Monday, June 24, 2013

The duality of culture and economics

I believe that those who talk about cultural alienation and those who talk about the economic substructure of society are both right. Marx, in my opinion, was correct in saying that to focus exclusively on the cultural without looking at the economic background to it is to miss the point, but it goes the other way as well, and by that I mean I think that it's possible to have an economically prosperous society that is nonetheless alienated and disconnected in ways that have been labeled 'cultural', as well as a culture that's very much connected and non-alienated that's economically fundamentally unjust, where culture just papers over the inequities under the surface.

While I think that economics determines that great divisions of society, and the power dynamics that exist between those divisions, the more subtle interpersonal and communal experience that's labeled culture seems to have an independent existence from economics. Because of this, I think that it's important to address both issues: to put forward a vision of socialism that's based on the Marxian conception of how economics functions in its broadest sense while also promoting non-alienating forms of culture as a subsidiary to that.


2 comments:

Lorraine said...

It's possible to be alienated from culture, but it's also possible to be alienated by culture. That's my main reason for being a cultural anticonservative. The decision of whether to assimilate, whether from counter-culture or foreign culture, must be strictly an individual prerogative.

John Madziarczyk said...

That's very true, and you bring up a good point. I think that currently, though, our society is much more disintegrative than integrative, and unless a person wants to conform to an over the top Christian fundamentalist culture, or, alternately, one that has the viewpoint of the Tea Party, there really isn't much of an option. Community and culture can be oppressive unto themselves, but I think that people deserve a choice about whether they want to participate in a community that's developed or dissent from it.