Friday, December 16, 2011

Quote on politics, culture, Cultural Studies and Stuart Hall

The rethinking of socialism represented as significant break with pre-1956 Marxism because of its singular "preoccupation with 'culture'"[8]. The New Left was preoccupied with "culture," a crucial element for Hall, as a means of challenging and reconceptualizing the dominant understanding of social practices in British society. This conception of culture encompassed a broad sphere of human existence: music, sport, leisure activities, youth culture, morality, and articulations of national identity. The articulation of the New Left's cultural politics marked a crucial transition in British intellectual life. The emergence of the New Left represents the moment in which the Scrutiny (and Bloomsbury) tradition of highbrow literature as culture was critiqued (and tentatively replaced) by a more popular understanding of the practices of everyday life. For all the ostensible differences between these two cultural modes, however, the fledgling 1950s movement that would mature into an as-yet-unnamed practice called cultural studies was as much as an evolution of the Cambridge University-based journal as it was a commentary on Scrutiny's ideological shortcomings. [9] In The Moment of "Scrutiny" Francis Mulhern briefly (and, quite unintentionally) delineates the similarities, differences, and intellectual links between the two movements: "Anti-fascist, anti-war, anti-capitalist, and yet unable to accommodate itself to socialism, even in the latitudinarian popular-frontist version of the late thirties-Scrutiny's eventual recoil from socialist politics was indicative of its general failure to make the practical connection between 'culture' and organized politics." [10]
-Grant Farred, What's My Name: Black Vernacular Intellectuals, 156.

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