Cultural Marxism

No. 077

Cultural Marxism

An Introduction

T. R. Young
The Red Feather Institute

Dec., 1980




This paper is a result of a  sabbatical taken at University of Exeter in 1971-72.  I am greatly indebted to Barry Turner for his good help in getting me settled in and advising me as I visited people and places in Great Britain.  This paper is dedicated to Barry, now (1998) deceased.


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Distributed as part of the Red Feather Institute Transforming Sociology Series. The Red Feather Institute, 8085 Essex, Weidman, Michigan, 48893.


Cultural Marxism

An Introduction


This paper begins with a marxian understanding of the concept of culture and its difference from most uses of the concept.  Then, a brief review of marxian social theory sets the grounds for cultural marxism.  An Overview of the early work of Adorno, Gramsci, Lukacs and the Frankfurt school is then presented.  Finally, contemporary work of English Cultural Marxists and their concern with mass media and working class consciousness is reviewed. The works of Raymond Williams, E.P. Thomson, Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall are annotated along with some 14 research problems listed for those interested in working with or understanding the focus of cultural marxism in Europe and the USA.

The marxian notion of culture and the marxante study of culture is very different from that of contemporary media studies in the U.S. It is at once richer, subtler, and more theoretically profound than the market/influence/descriptive research developed and published in sociology and mass media journals.1 Perhaps the most notable difference between cultural marxism and American cultural studies is the overt effort on behalf of marxist media analysts to repoliticize the field and to provoke in the reader/student a sense of revolutionary necessity. The necessity is to reconstitute media systems for the production of culture such that a) the division of labor between producer and user is repaired, b) the privatized use of the cultural process is greatly reduced and c) different, more human/social forms of culture are possible. None of these objectives are clearly understood or keenly experienced as serious social problems in the ordinary approach to media study in American sociology, political science, or communications study today. After the student has read this article, the necessity for radical/revolutionary transformation of the media should be clear--even if one cannot accept the goals oneself.2

To begin with, a marxist analysis of culture accepts that culture must be produced continuously; it is not inherited as is a house or a field. The essential fact is that there exists a wide range of socially organized institutions which produce culture. These are the means of cultural production. They, together in harmony and in conflict, produce forms of consciousness, ways of thinking, ways of feeling, ways of defining and conceptualizing which, with more or less slippage, create the linkage between what-we-do and why-we-do it. The means of producing knowledge, understanding, common sense, science, wisdom and folly is central to the human process. Bees, ants, birds, beavers, and elk produce shelter, food, social groups as well as signal systems.

Birds produce music, they do not produce the means to make music nor do they create music as an ideological underpinning for their economic, familial or aggressive activity. The music is there and it is produced but a-constantly changing, growing and increasingly complex system for the production of music is embedded in a social formation unlinked to physical survival or physiological necessity. If human culture is much more complex and much less tied to genetic preprogramming than other animals, the means and forms of culture produced are variable. The political point is that these means of production of culture can be changed by reflexive self criticism and can be transformed. Radio, television and the printed media need not be massified nor must they be oriented to the reproduction of alienating ideologies.

The explosive interest in the media by critical theorists is inspired by a newly awakened understanding that revolutionary movements and theories cannot take the media for granted. The contradictions of capitalism will not automatically lead to collapse and reorganization into a more democratic society oriented to social justice. The ideologies of class, gender, and ethnic privilege become a powerful material force which, in moments of instability, shape the revolutionary process and lead in directions not at all democratic or oriented to social justice. The marxists who have created this new critical marxism learned a bitter lesson from the thirties and forties ... and from the ideological hegemony of the U.S. in the sixties and seventies. Gramsci, Lukacs, Horkheimer and others helped to found a new, more dialectical marxism after the experience with fascism. Williams, Hoggart, Thompson, Habermas, Offe, and others help consolidate this revised marxism in the fifties and sixties.

In the literature, this reappraisal of the ways in which ideas are organized and distorted has many faces. Sometimes it focuses in on the ways in which human knowledge is constituted and then is called epistemology, the sociology of knowledge, phenomenology or hermeneutics. Sometimes it focuses in on the various institutions of knowledge productions and is called media studies or cultural marxism. Sometimes it deals with the ideological products: plays, novels, cinema, music, science, or forms of religions. Then it is called criticism, critical studies, cultural marxism or simply literary criticism. The terminology is shifting and often confusing as are the theories and analyses. But the arena of interest is clearly focussed: it concentrates on the forms of ideological, political, and material culture end how human beings relate to the means by which these are produced.

The heart of the argument is that participation in the production of culture is necessary to the human process and exclusion harmful to human being. The terms alienation, false consciousness, reification, false needs, domination, ideological hegemony and instrumental rationality do not come easily to the mind and tongue of the U.S. student-nor are they firmly established in the conceptual inventory of the orthodox Marxist. But the cultural marxists and the work cited here all insist that an adequate theory of human oppression and authentically social revolution must, once more, critique the institutions by which the knowledge process is organized and human culture produced. Most available analyses in cultural marxism expressly warn the reader that there is a danger inherent in some ways of producing music--or art; or physics or medicine or law or sociology--which subverts the human process. Marxist analyses do this or they are not marxist analyses.

By the time one has read of and learned to read these complex institutions for the production of culture, one has acquired several things. In the first place, one has acquired some insight into the most remarkable of all human activities. S/he will understand radio programs, movies, concerts, and novels in ways which enliven and awaken one to the potential for better forms of culture. S/he will see and feel outrage that these cultural forms are abused and debased for purposes unconnected to the general human interest. The critical student of radio, television, cinema and sports will begin to be interested in the reunification of cultural production and distribution, in the redirection of the cultural process to more social purpose and, as well, the political means appropriate to these transformations.

What is required of those who read marxist analyses of the media is a slow and careful preparation for progressive, collective action. The point of such study/ action is not to produce a well-rounded individual but a well-rounded society. The requirement levied on the student by the marxist professor is not to earn a career-oriented grade on a written test but to accept the responsibility to critique the knowledge process and to orient that critique to the collective interest. The whole of study in our American colleges and universities is career oriented. The whole of marxist study is to take a part in the struggle against domination which may or may not pay a living wage--most probably not ... not for long in the same job at any rate.

One can see that there is much to gain and much to lose in starting to learn how the cultural process is organized from a marxist perspective. The task is not made easier by the language, the examples, and the complexities found in marxist work. This brief introduction can help--can make things simpler, clearer and more coherent. The people currently central to a marxist analysis of the media are not easy to understand. Adorno, Benjamin, Gramsci, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Lukacs, Foucault, Habermas, Bourdieu, Lacan and Williams are not the place to start for most of us. One would, most likely, be lost and become discouraged. Fortunately there are people who write in a style which is more lucid for American students. They are few in number--far too few--but they are a good place to begin. In the United States and Canada, Herbert Schiller, Stuart Ewen, Dallas Smythe, Vincent Mosco and David Gross use language, style and examples which are readily grasped by the American intellect since the languages and the examples come from our own lived experience as is not the case for foreign authors. In England, resources are better developed.

Perhaps the best bridge between the beginning American student and the Germany of Adorno, Marcuse and Horkheimer, the Italy of Gramsci or the Hungary of Lukacs may be found in contemporary British cultural marxism since we share so much history with the British and since the British are far advanced in this area to the U.S. The companion piece to this article is a four-part volume which presents a readable radical analysis of the current culture industry from Great Britain. In this article, the reader will meet Graham Murdock, Peter Golding, Nicholas Garnham and Stuart Hall, all doing very good work. They will introduce the reader to a whole body of literature on television, the novel, cinema, drama, and the newspaper which will enrich and enliven understanding. Before one goes on these analysts, however, there is some basic work to do for those not versed in marxist theory. Those familiar with marxist social theory may want to proceed to part II.

There are two things I'd like to do in the body of this paper. First I will present enough marxist theory to locate cultural marxism in that body of work and, second, I will sketch out for the beginner how cultural marxism developed in its present, fragmented form. One part will locate cultural study in a theory and the other part will locate it in a history. In the final section, I will present a brief survey of cultural marxism in Britain.

I. Background to Cultural Marxism. Marxian theory has three parts: there is first a theory of knowledge, alienation and emancipation which is central to our interest here: cultural marxism. This is the lost history of marxism as we shall soon see. There is, second, a theory of the laws (tendencies) of capitalist social structure and their consequences and there is, third, a theory of crisis and revolution. Conservative critics of marxism focus exclusively on the third part and rejoice that Marx was "wrong." All three parts of Marx attest to his genius and illuminate his limitations. One cannot begin to understand the interest in Marx and marxante analysis until one has an understanding of these three parts undistorted by the self-serving treatment available to the U.S. public. At the same time, one should not reify or sanctify either the man or the theory. Such celebration defeats the critical spirit so central to a marxist perspective and, itself, becomes just another obstacle in pursuit of the human project.

A. The first, lost, part of marxian theory asserts that the nature of human alienation is loss of control over the knowledge process. This claim was made by Marx against the more traditional view that alienation involved separation from God. Hegel had laid the groundwork for rejection of separation-from-God as the problem of alienation by asserting that it was separation of people from a perfect knowledge of objective reality which constitutes alienation. For Hegel, reality existed ontologically--in and of itself, and categorically--in categories which existed prior to and apart from human interests, beliefs, and concepts. Some people (mostly men, mostly European, mostly upper class) were good enough to come close to perfect knowledge and thus reunite subjective knowledge and objective reality in their individual persons and thus solve the problem of alienation without religion or God.

The means of reunification was to be science. This seems to us, an eminently appropriate position to take. To the modern mind accustomed to view science as the knowledge process par excellence, the quest is for perfect knowledge about nature and society. Marx accepted that the knowledge process was central to human labor but rejected Hegel's assertion that knowledge, reason and truth existed ontologically ... or that the quest for a solution to alienation existed objectively in the disembodied world of ideas. Marx especially rejected the Hegelian solution in so far as it asserted the state embodied reason and repaired the fragmentation of civil (private) life. Marx accepted that science was the means by which alienation could be defeated but not science alone--it must be science oriented to criticism revolution and emancipation (Habermas, 1971).

Marx "corrected" Hegel by saying that knowledge is objectively valid when people produce it themselves. This is a theory of knowledge and of alienation. You and I learn, falsely, said Marx, that reality--physical and social exists separately from us and from our activity. Marx said that perhaps physical reality exists separately-from human interests and knowing but not social reality. The production of social reality is the uniquely human form of labor activity--that people construct their social life--family, class, work, and religious relations. These do not exist separately, ontologically, apart from our own thinking and acting. One does not stand ontologically as a son or a daughter in relation to a mother or father. These relationships are produced by our capacity to think and to believe as well as by our acting as if they were true. They do not exist objectively until we so think, so believe and so act. This is the heart of a theory of knowledge: we know we are sons and daughters because we act (and others act with us) to produce that relationship ... more than this, al] valid social knowledge is of this form-active production equals perfect knowledge equals unalienated labor. It is only necessary to add that the production of social reality as well as the ideas which suffuse that reality is what marxists mean by culture. As culture is the uniquely human enterprise, a critique of culture and its production is the uniquely marxian project.

The relationships we produce come to take on the character of independent existence--of structures set as such for all time. This is termed reification. In this development is the Marxian theory of alienation: we produce something and we lose collective control over it for one reason or another. Marx's theory of emancipation is revolution: we must regain collective control over the knowledge process. If we produce harmful relations (class, family, or other kinds), we must stop doing so and begin to produce new relations. The solution to the problem of alienation is a realization that social institutions are human products, a realization that some institutions are harmful to the human capacities of some or all members of a society as well as a quest for other, less harmful, more humane ways of living together--and as well, recourse to those political measures needed to reconstitute social life. Change, renewal and collective control of the human project is the marxian solution to alienation. The possibility of this solution is open to question. Some structuralists scorn the pretensions of mere humans that the larger, more important structures of social reality can be transformed by conscious human labor (see Mayhew, i980 for a scathing denunciation of this aspiration). The argument, an important one, states that these structures, moving in a time frame of centuries and eons, anchored in slow-changing genetic structures, limited by physical, chemical, and geological realities do not lend themselves to transformation by ignorant, ephemeral human beings individually or collectively. 3

The ways in which people lose control over the knowledge process are many and some are not readily noticeable. All cultural marxism is pointed toward clarification of this process. When Adorno and others wrote about the authoritarian personality, they were saying that people lose control over what they think and do in an authoritarian system. When marxist criticize family programs on television, they are saying that the form of a middle-class nuclear family is, falsely, reified--frozen--as the one, the only, the natural form of family. This reification gives the false idea that people who organize sexual life, child-rearing life, or family life differently are deviants, perverts, subversives or human failures.

It might well be the case that the nuclear, male dominated family mode is suitable to the human project. That is not really the issue. What is at issue is our own judgment about that. If we surrender to this reified form, we can reproduce this social form more easily but we also surrender the other possibilities for love, affection, affiliation, socialization, and power relations. This should be, for human freedom, a collective decision. It should not be lost in history or be used by a network owner or by network advertisers to sell every nuclear family its own car, refrigeration, water pic and detached house.

There are other ways in which human control of the knowledge process is lost. Studies of terror, violence, and power all testify to the distortion of human thought and to the false consciousness which these can produce. We can sincerely believe we should lay down our lives to protect our nation when we are placed in a position where it is dangerous to assert otherwise. Law, religion, psychiatry, psychology, and political science are knowledge producing systems which can betray us into believing, really accepting as true, a course of action which is alien to our own interests but more than that alien to the human condition. We will fight and we will kill others if law, religion, and political indoctrination assert that it is appropriate to do so ... and when the same laws, scriptures, and theories threaten us with prison, damnation, and treason if we question it. And, too, class relations harm the knowledge process by withholding necessary material goods and services from people who cannot sell their labor power to another in such terms as will be profitable for the purchasers of labor power. Without the necessities of life, we are unlikely to be able to have the energy or determination to assert our humanity against the system. The division of labor also cripples the knowledge process. In medicine, in law, in religion, science as well as in business and industry, the division of labor into specialists who "own" knowledge and those of us who must "buy" it is an unnecessary distortion of knowledge about work, law or medicine. We can't all know everything but we should have access to the knowledge process when circumstances in our life require it. There are better, more secure ways to relate to the knowledge of health and medicine than through cash or through charity (Orris, 1980).

Marx said, then, authentic knowledge arises when people create knowingly, collectively, and reflexively their own social life. People are alienated when they lose control over the knowledge process and are emancipated when they regain control. The source of alienation is not separation from God or from perfect knowledge of objective, separately existing, reality but rather separation from each other in active, collective control of producing social life. The solution to alienation is not reunification with God; acceptance of Christ or fidelity to the teachings of Mohammed. Marx said such solutions are false solutions which but inure one to one's own captivity by promising a false salvation in a nonexistent other life. There are no Gods existing ontologically in and of themselves apart from human imagination, belief and hope. If we are to seek salvation it must be in better relationships with one another and to the means of producing important things in this life, not another.

In this life, we regain control over the knowledge process by learning about it and by criticizing it and by improving it. Since radio, newspapers, school, politics, cinema, art, music, literature, science, law and especially television shape our knowledge states and processes and since these are partly determinative of our behavior we must learn about and criticize these. And we must think about new ways to write plays (as did Brecht), new ways to write literature (as did Jack London), new ways to write science and theory; new ways to use television and new kinds of legal, medical and educational systems to organize. In a word, we must radically alter all existing knowledge systems. That is the political lesson to be learned from the first part of marxian theory of knowledge and the lesson which informs cultural marxism. We will begin to explore that topic later.

B. The second part of marxian theory encompasses a theory of capitalist structure and the contradictions within it which, as in water-filled balloon bouncing in slow motion, depicts the tortuous transformations of capitalism. These contradictions finally burst asunder that form of production and provide the ideas and materials out of which a new system of production and distribution will emerge. It is this grand and global analysis of Marx which elicits, apart from its truth value, the astonished admiration of all those who read him. O'Neill (1979:122) put it this way:

"Capital, then, is not merely a piece of crabbed economic analysis. It is an ethnography of our daily lives in which the texture of experience is interwoven with the realities of property, power and money that determine for us the rhythms of ease and misery, not just in our daily schedules but in the division of the earth into dominions and colonies."

The question posed by Marx is centered on the ways in which capitalism affects the human process. The defenders of capitalism admit its ruthless, inexorable disregard for this or that worker; this or that business, this or that society but argue that the capitalist economic system redeems itself as an asset to the human project by its later, accumulating results. These include a much better control over nature, a much more adequate supply of material goods, an opportunity to go beyond necessity to freedom for more and more people and, as well, a creativity and dynamism liberated from feudal mentality. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels conceded these positive contributions of capitalism but added that a balanced assessment must also consider the negative aspects. Capitalism is helpful, maybe necessary to the transition to socialism but cannot be regarded as the final, perfect stage of social evolution.

Marx tried to reunite the human project and the economic system in his forty years of work by setting forth the "laws of capitalism." These laws (tendencies) work differently from the ways stressed by its defenders. For Marx, capitalism leads to crisis, not prosperity; to domination, not freedom; to increasing misery for more and more people in ever sharper contrast to the increasing wealth produced. Marx argued that another system, a different economic system, could be fashioned which could be combined, indeed was indispensable, to the human project--that of the collective control and collective use of productive resources--communism. Cultural marxists add that collective control of the means of producing ideological culture is as important as collective control of the means to produce material culture. Indeed, one without the other is just another form of alienation as the Soviet system so graphically demonstrates.

Marx asserted that it was not necessary to postpone the human condition for most people year after year; generation after generation; century after century. The tendencies of capitalism were such that the happy day for general reunion now advanced, now receded but tended to grow ever distant. The contradictions (contrarieties) of capitalism which moved it toward economic collapse and toward political crisis include:

  1. The tendency toward concentration of capital. More and more lines of production controlled by fewer and fewer capitalists.
  2. The tendency toward a fall in the profit rate. The system requires profits which require a way to reduce labor costs which leads to automation (the organic composition of capital increases) which reduces rate of profit available since workers aren't working so capitalists can't exploit the value of their labor, and profits can't be realized since machines don't buy products.
  3. The tendency toward uncontrolled oscillations (ups and downs) of the economy repaired only when war, new products or prolonged depression finally renews demand end the cycle of boom and bust starts anew. For a while, it looked as though the state could control these even more violent ups and downs by fiscal (or monetary) policies--this is called Keynsian theory--but since 1967, these policies have not worked.
  4. The tendency toward a larger and larger surplus population. Workers, small capitalists, and whole societies alike are discarded when there is no profit to be made from their labor. This surplus population constitutes a threat and a resource. From it capitalism can recruit people to do its dirty work: the remainder pose an awful, ugly threat requiring more and more welfare--more and more police.
  5. The tendency to degrade work as the knowledge process of production becomes divided into thinkers who control and workers who are forbidden to think about investment, about profit rates or about the labor process within which the worker must live out his/her life. What was once the daily affirmation of human genius--the world of work--now becomes the daily affirmation of one's degradation and despair.  Not incidentally, this division between thought and action creates a permanent obstacle to moral agency on the part of those at the 'lower' levels of hierarchy.
  6. The tendency toward commodification of all cherished relations and products. Everything comes to have a dollar/mark/pound price affixed to it. One's work at first; then one's family, one's country, one's religion and one's language. Everything tends to be privately owned, privately used and privately sold if "the price is right." There is nothing in the logics of capitalism which can transcend this commodification and once again make relations and things priceless. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving become just so many opportunities to cash in as does patriotism and human misery.
  7. The tendency toward socialization of the costs of production and the privatization of profit. The state must tax to produce the workers, to clean up the poisons, to fight wars with each other for materials and for markets as well as to supply security against the surplus population. These costs are collectivized but profits not except through a very leaky tax program which is biased so workers pay more taxes and rich owners less.
  8. The tendency toward overt conflict. The basic contradiction involves the rights of property/ownership against the rights of production/workers. Capitalism pits these two elemental forces against each other in a historic and continuing struggle. Now owners, now workers invent new ways to gain advantage. These gambits and the unnecessary labor they require cripple the productive process but more than that they get out of control and destroy whole segments of society.
  9. The tendency toward Fascism. For cultural marxists, capitalism is hostile to democracy at the same time it promotes a special kind of freedom--freedom for capitalists to invest or divest but unfreedom for workers or for collective control of capital. In a half dozen rich capitalist countries, freedom of a broader sort is found. But in a larger historical analysis of the totality, the dimensions of freedom change--toward fascism in crisis (Chomsky and Herman, 1979; Syzmanski, 1980; Young, 1980).
  10. The tendency to co-opt other structures of status and power; race, gender, age and ethnicity become tools with which to drive down wages, defeat competitors and to increase control over the labor process.

These 'tendential laws' of capitalism are, then, the second, most empirically testable part of marxian theory. In a world dominated by less than two percent of the population of the fourteen rich capitalist countries, marxist theory is a dangerous set of ideas. It is this part of marxian theory which one reads about in Time, Newsweek, Business Week, U.S. News and World Report. It is against this part of marxian theory that the articles in there magazines are pointed. The entire ideological apparatus in the fourteen capitalist societies work day after day to provide evidence against these nine "laws" of capitalism. One must admit that existing socialist nations provide much, far too much, data to help defuse the marxist critique of capitalism --however carefully selected and biased such evidence is reported. The student interested in a fair assessment of the two forms of production and distribution has few resources to which to turn but Cereseto (1979) compares the two economies on twelve measures of quantity of life and Syzmanski (19c0,0) compares them on human and civil rights.

The special interest of cultural marxism is this part of marxist theory, in addition to its truth-value, centers around how the truth-value of marxist theory is constituted by the research process in capitalist society (Swedberg 1980 reports on how the study of communism has been oriented to political concerns in U.S. sociology) and by the way in which the media reproduces antisocialist ideology (Chomsky and Herman (1979) report upon the selective media coverage of the human rights situation and how that coverage is related to the interests of global capitalism: improvement of investment possibilities in the third-world).

C. The third part of marxian theory sets forth a theory of revolution. The tendencies above (not laws of the sort one finds in physics or chemistry) eventually will, in this part of marxian theory, lead to a revolt by thc workers since only the working class carries in itself the general interests of society. This revolution will tend toward socialism (a strong state to rebuild the productive institutions and to preserve the revolution) while socialism will tend, somehow, toward a communism in which the state is transformed from a determinative social formation to an administrative, responsive, executive one. In authentic communism, power is in the hands of the masses. People have a stable, assured, significant relationship to the means to produce all forms of culture--collective control over the content of radio, television, cinema, drama, novel, science in addition to decent housing, food and clothing.

It is this theory of revolution which affords the critics of Marx the happiest moments. Surely the workers are richer, not poorer. Surely the workers are less class conscious, not more. Surely the workers reject, not accept, the necessity for socialist revolution in England, the U.S., Germany, Japan, France and Italy. Capital has not become more concentrated, profit rates did not fall, unemployment is within acceptable limits, work is more challenging, more inviting and taxation is reformed. These predictions of Marx are proved wrong by the historical record claim capitalist defenders. The interested student can check the record and judge who is closer to the facts, Marx or his critics.

In the U.S.S.R., a small splinter of a small party took state power; not the workers. In Eastern Europe, it was the Red Army which instituted socialism, not the workers. In China, it was the poor peasantry oppressed by the Nationalist government which was easy prey for Mao.  It takes a very selective reading of the historical record to ignore all the various factors and factions at work in these countries but, on balance, the behavior of the working class does not so far give much support to the thesis that the working class will be the agent of revolution. E. P. Thompson (1963) has argued persuasively that workers do engage in class struggle and have for centuries--it is only that they have more to do.

It takes a gross myopia to fail to see that something is going on in the world related to the dynamics of capitalism at both national and global levels. If revolution doesn't follow the simplistic pattern abstracted from Marx's work, it does not follow that capitalism will not, thereby, lead to revolutionary activity. Something about capitalism certainly produced W.W.I, W.W.II, Korea, Vietnam, Chile, Guatemala, Angola, Iran, and, tomorrow, Mexico, Italy and France. Something in the dynamics of capitalist competition led Hitler to try to colonize East Europe after losing its colonies in W.W.I to the allies. Something in the dynamics of capitalism informed the C.I.A. activity in South America and South-East Asia. The C.I.A. people were not, are not, a bunch of undisciplined psychopaths.

The central actors in the struggles within and between capitalist countries in this century have not been owners vs. workers but rather one state apparatus against another state apparatus or a state apparatus against a socialist/nationalist liberation movement peopled more by students, sons and daughters of the middle classes or by ethnic minorities. Workers in the advanced capitalist societies tend to oppose and do violence against those who would propose socialism while in the less advanced capitalist societies, workers are more likely stand by bemused and uncertain in the face of state violence and partisan resistance. Having said this, one can still accept the thesis that the dynamics of the capitalist contradictions listed above (1-9) tend to produce revolution. On the central point, Marx appears to be correct. On the particular course, the record is not yet complete. What transpires in England, Italy and France as unemployment increases and real wages decline for workers should offer more evidence in this question.

There is another point of weakness in the orthodox theory of revolution. The facts of the lived experience in the Soviet Union end other putatively socialist countries do not support the assumption of Marx that revolution would lead toward more and more control by the workers. For the great masses in Eastern Europe, living standards and job security is greatly improved but control over the economy and over the cultural apparatus is in the hands of a bureaucratic elite. The very concept of revolution as Marx used it is contradicted, so far, by the facts at hand.

Theda Skocpol (1979:4) defines a social revolution as a rapid transformation of a society's state and class structure. It is not enough to count as a social revolution that the group which runs a nation are replaced or that sweeping reforms are introduced. Skocpol stresses the adjective "basic" in her definition. "Rapid" and "basic" are vague terms but we can add clarity to the former if we posit that a recognizable beginning and end to overt hostilities within a twenty year or shorter span as a good way to think about the concept of rapid. For the notion of a "basic change in class relations," we can check out productive and distributive variables. If the gross national product per capita remains constant or increases while income differences are reduced from 100-1 to 10-1 considering the top and bottom five percent of the population and the neglected lines of production in an economy (food, shelter, housing, child care, health and medical services as well as education, transport and recreation) are expanded to provide a decent life-style and democratic control of the political and ideological structures is instituted, then we can speak of basic change in class relations. This is a hard test. There is an easier one which reduces the amount of economic and ideological democracy necessary and which would certify the U.S.S.R., the Eastern bloc, Cuba and China as transformed societies. I am not prepared, personally, to accept the broader version but will concede that these may be conceived, usefully, as transitional socialist societies. After eighty years, the concept of rapid loses its cutting edge.

The basic source for revolutionary change in Marxian theory is, according to Marx's most general statement on the subject, the contradictions (disjuncture) within a given mode of production. If we recall that Marx said that a mode of production encompassed both the means of production (tools, techniques and lines of production) as well as the relations of production (master-slave, lord-serf, owner-worker, monopoly-customers) we can easily understand that the way that the relations of production may interfere with the way the means of production is organized. Consider a master-slave relation for example in a cash-crop agriculture system using hoes, plows, large acreages of the best land and stoop labor. The best land is used for crops (cotton, tobacco, tea, sugar for example) and the crops shipped off. The land is not available to grow staple foods to feed a lot of slaves and the surplus population of slaves is sold off, driven off or run off to create nests of freedom in a land of slaves ... or to stay and go hungry. The slave rebellions in Jamaica, Brazil, the U.S., and North Africa arose from the contradiction of a rich land and a starving people. The same form (but not content) can be seen in the Irish rebellions as English soldiers were given the best land in Ireland and the Irish herded onto reservations or driven outside the pale. The Indian wars in the States involved a contradiction between Indian relations to the means of production---the lands were held open and in common within tribes--and the capitalist system of private use of bounded land. In France, the surplus population had no reliable relationship to the means of production and rebelled time and time again for bread, against privilege. As the feudal relationship transferred more and more of the value of production to the nobility and the clergy (up to fifty percent), the peasants revolted (Lefebvre, 1973). The record, in my judgment, supports Marx on the central point.

In the capitalist countries, the problems listed earlier (1-9) make revolution objectively more and more probable. A society as in the U.S. with all of the technical means for an adequate material life should not have 25 millions (1980) living below the poverty line. A society, as in Great Britain, should not use ten percent of its labor force (1980) as a means to control inflation by disemploying them nor should it drive thousands of small businesses into bankruptcy in order to "get more productivity." These things drive people to unorganized and organized violence. The first we call crime, the second, treason.

A study of Cuba, China, Chile, Algeria, Russia and other modern revolutions supports the conclusion that something basically distorted in the system of production and distribution leads first to migration if possible, reform if possible, opposition wherever possible and finally to resistance, rebellion and revolution when the system is incapable of peaceful change.

In the marxian analysis, this disjuncture between a bountiful means and a very undependable relation to the productive system leads to more intense class conflict in which the class with the disadvantaged relation to production struggles against the class sectors with a more favorable relationship. In the advanced capitalist countries, the story runs, a new relationship, socialism, arises within the more obviously disjointed economies. Workers demand--even owners demand--the state provide worker's compensation, disability compensation, free education, better health care, food stamps, and other ways to distribute essential support without waiting for the profit-motive to do the job.

In the U.S. (1980) there are many parallel distributive systems which arose and which are used to reunite the production/distribution separated for purposes of profit and thus secure for the poor and the sick a more reliable relationship to production. Not all of these are socialistic. Some of these parallel systems are failing--kinship, charity, and friendship relations cannot absorb the ever-increasing demand. Crime and socialist forms of support are increasing. The growth of the state and state expenditures for social welfare have, so far, increased in every administration in the U.S. It will be a matter of some interest to revolutionary theory (and human need) whether President-elect Reagan will, in fact, dismantle the socialist accouterments to advanced monopoly capitalism as he promises. The Margaret Thatcher government is proceeding to do so full speed ahead. The probability of revolution in both countries should, if this explanation is valid, be increased.

One can test the thesis that, as the disjuncture between means of and relations to production increase, class struggle increases and intensifies. The first variable, disjuncture, is measured by such things as unemployment rates, bankruptcies, and income inequality. The second variable is measured by strikes by workers, higher prices set by owners, political volatility of workers, the migration of capital to safer countries, street demonstrations by workers and by speedup and stretch-out by owners. These are the data required for a fair test of marxian crisis theory. It will be useful to watch the data from the fourteen rich capitalist countries as the hundred and twenty odd poor capitalist countries progressively increase the price of food and mineral to the rich nations.

The probability of revolution is, in the marxian camp, tied closely to the dynamics of the entire world-wide capitalist system (Wallerstein, 1974). How closely is open to question. Wallerstein says quite closely, Skocpol (22) says that the relation between rich and poor countries is only partly reducible to capitalist dynamics. The fact is that the foreign owned cartels in the third-world (the poor capitalist countries) have helped maintain labor peace in the rich countries. These cartels are increasingly under local control and are now creating all sorts of economic relocations in oil, coffee, sugar, aluminum, copper, gold, tin, and eighty other "strategic" commodities (Gedicks, 1977). These, in turn, produce consumer and worker unrest in the fourteen rich capitalist countries.

Skocpol presents and critiques other theories of revolution in her admirable chapter on social revolutions (pp. 3-42). In particular, she notes (24) that everyone recognizes that social revolutions begin with political crises. This leads one to consider whether the structural features of the state play a marginal role in preventing or enabling revolution or a central role. Most modern marxist theorists (Miliband, Poulantzas, Offe, Anderson, Therborn cited by Skocpol) have presented strong arguments that economic disjunctions are only part of the story in modern times.

We accept, here, Skocpol's position that the police, military, and legal units are deployed and employed by the state. These operate within the logics of capitalism but not at the direct behest of some set (changing or stable) of capitalists. The state does contradictory things and things which help workers even if it is limited by what taxes it can levy on a faltering economy. The state looms larger in a theory of revolution today than in the Europe of Marx (1850-1880). In the original analysis of Marx, the state was in the superstructure. The original analysis is no longer correct in this detail but remains valid in locating the revolutionary dynamics in internal dislocations of society rather than in genetics, psychology, collective madness or in God's will.

The interest of cultural marxism in this part of marxist theory is to insist that an adequate theory of revolution must contain room for the knowledge process: how ideas and ideologies are produced, transformed into material force and affect the course of revolutionary struggle. The concrete ways in which new ideas get transformed in material force varies. This important step has not received sufficient research to clarify it and is probably different from the ways old ideas are reproduced as social relationships and social institutions. I think that social movements are the mediating instruments by which new ideas--and ideologies--are transposed into material forces. The larger structures of which Mayhew speaks also shape this process in ways which are as yet unclear.

Earlier in this century, faced with the popular movements which arose in support of fascism, Gramsci considered the question: How does the ruling class hold the allegiance of millions of workers. Cultural Marxism tries to answer this question. It is the central task of cultural marxism. People act in ways which are objectively hostile to their class interest, their private interest and the human interest. The probability of successful socialist revolution as a response to the crises of capitalism is, in part, determined by the superstructure--by the state, the ideology, by science, religion, and by collective intent. Without these in the service of democratic socialism, the crises may lead in directions not hospitable to the human project. The relationship between base (economic relations) and superstructure is neither one directional, unimportant or automatic. The superstructure is not passive, is not epiphenomena nor to be minimized. A revolutionary movement which accepts the orthodox marxist position does so at the peril of its partisans and imperils the socialist revolution.

Beyond Marx, one must wonder whether there are dislocations in a society which are not tied closely to economic conditions and relations. Disjunctions between institutions and within institutions other than the economic have not been closely examined by marxists or by others. The character of the media and communications technology need to be weighed in a theory of revolution as carefully as Offe, Miliband and Skocpol have weighed the state. This is the special interest of cultural marxism in a theory of revolution. I would advise the reader that, within the logics of marxist methodology there is the position that given factors rise and fall in importance such that a given theory has on]y limited historical validity and new theories must be continuously produced. There is no eternally valid theory of revolution permitted in the logics of marxist social science work. Sometimes the dynamics of change and revolution are located one place, sometimes another but always in the social formation itself.

In summary, Marx is of interest not only because of his analysis of human misery inside the structure of private ownership and class conflict, spoke in powerful and compelling language to millions across the past century, poetic as this analysis may be, Marx a]so gains the respect of the thinking person by his remarkable ability to reunite philosophy (the theory of knowledge) with economics (the analysis of capitalism) and with politics (the theory of revolution and the state) at the same moment others of comparable genius if less encyclopedic knowledge were separating the study of society into smaller and smaller bits called disciplines.(Note) Indeed, it was this specialization itself which obscured the radical analysis and produced a depoliticized philosophy, a dehumanized economics, and an apologetic political science while, in all of this, sociology insinuated itself as the "Queen of the Sciences." Sociology became as a beneficiary of the capitalist class, more interested in celebrating society as a happy prosperous unity than criticizing it as a patchwork of elitist domination and class oppression.

II. The Restoration of Cultural Analysis. In the totality of Marx's work, then, part of it is concerned wit-in relationship to the knowledge process; with ideas, ideology, false consciousness, control of the means of producing knowledge and the means of distributing ideas. Part of it is concerned with economic conditions; with factories, workers, food supply, capital flow and concentration and things not ordinarily thought of as culture. And part has to do with change, political struggle and things which as yet do not exist. The concept of superstructure is often used to bracket ideas and ideologies as well as the social institutions which deal in these: law, religion, education, science, the various media and the state. The term base (or structure) is often used to refer to the economic mode (means and relations) of production.

For historical reasons, the first part above lost emphasis in marxante work from about 1880 to 1950. A crucial portion of the writings of Marx were unavailable. Whoever embodied a marxist perspective did so with the marxist literature available and in isolated social conditions. This limited access and this social isolation together with the special conditions in Russia and later in the Eastern Bloc stressed the importance of the material base; the part of Marx available in Capital. As the U.S.S.R. and the Eastern Bloc were underdeveloped and had inherited the illiberal institutions of the times and were everywhere surrounded by capitalist armies, anything other than physical survival seemed anti-socialist. The immediate task was to develop the economy left in disarray after centuries of serfdom, czarism and warfare. That part of Marxian theory which justified the oppression necessary to extract surplus value from peasants and workers became the whole of Marxist-Leninism. That part of Marxian theory which stressed the knowledge process, praxis, and mass democratic institutions seemed trivial and a luxury tile Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. could forego. As usual, social conditions structure theory.

But social conditions in Europe in the twenties, thirties and forties changed and once again reopened that which was settled for all times. Marxist theory was reopened. And, there has erupted in the past twenty years in the marxist camp a struggle over the relationship between base and superstructure; between ideas and material relations; between the objective and the subjective; between culture and technology. Orthodox marxists tend to stress the objective structural conditions while passing by ideas (subjective states) as pretty much dependent on objective conditions.

A whole set of factors--material and theoretical--combined to provide a structural support for a reappraisal of the role of consciousness, knowledge, theory and media as a moving force in human history. While, in this work, I shall deal with the non-economic factors in order to help clarify cultural marxism, one should not fail to keep in mind the larger structural changes--especially those in the world-system of capitalism which have fueled this renewal. Changes in Europe set a great number of marxists to work trying to rethink the third part of marxian theory--the crisis in capitalist states was everywhere evident but workers moved right instead of left as a purely structured analysis predicted. For Lukacs, Gramsci and those associated with the Frankfurt School, ideas, consciousness, ideology and ideological hegemony become of interest in revolutionary events. As corporations in the fourteen rich capitalist nations consolidated their hold over the global market, the differences in wealth between rich and poor capitalist countries increased. The return of third-world students carrying with them a vision of national and/or socialist liberation in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's came at a time when the U.S. became everyday more clearly the super-colonial-power. The economic successes in the socialist bloc decisively changed the political balance of power set the stage--the material stage --for a renewed interest in the knowledge process. The evidence is less certain here but it may rest on the vision of democracy which shone forth in the American Declaration of Independence. There are two such documents which have inspired the oppressed of the world to unite and reach for liberation--the Declaration of Independence and the Communist Manifesto. Third world students--Mao, Ho, and thousands of others were, I like to believe, affected by both. 4

Agger (1979:10), in his excellent text, suggests that capitalistic crisis in the bloc favors a structuralist emphasis in Marx while capitalist prosperity supports an interest in the role of ideas and the need for ideological praxis. I think the American case is different. However, it is that special history of what now is called cultural marxism I want to extract and chart for the student as it converged from Europe and England to spur an interest in cultural marxism in the U.S.

The heart of the history is this: several important texts of Marx were lost to several generations of socialists.5 The Second International pronounced an "official" version of marxism which was structural (not ideo-logical) and deterministic (not dialectical). The lost texts were published in the Eastern Camp in the 50's, moved to Western Europe and inspired a new, more dialectical marxism there and spread to the U.S. just as the vast upheavals of the 60's produced a radical consciousness for a great many and created an interest in cultural marxism on the part of some of these millions. In addition to these basic works of Marx arriving in the U.S., there were three independent sources of cultural marxism developing in Europe in the 1920's which became of considerable interest to American Marxists. These were the Frankfurt Schule, Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs.

The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory. The Frankfurt "School" refers to a loosely connected group at the Institute for Social Research of Frankfurt am Main. This group took Marx seriously hut, as more and more workers responded to the ideas of fascism flooding the capitalist media in Europe, they, each in his or her own way, began to reassess the relationship between class position and personal consciousness. It was clear workers accepted the ideas of the wrong class rather than of their own class even though there were available ideas opposed to 1) the sale of labor power, 2) capitalist control of production and 3) the private appropriate of the surplus value produced by workers. The slow movement toward fascism by workers in Italy, France, Spain and Germany was a rude shock to socialist hopes and to marxist theory. Workers should have been moving toward job security, collective control, and collective use of surplus value to build a decent society. The "vanguard" model developed in the U.S.S.R. and espoused by the Third Communist International convention repelled marxists who lived in more liberal western societies. These marxists were led to an interest in a more humane and human version of marxist theory. Perhaps it was the need for the U.S.S.R. to survive which leaf to a marxist-leninism unacceptable and/or in appropriate to the dynamics of the advanced capitalist countries. Whatever the mixture of factors lost in history and in partisan polemics, a new interest in the role of ideology (fascist ideology) in shaping the political activity of the masses inspired the Frankfurt Schule.

The Institute for Social Research was founded in 1923. In the 30's its members investigated the social sources of subjective states--ugly subjective states--among workers. Theodor Adorno and Emily Frankel-Brunswick were interested in development of the authoritarian personality out of the authoritarian family and the authoritarian state. Erich Fromm was interested in why people flee from freedom to fascism. Marcuse was interested in how the critical, oppositional spirit of people came to be lost. Loewenthal wondered how newspapers and magazines structured human consciousness in self-alienating ways. Horkheimer applied his genius to the ways in which the rationality of capitalism replaced the reasoning ability of human beings in their quest for a good and decent life. For the interested student a careful and historically grounded explanation of the work of the Critical School can be found in Agger (1979). Freiberg (1979) offers a more American oriented exposition of Critical Theory. David Meld (1980) has an excellent collection of lucid essays on the work of the critical marxist theorists from Horkheimer to Habermas.

In summary, the Frankfurt School invested a faltering marxist theory with a new, more dialectical analysis of the interrelation between consciousness and capitalist economy. Against the tremendous influence of orthodox marxism and without E.P.M.1844 and without Grundrisse, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and others applied their genius to questions of the knowledge process, ideology, false consciousness, and alienated science. Many of them brought this scholarship in cultural marxism to the United States in the late 30's where it burst forth in the 60's to give insight and inspiration to the great social movements in the States. It is no accident that 1968 marked student-based confrontations in the U.S., Japan, France, Brazil and Germany or that Marcuse, Mao and Marx were there in book and in spirit.

Lukacs. In Hungary, as in Germany, an isolated scholarship developed which encompassed the daily events of the twenties and thirties and understood the inadequacies of a monolithic marxism oriented to economic determinism. Lukacs was too much of a scholar to force the facts of life to fit the theory--as long as he had some social distance from the party. Lukacs was concerned to explain (and help reverse) the failure of workers to recognize and act on their own class interest. Everywhere, except U.S.S.R., workers were subordinating their collective, general interests to the special, private interests of capital. Never mind that the state was harassing, imprisoning, and killing socialists and communists in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Still workers should have fought back. Instead they responded in the millions to the siren song of Hitler, Mussolini, and to the thousand editors, reporters, broadcasters, and publishers who trumpeted the fascist ideas. Radio, newspapers, magazines, novels and theatre produced a consciousness and a movement hostile to the objective class interests of workers.

Lukacs, in History and Class Consciousness (1923), insisted that a class-conscious workers movement was necessary to socialism. The blind laws of History would not do the job: it took a material agent to do so. The working class could and did develop a "reified" consciousness hostile to socialism. By itself, Lukacs wrote in 1923, the laws of capitalism would lead to crisis and crisis to barbarism not socialism--by 1940, it was clear that Lukacs had a point. In the 1960's, Lukacs had an analysis in print which would legitimate an interest in cultural marxism. He suggested that it was necessary for workers to break out of ideological bondage to capitalists before even a halting, fragmentary movement toward a socialist society was possible. To do this, workers must couple their everyday radical impulse to a vision of the totality--rather than simply economic goals even if it was an economic crisis which produced the radical spontaneous street demonstrations. Workers must see, understand, know that economic problems require solution far beyond economic goals. The permanent solution is socialism, not good wages for a few strong unions and desperate poverty for others.

For Lukacs, workers' correct insight and correct decision--not their relation to the means of production alone, their class position--were all important...workers collectively, not the vanguard communist party. Theory, Marxist Theory, would help, but existing conditions must modulate theory else praxis is misdirected. At each crisis, the workers have the opportunity to "leap from the realm of necessity"-from the blind laws of capitalism into freedom--to collective control of society and thus avoid poverty, inequality and crisis. But not without understanding. Again and again Lukacs notes the dialectical character OT' any truly radical change-both structure (in crisis) and correct ideas (about new relations) must combine to fuel the revolutionary movement toward socialism. The whole thing could go wrong in either realm--that of structure and that of consciousness. Today, if we accept Lukacs, we must accept that what is in (and excluded) from the various media affects the course of history. The laws of capitalism will not, by themselves, produce socialism. Socialism needs a lot of people to have a vision, one founded in local and global realities, and it needs a lot of hard work to construct the new social reality--it is not automatic, outside the knowledge process.

Gramsci. The third source of cultural marxism which informed both British and American radical thought in the turbulent times of the 60's was that of Antonio Gramsci. It is inevitable that, someday a movie, a heroic epic, will be made of his life. It is an astounding life. Gramsci, twisted at birth with physical defects, father in prison, mother left with seven children, grew to adulthood in great poverty. Gramsci quit elementary school to work when his father went to prison--and returned when his father returned from prison. Gramsci managed to attend Turin university and find an ordered challenge to his genius. He moved toward socialism as conditioned in Italy deteriorated and became a leader of the Communist party from 1924 until, in 1926, Mussolini imprisoned all opposition to his fascism. In prison, Gramsci grappled with the problem of the relationship between educated socialists and the atheoretical masses. In his Prison Notebooks (1971), Gramsci proposed that the undeveloped intellectual capacities of the masses must be enlivened and enriched with theory to combine with their common-sense grasp of everyday conditions before socialism could get on track.

For Gramsci, all people are intellectuals but all do not serve the intellectual function in a social formation. To make the socialist revolution, the intellectual capacities of the masses had to be linked to political activity--they could not be expected to obey socialist theorists blindly nor would they automatically move in their own class interests. Opposed to the masses are the "traditional" intellectuals. The traditional intellectuals carry the wisdom--and folly--of the ages. The organic intellectuals create the new ideas which summarize, specify, and clarify the interests of the group (class) to which they belong. The working masses must develop their own, individual and collective organic intellectuals since the other groups have theirs. Only with its own organic intellectuals ... aided by elements of the traditional intellectuals, can the proletariat move beyond economism and fascism toward socialism.

If we combine Gramsci, Lukacs and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School as well as a thorough critique of the media today and its role in the ideological hegemony of capitalist apologies, with a careful empirical analysis of the capitalist totality, we will have the beginnings of an adequate marxism in the U.S.--a cultural/structural marxism. But these critiques also must enter the public domain and enter working class life else they have no material base with which to affect events. The U.S. could, and would, move to barbarism without an adequate critique of capitalism and a clear vision of democratic socialism. The movement to the right, signaled by the election of Reagan in the U.S., is not a happy augur of the American future.

At first, then, Critical Theory, formulated by the members of the Frankfurt Schule (school) was available in the U.S. to inform and add a deep theoretical dimension to the street confrontations against Viet Nam, against racism, against sexism and for human collective control of domestic and foreign policy. The radical exuberance and organized resistance of the 6O's in the U.S. politicized a great many people including students of sociology, political science, history, and of mass culture. We, thousands of us coming into our professional maturity, understood the safe, depoliticized theories taught us as "correct" in the university were not adequate to explain, to predict, to describe what we experienced. Those thousands discarded the "fathers" of American social science, Comte, Spencer, Durkheim, Weber, Parsons, Merton, Davis, Moore, Lipset, Janowitz, and others. We turned to Marx, Marcuse, Lukacs and Gramsci by the thousands in the mid 60's.

It was not the Marx of the second International, the dreary socialism of Eastern Europe or the structuralist Marx of Capital alone toward which we turned. It was toward a Marxist Humanism to which we turned--a more dialectical marxism in which the superstructure; human consciousness, the state, law, ideology and science were moving forces on a par with the means of production, class relations, concentration of capital and the needs of capital.

At first it was the refugees in the Frankfurt Schule who carried the tradition of cultural marxism to the 60's. Marcuse especially in California but also the work of Habermas which reintroduced us to Horkheimer, Adorno, and the dialectics of base and superstructure. But it was the arrival of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (E.P.M.) to the U.S. which made it clear to American social scientists that we could have class struggle with its structuralist orientation as well as the marxist humanism toward which our liberal American bias pushed us. The record of E.P.M.-1844 warrants a special place in the history of cultural marxism. It was first published in Moscow in 1961. It was the 1964 edition (Struick) put out by the International Press in the U.S. which most helped reunite Marx and the study of culture. Another work of Marx, Grundrisse edited by Martin Nicholaus (1973), in the U.S. was less central but most helpful.

When Nixon was elected in 1968, it became clear that the various social movements which served as the structural bases for radical consciousness would be repressed. However by the time Nixon left office, it was too late to stop the growth of cultural marxism. Marxism, both structural and cultural, was firmly entrenched in U.S. social science. Several groups and organizations appeared, each with its own emphasis and its own contributions to make. In American sociology, the sociology liberation movement (SLM) transformed into the Union of Radical Sociologists. It brought people together at radical caucuses and put on alternate sessions at national and regional conferences until 1972. It reappeared in 1977 as the Marxist section at the A.S.A. and organized a very well-attended series of sessions in the annual meetings of the A.S.A. The Insurgent Sociologist, Telos, The Socialist Review, and the Red Feather Institute were all organized and operating by 1973 with specific intention to promote marxist studies of contemporary society in sociology. The Insurgent Sociologist and Socialist Review were oriented toward structuralism. Telos and the Red Feather Institute toward critical theory and cultural marxism.

Cultural Marxism in England. By 1978, it was clear to the present writer that neither the excellent scholarship of Telos or the fragmentary efforts of the Red Feather Institute were satisfactory to an adequate cultural marxism. Herbert Schiller was doing good work on the structure of communications technology and was widely available but no one was doing the competent, systematic study of television, radio, print, drama or science on a par with European scholarship. Even the excellent work on a more competent theory of the state (in the superstructure remember) was European: Miliband, Poulantzas, 0ffe and Touraine (Weiner, 1980). Telos became a most valuable repository of some of the best work ever done in cultural marxism. However,Telos was far too esoteric in its publications--although it provides a fundamental service by bringing to the U.S. a European scholarship eliminated by earlier importers of social science from Europe. On the pages of Telos one can find articles on and by Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, Loewenthal, Habermas, Baudrillard, Gramsci, Foucault, Carrillo, Lukacs, Kafka, Castoriadis, Sartre, Heller, Therborn and Lefort to mention some of the best. Marxist articles on music, the novel, drama, radio, science and theory---all located in the superstructure, according to the orthodox view, are presented bearing the imprint of classical European scholarship.

There were two problems with the Telos productions which led the present writer to return to Europe consciously searching for a more adequate cultural marxism. First, the Telos materials are very difficult reading. Secondly, they do not provide a dialectical cultural marxism focussed on the culture industry in the United States today.6 U.S. sociologists and media specialists would not be interested in anything but a cultural marxism which dealt with both the structure of the knowledge industry and the cultural content of it in topical fashion. In addition, a readable, engaging style oriented to the concepts arid problematics familiar to Americans is necessary.

The central questions to which a suitable cultural marxism must address itself include:

  1. How does the content of television, art, science and newsmagazines, for example, reproduce ideas which impair the human process; class, gender and ethnic inequality (see Golding and Middleton, 1979 on the media and welfare or Scannell, 1980, on unemployment for example).
  2. To what extent are these media controlled by those who benefit from the structures of domination above?
  3. What are the mechanisms of media control? How is programming decided? What are the points of access for alternate views and ideologies? (see Mortensen and Svendsen, 1980).
  4. How do such things as bingo, horse racing, moto-cross, jogging, and religious revivals related, if at all, to human alienation and the structures above.

    To what extent does the organization (structure) of the media:
    1. generate capital for other ventures
    2. realize profit for other capitalists through advertising
    3. add to institutional distortion
    4. obstruct alternate forms of information flow
      1. cable television
      2. citizen access to T.V. and newspapers
      3. citizen band radio
      4. Xerox
      5. Video tape recorders
      6. satellite disk antennas
      7. superstation
      8. [and now the internet and www. addendum, 1998]
  5. To what extent does the content of media programming in television, novels, radio, cinema and magazine transfer alienation from the economy to the family transform social relations and sacred occasions into the commodity form (see Miege, 1979).
  6. To what extent does private ownership of media affect democratic forms and in which directions (see Elliott and Schlesinger, 1979).
  7. To what extent do other media forms, e.g. citizen's hand radio, xerox, grassroots video, telephony, third-world efforts to reform international media help solve the forms of alienation: interpersonal, institutional, political or religious.
  8. What are the present dialectics of the media. What features of commercial media conflict with its other features: how does 'professional reportage' conflict with private profit or how does television monopoly of the news affect content and political orientation of newspapers.
  9. Which theories and perspectives on the study of media offer the best possibility at this time to repair human/social alienation? (see Hall, 1980).
  10. What is the shape and growth pattern of multinational media corporations? How do these affect existing political and national divisions? (see Garnham, 1979a; Jacobsen, 1979).
  11. What crises now are found in the present form of the media? (see Casareo, 1979).
  12. What are the characteristics of a truly emancipatory media form: drama, radio, cinema, or holography? (see Murdock, 1980; or Dzinic, 1979).
  13. What is the size, scope, and effects of the vast closed, non-public information system: e.g., business, military, educational and political espionage.  

The work done in England begins to address these questions in systematic, timely and readable fashion. As Such the English marxists provide a model for American media/cultural analysts to consider. Taken together, they constitute a qualitative change in the history of cultural marxism. In this final section, I would like to present the student a brief history and description of the British work and the persons central to it. Again, this article is an introduction to cultural marxism but more than that it is an introduction to the collection of articles on cultural marxism presented in the four volumes accompanying this article. All of the authors mentioned as resources in the questions above are, for example, found in Volume 7, Number l of that collection.

The history of British cultural marxism in its present form begins with the works of Raymond Williams, E. P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart, and, later, Stuart Hall.

In his book, The Uses of Literacy, Hoggart examined the effects of the new low cost media on the capacity of workers to produce unalienated forms of culture true to their own experience. If one recalls that Marx said that the ruling ideas of an epoch are everywhere the ideas of the ruling class, Hoggart's work takes on added interest. He offers empirically based evidence to that thesis and finds it a much more dialectically organized world.7 The ideas of the workers also run strong in the society against the ideas of the rulers. A decent, communal and unalienated culture is still found in the speech, styles of singing, brass bands, older types of magazines, games, and ethics (1957:324). The power of comedy, craft, and animal husbandry to counter "the candy-floss world of canned entertainment and packaged provision'' still works to produce a competent culture in the working class. These forms of culture are not without their alienating moments (of sexism and racism) but also constitute strong moral resources against the desocialized world of commodity production. Hoggart turned a page in history for many who suspected the theses that working-class culture was below contempt or that upper class culture was the highest achievement of the human spirit.

E. P. Thompson also returns the dialectic as the historical form of activity in class struggle by his The Making of the English Working Class. Political culture is not produced entirely by the mindless working of macro-historical structures. In the first part of the book, Thompson reports the daily, face to face consciously informed activity of workers as they confronted the class interests of king and capitalist. In the second part, he moves from subjective to objective factors. The whole of the book asserts that working class consciousness emerged as a significant political force with material form in England. Chapter 16 of that work describes a radical culture in detail organized within the forms of media then available: books, magazines, street chanters and ballad-singers, newspapers, political meetings, letters, taverns, and working class associations. Working people in England were not the passive instruments of the powerful: They were that and a self-consciousness, proud productive class who "... nourished ... with incomparable fortitude, the liberty tree." In Thompson's final summation (1957:915), they created a "heroic culture."

Williams' work is more basic, more synthetic arid perhaps more stimulating than other cultural marxists. His Culture and Society (1958) and Keywords (1976) are scholarly treatises on the origins and transformations of key concepts in cultural studies. The former provides what may be the best marxist analysis of the novel, and the artist currently available. If one wishes to understand Dickens, George Eliot, D. H. Lawrence or George Orwell from a marxist point of view, Williams has much to offer. If one wishes a starting point in beginning to grasp cultural marxism, Chapter 5 in Culture and Society may be the place. It picks up the central question: what is the relationship between ideas and the economic master-process. What role does art and culture have in changing people and society (265)? Williams refuses to surrender reality to an easy formula. In point of fact, the evidence on the relationship between idea and economic system is too vast, too complex, too fragmentary and too variable to use to generate the easy equations of the psychological reductionists or the orthodox marxists. Williams is particularly good in his analysis of literature, art and television. Williams' work embodies what one can respect most in marxist analyses: scholarship, scope of genius, balance in critique, openness to evidence and considerable wisdom in judgment coupled with an enduring commitment to social justice and to democratic politics.

Stuart Hall and the work of the Centre For Cultural Studies at Birmingham is the focus of the third book of this collection on cultural marxism. The Centre was established in 1964 under the directorship of Richard Hoggart and, in 1968, when Hoggart went to UNESCO, Stuart Hall became director. Under Hoggart and Hall, cultural marxism has been made more topical, more empirical, more explicitly oriented to class struggle and emancipation. Perhaps the definitive text for this work is Culture, Media and Language (Hall, 1980). It survives the range of work at the Centre and provides examples of Hall's unique contribution to cultural marxism in England. Among the kinds of work included in that volume are analyses on housewives and media, theories of language, commodity sex, English studies, scouting--as well as a research methodology for cultural marxism. Hall's own work there presents his view of the problematics of cultural marxism. Above all, Hall is concerned with a theoretically informed and praxis oriented study of the media. The journal of the Centre is conceived as an intervention in class relations. Hall aimed, with the Centre and its Journal, to put cultural studies on the "intellectual map."

Hall acknowledges his debt to the three above, Hoggart, Williams and Thompson, in the origins of his work at the Centre. He credits them with making economism problematic and cultural studies respectable. F. R. Leavis had created a depoliticized critique of literature(Johnson, 1979) but these three relocated the study of art, literature, drama, television, et al. in the larger, class-organized totality from which it has been extracted.8 Hall's work represents both a continuity and a break from Hoggart, Williams and Thompson. Hall presents a new conception of culture (1980:27). In this use of the concept, culture refers to the entire range of human practices-not just the ideas and values which may (or may not) inform such practices or the forms of art which embody them. The concept of culture was also relocated in history as product and a process of struggle rather than an eternal set of unchanging categories.

Hall emphasized the revision of the relationship between base and superstructure as a major problematic of the Centre. Under Hall, the Centre accepted the complexity of the field of cultural studies and rejected the narrow limiting divisions of sociology, English literature, technical journalism or media research and set the social totality as a central problematic along with culture and the changing dialectics between culture and the economic base. Hall also introduced a form of organization at the Centre which is remarkable for its avoidance of hierarchy under the assumption that the forms of the Centre will affect (determine?) the kind of content of its theory and research. A most interesting reflexive application of a marxist perspective.

Of special value to those interested in Hall is Policing the Crisis (1978) by Hall, et al. in which he interprets the role of the media in transforming structural distortions of English society into a moral panic aimed against Black youth. Part III of that volume elevates a concrete analysis to a penetrating theoretical discourse in which such transfer of causality is made sensible. Hall stresses the predisposition in a conceptually malnourished society to locate every general social ill in crime rather than the larger society (1978:182). Hall's own format for cultural studies as well as a more detailed history of cultural marxism is found in the lead article in the first of four volumes in the series.

The London Polytechnic Group. By the mid-70's there were three major centers of cultural marxism in England. The Birmingham Centre and Stuart Hall will be highlighted in the third collection of this series. The Leicester Group with Graham Murdock and Peter Golding are presented in the second collection. In the first collection we meet Nicholas Garnham, Jim Curran and the Polytechnic of Central London. A remarkable institution, the School of Communication at the Polytechnic offers both theory and practice in all forms of media work for its students. The students in radio, television, and journalism must take critical theory as well as technical instruction on how the hardware works. By historical convergences, Curran, Garnham and a faculty well-trained in critical analysis came to be charged with the theory aspect of education at London Polytechnic.

In their efforts to introduce a critical marxist dimension to the program, the faculty solved the problem of adequate teaching materials by founding the journal, Media, Culture and Society. This journal reflects both a concern with theoretical richness and concrete analysis of the working media. Curran, Garnham, McBarnet, Scannell and Sparks work together to ensure the journal provides an outlet and a resource for all those who teach undergraduate and graduate courses in mass media and cultural studies. The special virtue of Media, Culture and Society is its efforts to locate the study of the press and electronic broadcasting in the larger social, political and economic totality. In the first book which follows, we will see this aspiration embodied not only in the work of Garnham and Scannell but also in several European marxists. Good work in cultural marxism is oriented to a clarification of the dialectics of contemporary culture and the capitalist media in a class based society.

We have already mentioned each of the contributors and the questions they address in the thirteen questions posed earlier. It would be well to mention each piece and its reason for inclusion in as much these articles constitute a sample of cultural marxism in England and in Europe. As such they naturally bridge between the past work summarized of the Frankfurt Schule, Lukacs, and Gramsci in Europe as well as Williams, Hoggart, and Thompson in England with the effort to perfect a uniquely American marxist study of the media. I do not wish to be understood wrongly. There are many bright points in American media studies today. Dallas Smythe in Canada, Vincent Mosco in Washington, Todd Gitlin in California, and Herbert Schiller at San Diego have done very useful work. But they have not as yet had the impact of a Hoggart, Williams and Thompson in England. There are only isolated scholars in the U.S. The institutionalization of centres, journals, conferences and research institutes in the U.S. does not compare to England. Cultural marxism in the U.S. is very fragmented, very fragile and not at all widely available.

In the first collection selected to present the London Polytechnic group and its Journal, Hall leads off with a discussion of the two paradigms (perspectives) out of which cultural studies have grown. He will provide the reader with both the content and history of these two schools together with the central figures in each. Garnham shows how the culture industry helps concentrate and accumulate capital in his study of political economy of mass media. Casareo represents an important school in Italy which concerns itself with linking the form of the media with the larger form of politics and economy. .Jacobson's article enlarges the analyses of multinational media to include their effects on the first world (the 14 rich capitalist nations). There has long been a concern with the ideological effects of capitalist media in the Third World but if multinationals can transfer and use information without restraint, how will the interests and rights of national and local groups be protected in the first, rich, liberal world?

Murdock offers a four-point definition of a "radical" drama/cinema/theatre. Such drama in order to be radical must a) illuminate the alienating structure of power and privilege, b) reopen the assumed, taken-for-granted justifications of dominating structures; c) explore the dynamics arid successes of change; and d) reorganize the experiencing of theatre and drama just as Hall reorganized the production of radical science at Birmingham. The article by Dunn tries to make a case that television programming helps maintain alienating social relationships by praising science as the only valid knowledge process ... as the highest authority. As such, scientism sanctions the capitalist state and its technicized solutions to social conflict. That solution is one controlled by an administrative/bureaucratic elite rather than a political, democratic one. The Miege article will be hard to follow by American students. If one bears in mind that he is trying to explore the ways in which culture and capitalism use and support each other, it will be easier to make sense of the article.

The Mortensen-Nordahl article reports on the everyday ways in which reporters are controlled and "news" production selected in a study of the newspapers in Denmark. The Golding-Middleton article illuminates the way the media aborts the transforming potential of well-intentioned social welfare by creating a cultural mythology about poverty and social programs for the poor. Scannell does the same thing with respect to the media and its power to organize belief about the causes of unemployment. Eliott and Schlesinger show how the capitalist media cripple understanding about socialism and communism by its selective use of news while the Dzinic article offers a complex charting of the organization of the media in Yugoslavia for participation in the production of political and material culture.

Garnham and Williams present an overview of the work of Bourdieu in France. Almost unknown in the U.S., Bourdieu lays out three phases of the dialectic between class structure and revolutionary culture. The work of Bourdieu on the third, contemporary phase of this dialectic warrants an entire issue of Media, Culture and Society. Finally, Corrigan and Willis help us to understand Discourse Theory by critiquing it.

As a resource and an outlet for praxis-oriented cultural marxism, the journal edited by the Central London Polytechnic Group is an example of what could be usefully published in the U.S. As a model for American cultural studies, those at Birmingham and Leicester have much to offer as well. There is a lot to learn, a lot to read, and a lot to apply in the states. If critical marxist students of the media do their job well, the next generation of critical scholars should have the intellectual tools now denied It ... and if this critique enters the social and public sphere, the mass of workers and protesters may, in the next crisis of advanced capitalism, move more toward democratic socialism than toward an administered fascism as now (1980) seems the case.

Red Feather and Exeter
December, 1980


  1. For an opposing view of American media studies, see Kurt Lang's article in Media, Culture and Society, V. 1:3. He argues that there is a rich legacy of critical media studies informed by radical European emigrees in U.S. media studies. He is correct in the cases he presents but misses the larger point that these analysts are not used in the various schools. They remain marginal and every year recede in history. The media students in the U.S. are not provided access to their work. A depoliticized, technicized, descriptive approach is central; not a critical approach. Return
  2. Who is to be the agent of radical transformation is quite another question. There is the elitist view of a Lenin which would suggest that the critical theorist do the job with seizure of state power. There is the more democratic view of a Luxemburg which would argue that the mass of people will do the job with a lucid analysis by media critics. Return
  3. While Mayhew is largely correct, it is those few, small moments in history in which change, directed by the collective will, is possible. To paraphrase Marx, structures produce consciousness perhaps, but sometimes consciousness becomes a material force (materialized in the media) and can alter the course of structural history. Such a thing is not easy, not often possible, and not at all what we specifically intend at the time but the general tendency to a more human and humane society can be realized if we act at the right moment, in a wide enough scale and on the correct modes of relating. Return
  4. A side by side comparison of the two does not reflect well on the Declaration. It attributes all evil to the person of George III while the Manifesto is a sweeping historical analysis. The Declaration grounds human liberation on nonexistent Gods while the Manifesto justifies liberation struggles in terms of social justice in this world. Oppression is not purely personal, it is structural--revolution requires a radical change in the structure of relations, not in a change of persons as designated by the U.S. Constitution--a most illiberal document until the Bill of Rights were added and later, much later, enforced. But a side by side comparison misses the point. Together they are a better call to human liberation than are they separately. Each adds something missing in the other and together they create something qualitatively different--and nowhere found. Return
  5. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 sometimes called the Paris Manuscripts were not widely available to the marxist camp. Grundrisse, hidden away in the Moscow archives was not available to correct some misinterpretations of Capital. The importance of "The German Ideology" was not appreciated by an ever increasing dogmatic structural marxism. For a good discussion of how all Marx's works fit together, see David Fernbach's superb introduction to Karl Marx, V. I. Return
  6. I want to stress that it is necessary for cultural studies to be connected dialectically to the political economy of advanced monopoly capital if it is to be cultural marxism. Studies of American television, theatre, novels, and science must be oriented to, and explained in terms of, their relationship to the contradictions of capitalism as these contradictions appear and reappear in everyday life. Return
  7. The relationship between two parts of a theory is not dialectic if:
    1. one part has no material base. That which does not exist materially cannot affect that which does.
    2. one part is mere epiphenomena: an abstraction or artificial grouping.
    3. one part produces the other part in a unidirectional causality.
    4. there are no structures which mediate the dialectic.
    5. there is no oppositional dimension to the relationship.
    6. there is no variation over time in the relationship
         ... n).
  8. The serious student of British cultural studies W.W.II want to read The Cultural Critics (1979) by Lesley Johnson. This work expands its scope to include the full range of cultural analyses from Mathew Arnold to Raymond Williams. She discusses the efforts of Mill, Ruskin, Morris, Shaw, Tawney, Hoggart, and Peters to make sense of the knowledge process and its relation to social factors. Return


(1973). Negative Dialectics. Seabury, New York.

(1979). Western Marxism: An Introduction. Goodyear, Santa Monica.

BARNETT, M., et al.
(1979). Ideology and Cultural Production. Croom Helm, London.

(1979). Critical Dimensions in Developmental Theory. The Red Feather Institute, Red Feather.
(1979). The Political Economy of Human Rights. South End Press, Boston. See also the insightful review in the Village Voice: V. XXV: 25: 35, June, 1980.

(1979). Mass Communication and Society. Sage, Beverly Hills.

EDWARDS, R., et al.
(1978). The Capitalist System. (Rev. Ed.) Prentice Hall, New York.

(1979). Critical Sociology. Irvington Press (Halsted-John Wiley), New York .

(1966). Socialist Humanism. Anchor, Garden City.

(1977) . Raw materials: the Achilles heel of American imperialism. Insurgent Sociologist, vol. VII, no. 4 (Fall) pp. 3-13.

(1971). Prison Notebooks: Selections (Trans. and ed. by Hoare and Smith.) International Publishers, New York.
(1971). Knowledge and Human Interests. Beacon, Boston.

(1973). Theory and Practice. Beacon, Boston.

HALL, S., et al.
(1978). Policing the Crisis. MacMillan, London.
HALL, S., et al. (ed.)
(1980). Culture, Media and Language. Hutchinson, London.
(1980). Introduction to Critical Theory. Hutchinson, London.
(1957). The Uses of Literacy. Penguin, New York. (Chatto and Windus: 1957).
(1972). Critical Theory. Herder- and Herder, New York.

Critique of Instrumental Reason. Seaburg, New York.

(1973). The Great Fear of 1789. Vintage Books, New York.
(1971). History and Class Consciousness. Merlin, London.
(1964). One-Dimensional Man. Beacon, Boston.
(1960). Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. (Struick, ed.). International Publishers, New York.

(1973). Grundrisse. (Nicholaus, ed.) . Penguin (New Left Review), New York.

(1974). Political Writings. (Fernbach, ed.), Vintage, New York.

(1980). Structuralism vs. Individualism: part I. Social Forces, vol. 59, no. 2 (December), pp. 335-375.
(1979). For Marx against Althusser, in Critical Sociology. (Freiberg, ed.) Irvington, New York.
(1980). The Sociology of Health and Medical Care: Citizen Involvement in Cuba. The Red Feather Institute, Red Feather.
SCHWARTZ, B., et al. (eds.)
(1978). Ideology. Hutchinson, London. (With the Centre for Contemporary Culture Studies, Birmingham.)
(1979). States and Social Revolution. University Press, Cambridge.
(1980). Communism in North American sociology. The American Sociologist, vol. 15, no. 4 (November), pp. 232-245.
(1979). A General Theory of Civil Liberties. The Red Feather Institute, Red Feather.
(1979). Sociology. Van Nostrand, New York.
(1963). The Making of the English Working Class. Penguin, New York. (Reissued in 1968, reprinted in 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979.)
(1974). The Modern World-System. Academic Press, New York.
(1980). The State in Capitalist Society: New Marxist Perspectives. The Red Feather Institute, Red Feather.
(1961). Culture and Society. Penguin (Chatto and Windus, 1958), New York.

(1976). Keywords. Fontana (Collins), London.

WOLFF, K. H. and MOORE, B.
(1967). The Critical Spirit: Essays in Honor of Herbert Marcuse. Beacon, Boston.
(1980). The Sociology of Human Rights. The Red Feather Institute. Red Feather.
And for the work of Golding, Garnham, Murdock, Bourdieu and others mentioned, please see Vol. 7, No. 1 of Cultural Marxism in the Special Issue of Critical Sociology from the Red Feather Institute.  [out of print...1998]

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