Although Chinese Marxism—primarily represented by Maoism—is generally seen by Western intellectuals as monolithic, Liu Kang argues that its practices and projects are as diverse as those in Western Marxism, particularly in the area of aesthetics. In this comparative study of European and Chinese Marxist traditions, Liu reveals the extent to which Chinese Marxists incorporate ideas about aesthetics and culture in their theories and practices. In doing so, he constructs a wholly new understanding of Chinese Marxism. Far from being secondary considerations in Chinese Marxism, aesthetics and culture are in fact principal concerns. In this respect, such Marxists are similar to their Western counterparts, although Europeans have had little understanding of the Chinese experience. Liu traces the genealogy of aesthetic discourse in both modern China and the West since the era of classical German thought, showing where conceptual modifications and divergences have occurred in the two traditions. He examines the work of Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, Li Zehou, Qu Qiubai, and others in China, and from the West he discusses Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, and Marxist theorists including Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse. While stressing the diversity of Marxist positions within China as well as in the West, Liu explains how ideas of culture and aesthetics have offered a constructive vision for a postrevolutionary society and have affected a wide field of issues involving the problems of modernity. Forcefully argued and theoretically sophisticated, this book will appeal to students and scholars of contemporary Marxism, cultural studies, aesthetics, and modern Chinese culture, politics, and ideology.
Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason ranks with Being and Nothingness as a work of major philosophical significance, but it has been largely neglected. The first volume, published in 1960, was dismissed as a Marxist work at a time when structuralism was coming into vogue; the incomplete second volume has only recently been published in France. In this commentary on the first volume, Joseph S. Catalano restores the Critique to its deserved place among Sartre’s works and within philosophical discourse as a whole. Sartre attempts one of the most needed tasks of our times, Catalano asserts—the delivery of history into the hands of the average person.
Sartre’s concern in the Critique is with the historical significance of everyday life. Can we, he asks, as individuals or even collectively, direct the course of our history? A historical context for our lives is given to us at birth, but we sustain that context with even our most mundane actions—buying a newspaper, waiting in line, eating a meal. In looking at history, Sartre argues, reason can never separate the historical situation of the investigator from the investigation. Thus reason falls into a dialectic, always depending upon the past for guidance but always being reshaped by the present.
Clearly showing the influence of Marx on Sartre’s thought, the Critique adds the historical dimension lacking in Being and Nothingness. In placing the Critique within the corpus of Sartre’s philosophical writings, Catalano argues that it represents a development rather than a break from Sartre’s existentialist phase. Catalano has organized his commentary to follow the Critique and has supplied clear examples and concrete expositions of the most difficult ideas. He explicates the dialogue between Marx and Sartre that is internal to the text, and he also discusses Sartre’s Search for Method, which is published separately from the Critique in English editions.
The publication of Reading Capital—by Louis Althusser, Étienne Balibar, Roger Establet, Pierre Macherey, and Jacques Rancière—in 1965 marked a key intervention in Marxist philosophy and critical theory, bringing forth a stunning array of concepts that continue to inspire philosophical reflection of the highest magnitude. The Concept in Crisis reconsiders the volume’s reading of Marx and renews its call for a critique of capitalism and culture for the twenty-first century. The contributors—who include Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, and Fernanda Navarro—interrogate Althusser's contributions in particular within the context of what is surely the most famous collective reading of Marx ever undertaken. Among other topics, they offer a symptomatic critique of Althusser; consider his writing as a materialist production of knowledge; analyze the volume’s conceptualization of value and crisis; examine how leftist Latin American leaders like Che Guevara and Subcomandante Marcos engaged with Althusser and Reading Capital; and draw out the volume's implications and use for feminist theory and praxis. Retrieving the inspiration that drove Althusser's reinterpretation of Marx, The Concept in Crisis explains why Reading Capital's revolutionary inflection retains its critical appeal, prompting readers to reconsider Marx's relevance in an era of neoliberal capitalism.
Contributors. Emily Apter, Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Bruno Bosteels, Adrian Johnston, Warren Montag, Fernanda Navarro, Nick Nesbitt, Knox Peden, Nina Power, Robert J. C. Young
Bertell Ollman has been hailed as "this country's leading authority on dialectics and Marx's method" by Paul Sweezy, the editor of Monthly Review and dean of America's Marx scholars. In this book Ollman offers a thorough analysis of Marx's use of dialectical method.
Marx made extremely creative use of dialectical method to analyze the origins, operation, and direction of capitalism. Unfortunately, his promised book on method was never written, so that readers wishing to understand and evaluate Marx's theories, or to revise or use them, have had to proceed without a clear grasp of the dialectic in which the theories are framed. The result has been more disagreement over "what Marx really meant" than over the writings of any other major thinker.
In putting Marx's philosophy of internal relations and his use of the process of abstraction--two little-studied aspects of dialectics--at the center of this account, Ollman provides a version of Marx's method that is at once systematic, scholarly, clear and eminently useful.
Ollman not only sheds important new light on what Marx really meant in his varied theoretical pronouncements, but in carefully laying out the steps in Marx's method makes it possible for a reader to put the dialectic to work in his or her own research. He also convincingly argues the case for why social scientists and humanists as well as philosophers should want to do so.
The neoliberal project in the West has created an increasingly polarized and impoverished world, to the point that the vast majority of its citizens require liberation from their present socioeconomic circumstances. The marxist theorist Kenneth Surin contends that innovation and change at the level of the political must occur in order to achieve this liberation, and for this endeavor marxist theory and philosophy are indispensable. In Freedom Not Yet, Surin analyzes the nature of our current global economic system, particularly with regard to the plight of less developed countries, and he discusses the possibilities of creating new political subjects necessary to establish and sustain a liberated world.
Surin begins by examining the current regime of accumulation—the global domination of financial markets over traditional industrial economies—which is used as an instrument for the subordination and dependency of poorer nations. He then moves to the constitution of subjectivity, or the way humans are produced as social beings, which he casts as the key arena in which struggles against dispossession occur. Surin critically engages with the major philosophical positions that have been posed as models of liberation, including Derrida’s notion of reciprocity between a subject and its other, a reinvigorated militancy in political reorientation based on the thinking of Badiou and Zizek, the nomad politics of Deleuze and Guattari, and the politics of the multitude suggested by Hardt and Negri. Finally, Surin specifies the material conditions needed for liberation from the economic, political, and social failures of our current system. Seeking to illuminate a route to a better life for the world’s poorer populations, Surin investigates the philosophical possibilities for a marxist or neo-marxist concept of liberation from capitalist exploitation and the regimes of power that support it.
In this interdisciplinary and controversial work, Igal Halfin takes an original and provocative stance on Marxist theory, and attempts to break down the divisions between history, philosophy, and literary theory.
Gramsci in the World
Roberto M. Dainotto and Fredric Jameson, editors Duke University Press, 2020 Library of Congress HX288.G698 2020
Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks have offered concepts, categories, and political solutions that have been applied in a variety of social and political contexts, from postwar Italy to the insurgencies of the Arab Spring. The contributors to Gramsci in the World examine the diverse receptions and uses of Gramscian thought, highlighting its possibilities and limits for understanding and changing the world. Among other topics, they explore Gramsci's importance to Caribbean anticolonial thinkers like Stuart Hall, his presence in decolonial indigenous movements in the Andes, and his relevance to understanding the Chinese Left. The contributors consider why Gramsci has had relatively little impact in the United States while also showing how he was a major force in pushing Marxism beyond Europe—especially into the Arab world and other regions of the Global South. Rather than taking one interpretive position on Gramsci, the contributors demonstrate the ongoing relevance of his ideas to revolutionary theory and praxis.
Contributors. Alberto Burgio, Cesare Casarino, Maria Elisa Cevasco, Kate Crehan, Roberto M. Dainotto, Michael Denning, Harry Harootunian, Fredric Jameson, R. A. Judy, Patrizia Manduchi, Andrea Scapolo, Peter D. Thomas, Catherine Walsh, Pu Wang, Cosimo Zene
Acknowledged as one of the classics of twentieth-century Marxism, Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks contains a rich and nuanced theorization of class that provides insights that extend far beyond economic inequality. In Gramsci's Common Sense Kate Crehan offers new ways to understand the many forms that structural inequality can take, including in regards to race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Presupposing no previous knowledge of Gramsci on the part of the reader, she introduces the Prison Notebooks and provides an overview of Gramsci’s notions of subalternity, intellectuals, and common sense, putting them in relation to the work of thinkers such as Bourdieu, Arendt, Spivak, and Said. In the case studies of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, Crehan theorizes the complex relationships between the experience of inequality, exploitation, and oppression, as well as the construction of political narratives. Gramsci's Common Sense is an accessible and concise introduction to a key Marxist thinker whose works illuminate the increasing inequality in the twenty-first century.
History & Subjectivity
Roger Gottlieb Temple University Press, 1987 Library of Congress JA74.G68 1987 | Dewey Decimal 335.4
"...rescues the probing spirit of Marx from the dead hand of Marx-ism. In this bold and argumentative book, Gottlieb joins other contemporary theorists in challenging the primacy of class and relations of production as keys to understanding our collective predicament. The result is an important contribution to left theory- both for its summation of the insights drawn from recent movements and for its provocative confrontation with the wisdom of the past."
Can Marxism still serve the American left? History and Subjectivity answers this question by synthesizing the conflicting perspectives of traditional Marxism, Western and neo-Marxism, socialist-feminism, and various minority political movements into a comprehensive and original social theory.
In the last seventy years, social change and the failure of leftist movements have made it necessary to transform Marxist theory. Undermined by its own theoretical success, traditional Marxism mistakenly assumed that Marx's understanding of competitive capitalism could be the model for theories of any society. Roger Gottlieb argues convincingly that the transformation of Marxist theory requires a fundamentally new understanding of social primacy.
Gottlieb draws on resources from virtually all areas of contemporary radical social theory. This interdisciplinary approach results in a sweeping synthesis of existing Marxist thought and an original and compelling social theory.
"Roger Gottlieb has written a very rich and often brilliant book.... [His] general thesis is developed, argued, and tested in the course of an impressive series of reconsiderations of debates in the Marxist tradition--impressive for the sheer breadth of the material mastered, as well as the critical acumen with which Gottlieb finds his way through the thicket of arguments and counter arguments. The result is an always lively, frequently exciting journey through the Marxist tradition, as well as a major contribution to the transformation which Marxism is currently undergoing."
"This is a serious and ambitious book. Its attempt to incorporate socialist feminism, and its interesting discussion of the American left are major strengths. It is a distinctive argument, framed within a personal sensibility, which should encourage wide response."
--Marx W. Wartofsky
The concept of democracy has become tarnished in recent years, as governments become disconnected from voters and pursue unpopular policies. And yet the ideal of democracy continues to inspire movements around the world, such as the Arab Spring.
Brian Roper refreshes our understanding of democracy using a Marxist theoretical framework. He traces the history of democracy from ancient Athens to the emergence of liberal representative and socialist participatory democracy in Europe and North America, through to the global spread of democracy during the past century.
Roper argues that democracy cannot be understood separately from underlying processes of exploitation and class struggle. He offers an engaging Marxist critique of representative democracy, and raises the possibility of alternative democratic forms. The History of Democracy will be of interest to students and scholars of history and politics and all those concerned about the past, present and future of democracy.
This is the first detailed study, following the recent collapse of political Marxism in Eastern Europe, of twentieth-century Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukács and his position as the leading proponent of the Marxist theory of reason. Lukács's History and Class Consciousness has been called one of the three most influential philosophical works of this century, and he, the outstanding Marxist philosopher. Marxism has long suffered relative neglect in philosophical discussion as a result of its own invidious distinction between itself and the supposed irrationality of what it regards as bourgeois philosophy.
Tom Rockmore offers a uniquely detailed philosophical analysis of Lukács's entire position as a theory of reason, based on the distinction between reason and unreason, or irrationalism. The author gives special emphasis to Lukács's connection to German neo-Kantianism, particularly Lask, and on his last, unfinished work.
Rockmore begins with an account of the roots of Lukács's Marxism, followed by an in-depth analysis of his often mentioned, but still incompletely understood, seminal essay "Reification and the Class Consciousness of the Proletariat." He then traces the evolution and later demise of the distinction between reason and irrationalism in Lukács's final thought. The author thus makes available for the first time in English a strictly philosophical discussion of Georg Lukács's Marxist phase and brings consideration of his thought into the wider philosophical discussion.
Gareth Stedman Jones Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress HX39.S74 2016 | Dewey Decimal 335.4092
Gareth Stedman Jones returns Karl Marx to his nineteenth-century world, before later inventions transformed him into Communism’s patriarch and fierce lawgiver. He shows how Marx adapted the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, and others into ideas that would have—in ways inconceivable to Marx—an overwhelming impact in the twentieth century.
This first full-length treatment of Lenin's studies of Hegel presents Lenin as a major figure in Hegelian Marxism, providing a more nuanced portrait of his work than that of either official Marxist-Leninism or most Western accounts.
"With impressive argumentation
and wide-ranging scholarship, Anderson presents us with a Lenin that no
one seriously interested in current debates over the relevance of Marxist
theory to socialist practice can afford to miss." -- Bertell Ollman,
author of Dialectical Investigations
"An important contribution
to grasping the conceptual roots of Marxist theory and practice."
-- Tom Rockmore, author of Hegel's Circular Epistomology
"Today Lenin looks like
he did little more than prepare the way for Stalin. You will find the
opposite view in this novel study. . . . I recommend the book to anyone
seriously interested in Russia and revolution." -- George Uri Fischer,
author of The Soviet System and Modern Society
Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the validity of Marxism and Marxist theory has undergone intense scrutiny both within and outside the academy. In Lukács After Communism, Eva L. Corredor conducts ten lively and engaging interviews with a diverse group of international scholars to address the continued relevance of György Lukács’s theories to the post-communist era. Corredor challenges these theoreticians, who each have been influenced by the man once considered the foremost theoretician of Marxist aesthetics, to reconsider the Lukácsean legacy and to speculate on Marxist theory’s prospects in the coming decades. The scholars featured in this collection—Etienne Balibar, Peter Bürger, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, Jacques Leenhardt, Michael Löwy, Roberto Schwarz, George Steiner, Susan Suleiman, and Cornel West—discuss a broad array of literary and political topics and present provocative views on gender, race, and economic relations. Corredor’s introduction provides a biographical synopsis of Lukács and discusses a number of his most important theoretical concepts. Maintaining the ongoing vitality of Lukács’s work, these interviews yield insights into Lukács as a philosopher and theorist, while offering anecdotes that capture him in his role as a teacher-mentor.
What has philosophy to do with the poor? If, as has often been supposed, the poor have no time for philosophy, then why have philosophers always made time for them? Why is the history of philosophy—from Plato to Karl Marx to Jean-Paul Sartre to Pierre Bourdieu—the history of so many figures of the poor: plebes, men of iron, the demos, artisans, common people, proletarians, the masses? Why have philosophers made the shoemaker, in particular, a remarkably ubiquitous presence in this history? Does philosophy itself depend on this thinking about the poor? If so, can it ever refrain from thinking for them?
Jacques Rancière’s The Philosopher and His Poor meditates on these questions in close readings of major texts of Western thought in which the poor have played a leading role—sometimes as the objects of philosophical analysis, sometimes as illustrations of philosophical argument. Published in France in 1983 and made available here for the first time in English, this consummate study assesses the consequences for Marx, Sartre, and Bourdieu of Plato’s admonition that workers should do “nothing else” than their own work. It offers innovative readings of these thinkers’ struggles to elaborate a philosophy of the poor. Presenting a left critique of Bourdieu, the terms of which are largely unknown to an English-language readership, The Philosopher and His Poor remains remarkably timely twenty years after its initial publication.
In Queer Marxism in Two Chinas Petrus Liu rethinks the relationship between Marxism and queer cultures in mainland China and Taiwan. Whereas many scholars assume the emergence of queer cultures in China signals the end of Marxism and demonstrates China's political and economic evolution, Liu finds the opposite to be true. He challenges the persistence of Cold War formulations of Marxism that position it as intellectually incompatible with queer theory, and shows how queer Marxism offers a nonliberal alternative to Western models of queer emancipation. The work of queer Chinese artists and intellectuals not only provides an alternative to liberal ideologies of inclusion and diversity, but demonstrates how different conceptions of and attitudes toward queerness in China and Taiwan stem from geopolitical tensions. With Queer Marxism in Two Chinas Liu offers a revision to current understandings of what queer theory is, does, and can be.
By examining the private correspondence of a circle of German psychoanalyst emigrés that included Otto Fenichel, Annie Reich, and Edith Jacobson, Russell Jacoby recaptures the radical zeal of classical analysis and the efforts of the Fenichel group to preserve psychoanalysis as a social and political theory, open to a broad range of intellectuals regardless of their medical background. In tracing this effort, he illuminates the repression by psychoanalysis of its own radical past and its transformation into a narrow medical technique. This book is of critical interest to the general reader as well as to psychoanalytic historians, theorists, and therapists.
In this important book, Thomas R. Flynn reinterprets and evaluates Sartre's social and political philosophy, arguing that the existential ethics of Sartre's early phase is consistent with the Marxist-inspired views of his later writings. Displaying his mastery of Sartre's entire corpus, Flynn reconstructs Sartre's social ontology with its sensitive balance of the existentialist's respect for moral responsibility and the Marxist's sense of social causation. Flynn focuses on the issue of collective responsibility as a particularly apt test-case for assessing any proposed union of existentialist and Marxist perspectives.
The study begins with an examination of the uses of "responsibility" in Being and Nothingness and in several postwar essays. Flynn then concentrates on the Critique of Dialectical Reason, offering a thorough analysis of the remarkable social theory Sartre constructs there. A masterful contribution to Sartre scholarship, Sartre and Marxist Existentialism will be of great interest to social and political philosophers involved in the debate over collective responsibility.
In Sexual Hegemony Christopher Chitty traces the five-hundred year history of capitalist sexual relations by excavating the class dynamics of the bourgeoisie's attempts to regulate homosexuality. Tracking the politicization of male homosexuality in Renaissance Florence, Amsterdam, Paris, and London between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as twentieth-century New York City, Chitty shows how sexuality became a crucial dimension of the accumulation of capital and a technique of bourgeois rule. Whether policing male sodomy during the Medici rule in Florence or accusing the French aristocracy of monstrous sexuality in the wake of the French Revolution, the bourgeoisie weaponized both sexual constraint and sexual freedom in order to produce and control a reliable and regimented labor class and subordinate it to civil society and the state. Only by grasping sexuality as a field of social contention and the site of class conflict, Chitty contends, can we embark on a politics that destroys sexuality as a tool and an effect of power and open a front against the forces that keep us unfree.
This book explores the tradition, impact, and contemporary relevance of two key ideas from Western Marxism: Georg Lukács's concept of reification, in which social aspects of humanity are viewed in objectified terms, and Guy Debord's concept of the spectacle, where the world is packaged and presented to consumers in uniquely mediated ways. Bringing the original, yet now often forgotten, theoretical contexts for these terms back to the fore, Johan Hartle and Samir Gandesha offer a new look at the importance of Western Marxism from its early days to the present moment-and reveal why Marxist cultural critique must continue to play a vital role in any serious sociological analysis of contemporary society.
Theory and Practice
Jacques Derrida University of Chicago Press, 2019 Library of Congress B842.D4713 2018 | Dewey Decimal 194
Theory and Practice is a series of nine lectures that Jacques Derrida delivered at the École Normale Supérieure in 1976 and 1977. The topic of “theory and practice” was associated above all with Marxist discourse and particularly the influential interpretation of Marx by Louis Althusser. Derrida’s many questions to Althusser and other thinkers aim at unsettling the distinction between thinking and acting.
Derrida’s investigations set out from Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach,” in particular the eleventh thesis, which has often been taken as a mantra for the “end of philosophy,” to be brought about by Marxist practice. Derrida argues, however, that Althusser has no such end in view and that his discourse remains resolutely philosophical, even as it promotes the theory/practice pair as primary values. This seminar also draws fascinating connections between Marxist thought and Heidegger and features Derrida’s signature reconsideration of the dichotomy between doing and thinking. This text, available for the first time in English, shows that Derrida was doing important work on Marx long before Specters of Marx. As with the other volumes in this series, it gives readers an unparalleled glimpse into Derrida’s thinking at its best—spontaneous, unpredictable, and groundbreaking.