Degree Year

1990

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Politics

Advisor(s)

Marc J. Belcher
Harlan Garnett Wilson

Keywords

Marxist, Political education, Capitalist, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser

Abstract

To begin with disclaimers: the discussion which follows is not a `treatise’ on education in any sense of the term. Nor is it intended as a programme for educational reform, per se. Disciplines far more qualified for that task than political theory must assume it, to assure a proper treatment of such an immensely important undertaking. Rather, the present effort is more than anything an attempt to bring two of the most significant Marxist writers of our century (namely Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser) into closer proximity to one another. Something of a justification of this approach is necessary to make sense of the trajectories that this essay follows.

At their bottom, these trajectories represent an attempt to broaden understanding of education, and more significantly – political education, as it relates to problems of hegemony in capitalist societies. This effort is a continuation, in many ways, of a similar initiative which is present in much of Gramsci’s own writing. Education must be understood in its most enormous sense if it is to carry meaning, a sense of which (for the better, I think) any single writer can catch but the merest glimpse. With this understanding in mind, the current discussion takes two tremendously important theorists as the `beacons’ between which it navigates, with the space between those beacons as the real object of its investigation.

Such a methodology is an implied recognition of the two very different sorts of `evidence’ in the construction of political commentary: that which comes into print as theory (that is, from the mind and pen of a theorist him or herself) and that which comes into history as event (that is, the course of political development in general, and in Marxist theory, the struggles of classes over the shape that such development takes). Both these types of `document’ are obviously crucial to political understanding, above all to Marxism in attempts at `historical science’. They are so critical though, not as mere reflections of one another, so that some theorist may look at the historical vindication of her thought and say `Aha! I was right.’ The two are very much interwoven in this sense of political education rather than merely `theory testing’, and as part of a broader unity of theory and practice.

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