Re: [xmca] New Book: Zones of Proletarian Development

From: Wayne Au <wau who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jul 22 2008 - 11:34:05 PDT

Yes David, thankfully, I did avoid seeking a causal connection between Lenin
and Vygotsky!

I just wanted to let folks know that I am lurking on this board, but haven't
posted before due to some technical issues - hopefully Bruce and I have
worked out the problem.

At any rate I am greatly flattered (and also intimidated) by the discussion
here about my paper (special thanks to Shirley for saying such nice things
in her last post and to Steve for bringing it up earlier in the year), and
am happy to continue the discussion "in person" now that I can post to the

Some of us have also got a panel at ISCAR on Marxism and Vygotsky, so
hopefully we can talk more then as well.


[Side Note: At the time I also wanted to post regarding peer review - since
I am an editor for Rethinking Schools. Our board operates as a collective,
and no submission is "blind", but as many of us are present at meetings
offer comments and discuss every submission (including our own). So what
happens is we end up with a very critical collective review process - all of
us have been teachers and expect the articles to be useful and readable for
teachers - and I think we have one of the most rigorous review processes
I've ever seen. Yet, we are a very low status journal because we aren't so
much interested in academic research, but in writing that classroom teachers
feel like they can engage with. My publications in Rethinking Schools
certainly barely help me get tenure, and if I were at an R-1 institution,
they would just laugh at the prospect of taking Rethinking Schools

Wayne Au
Assistant Professor
Department of Secondary Education
CSU Fullerton
P.O. Box 6868
Fullerton, CA 92834
Office: 714.278.5481
Editorial Board Member: Rethinking Schools (

On 7/22/08 9:48 AM, "David Kellogg" <> wrote:

> My world history professor at University of Chicago was a guy called MacNeill
> who wrote something called "The Rise of the West". That's all you really need
> to know about world history, according to MacNeill (and all you really need to
> know about MacNeill according to me).
> Anyway, one of the games he used to play to while away the long hours before
> our final exam and his retirement was based on finding far flung parallels
> between cultures and then explaining them. He had a few tropes for doing this,
> but they were all unmediated; cultures learned things from other cultures,
> usually via direct diffusion (and yet when I suggested that all the books he
> had ever written and printed on paper were invented in China he scowled).
> I think that Au, thankfully, avoids this; he pretty much leaves open the
> question of whether the undoubted influences of Lenin's work on Vygotsky's was
> direct or mediated. This is a wise move; they were doubtless both.
> But it also leaves open the question of what the mediated sources of influence
> were, and whether there was any reciprocally mediated influence by Vygotsky or
> Vygotsky-like thinkers on Lenin or other state leaders.
> An important means by which Lenin's work influenced Vygotsky was highly
> indirect: the Russian formalists and the futurists and the whole literary
> critical reaction to the romantic subjectivist view of language and meaning.
> By the late nineteenth century, there were already two important currents
> arguing that, contrary to romantic ideas of inspiration and philological lines
> of study that located meaning in texts, meaning really comes to language from
> outside the self. Not all of these were particularly "progressive"; T.S.
> Eliot, for example, argued that literary "inspiration" is a matter of building
> in almost imperceptible ways on a tradition that exists almost entirely
> outside the writer. Formalism and futurism took this to an extreme: meaning
> comes ENTIRELY from outside the self, and Lenin's and Trotsky's relationship
> to formalism and futurism (one of critical distance) is noticeably similar to
> LSV's own in Psychology of Art.
> How did child psychology become important enough for the government to issue a
> decree banning pedology, intelligence testing, and LSV's work? A couple of
> months ago I read Bukharin's "Philosophical Arabesques", one of four books he
> wrote while awaiting execution. There is a great deal on how children learn
> language, some of it clearly directed towards creating the idea of a child who
> is almost entirely socio-culturally determined, a kind of human counterpart to
> the wheat that Lysenko was creating at that time.
> Bukharin doesn't touch on one of the most obvious philosophical problems
> raised by Vygotsky's theory of child development, that is, the crisis. Crises
> are, of course, and inevitable feature of cultural historical change according
> to Lenin and they are equally unavoidable in child development according to
> Vygotsky:
> "Facts show that in other conditions of rearing, the crisis occurs
> differently. In children who go from nursery school to kindergarten, the
> crisis occurs differently than it does in chidren who go into kindergarten
> from the family. However, the crisis occurs in all normally proceeding child
> development; the age of three and the age of seven will always be turning
> points in devleopment: there will always be a state of things where the
> internal course of the childıs development will conclude a cycle and the
> transition to the next cycle will necessarily be a turning point. One age
> level is reconstructed in some way in order to allow a new stage of
> development to begin." Volume Five, 1998: 295.
> But not according to Leontiev:
> "In fact crises are not at all inevitable accompaniments of psychic
> devleopment it is not the crises that are inevitable but the turning points or
> breaks the qualitative shifts in development. The crisis on the contrary is
> evidence that a turning point or shift has not been made in time. There need
> by no crises at all if the child's psychic devlopment does not take shape
> spontaneously but is a rationally controlled process, controlled upbringing."
> (Leontiev, A.N. (1981) Problems of the Development of the Mind. Moscow:
> Progress. 398-399)
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> PS:
> Andy:
> Still thinking about that post you wrote on video games and changes in modern
> warfare. I was thinking that one of the main themes in the history plays of
> Shakespeare is the replacement of direct kingly combat (in which the king was
> an epic hero representing the nation) with war by proxy. Then I saw this:
> Read and shudder!
> --- On Mon, 7/21/08, Achilles Delari Junior <>
> wrote:
> From: Achilles Delari Junior <>
> Subject: RE: [xmca] New Book: Zones of Proletarian Development
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> Date: Monday, July 21, 2008, 10:44 AM
> Thank you.
> Achilles.
>> From:
>> Subject: Re: [xmca] New Book: Zones of Proletarian Development
>> Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2008 18:17:26 +0100
>> To:
>> Here is the Au paper.
>> Its great - very interesting application of Vygotsky's perspective on
>> learning academic and everyday concepts with Lenin's on the
>> imptorance of leading /teaching/instructing the revolutionary
>> development of the proletariat.
>> Shirley
>> On 21 Jul 2008, at 18:07, Mike Cole wrote:
>>> I agree. This looks like a REALLY relevant text to examine. Do not
>>> know the
>>> Vygotsky and
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