The werewolf and the silver bullet: ANT/Gramsci, pt. end.

by CarlD

As I’ve said recently I quite agree with Duncan that “if intellectuals want to be politically useful in some way, as intellectuals, some of the more useful things they can do are 1) provide an adequate analysis of current social, economic and political conditions; 2) start generating concrete proposals for social, political and economic alternatives.” If we take these to be worthy goals, the blog medium is promising for both.

It should be noted that marxists have historically been reluctant to do 2), going back to the young Marx’s scathing and perhaps counterproductive dismissals of the ‘utopian socialists’ with their neat little plans for ideal worlds. In this sense although the communist telos remains definitive in marxism and creates some distinctive categorical limitations, marxism and ANT have been consonant in a theory of practice for which networks and structures must be actively assembled rather than posited as givens.

It is possible to extract just this sort of theory of practice from Gramsci’s journalism and prison notes; he does some of that work himself, although presumably his plan to turn the Notebooks into a finished text for the ages included more such. But the thing to remember is that Gramsci’s practice was praxis (it was theorized), so extracting the theory from it and setting it aside as a thing in itself is not (yet) gramscian praxis. Gramsci’s theory of practice emerges from and depends upon its actual deployments, in the same sense that Bourdieu resisted extractions of his theory from his concrete studies. There’s a certain amount of making it up as we go inherent in ANT/Gramscian praxis; as the Notebooks show, everything is in play, from popular literature to philosophy and from party politics to the organization of work.

Ultimately the point I want to get at with all this ANT/Gramsci stuff, and it may not be all that new or interesting, is that neither ANT nor Gramsci authorize a practice oriented toward killing the werewolf with the silver bullet. There’s no single, focused problem, nor is there a single, focused solution. Of course this does not mean that ‘it’s all good’ as we go about the business of making the world a more pleasant place, but it does suggest that a flexible, recursive distribution of analysis and action is more likely to move us along, because it’s the only thing that ever does.

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One Comment to “The werewolf and the silver bullet: ANT/Gramsci, pt. end.”

  1. Carl,

    What blogs do you feel offer:

    1) provide an adequate analysis of current social, economic and political conditions; 2) start generating concrete proposals for social, political and economic alternatives.” If we take these to be worthy goals, the blog medium is promising for both.

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