Key Thinkers from Critical Theory to Post-Marxism (SAGE Politics Texts series)
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This book is the first comprehensive guide and introduction to the central theorists in the post-marxist intellectual tradition. In jargon free language it seeks to unpack, explain, and review many of the key figures behind the rethinking of the legacy of Marx and Marxism in theory and practice. Key thinkers covered include Cornelius Castoriadis, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Deleuze and Guattari, Laclau and Mouffe, Agnes Heller, Jacques Derrida, Jurgen Habermas and post-Marxist feminism. Underlying the whole text is the central question: What is Post-Marxism? Each chapter covers a key thinker or contribution and thus can be read as a stand alone introduction to the principal aspects of their approach. Each chapter is also followed by a summary of key points with a guide to further reading.
‘superstructure’ that upholds the rights of the private ownership of productive assets. Habermas rules out the possibility that the instrumental activities involved in material production should be mediated through some sort of deliberation. Thus, unsurprisingly he thinks that the question of property relations is a dead issue. He asserted that the argument about ‘forms of ownership has lost its doctrinal significance’ (Habermas, 1990: 17). His unstated assumption is that this issue has become
society is an act of alienation of that which constitutes our humanity. It denies us that which at one level is the very essence of our humanity: our capacity to create reality and to alter it continually in conformity with altered or diverse conceptions of the world. What thus becomes evident is the degree to which the idea of the link between imagination and social creation becomes the key to his analysis of domination and in turn the key to his renewal of the ‘project of autonomy’. Autonomy,
notorious of the so-called postmodernists and one attacked by Castoriadis and Guattari, among many others. Lyotard’s importance is perhaps more philosophical and theoretical than political. It was Lyotard who developed one of the key themes that underpins the postmodern ‘moment’, which is in turn one of the key elements of Post-Marxism. This is the notion of Marxism as a meta-narrative or ‘totalising’ account of the nature of the historical process and thus as a philosophy that ‘eliminated’ human
(Laclau, 1990: 60–1). This was so because individuals, following Lacan, ceaselessly searched for identifications in order to achieve an impossible ‘fullness’, which stemmed from the trauma of the ‘real’ that occurred at the pre-linguistic stage in early childhood. The ‘mirror-image’ process attempts to make up for the ‘lack’ of coherence and wholeness by providing a frame and self-image for the child. The ‘signifier’ of the socio-political order, the product of ‘decision’, however, always
partial ‘correction’ in two works written shortly after Everyday Life: ‘Towards a Marxist Theory of Value‘ (1972) and The Theory of Need in Marx (1976). Here, Heller outlined what was to become the familiar humanist refrain of Budapest School writings in insisting that Marx placed the individual and his or her needs at the core of his critique of capitalism and thus at the core of his idea of an emancipated society. Heller drew heavily on the reservoir of materials unearthed by Lukacs and in