Let's try to keep it short.
I think the stated aim of Anna's paper has merit, i.e., that the CHAT
tradition of theory has in the past tended towards "objectivism" and
this needs to be examined. (My disagreement is only on how Anna
proceeds, etc., and I am using 'subjectivity' in a different sense,
not identified with psyche)
I think other contemporary trends also suffer from objectivism, that
is for example, they see human agency, identity and understanding as
overly determined by social structures, or they see consciousness as
overly determined by body-chemistry, etc.
CHAT's problem was always different from that of currents which
flourished in the capitalist world. I think it has tended to rely on
categories like "man," "labour," "object," "activity" which make few
explicit reference to relations like "subordination," "exploitation",
"class," "hegemony," "ideology" and so on.
That's my opinion. I think the objectivism in theory is a product
chiefly of the political economic conditions in which a theory has
been constructed. We live in times when people's lives and
consciousness are dominated by institutions beyond their control.
Theory reflects that, even if it doesn't describe it.
I use CHAT in my work because it provides the great theoretical tools
to understand social institutions in terms of forms of collaboration
between people, it helps in building a theory which theorises how
people can intervene effectively in institutions, it has, in my
opinion, theoretical resources not only to theorise subjectivity, but
actually help strengthen it. As Victor said, CHAT needs to interact
with other currents as well, of course.
Do other people (whether agreeing with Anna or not) think that there
is a problem with "objectivism" in CHAT? If so it is due to an error
by its founders?
Andy Blunden, on behalf of the Victorian Peace Network, Phone (+61)
Alexander Surmava's Tour - September/October 2006
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