White's
>latest posting in his reduction of capitalism and marxism to individual
>'motive') is a notion in need of interrogation, and worthy of suspicion.

So is the ontological naivety of your materialism.

Cheers,
Sean.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 15:50:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Is the Bard Bourgeois?

Ms. Johnston, convinced that my motives are still of the ulterior kind,
continues to dismiss my observations about the performing arts.  Yet, while she
says Marxists believe in the human spirit, she insists on using terminology
like "human subject" and, with regard to me, "sovereign individual subject".
This may be impretinent, but might I remind her that we are, after all, talking
about human beings?

As useful as a discussion of contexts for our beliefs may be, when we
automatically attribute elitism to artists, and when we automatically assume
that all Shakespeare productions outside the city limits are patronizing, we
are forgetting something; namely, that most, if not all such productions, are
not patronizing at all.  They are selected for production by people in the
community who want to put on a good show, who want to entertain their
neighbors.  The last thing they need is theorists who, ignorant of their
personal backgrounds and intentions, judge them harshly for even thinking of
putting on Shakespeare -- who, ideological considerations aside, is still a
pretty darned good draw.

Perhaps Ms. Johnston could answer this for me; when a leftist thinker on this
list stated -- as a categorical fact -- that performing artists are elitists, I
took it to mean that he was saying he despised us.  This list, so far as I
know, is open to performing artists as well as academics.  Since he knew he was
addressing us directly, I took his comment as a direct insult, and responded in
kind.

While I regret my strong language, I am still wondering what, if any, is the
qualitative difference between his remarks and mine?

Andy White
Urbana, IL
 

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