Against Fragmentation

Against Fragmentation : Origins of Marxism and the Sociology of Intellectuals

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Description

Discusses Marxism's social origins and influences, and argues that Marxism, like all Utopian systems must develop discontinuities and paradoxes in the real worldshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 342 pages
  • 164 x 232 x 34mm | 680.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195033035
  • 9780195033038

Review Text

Gouldner, the late Washington U. sociologist, authored studies of intellectuals (The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class) and of Marxism (The Two Marxisms). Here, he links Marx's writings to his status and interests as an intellectual - a combination that brings more insights into Marxism, but also injects some of the jargon and excessive theorizing that marred his go-around on intellectuals. Among the insights is Gouldner's contention that Marx's well-established anti-Semitism skewed his analysis of capitalism by encouraging him to treat commerce and money as mere hucksterism, while giving admixing attention to the rationality of capitalist production processes. Consequently Marxism has tended to assume that, shorn of their commercial aspects, capitalist production techniques could be adapted to socialist goals - ignoring the dehumanizing effects of work rationalization. Soviet practice represents the fulfillment of this one-sided perspective, Maoism a reaction against it. On the jargon side is Gouldner's idea that intellectuals participate in a "Culture of Critical Discourse," or CCD, that elevates the critical power of reason and institutions, such as bureaucracies and parliaments, which provide jobs for practitioners of CCD. Gouldner uses this notion for several arguments: in one, he contends that the frustrated job prospects of 19th-century intellectuals turned them into critics of the status quo (Marx wanted an academic career); in another, he focuses on the intense organizational battles, within and alongside the workers' movement, that provided part of the context for the working out of Marx's theories. Marx, the intellectual, championed the importance of theory, of the establishment of "bourgeois" political institutions (such as a free press and parliaments), and of caution, while the artisan wing was for direct, immediate action. Gouldner's claim that Marx's interests conflicted with those of the artisans' is worth considering, but it's also a simpler point than he makes out. Of less value is Gouldner's discussion of the "boundary transgression theory of creativity" - a too-fancy way of saying that Marx synthesized a lot of stuff that was already around in a way that allowed him to make unique theoretical connections. A mixed bag, stronger on the Marx interpretation than on the sociology of intellectuals - but intrinsic to the body of Gouldner's work. (Kirkus Reviews)show more