Re: [xmca] neoformation / zpd

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Thu Feb 14 2008 - 12:36:45 PST

  This response has been several days in gestation and since I started it other posts have been made on the thread that I have't read yet. But to finish . .
  Yes, you correctly identify the direction from which my comment was made The phrase I used , "commodification of cuture" cocould be simply reduced to "commodification" if we define culture as the totality of artefacts as has been suggested recently on the list. I agree with "most people" that the only the attempts to stop commodification involve the development of socialist institutions, but I disagree that socialism has failed. There are millions of people throughout the world who still actively pursue the construction of socialism, although not in the most privileged country of the global capitalist system. There are four countries in the Western Hemisphere whose governments (all democratically elected) are actively pursuing the construction of socialist societies. At the same time, the capitalist societies increasingly face crises whose resolution isn't clear to anyone. Socialism, far from having failed, is daily proving its viability: according to UN
 statistics, Venezuela has reduced the percentage of those living in poverty by 30% in the past 5 years. There is no other country in the world that has ever achieved such a drastic reduction and it is still in process.
  I think this is relevant to the discussion about "learning" and "structure" in two senses:
  (1) Commodification, turning all artefacts into commodities, that very special kind of artefact (a widget) whose goal is to generate the greatest profit when exchanged in the market), necessarily generates exploitation of humans and the natural environment, perhaps for the simple reason that nothing qualitative of the human or the environment remains reflected in the numbers on the stock exchange that guide the way the capitalist society's labor and resources are brought together in the day-to-day reproduction of the society as a whole. I think that the fetishization/alienation inherent in these social relations exists within every member of the society and if not confronted, subordinate all individual development within a logic of exploitation.
  (2) For me Vygotsky's concept of ZPD is related to Paolo Freire's (following Jaspers) notion of "situation limits"; those frontiers whose transcendence awakens the very person who learns, awakens the learner. For Freire these situation limits are precisely those in which the structures of exploitation are confronted. In the countries that have been subordinated and dominated to those countries in which capitalism emerged, the political dimension of leanring, e.g., becoming literate, and the social dimension of "development" are much closer to the surface than in the central countries of the global system, especially the USA. It's not comfortable to internalize that ones own entire world depends on systematic exploitationd
  Development necesarrily involves a moral dimension that is socially defined -- insofar as the morality (the norms) of the society presupposes exploitation -- well, what exactly is being develooped? For me the idea that individuals can be the authors of social transformation simply has no empirical or theoretical basis. Wind waves don't affect tides.
  AlthoughI am not really satisfied with this response to your post, I'm sending it off, hopefully it's not totally incoherent.
Lois Holzman <> wrote:
  I think we're talking about different things, Paul, but I'll try
incorporating what I think is your topic into mine and see what gets
The commodification of culture that is inherent in capitalism has been
going on for some centuries. Attempt to transform it (most attempts
people call socialism) failed, although some people think that it
slowed it down some. So on that level I can't point to anyone(s).
However, commodification is a process as well as a product, and from
that perspective, I think masses of people are, in different ways,
transforming the commodification of culture every day. I could give
instances, as I'm sure others here could, but I rather wait to see if
Im even coming close to addressing what you are raising.


Lois Holzman, Director
East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy
920 Broadway, 14th floor
New York NY 10010
tel. 212.941.8906 ext. 324
fax 212.941.0511

On Feb 11, 2008, at 8:44 PM, Paul Dillon wrote:

> Lois,
> Please point out to me anyone who has transformed the
> commodification of culture or even slowed it down.
> Paul
> Lois Holzman wrote:
> Doesn't this "leave out" that determined as we are, we qualitatively
> transform that which determines us? And that includes the
> transformation of "the old" rather than a leaving behind?
> Lois
> On Feb 9, 2008, at 2:15 AM, Paul Dillon wrote:
>> The child’s socio-historical context, made up of the specific set
>> of activity systems (fields) in which she or he will increasingly
>> participate, determines which sets of emotional, social, cognitive,
>> and motor competencies allow fuller, more central participation.
>> The assumption of new roles and leaving behind the old ones
>> certainly also requires all kinds of new emotional and social skills.
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Received on Thu Feb 14 12:39 PST 2008

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