Conflict theory would also argue that the explanations offered by functionalism and Liberal/Enlightenment theory are themselves part of what sustains poverty,as they conceal its true origins and encourage the poor to accept existing social arrangements rather than organize to combat them.
We can judge the extent of the problems that will present themselves to therevolutionary movement in the years to come by considering that the global cultivation ofproletarian talents and the long apprenticeship of a new form of all-encompassingpractical sense will have to start out from a near-total loss of all the old talentsand from a current state of spirit that has neither the taste nor the preparation for anyfree practical enterprise whatsoever.
It is difficult to conceive of a more essential disorganisation of human life, a pollution of the sources of spontaneity bound to reflect itself in every aspect of the personality. Since joy was associated with sin and guilt, and pain (Christ’s wounds) with goodness and love, so every impulse became twisted into the reverse, and it became natural to suppose that man or child only found grace in God’s eyes when performing painful, laborious or self-denying tasks. To labour and to sorrow was to find pleasure and masochism was ‘Love’ (The Making of the English Working Class, p.409).
Liberal/Enlightenment theory would encompass: forging a common "American" identity and promoting citizenship; providing the individual with job skills; the quotation from Immanuel Kant("develop, in each individual, all the perfection of which he is capable"); the vision expressed in Carl Kaestles "devotional view" of education, and the various ameliorations schools have beencalled upon to performkeeping troublemakers off street, improving family life, reducing drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, improving driving skills.
Returning to the specific purposes of education discussed in our first class, one could lump together under the "functionalist" label the following: passing on the communal store of knowledge;moral training; cultivation of the future work force according to social needs; and the quotation from J.S.
f. Peasantry and Farmers. Marx considered the peasantry to be disorganized, dispersed, and incapable of carrying out change. Marx also expected that this class would tend to disappear, with most becoming displaced from the land and joining the proletariat. The more successful might become landowners or capitalist farmers. With respect to family farmers as a group, much the same could be said. However, Marx was not really very familiar with these as a group, and had little to say about these. Canadian political and sociological analyses of the role of farmers in the Prairies constitute a more adequate view of what may be expected from this group. They could be considered to form a class when they act together as a group. In the early days of Prairie settlement, farms were of similar size, farmers had generally similar interests, and the farm population acted together to create the cooperative movement and the Wheat Board. More recently, Prairie farmers have been split into different groups or strata, dependent on type of farming, size of farm, and whether or not they employ labour. Farmers have not been able to act together as a class in political and economic actions in recent years. Lobbying by some farm groups have been successful, but these do not usually represent farmers as a whole.
And an explanation based in functionalism would account well for the persistence of poverty, but not its reduction when that does occur, while those rooted inLiberal/Enlightenment theory and conflict theory would account well for changes in the level of poverty, but help less with understanding its persistence.
Economic determinism means theeconomy determines the politics, culture, consciousness and struggles ofa society; it minimizes the autonomous role of culture and race.
The power of this poem may be found in the manner in which a specific historical and political predicament faced by European Marxists as a result of the Soviet invasion of Hungary is imagined in terms of a metaphor which draws on some of our most intimate and powerful emotions. That metaphor also, however, serves to dramatise one of the fundamental conflicts of our culture. For the ‘official doctrine’ of our culture maintains that the intellect and the body are opposed just as they are in the image of the hanged body which lies at the centre of Thompson poem. According to the same official doctrine our powers of reason and of intellect tend to be seen as the source of moral judgement and this view is enshrined in Christian tradition where the origin of sin has frequently been located in the inability of the intellectual will to command the body and its appetites. Chastity, one of the great Christian virtues, derives its name from the belief that reason should purify the body and its concupiscence by chastising it. This view of the relationship between the spiritual intellect and the potentially sinful body is found again in the position accorded to the image of the crucified Christ in Christian tradition. For St. Paul, who has throughout the centuries been the most influential exponent of the Christian vision, the crucifixion of the body and its subjugation to the spirit represents the ideal which is to be pursued symbolically by all Christians: ‘And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts’ (Gal 5:24).
In Thompson’s poem there is no direct allusion to any aspect of this cultural background. But it is through such assumptions that any reader comes to Thompson’s lines and some of their power can only be accounted for by pointing to the manner in which they invert an inherited symbolism of values of which the reader may not even be consciously aware. In place of the cross of the spirit on which the sinful flesh is made, in St. Paul’s words, to ‘die daily’ and thus give birth to Christian morality, we are confronted with the gibbet of the intellect by which the living body of morality is cruelly murdered.
The nature of the freedom demanded by those who identify their own superficialdissatisfaction with the situationist project can, like all ideologies of refusal, beunderstood as a banal daydream of social advancement. The individual molded by present-dayconditions, who has in fact lost all individual qualities, dreams of reaching a classlesssociety just as he is. Scarcely concerning himself with accomplishing anything despitepresent conditions, he can hardly pursue revolution as the socio-historic means of extendingsuch accomplishments; he merely dreams that his wretchedness will be less difficult totake than in the old world. He still hasnt felt the need to make himself a master ofsocial life, and as a consequence of the narrowness of his actual needs he is still verypoor at identifying the real obstacles to a revolution; he simply wishes that his presentmasters would stand aside in the face of a proletarian miracle. Thus, even whenhe sincerely believes himself capable of doing without authority, he is already settinghimself up for the new power that will subdue him.
If I understand these words, then I find them disgraceful. For we have been led all this way only to be offered a re-statement, in new terms, of the original question. Knowledge effects arrive, in the form of ‘raw materials’ (Generalities I, which are already artefacts of culture, with more or less ideological impurity), obediently as ‘the scientific discourse of the proof’ demands. I must explain my objection: and, first, what my objection is