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168 the minnesota review tionary tribunal .... On the one hand Foucault continues to speak as if political struggle were a matter ofa contest between classes and social groups with irreconcilable aims and interests. On the other, his theoretically unelaborated notion of 'resistance,' a corporeally-grounded opposition to the power which—at the most fundamental level—moulds human beings into self-identical subjects , implies a hostility to any form of conscious formulation of aims or strategic calculation" ("Power and Subjectivity in Foucault," New Left Review, No. 144 , p. 90). Like Country Joe MacDonald in "I Think I'm Fixin to Die Rag," one of Foucault's nodes of resistance might well ask: "Well it's one, two, three, what are we fightin for?" To which another replies: "Don't ask me, I don't give a damn. / Next stop is Vietnam." We all know how that song turns out. Dews's point is well-taken, and it puts paid to the claim by Smart (and others) that the politics implied or advocated in Foucault's work is in some obvious and immediate way superior to that available in marxism. Spontaneism and anarchism are indeed forms of political practice distinct from those sanctioned by marxism, but which one will in the long run prove more efficacious is hardly to be decided so easily. In the meantime, it would be well to consider the fact that the modes of political calculation available from within the ambit of historical materialism have a reasonable, ifnot flawless, track record. The Bolshevik, Chinese, and Vietnamese revolutions are not negligible achievements, after all, whatever the deformations each has undergone in the intervening years since its triumph. Finally, before the project of a materialist science of history is jettisoned altogether —and for the far from settled reason that it produces bad politics—it may be useful to recall Lenin's aphorism about the relation between science and political practice: "Marx's theory isn't true because it works: it works because it's true." MICHAEL SPRINKER Raymond Williams. Writing in Society. London: Verso/NLB, 1984. 268 pages. $9.50 (paper); $27.50 (cloth). _______________ Towards 2000. London: Chatto & Windus, The Hogarth Press, 1983. 273 pages. $9.95 (cloth). Raymond William's "cultural materialism" addresses itselfto the study ofdiscourse as a human practice productive of meaning. It works against the grain of the idealist trend in literary studies which rejects the category ofthe author only to enshrine in its place the masterly consciousness of the critic, individually free to play with the textuality oflanguage itself. Cultural materialism rather seeks to understand the necessary density of the category ofthe author, a density which precludes any reduction of it to some simply given and unified figure, the biographical character behind the author. It requires analysis which brings into play notions ofcontradiction and not simply notions of difference.lt is particularly concerned—as Writing in Society and Towards 2000, taken together, demonstrate—to articulate connections between forms of representation in the narratives of literature and in the narratives that inform the understanding of the present, from public elections and strikes to the private family romance in all its forms. Cultural materialism thus destroys thedivision between literary and non-literary forms ofrepresentation which had served as the founding assumption ofa once self-consciously (from Johnson through Arnold to Leavis, in its English form) active cultural form. Writing in Society is the second collection ofessays published by New Left Books in their attempt to encourage discussion and assessment of the work of Raymond Williams, a figure whose very authority in the context of British left cultural politics has tended—with a few notable exceptions such as Terry Eagleton's Criticism and Ideology and Anthony Bamett's "Raymond Williams and Marxism" (NewLeftReview, No. 99)—to place his work beyond the bounds ofsuch an assessment. The first volume. Problems in Materialism and Culture (Verso/NLB, 1980), brought together William 's most important theoretical essays, and demonstrated the breath of his work as a social and political critic. This second volume narrows the focus and is more concerned with William's particular contribution to English studies. Nonetheless, it is ofsome political importance, given the ideological powerofEnglish studies as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 168-171
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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