A new work that seeks to reconcile an academic socialist author with the foundational works of socialism.
Leonard (Legal Studies as Cultural Studies, 1995) here undertakes the ambitious project of re-evaluating and resituating Indian philosopher Spivak’s works in the context of writings by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Lenin and Mao Zedong. Spivak is the author of many Marxist, deconstructionist, feminist and post-colonial works, and Leonard shows her as a figure that represents the Marxist intellectual in capitalist society as a whole. He clearly delineates his position using a 1965 Spivak editorial from the Chinese newspaper Renmin Ribao titled “All Our Work is for the Revolution,” which Leonard edited for inclusion here. He characterizes this editorial as a contribution to the type of socialism outlined in Mao’s writings, and then presents “a careful examination, study, analysis, review, commentary on, and evaluation or ‘hearing’ of the ‘texts’ of Spivak.” In his analysis, he draws on Lenin’s contention that works from a revolutionary society are “infested” by the “miasmas of [capitalism’s] decaying corpse”: “Our problem is therefore not whether this miasma can speak [in Spivak’s writing]—for it can, and it does—but rather what it is, at once, trying to say and trying not to say about the strange relationships at work in the murky depths of…the capitalist system.” This work isn’t an ideal introduction to Spivak, steeped as it is in Leonard’s own interpretations, but it is a valuable text for those interested in an in-depth Marxist/Maoist reading of an author. Leonard’s approach to Spivak is politically and intellectually illuminating, and both author and his subject certainly deserve consideration from the careful reader.
An intriguing untangling of a complex theorist, with a Marxist spin.