Marx on Writing

Marx, writing on the Paris Commune, singled out the writings of academic ‘gentlemen’:

the working class can afford to smile at the course invective of the gentlemen’s gentlemen with the pen and inkhorn, and at the didactic patronage of well-wishing bourgeois-doctrinaires, pouring forth their ignorant platitudes and  sectarian crotchets in the oracular tone of scientific infallibility (Marx 1871 The Civil War in France)

This is much more than just a critique of the the ‘science’ of the institutions, and everyone is well aware that all writing is marked with the circumstances in which it is situated. Writing and reading are co-constituted together in a variety of highly charged political contexts and along with paying attention to the institutionalised ‘politics’ of academic writing and of the mainstream media, we are also obliged to look at the ways these contexts bare upon all writing. The trace of ‘objectivity’ is still apparent in so much work from the left, especially academic and journalistic work — as if by some agreement with the higher privilege of serious writing we have forgotten the invective and politics of leaflet and pamphlet styles.

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