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137 reviews a questionable subject. Progress is attributed to history (p. 99) in a manner consistent with the historicism Poulantzas observes ("Great Britain," p. 71). Hence, "lines of force" can "incarnate certain values" (p. 98), and full knowledge of historical processes is placed in a Utopian future that sees the coincidence of subject and object (pp. 24-25). Such passages indicate why Anderson thinks "agency" is reconcilable with 'rigorously determinist premises" (p. 19). What is the significance of this ambiguity? It's noteworthy that it flares up most dramatically when Anderson is thinking about immediate political struggles in Britain and stressing that one course of action is preferable to another. For it would seem most plausible to attribute the ambiguity to the difficulty Anderson has in reconciling the reality of praxis with his commitment to scientific rigor. And if this is the case, Anderson's friendly closing gesture to Thompson displays why it is difficult to avoid undertaking Thompson's project. We should be grateful that the Anderson/Thompson debate continues. For it dramatizes, in contemporary terms, a tension within Marxist discourse that would seem inherent in its claim to be both a science and a revolutionary praxis. In the context of the revitalization of Marxist discourse in recent decades, it is perhaps an opportune time to interrogate that tension, not merely for the sake of theoretical symmetry, but more importantly for the sake of praxis itself. A careful study of this debate would be propaedeutic to any such project.ROBERT WESS Raymond Williams, Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays (London: New Left Books, 1980). Pp. ix +277 L3.95. "A philosophy does not make its appearance in the world as Minerva appeared to the society of Gods and men. It only exists in so far as it occupies a position, and it only occupies this position in so far as it has conquered it in the thick of an already occupied world." — Louis Althusser To pay homage at this late date to the achievement of Raymond WilUams in Marxist cultural studies verges on impertinence. His work constitutes the most sustained, farreaching , and trenchant body of literary and cultural criticism in English. Problems in Materialism and Culture, a collection of essays written and published over the past twenty years, confirms this judgment and helps to clarify the position that Williams has been working toward in book-length studies from Culture and Society (1958) to Marxism and Literature (1977). His current label for this position is "cultural materialism." One valuable aspect of this collection is the insight it provides into Williams's intellectual development. It can profitably be read in conjunction with the series of interviews conducted with Williams by the editors of New Left Review and published under the title Politics and Letters (1979). Williams's youthful engagement with Marxism at Cambridge in the 1930's, his dissatisfaction with the available Marxist theories of culture (dissatisfaction which led to his own, virtually autonomous, attempt to produce an adequate materialist theory of cultural production), and his eventual recovery of Marxist theory through the agency of the sociology of Lukács and Goldmann — this intellectual itinerary can be studied in the essays on "Literature and Sociology" and "Notes on Marxism in Britain since 1945." Insofar as Williams's career can be seen to exemplify certain tendencies prevalent throughout Western Marxism, the importance of understanding his development cannot be overemphasized. One way into this problem is to invoke a familiar distinction in Marxism: theory and practice. Though there is a powerful impulse in Williams's work (as in Marxism generally) to refuse this distinction, it can nevertheless be employed conveniently to discriminate among the essays in Problems in Materialism and Culture. Five essays engage in theoretical speculation either by way of commentary on the work of others ("Problems of Materialism" treats Sebastiano Timpanaro; "Beyond Actually Existing Sociahsm" is a 138 the minnesota review long review of Rudolph Bahro's Alternative; "Literatue and Sociology" evaluates the legacy of Goldmann, and to a lesser extent that of Lukács), or in original attempts to rethink the categories of Marxist social theory ("Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory" and "Means of Communication as Means...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 137-140
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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