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By Clarence Hudson Richardson

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46 However empowering such idealisms must seem to be, they are, in the end, unable to sustain a politically efficacious and analytically sharp class critique. A dialectical theory of class and culture must begin, instead, by understanding these two processes to be continually intertwined in an overdetermined relationship, where each combines with additional processes to provide the conditions of existence for the other. Neither process is primary, and neither is the exclusive causative agent of the other.

Moreover, to the degree that this approach also proceeds from an understanding of class as an antecedent referent to a subsequent repre- sentation, it tends to foreground a politics that is predominately cultural (since what it understands as class in these motifs and values it discovers always stands temporally behind us). Unless class processes are under- stood to be imbricated in the continual present of textual representa- tion-to be always in evidence, always shaping cultural frames of refer- ence-our political agency will be delimited to pluralistic celebrations or ex post facto denunciations.

Unlike the process of confession, remorse, and restitution in Catholicism, for Puritans, sanctification came only from the favor of God. Hence work-or, indeed, "good works"-could not function as a means of attaining deliverance. To believe otherwise was to ascribe improper agency to humankind. Nevertheless, work in a calling had to be performed as a sign of election, as part of the anxiously main- tained system of conduct that, it was hoped, gave evidence of God's grace. " Even if the combination of diligent labor and asceticism led to the accumulation of wealth, such worldly goals could not be labor's purpose: "hard, continuous, bodily, or mental labor" was "ordained as such by God," and hence "labor must ...

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