By S. Aronowitz
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Extra resources for Against Orthodoxy: Social Theory and Its Discontents
What is at stake here is more than the specific collapse, consecutively, of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union, and the Eastern European communist states. It is important to recall that by the 1960s, in such documents as the May Day Manifesto (1967), written as a prelude to a stillborn New Left political initiative, Williams had already called attention from a democratic perspective to the insufficiency of parliamentary institutions, and argued alternatively for a participatory democracy, but, in his self-critical view, not strongly enough.
For who can doubt, looking at television or newspapers, or reading the women’s magazines, that here, centrally, is teaching and teachingfinanced and distributed in a much larger way than a formal education? 8 While many—Williams himself, but especially Thompson and Christopher Hill—uncovered the treasure of popular tradition in order to contest, intellectually, ruling-class hegemony over the national past, few were prepared to enter the muddy waters of institutional controversy, to perform the often mundane sociological research as a necessary concomitant to making more direct intervention.
We argue that it is crucial to understand how this operates, as the modern scientistic solution to the problem of truth— methodology—has been adopted by the social sciences, whether or not they claim to reject the positivism or Popperianism that inspired it. We use the adjective “enlightened” to refer to the by now established idea that, against the presumed speculative bent of medieval investigators, the demarcation between science and nonscience consists in whether claims to truth have a method of verification.