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14248050-Wood-Ellen-Meiksins-Liberal-Democracy-and-Capitalist-Hegemony-a-Reply-to-Panitch

14248050-Wood-Ellen-Meiksins-Liberal-Democracy-and-Capitalist-Hegemony-a-Reply-to-Panitch

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LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND CAPITALIST HEGEMONY: A REPLY TO LEO PANITCH ON THE TASK O F SOCIALIST POLITICAL THEORY Ellen Meiksins

Wood I I want t o take up again the question: What is the task of socialist political t heory? Having said this, I should add that this will involve first, another fair ly long discussion of Macpherson before I move on t o other matters. There is, a s I said the first time, a large and important area of political theory which so cialists have left for Macpherson t o deal with virtually alone. It is, therefor e, impossible to take up these aspects of political theory from a socialist poin t of view without coming t o terms with Macpherson. Any attempt t o build on the ground he has broken is likely t o proceed as if it were a personal encounter, a dispute, with him. This is what it means t o be the major reference-point in a debate. My argument with Macpherson is a t first a methodological one concernin g the study of political thought in general and liberalism in particular; but it is a methodological dispute with larger, practical implications. Underlying the methodological differences are different assumptions not only about the meaning of liberalism and its function in capitalist society but, more generally, about the nature of the socialist project, what that project suggests about the histo ric conditions of socialist struggle and about the terrain on which it must be w aged, and what tasks this imposes upon socialist intellectuals. It is these prog rammatic, political issues that I want to explore further in what follows. S o m e Preliminary Points Leo Panitch never confronts-or even perceives-the ess ential point about the relation between theory and practice, the practical impli cations of Macpherson's theoretical and methodological strategy, or the sense in which his theory and method are 'incommensurate' with his commitment t o social ism.' Panitch does, however, have a few things to say about Macpherson's method; and since it is here that our disagreement begins, something should be said abo ut it before we engage each other on the larger questions. Panitch accuses me of 'failing to see' the substance of Macpherson's argument because I do not unders tand his method, which is based on the recognition that 'to demonstrate a theory 's inconsistency one must confront it on its own terms'.* He refers specifically t o my 169

170 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 misunderstanding of Macpherson's judgement that pluralist-elitist theories are ' substantially accurate' as descriptions of the political system in Western democ racies. I shall have more t o say later about the programmatic implications of M acpherson's method. For the moment, I am particularly interested in Panitch's un derstanding of Macpherson's approach and of what i t means to attack an argument by 'confronting i t on its own terms'. The most arresting statement made by Pan itch on this score is his suggestion that Macpherson's approach is similar t o t hat of Ralph Miliband in The State in Capitalist In response, I simply ask the r eader t o consider this: Macpherson says, 'As a description of the actual system now prevailing in Western liberal-democratic nations, Model 3 [the "equilibrium " or "pluralist-Plitist" model] must be adjudged substantially accurate.'4 He sa ys nothing further to qualify this judgement about the descriptive accuracy of t he 'model', reserving his criticisms largely for its 'justificatory' aspect. Mil iband says: One of the main purposes of the present work is in fact t o show in detail that the pluralist-democratic view of society, of politics and of the state in regard to the countries of advanced capitalism, is in all essentials wrong-that this v iew, far from providing a guide to reality, constitutes a profound obfuscation o f it. He then proceeds to devote an entire book to proving the point. It takes an over -subtle mind to equate these two approaches. Miliband is indeed meeting his adve rsaries on their own ground- not by accepting the accuracy of their description, even in the most limited sense, but by marshalling empirical evidence to refute it. His critique of pluralist theories is based on the proposition that '. . . the political process in these societies is mainly about the confrontation of th ese [class] forces. . .'6 Macpherson's judgement that the pluralist-ilitist mode l is essentially correct in its descriptive aspect is made possible only by fact oring class out of the political process or 'system'. The political 'system' mus t, therefore, be abstracted from its social content and defined in purely formal terms, in precisely the 'obfuscating' mode of his pluralist adversaries. When c lass reappears in Macpherson's critique of the pluralist-elitist model in its j' ustificatory' aspect, i t does so simply in the form of inequality, the unequal distribution of political 'goods' which puts in question the implicit justificat ory claims of pluralist theory. In short, Macpherson's assessment of pluralist-e litist theory and its descriptive adequacy depends upon adopting the very theore tical and methodological principles on which his adversaries rely to maintain th e plausibility of their argument. It is only by taking great conceptual pains an d accepting their way of defining the basic unit of political analysis that Macp herson can avoid challenging the pluralists on their favourite empirical and des criptive ground. There is much more involved here than a mere quibble (as

if dangerous. since the mid-1960's. I am referring specif ically and explicitly t o 'pluralists like Robert Dahl'. by confining his work t o a critique of liberalism instead of helping t o reconstruct Marxist theory itse lf. apparently. adding. '. they occur a t critical points in Macpherson's argument.and. in The Re al World of Democracy-allowed Macpherson t o account for Stalinism as simply the consequence of a necessary.This. rejected the 'central ingred ient' in the Marxist theory of transition: 'the theory of class struggle as the agency of change.It should. some of which express a more critical assessment of political power in capitalist societ y. which are n o t as opposed t o my own as he seems t o think. parenthetically . is that they mu st be treated as theoretically and politically significant. Three major themes in his argument are especially important: 1) Panitch suggests that Macpherson has. The crux of my argument. There a re. therefore. 3 ) Panitch concludes that. and of the proletariat as the revolutionary ~ l a s s ' .LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 171 Panitch would have it) over 'terminological purity'. This procedure is characteristic of Macpherson's approach in general and typifies what I have called his 'theoretical ambiguitie s'. but these do not cancel out the many instances where he concedes essential th eoretical ground to his adversaries. ~ constitutes a sharp break with Macpherson's earlier writings. he dissociated himself from Marx ism when addressing the question of transition t o s o ~ i a l i s m ' . argues Panitch. the consequence of which is that. that is a particular set of productive relations and a particular system of class d ~ m i n a t i o n ' . Macpherson not only meets them on i t but ef fectively concedes i t to them. 'while continuing t o employ Marxian politica l economy in his critique of liberal democracy. be s aid for the ~ record that in the phrase quoted by Panitch. Where Miliband attacks plur alist theories on their own ground. Panitch simply evades this issue when he triumphantly denies that Macpherson has 'no conception of the state as an institution whose function i t is to sust ain a particular social order. Macpherson-' t o indicate the consequences of asserting th at the pluralist-ilitist model presented by people like Dahl is 'substantially a ccurate' as a description of the political system in Western capitalism. and they go far beyond rhetorical necessity. 'vanguard route' demanded by conditio ns of 'material scarcity'. perhaps.10 and that this failure is parti cularly evident in the 'rigid economic determinism' which-for example. Macpherson's Project : Class Struggle or Fabian Philanthropy? Let us first pursue the implications of Panitch's own criticisms. These concessions are substantial and syste matic. as I suggested. other less equivocal passages in Macpherson's work. 'in classical . Macpherson has incurred the danger of limiting himself. ~ 2) Pa nitch argues that Macpherson shares with Marxist political theory generally a fa ilure t o deal adequately with the tension between discipline and consent which inevitably arises in the revolutionary project.

Macpherson treats t he link between liberal democracy and capitalism as if it were temporary and con tingent. Whatever changes Macpherson's work has undergone. ~ Here. he has isolated the most critical symptoms of what he and I both regard as weaknesses in Macpherson's approach. This project implies a number of crucial assumptions: above all. const itute a sharp break in his development. his conception of the socialist project and of the social reality that confronts it? This brin gs us back t o the methodological issue and how Macpherson deals with the relati on between liberalism. to s o c i a l i ~ m ' . too. there has been a fundamental methodological continuity in hi s analysis of liberal democracy and the function he assigns t o that analysis in advancing the cause of socialism. or is i t implicit in the very foundations? Does th is abandonment really apply only to his conception of the transition to socialis m. and socialism.172 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 Fabian fashion. A careful consideration of M acpherson's work as a whole and the tasks he has set himself may suggest that th e lapse into 'classical Fabianism' which Pantich warns him against is not merely contingent but lies at the very heart of his intellectual and political project . that he presents socialism as essentially an . in this case its theorist s. the project implies a particular audience and as signs t o that audience a predominant role in the transformation of society. Identifying the causes is s omething else. . or is there a continuity and consistency which can be traced t o the premises that inform his whole work. At least. I argued in m y original essay that in Life and Times. capitalism. to trying to educate the ruling class. The question is whether or not the problems in Macpherson's argum ent implicate the theoretical foundations of his work. or is class struggle substantially absent from his critique of liberal democr acy? What is the relation between Macpherson's attitude toward Stalinism during part of his career and his lapse into a kind of Fabianism? Does this. Even historica l analysis-which un q uestionably plays a larger role in Macpherson's work on po litical philosophy than i t does in conventional philosophical treatments-is sub ordinated t o moral and logical argumentation. Panitch has gone straight t o the heart of t he matter. Macpherson's critique of liberal democracy is and always has been essentially an exercise in moral persuasion harnessed t o a n acute philosophical analysis designed t o expose the ideological content and l ogical contradictions in liberal political and economic doctrine. Some immediate questions arise: does Macpherson's abandonment of clas s struggle and the revolutionary agency of the proletariat really constitute a r adical break in his thought. whether they are accident al and contingent or whether they are systematic and ultimately grounded in prec isely those theoretical-and politicalambiguities t o which I referred in my own criticism. . in preference t o other possible 'agencies of change'.

. that Macpherson's very choice of project and method rests on certain fundamental attitudes he shares with his liberal ad versaries. his definition of liberalism itselfsu ggest certain things about his intentions.notably J. does this really tell us very much ab out them? It could be said about both Karl Marx and. Mill and the 'ethical liberals' who succeeded him. In this sense. What. say. ' ~ My suggestio n was that this method of argumentation could be merely a tactical ploy adopted to further his project of persuading liberals to become socialists. I did not int end t o reject the first explanation but only to supplement it. in any case. Is i t only a logical error that prevents F riedman from becoming a Marxist. his very definition of liberalism already from the outset implies what P anitch identifies as the 'classical Fabian' project. Macpherson's procedures-indeed. I was wrong to do so and would no w argue that the one entails the other. Milton Friedman that t hey have such an ethical commitment. after all. is the point of the proposition that the essence of liberal democracy is an ethical commitment to th e self-development of all individuals? This proposition clearly is not intended as an empirical statement about liberal democratic institutions or even liberal democratic ideas as historical phenomena.what he identifi es as the 'human capacities' that must be fulfilled and what he believes to be t he social conditions for their fulfillment. associated with particular social cond itions. only a failure t o perceive that since the cond itions tor overcoming 'scarcity' have been achieved his commitment to individual freedom and selffulfillment n o longer requires 'market assumptions'? Macpherso n's definition of liberalism and his emphasis on the essential continuities betw een liberalism and socialism are not explanatory but above all persuasive propos itions intended t o convince liberals that they ought t o be socialists. political conflicts. and that he falls into an 'empty formalism' which evacu ates the socio-historical substance of liberalism simply in order t o establish a philosophical link between liberalism and s o c i a ~ i s m . remains empty and formal as long as the thinker's commitment t o 'self-development' is abstracted from its particular content. class struggles. and i t tends t o assume-or purports to assumea fundamental common interest between th e ruling class and the subordinate classes on whose behalf they will bring about socialism. If I appeared to present the two explanations as alternatives.S. An intellectual project suc h as Macpherson's has political implications. Even as abstract textual interpret ation of a few individual thinkers. It implies that socialism-if i t c omes at all-will be a gift from a segment of the 'educated' ruling class .S. Even if we accept Macpherson's claim s about the primacy of this ethical commitment in the doctrines of J. but that thi s explanation seemed to be insufficient and that Macpherson may also have been ' seduced' by certain liberal assumptions and theoretical practices. Mill-it is at least debatable a nd.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 173 extension of liberalism.

that he rendered these definitions sociologically and politically inconsequentialin deli berate opposition t o Marx-precisely by locating the significance of class diffe rentials not in the social relations they entail-relations of conflict and strug gle-but simply in the consequences of 'market chances': property gives its owner s an advantage. .'' that is. 'Anyone who confronts ser iously Macpherson's concept of the "net transfer of powers". No single concep t can be as important in identifying his intellectual and political standpoint a s is the character of his project as a whole. The e xtent to which Macpherson remains within the limits of this Weberian concept of class and the suppression of class struggle is perhaps suggested by preciwl\ tha t concept which Panitch identifies as the most characteristicalIy Marxist in Mac pherson's theoretical vocabulary: the 'net transfer of powers'.I3 It is worth noting that Max Weber himself (as I argued before 14) was quite willing to identify 'property' and 'lack of property' as the 'basi c categories' of 'class situation' and even to define these 'basic categories' i n terms of relation to the means of production. Panitch has not succeeded in dispelling the impression that insofar as Macpherson has a concept of class. The rejection of class struggle. Class struggle may have disappear ed only in the sixties from Macpherson's vocabulary. as Panitch suggests. the powe rs to engage in the self-fulfilling exertion of his other. hum an capacities. even a monopoly. the loss of 'the satisfaction he could have got from using it [his labour-power] himself' and the loss of 'extra-productive powers'.the key t o his whole critique of capitalism-is shaped by the fundamental assumptions of that project. there is an additional loss to the lab ourer'. To differentiate himself from liberal definitions of class.174 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 Macpherson's intellectual strategy proceeds as if it were based on just such an assumption. o nly extending it to point out that. however. then. its practical fun ction in his argument seldom takes it far beyond the (Weberian?) notion of 'clas s' accepted by conventional social science-a concept of inequality more than a c oncept of class. seems to be implicit in the v ery foundations of his theoretical enterprise. it is not enough-as Panitch seems to think-for Macpherson t o define class 'in term s of property' or even to acknowledge that the 'inequitable' distribution of wea lth in capitalism is a necessary and inevitable consequence of the 'capitalist m arket relation'. . extra-productive. 'c annot fail to see that i t is entirely founded on the theory of surplus value. but it may be revealing t o consid er how this particular concept. The point was.. in addition to the material value transferre d by the labourer to the capitalist.' writes Panitch. but it can be argued that it has never had an essential place in his critique of liber alism or his analysis of capitalism. Now there can be n o doubt that Marx's surplus value connotes the kinds of material and human losses to which Macpherson's concept . in the acquisition of goods and services.

Marx's concept of surplus value i s not simply a technical economic category. and even causes dehumanisation. the effects of this imperative on the o rganisation of production and the labour-process. It is a sociological category that denotes exploitation not simply as an injustice but as a focal point of class struggle. specific t o capitalism . both its caus e and its consequence. In this respect. class struggle is not something that suddenly happens a t the momen t of transition. has n o apparen t practical consequences for his analysis of capitalism and the conditions of it s transformation. Macpherson's notion of 'net transfer' certainly begins with an apparen tly Marxist view of the relation between capital and labour as a coercive relati on of production. What is most striking about his conception is that social rela tions of production and class (when they figure in his argument at all) have lit tle function in his analysis of capitalism except as the source of inequality. It thereby locates the points of a ntagonism around which classes in capitalism polarise. even if the 'goods' inequitably distributed are expanded t o include non-material goods such as the capacity for self-development. and implies that the expa nsion or contraction of surplus value is conditioned by the configuration of cla ss power. a n unfair exchange between individuals. however. 'Surplus value' expresses a need. Macpherson neutralises h is own criticism of liberalism and the 'commodity fetishism' of classical politi cal economy. for the intensification of exploitation. and simply invites us t o make a moral judge ment about the evil consequences of capitalist exploitation and a philosophical judgement about their logical incompatibility with the ethical professions of li beralism. Otherwise.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 175 refers and that this is crucial t o his moral argument against capitalism. and not merely a 'market relation'. more t o Marx's critique of capitalism than a recognition that the capitalist wage-relationship necessarily and inherently occasions such losses a nd inequalities. or inequitable distribution. traditions in which class struggle has n o essential place in the a nalysis of capitalism because . when he stresses that i t must produce and reproduce inequalities and losses to the worker which accrue to the benefit of the capitalist. his formulation directs our attention away from the sociolog ical and political insights entailed by the concept of surplus value and its ine xtricable link with class struggle. but the im portant point is that they do not figure essentially in his concept of 'net tran sfer'. the relative strength and organisation of the classes that stand behin d the individuals who embody the direct exchange between capital and labour. but neither is i t simply a moral in dictment of capitalism. the imperative of capitalist accumula tion t o maximise surplus appropriation. There is. If anything. This important insight. and the real conflicts these c reate a t the point of production and beyond. Macpherson is undoubtedly aware of all these things. however. In other words. there would be littl e t o distinguish Marx fundamentally from other moral critics of the injustices attendant upon property ('property is theft').

again. Indee d. Conversely. a benefaction conferred by the most advanced sections of the privileged class es upon a passively suffering working class. requires abstraction from the class struggle-not only a t the mo ment of 'transztion' to socialism but in the account of capitalism itself. rather than simply a 'market relation'. Macpherson's accou nt of the 'net transfer'. In this respect. The fundamental antagonism of interest inherent in the relations of production b etween capital and labour for him meant the necessity of class struggle as an ag ency of change. was firmly grounded in. universal human interest as the object of revolutionary cha nge. and co mmensurate with. Even in his 'net transfer of powers' Macpherson remains bound to a project from which class struggle has been ejected. as if there were an es sential harmony of interest in society and n o irreconcilable conflicts to imped e the transformation of capitlaism by the good will of an enlightened ruling cla ss. This. 'the economic question from merely a lament or indictment of suffering (passiv e) into the driving mechanism of class struggle (active)'. while i t correctly stresses the worker's loss. The un iversality of human interests was. direct s our attention away from the struggle implicit in the exchange-a struggle that is never one-sided-and focuses on the (individual) worker as passive victim. Marx's transformation o f socialism from moral exhortation t o economic and political analysis was inext ricably bound up with the notion of class struggle and the self-emancipation of the working class. 'human'. the possibility of rejecting class struggle as the agency of change and expel ling it from the process of transition. in his analysis. It is not enough t o say that Marx also looked to a common. . However conscious Macpherson may be of the fundamental antagonism of interes t inherent in the 'net transfer of powers'. What raised his own commitment t o that universal interest above mere utopi an moralism was precisely that he relentlessly pursued the implications of the a ntagonism of class interests which stand in the way of a common humanity. can be said to presuppose the exclusion of class conflict from the analysis of capitalism itself. the 'rejection of the proletariat as the revolutionary class'. His political project. mediated by the 'universalit y' of the proletariat as a revolutionary class-in opposition t o another class. both his commitment to socialism and his analysis of capitalism . as Hal Draper has argued . therefore. his intellectual project bypasses th at antagonism and appeals to the common.176 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 class is never confronted except possibly as inequality of distribution.16 It was just such 'i ndictments of suffering' that tended t o view socialism as a kind of philanthrop y. It is a t this critical point that Macpherson departs from Marx's concept of surplus va lue and fails t o pursue the implications of its focus on capital as a social re lation of production. Macpherson returns t o the forms of socialism which Marx spent mos t of his life endeavouring t o surpass by transforming. interest of the two antagonist s.

in this ilitist non-Marxist form of socialism t hat failure is . there were significant affinities betw een the Soviet regime and the Fabian conception of socialism as collectivism imp osed from above by the state through piecemeal reform and social engineering. B ut as many commentators have pointed out. It can. the Webbs the mselves.' In this Fa bian interpretation of the Soviet Union and the function of the Party. Again. from the kind of uncritical Marxism that expresses itself in a 'rigi d economic determinism' and a failure to deal adequately with the 'tension betwe en discipline and consent'. Th ere is a striking congruence between the view of socialism that regards i t as a philanthropy conferred by a converted and morally regenerated section of the do minant classes and a particular interpretation of the Soviet experience in which the Party represents a 'vocation of leadership' whose object is 'to induct a po litically uneducated people into an understanding of public duties'.'' What unites the par liamentary gradualism of classical Fabianism with this apparently antithetical a pproval of the Soviet Union in the Stalinist era is a thinly disguised contempt for the 'mass' and a view of socialist transformation as a kind of education and moral regeneration in which the conversion of a superior few is followed by a m ore or less protracted-and in some cases. If Marxists have failed t o deal adequately w ith the tension between direction and democracy or the necessity-and the difficu lty-of keeping democracy alive in society while the direction and discipline of a revolutionary state hold sway. including Fabians. however. necessarily authoritarian-period of tutelage for the masses. such as 'backward' Russia. i n which not class struggle but piecemeal reform would be the agency of change. and not least. Esp ecially in the 1930's. the Soviet Union held a strong attraction for many non-Co mmunist. be argued that Macpherson's view of Stalinism has its roots in the same divergences from Marxism that characterises his analysis of capitalism. which necessarily confronts the revolutionary project. the example of Fabianism is instructive. non-Marxist socialists.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 177 Macpherson 's 'Vanguardism' The affinities cited by Panitch between Macpherson's project and that of the Fabians may also place his attitude toward the Soviet U nion in a different light. It may seem paradoxical that this product of a dramatic revolution shou ld appeal t o socialists whose most notable characteristic until then had been f aith in a smooth and gradual transformation of society by parliamentary means. Panitch suggests that Macpherson's analysis of Stalin ism as largely the consequence of economic 'scarcity' stems from his Marxism-or. the empha sis is on the 'faults of human nature" * -more particularly. while the state imposes collec tivism and 'democracy' from above. the inadequacies of the unregenerate -and on the vocation of the few 'in whom nature has implanted a turn of public work'19 to 'guide and instruct the mass'. direction and democracy. a t least.

and it opens a very wide gulf between the superior few and the . what is most striking about his account is the tendency t o pus h class struggle and the revolutionary agency of the proletariat into the backgr ound. class-conscious section of the working class-or even its repr esentatives-and the mass of the exploited classes whom they will lead in the str uggle and the revolutionary transition. Here. the division between the 'vangu ard' and the 'mass' tends t o be cast in terms of a division between an enlighte ned and morally regenerated few and an ignorant passive many whose debasement an d dehumanisation by society render them incapable of generating change. This series of radi o lectures dates precisely from the mid-sixties. there is an account.^' Again. The contex t of Macpherson's 'vanguardism' is not class struggle and a distinction between the most advanced. The prob lem of revolutionary transformation thus presents itself t o Macpherson in this form: 'How can the debasing society be changed by those who have themselves been debased by it? ' People who have been debased by their society cannot be morally regenerated exce pt by the society being reformed. converge with Fabian attitudes such as those expressed by the Webbs in the early thirties. which Panitch identifies as the period when Macpherson abandoned these 'central ingredients' of Marxist theory. Instead.oppression and 'dehumanisation' that must be transfor med-incapacitate their victims to be agents of change. Macpherson's own political history and commitments have not been those of a Fabian. This is particularly true of his views on 'van guardism' and the interpretation he gives to that vexing principle of Marxismen in ism.178 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 n o t a mistake but is essential and endemic. In a revolu tionary period. when a substantial part of the society senses uneasil y that i t is dehumanized but does n o t know quite how. or when it is so dehuma nized that only a few of the people at most can be expected t o see that they ar e dehumanized. I t places at t he centre of the revolutionary project the inability of the 'mass' t o act as a revolutionary force. like the premises of his intellectu al project in general. It is worth noting that the work in which his defense of the Soviet Union and the 'vanguard state' appears in its simplest and most uncritical form-The Re al World of Democracy--is also a work in which class struggle as the agency of c hange and the revolutionary proletariat disappear from view. More than that.and a defense-of 'vanguardism' in which the 'vanguar d' does not figure clearly as the advance guard of the working class. If it is n o t done by a vanguard i t will not be d one a t This interpretation on vanguardism has significant consequences. and this requires political power. there is n o use relying on the free votes of everybody to bring about a fully human society. therefore. it takes for granted that social conditions -those very conditions of-. but there are important points a t which his opinions on the Soviet Union.

What is required of the revolutionary masses is only class-consciousness. II What. which seems t o grant a positive moral statu s to 'substitutism' and revolution from above.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 179 'less than fully human' many. however prot r a ~ t e d . and there can be n o doubt that the notion of 'vanguard ism' in any form-even the most benign-raises serious questions about the relatio n between discipline and democracy. state-socialism. and what stance should i t adopt toward liberalism? Leo Panitch proposes a Marxist 'raid' on the liberal tradition. he suggests. Macpherson's most important contribution to soci alist theory may have been t o prepare the ground for such . but acknowledges the necessity of conflict and class struggle . These are que stions that Marxist theory has tended t o pass over in embarrassed silence. probabl y must be in the conditions of contemporary Western capitalism--a Marxist 'refor mism' which is not based on parliamentary gradualism. from above) will come. but in a formulation like Macpherson's. not some more exalted state of intellectual and moral vision. indeed. The difference here is not necessa rily between 'reformism' and revolution.the conditions of exploitation and class conflict-ar e the very conditions that will heighten rather than suppress the development of this consciousness. the vanguard cannot claim t o be anything more than the vanguard of the wo rking classes-the most class-conscious or the most strategically sophisticated e lement. This is in contrast to any form of vanguardism tha t retains a belief in the necessity-and possibility-of class struggle. In such c ases. state power and popular power. is the task of socialist political theory. not a different order of humanity. the other o n class struggle-lies n o t only in the greater political realism of the second but in its more convincing commitment t o democratic values. There is a 'socialist' pr oject with a long tradition which addresses bourgeois audiences on the grounds t hat i t is from the middle and upper classes that the transformation of society (gradual. It may be that these formulations are forced upon Macpherson by the audience he is addressing. This is a very different project from one that takes for granted class struggle-and the self-emancipation of the working classas the moving force of social transformation. but. or 'revol ution' from above. the difference between the se two kinds of ~ socialist project-the one relying on philanthropy. then. Indeed. Recent historical experience may not inspire confidence in revolutionary vanguards. such questions are swept even fur ther under the rug and cease even t o be an embarrassment. the object of addressing them. th e extent and nature of the constraints which the audience is allowed to impose d epend on one's project. w hile the necessity of addressing the unconverted can certainly not be denied. and the assumption is that the social conditions demanding re volutionary transformation. ' In the final analysis. since there can be-and.

as Macpherson does. As alw ays. however. those insights that are 'nonhistorically limited'. and I should like t o consider the implications of the theoretical task which P anitch invites Marxists t o undertake. The very form of the state itself . I t is n o t possible . His sugg estion that 'raiding' the tradition of liberal theory.180 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 a raid. The particular ef fectiveness of liberal democratic institutions rests not only on their performan ce-in common with other forms of state power-as coercive instruments.25 It does not. Marxism. about class hegemony and counter-hegemonic strategies. about the nature of ideology and its function in class struggle. but also o n their uniquely powerful hegemonic functions. or whether the instructiv e functions of liberal democracy are rather subverted than advanced by such a 'r aiding' operation. badly needs t o draw upon liberal theory t o fi ll the yawning gaps in its own treatment of politics and the relation between st ate and individual. is pers uasive. The critical lessons can be learned by extracting from liber alism. Liberal Democracy and Capitalist Hegemony Liberal democratic theory derives its ideological potency not from its philosophical persuasiveness or its ethical pro fessions but from the efficacy of liberal democratic practice. argues Panitch. Again. th ose elements 'that can be found to be consistent with a non-market. and not simply the ideological or cultural apparatus that sustains it. goes beyond ackn owledging the practical value of liberal democratic forms now and in the future. The legal and political instituti ons of liberal democracy may be the most potent ideological force available t o the capitalist class-in some respects even more powerful than the material advan ces achieved under the auspices of capitalism. achieve this effect by pure mystification. hegemony has two sides. classless so ciety'. let us proceed t o ask whether the project itself is a useful one.24 Leaving aside the question of whether this is in fact Macpherson's pur pose in abstracting liberalism from its historic conditions. however. The parliamentary democratic state is a uniq ue form of class rule because i t casts doubt on the very existence of a ruling class. is that the consent i t commands from the dominated classes d oes not simply rest on their submission t o an acknowledged ruling class or thei r acceptance of its right t o rule. Panitch and I scem to agree that there is in liberal institut ions a legacy worth preserving and that Marxist theory has not adequately confro nted the problem of the state arising from its own revolutionary goals. as Perry An derson has argued. about class struggle. m y premise is that the intellectu al enterprise has programmatic consequences and that it carries a burden of impl icit assumptions about the socialist project and the role of the intellectual wi thin it. What gives this political form its peculiar hegemonic power. whether this is indeed how the t ask of socialist political theory should be conceived.

LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 181 if it is not plausible. rests t o a significant extent on a formal separation of 'political' and 'economic' spheres which makes possib le the maximum development of purely juridical and political freedom and equalit y without fundamentally endangering economic exploitation. but a qualitative leap t o new forms of democracy with n o successful historical precedent. the outer limits of popular sovereignty on a purely political plane really have been reached. in ways that are as yet unknown.27 At least. The coercive power on which capitalist property ultimately rests can thus appear in the form of a 'neu tral' and 'autonomous' state. The effect has been to produce various modes of political analysis which abstract 'politics' from its social f oundations: for example. 'equality'. which scru tinises political 'behaviour' or political 'systems' as if they were devoid of s ocial content.26 Liberal democracy is the outcome of long and painful s truggles. with the complete separation of the producer from the means of production. in political philosophy. It has conferred genuine benefits on subordinate classes and given the m real strengths.28 Liberal democratic legal and political forms are compatible with. particularly in the English-speaking world where the liberal tradition has been especially strong. not simply another extensi on of suffrage or a further incursion by representative institutions upon execut ive power. and 'justice' are subjected t o intricately formalistic analysis de liberately divorced from social implications. therefore. new possibilities of organisation and resistance which cannot be abandoned to the enemy as mere sham. surplus extraction n o longer requires direct 'extra-e conomic' coercion or the producer's juridical dependence. where concepts like 'freedom'. The point is not that people are necessarily duped into believing that they are truly sovere ign when they are not. the significance of such theoreti cal manoeuvres does not. indeed grounded in. This also means putting at risk hard-won gain s for the sake of uncertain benefits. To say that liberal democracy is 'hegemo nic' is t o say both that it serves the particular interests of the capitalist c lass and that its claims t o universality have an element of truth. Thus. then. as Leo . or 'political science'. Not surprisingly. the severe restrictions imposed upon popular power by the character of parliame ntary democracy as a class state may appear as the limitations of democracy itse lf. the full development of liberal democracy means that the further extension of popular power requires not simply the perfection of existing polit ical institutions but a radical transformation of social arrangements in general . Capitalist hegemony. A major obstacle to the socialist project is that it requires not merely a quantitative change. the separation of pol itical and economic spheres that characterise the liberal state in practice has also been enshrined in theory. with the triumph of representative ins titutions and finally the achievement of universal suffrage. it is rather that. capitalist re lations of production because. For socialist political theory.

is 'false'. not a way of describing the self-emancipation of the working class but preci sely its opposite. values. . not by. and instil it. Again. an ideal consciousness for a working class whose real consciousness. his 'raid' on liberal theory? If liberal democracy is at the core of capitalist class hegemony. very much depends on what one means by 'hegemony'. There is only one definition of social reality accepted in most essentials by all classes-a definition that corresponds t o the interests of one class while i t draws others into self-deceiving acquiescence. their consciousness. One of the essential premises of this conception (as i t appears. and struggles. How the counter-hegemonic project is conceived. odd ly. . and there is a way of thin king about 'hegemony' that produces practical effects not so very different from those we have up t o now associated with Fabianism: the effective replacement o f class struggle and its chief protagonist. in certain recent interpretations of hegemony in which Gramsci's notion is manip ulated and grafted onto Althusser's z theory of ideology 9 ) is that the hegemon y of the ruling class over subordinate classes is one-sided and complete. What is more important is the way these procedures give theoretical expre ssion to the abstraction of 'politics' in the liberal democratic state and t o t he appearance of 'universality' or 'neutrality' on which its hegemony rests. howeve r. There is n o struggle here. how should we assess the intellect ual strategy proposed to Marxists by Leo Panitch. Such f ormulae tend t o expel class struggle from the concept of hegemony. ab sorbed by capitalist hegemony. t o speak of establishing the 'hegemony of the working class' becomes. by intellectuals and their 'autonomous' activity as the principal agency of revolutionary change. th is evacuation of specific social content.30 In this vocabu lary. there is only dominatlcv~on one side and submission on the other . it is presumab ly the task of socialist political theory t o approach liberal democratic theory 'counter-hegemonically'. and that intellectual activity can produce a counter-hegemonic 'c ulture'. . suitably transformed. It suggests that working class 'hegemony' is created by means of 'autonomous' theoretical and ideological practice-on behalf of. . are an open invitation t o a Marxist ' raid'. 'Hegemony' thus ceases to repre sent a distillation of class conflict which necessarily bears the marks of the s ubordinate classes. for example. and how they urge us t o accept formal equality and freedom without looking too clo sely at the substance enveloped in the form. lie simply in the fact that this formalism and abstraction.182 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 Panitch suggests. take culture away from [the] enemy. the working class. we have the vision of an illum inated few who-probably through the instrumentality of a Party-will 'bring the p ublic mind to reason. the working class. into the working class'.31 . Counter-Hegemonic Strategies: Politics and Ideology In light of the hegemonic po wer exercised by liberal democratic practice.

whatever the historical and social origin of these id eological principles. they can be detached or 'disarticulated' from one class ide ology and assimilated t o another. He has not spelled out these assumptions and consequences himself. ^^ In Laclau's formulation. and those that are generated by other kinds of contradictions. neutral. the meaning i t gives t o class struggle and the socialist project. especiall y 'popular-democratic' struggles in which the 'people' (a category that cuts acr oss classes) is counterposed t o a dominant 'power bloc'. But if this is too extreme a judgement. but it may be possible t o reconstr uct them. but because they are in principle autonomous.32 Significant ly. or. merely formal propositions which can be manipulated t o suit the values of socialism as well as those of capitalism. it must still be said that-unless he has simply fail ed t o think through the implications of his proposal-his view of what socialist political theorists should be doing rests on assumptions and has programmatic c onsequences. his detachment of these principles from their apparently indissolubl e link with bourgeois ideology so that they can be reappropriated by socialist^. then. and indeed fo r a view of class struggle as a succession of ideological 'raids'. the programmatic implications of this intellectual s trategy. in his important r ecent studies of ideology and politics. Ernesto Laclau.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 183 It may be unfair t o suggest that the intellectual project outlined by Panitch-t he proposal t o detach from liberal theory its 'non-historically limited insight s' and appropriate them t o socialism-sounds rather like an effort to 'take cult ure away from the enemy' in order t o transform i t and make it suitable for pre sentation to a 'hegemonised' and 'falsely'-conscious working class. the hegemony of the dominant cla ss rests t o a great extent on its . Panitch's proposed 'raid' on liberal democratic theory assumes that it s constituent elements can be treated as autonomous and ideologically neutral. they have n o specific social meaning and are reducible t o a few broad. is simply t o abstract and r edefine its concepts for socialist purposes. We can perhaps look elsewhere for a 'theorisation' of this ideological strategy. bec ome more evident. has provided a theoretical basis for tre ating ideology as autonomous and empty of specific social meaning. not class-specific. notably in the form of the state. and these need t o be carefully scrutinised. T his assumption implies one of two things: either these elements are not class-de termined in origin and meaning and constitute a neutral ground on which capitali sm and socialism meet. Such non-class ideologies always appear in association ('articulated ') with class ideologies. Laclau seems t o believe like Panitch that Macpherson's chief contribution t o the socialist struggle is his reclamation of democratic principles from the b ourgeoisie. The task of the socialist in tellectual in dealing with liberal democracy. The argument begins with a distinction between ideological exp ressions ('interpellations') that are determined by class contradictions and str uggles. For example.

184 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 ability to neutralise opposition by appropriating popular-democratic ideology t o itself. The significance of this argument is that. first. Here. since a great deal of importance is attached here t o ~~ ideology. is the crux of the argument. Of course n o t all social conflicts are class struggles and not all ideologies implicated in political struggles-even in class struggles-ar e specifically class ideologies. They can thus be reduced t o more or less formal propositions of more or less universal application. victory going t o that class whose intellectuals can most convincingly redefine these elements t o match its own particular interests. ~ 'A theoretical basis has thus been pro vided n o t only for political alliances that transcend class-one might say a 't heorisation' of the Popular ~ r o n t ~ ~ . It is probably necessary t o stress that 1 agree wholeheartedly about the need to claim democratic values for socialism (th ough the need is greater in practice than in theory).Indeed. but even granting the impo rtance of theoretical activity in challenging the ideological hegemony of the ru ling class. the strategy of 'raiding' or 'disarticulation' rests on a shaky theo retical foundation. 'although the domain of class determination is reduced. It is also true that the 'democratic' elements of liberal . According to such a view . he makes class struggle appear t o be in large part an 'autonomous' i ntellectual exercise in which the 'autonomous' intellectual champions of each cl ass compete in a tug-of-war over non-class ideological elements. these autonomous ideological elements can be said t o represent the central arena of class struggle. emptying them of their specific social and historical content. the counter-hegemonic task of the so cialist political theorist is. class-neutr al popular-democratic 'interpellations' are 'the domain of class struggles par e ~ c e l l e n c e ' . This can perhaps be accomplished by abstracting them. the appropriate intellectual strategy to adopt toward an ideological system li ke liberal democracy would appear t o be first t o detach its non-class-especial ly popular-democratic-'interpellations' from their (temporary and arbitrary) cla ss associations. the arena of class stru ggle is immensely b r ~ a d e n e d ' . If the hegemony of the bourgeoisie rests on its ability t o claim popul ar-democratic 'interpellations' for itself. to 'disarticulate' these ideological eleme nts from bourgeois ideology by demonstrating their non-class character-just as M acpherson has done with liberal democratic theory (according t o Panitch) in pre paration for a 'raid' by socialists. These detachable.b apparently also for ut locating th e principal agents of class struggle outside class. Laclau gives us certain hint s about who such agents might be. which can then be reconstituted for articulation with a new set of socio-historical in terests. then. By putting the burden of class struggle so muc h on the 'articulation' and 'disarticulation' of autonomous ideological 'interpe llations'. Here is a view of class struggle in whic h Panitch's raid may indeed look like a major invasion.

the task of the theorist is n o t t o demonstra te that what appears universal in bourgeois ideology really is universal. precisely to accept the he gemonic claims of the dominant class-but rather t o explain how what appears uni versal is in fact particular. Ideology may contribute t o class hegemony by giving the particular interests of one class the appearance of generality. does not thereby necessarily cease to be a class ideology-that is. been achieved merely by adopting popular-democra tic ideologies that 'have n o precise class connotations' and making them appear t o be the exclusive property of bourgeois class ideology. it cannot be achieved simply by 'disarticulating' democracy . This is. not simply to extract from liberal democratic form s a sense in which they do n o t express capitalist class interests. not simply a neutral element articulated with a class ideology but an ideology that is itself class-determined in origin and meaning. not to empty ideological formu lae of their specific social content but t o explicate the specificity and parti cularity of meaning in them. again. that the ideological hegemony of the bourgeoisie rests on a 'conse nsus' that 'many of the constitutive elements of democratic and popular culture. Nevertheless. in effect. the radical break.may be true. are irrevocably linked t o its class i d e ~ l o g y ' . . and it. b ut t o say this is to say n o more than that class ideology is the product of cl ass struggle. having 'no precise class connotations'-which is.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST. an ideology that has a certain universality. If the defeat of capitalist hegemony rests on the reclamation of d emocracy by socialism (and insofar as that reclamation can be assisted by theore tical means). but also to understand clearly the sense in which they d o . HEGEMONY 185 democracy have. by reducing liberal democracy t o class ideo logy. an ideology that can claim the allegiance of more than one class. not t o say th at socialist political theory must. under certain historical conditions. . and in this sense t o some extent 'neutralises' them. which is never one-sided. dismiss i t as pure mystification or sham. The ideology of the dominant class undoubtedly incorporates elements of popular struggles ag ainst its own dominance. however. between liberalism a nd socialism. the rev erse is true: bourgeois ideological hegemony rests on the ability of the bourgeo isie t o present its particular class interests (plausibly and with an element o f historical truth) as if they had 'no precise class connotations'. been taken up by various cl asses. If anything. therefore. not to abstract ideology from its historic conditio ns in order t o convert particular class interests into universal principles ava ilable for 'raiding' or 're-articulation'. but to explore the historic condition s that have made possible the generalisation of a particular class interest and conferred 'universality' on the capitalist class. as Lac lau suggests. T o counter the ideological hegemony of the capitalist class. The point is simply that an acc ount must be given of liberal democracy which makes clearly visible not only its limitations but also the discontinuity. ~ " success of the se claims has The not.

a case can be made for the principles of the P opular Front and a corresponding ideological strategy in which the continuities between liberalism and socialism take precedence over the discontinuities. for example. It may be useful t o resituate the discussion by contrasting liberalism ('democ ratic' or 'pre-democratic') to democracy. but it has n o interest in th e disalienation of power. socialist. many immediate ly pressing battles to be fought in all of the liberal democracies-against nucle ar annihilation. to define democracy as distinct from-t hough not in opposition to-liberalism. and so on. while acknowledgi ng the value of liberal institutions. An intellectual strategy is needed which goes beyond the union of liberalism an d socialism in a theoretical Popular Front. Liberalism has to d o essentially with 'restricting the freedom of the state'through the rule of law. Indeed. but even if we accept the necessity. Doubt s must exist even here about incurring the risks of a strategy that seems to sup press class struggle.186 THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 from bourgeois class ideology. This is a l arge question. New. but one or two suggestions can be briefly made. of course. t o begin with. between liberalism and socialism. or. Liberalism and Socialism In confronting non-liberal regimes. forms of democracy must be define d whose specificity is clear and which represent an unmistakeable challenge to t he claims of bourgeois democracy that its particular form of 'popular sovereignt y' is universal and final. but in all these battles and alliances. There are. wh ere the limits of popular power consistent with a class society have essentially been reached. in such cases. subordinate the interests and independent action of the wo rking class. t o protect the gains of libe ral democracy itself-and these require broad alliances. preserve that specificity and clearly defi ne the break. particularly fascis t or other forms of dictatorship. as if the major issue were the difference between two forms of democracy. the 'river of fire'. for that matter. If we concentrate our attention on the di fferences between the problems t o which 'liberalism' and 'democracy' are respec tively addressed. be too absorbed by the formula 'liberal democracy'.38 An intellectual strategy must. be found which can. it is a fundamental liberal . of courting these dangers. the struggle for socialism stands apart at the top of the agenda. It is concerned t o limit t he scope and the arbitrariness of political power. and postpone the struggle for socialism. civil liberties. the specificity of the socialist struggle must always remain cle ar. we can recognise the value of liberalism and its lessons for s ocialism without allowing liberalism to circumscribe our definition of democracy . In the liberal democratic state. so that our at tention is focused on the opposition 'liberal democracy' versus 'socialist democ racy'. then. We should not. no such argument can be mad e in the circumstances of liberal democracy.

implies overcoming the opposition of 'economic' and 'political' and the s uperimposition of the 'state' upon 'civil society'. that some works are more critical than others (although my clearly stated object was t o consider one work in particula r. 'C. From this point of view. NOTES My thanks t o Frances Abele. 'Popular sovereignty' would thus not be confined to an abstract political 'sphere' but would instead entail a disalienation of power at every level of human activity. What1 did was t o poin t out that his standpoint seems to vary. but the limitation of power is not the same thing as its di salienation. Macpherson. the rule of law.40 Even democratic power wi ll undoubtedly present dangers about which liberalism-with its principles of civ il liberties. just as the coupling of 'liberal' and 'democracy' may be misleading. This is why for liberalism representation is a solution not a problem. 152). the joining of 'socialist' and 'democracy' sh ould be redundant. f or example. that even in his most critical work s there are 'theoretical ambiguities which open the way for a convergence with h is opponents' (Wood. misses when he cites 'representa tive government' itself as one of the 'valuable and nonhistorically limited' ele ments of liberalism which Marxism should incorporate. Socialist Register 1978.39 It is in confronti ng this problem that socialism has something to learn from liberalism-not about the disalienation of power but about the control of alienated power. David McNally. Peter Meiksins. Democracy unlike liberalism even in its most idealised form. This is the essential point that Leo Panitch. Perhaps because of this failure of perception. p. . and Neal Wood for th eir very helpful criticisms and suggestions. an attack on the whol e structure of domination that begins in the sphere of production and continues upward to the state. 1.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 187 ideal even in its most 'democratic' forms that power must be alienated. I did not. Liberalism. for example. question Macpherson's commitment t o socialism or claim that he 'loc ates himself within liberal democracy' (Panitch. The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy).B. in order t o permit f undamentally individualistic human beings t o occupy themselves with private con cerns. and the Task of Socialist Pol itical Theory'. not simp ly as a necessary evil but as a positive good-for example. democracy has to do precisely with the disalienation of power. furthe rmore. p. and that these theoretical amb iguities have programmatic implications. and protection for a sphere of privacy-may yet ha ve lessons to teach. In contrast to liberalism. T o the extent that some form of alienated power or representation conti nues t o be a necessary expedient-as in any complex society it undoubtedly mustfrom the point of view of democratic values such representative institutions mus t be regarded not only as a solution but also as a problem. 216). Panitch consistently misreads and even misquotes me.

Karl Marx's Theor y of Revolution. 148. p. 147). 159. Panitch. pp. by her conc lusion that Macpherson is virtually indistinguishable from Mill. d eveloped respectively in the West (legal and political) and in Russia (economic) and waiting t o be brought together into a 'complete whole'. for many years a civil servant in India. p. n. 229) is clearly not t o rehearse this ob vious fact about capitalist exploitation-'as against Macpherson' or anyone else. A t any rate. p. 1977).' (Panitch. e. Maynard -a Fabian. Miliband. h aving generously praised the 'strength' of the argument in the latter part of m y essay. Now my object in the passage quoted (or misquoted out of context. 83. laments that the argument 'remains vitiated. . See Ralph Miliband. ' As against Macpherson. p. and several time s a Labour candidate-derives the notion of the Party as a 'vocation of leadershi p' from the Webbs. (Wood. 226 and 2 3 1. Maynard. p. Panitch. and that t his is the crux of the link between liberalism and capitalism. Ralph Miliband. 1977). Panitch. p. p. 294. the 'huge mystification' t o which I refer in this passa ge (and which I credit Macpherson with being one of the first t o challenge. the other by the socialis t East-with Maynard's account of the two 'halves' or 'fractions' of democracy. 166. Wood. p. 1977). 59).g. 224. Panitch. Wood." '. and he c astigates me for failing t o notice that 'this has always been the centrepiece o f Macpherson's analysis'. u nimportant that I did not say that Macpherson is 'virtually indistinguishable fr om Mill'. p. I t is als o interesting t o compare Macpherson's conception of the two (or three) dimensio ns of 'democracy'-one exemplified by the liberal West. p. perhaps. p. p. p. 142. p. 160. John Maynard. quoting-again out of context-from Wood. unfortunately. tho ugh he has not gone far enough) is clearly not liberalism but an intellectual tr adition that abstracts the history of political thought from its social and hist orical foundations. The Lzfe and Times of Liberal Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 150. 160. 160. It is. Later. p. p. State and Bureaucracy (New York and London: Monthly Review Pres s. 180-190. Wood contends that Marxian class analysis involves unders tanding that capitalism is "the most perfect form of class exploitation: the com plete separation of the producers from the means of production. (Panitch. Panitch. C. Marxism and Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 296. 16. Panitch. p. p. 294. on the tension b etween 'direction' and 'democracy'. The State in Capitalist Society (New York: Basic Books. p. 222. . p. and has been se duced by liberalism's "huge mystification". pp. 4. The unmistakeable point of the passage is to stress that this very characterist ic of capitalism is the basis-not the antithesis-of the 'universality' and 'auto nomy' of the capitalist state and its appearance of class-neutrality.B. 1949). Maynard. 240). 2 93. Panitch. Hal Draper. . Macph erson. Maynard.THE SOCIALIST REGISTER 1981 One or two more specific examples: Panitch writes. Russia in Flux (New York: Macmillan. Panitch. 151. Panitch. Wood. p.

no. 110. 170. Laclau. See also E . For a very fine discussion of this aspect of class hegemony. for example.B. See Miliband. Thompson on the rule of law as the expr ession of ruling class hegemony in 18th century England in Whigs and Hunters (Lo ndon: Allen Lane. 223-234. 60. 163. Ernesto Laclau.P. . 30. p. 163. 12-14. See also m y article. in Laclau. 1978. May-June. pp. especially pp.LIBERAL DEMOCRACY & CAPITALIST HEGEMONY 189 See Maynard. Laclau. Laclau. May. is precisely an attempt t o 'theorise' the Popular Front-and especially in a Latin American context. November. Po litics and Ideology (London: NLB Verso. Marxism and Politi cs. . Raymond Williams. 22 8-30.P. Macpherson. N L R 100. p. it can be argued that Laclau's theory of ideology. In fact. Wood. Perry Anderson. 'The Separation of the "Economic" and the "Political " in Capitalism'. 110-111. NLR 127. see Tom Nairn's revi ew in the London Review of Books. 19-20. although it claims a g reater generality. 513-14. Panitch. 109. pp. . 'Eighteenth Century English Society: Class Struggle without Class? ' Social History. pp. Panitch. 162-4. November-December. my con cern is with his 'theorisation' and the attempt t o universalise it into a gener al theory of ideology. ch. Thompson. p. pp. but Laclau has made the point t o m e more d irectly in commenting on my original article. For a discussion of some recent inter pretations of Gramsci that suggest such a view of hegemony. This judgement is at least implic it. See. p. Macphe rson. p. pp. 12-13. 'The Antinomies of Antonio Grarnsci '. This is arguab ly the effect of Althusser's conception of ideology as a kind of systems-mainten ance device embodied particularly in 'Ideological State Apparatuses' which ensur e the reproduction of the social structure. 1981. 1979). 'The Politics of Nuclear Disarmament'.'. pp. 'C. 2. 1976-January. 1975). see E. The Real World of Democracy (Toronto: Canad ian Broadcasting Corporation. 1977. 30. p. Nairn. 1 7 July-6 August. VI. pp. p. 1980. 1980. for example. NLR 124. Whether or not Laclau gives an adequate account of populism or fascism and the conditions of struggle against it. 3. See Wood. rol. for a d iscussion of this point in relation to disarmament movements. 1965). 262-3. and n. Anderson. pp.

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