RETHINKING MARXISM Volume 13, Number 1 (Spring, 2001)
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In this issue the work of Argentine Marxist philosopher-in-exile Enrique Dussel receives first attention. As Fred Moseley contends in his introductory essay, Dussel's trilogy about Marx's economic manuscripts (the first volume of which is soon to appear in English) may well "turn out to be one of the most important works in the history of Marxian scholarship." The significance of Dussel's oeuvre is, for Moseley, based on his reading of the entirety of the manuscripts in the original German (through which he discovers that Marx wrote four—not two, as is often presumed—drafts of Capital) and, especially, on the sophistication of Dussel's philosophical method.
According to Dussel himself, the increased availability of Marx's texts, combined with the "new eyes" afforded by the impoverishment of the Latin American and global periphery at the dawn of the new century, make a complete rereading of Marx both necessary and possible. Working in a novel fashion—with a team of students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and numerous trips to consult the original handwritten manuscripts in Berlin and Amsterdam—Dussel reports on his reconstruction of the various drafts of Capital. His view is that, contra Althusser, Hegel continues to exercise a decisive influence on Marx's critique of political economy and that central to that critique is living labor, the "generating category for all of Marx's remaining categories." Thus, it is the concept of living labor that provides, for Dussel, the transcendental reference point from which it is possible—for Marx and for contemporary Marxists—to pose an ethical critique of both contemporary capitalism and bourgeois morality.
Herbert Reid trains his sights on the complicity of academic professionalism with the resurgence of what he calls the market machine-god. In this wide-ranging and engaging essay, Reid explores the ways in which the contemporary capitalist fantasy of global markets dovetails with and feeds on the long-standing U.S. myths of boundless self-determination and political purity, a postcommunal life beyond politics, as well as the recent increase in the ideological role of economics and economistS, the reinforcing of scientism and a technological worldview, the attack on the state, and much else. Reid challenges contemporary academic and independent intellectuals to devise a new, postmodern and community-based economics in order to confront the "naturalistic representation of the economic space of modern capitalism,, and, thereby, to recreate the conditions for a truly democratic politics of collective action.
The Guggenheim Museum mounted its first exhibition of Soviet-era art and design only when the Soviet Union itself had "melted into air," after the fall of the Berlin Wall A shop in New York City's Soho that sells used furniture and other items of interior design is called Historical Materialism. And now? Deborah Bright shows us advertising images of Russian workers, an overall-clad union member, and a Lewis Hines-like struggle of person and machine along with a Sunday-magazine feature story on the industrial art of the "machine age." At the same time that, the machines themselves having been discarded, decommissioned factory buildings are being offered for sale/lease—to be converted into museums, offices, restaurants, and shops. The only thing that remains solid, the constant within the flux, is that the men who direct the melting process walk away with the lion's share of the surplus.
Bob Tanner's provocative thesis is that Marx's theory of commodity fetishism (as interpreted by Jack Amariglio and Antonio Callari in an essay published in the Fall 1989 issue of RM) is the implicit, unstated premise of Lenin's conception of political strategy in What Is To Be Done? According to Tanner, commodity fetishism, which provides the cornerstones of a noneconomistic Marxist theory of agency or subjectivity, refers to both a problem (the need to overcome the relations of reciprocity of a commodity-exchanging society) and a solution (the creation of relations of mutuality or solidarity). Tanner then reads Lenin's uncompromising critique of economism and his strategy of "comprehensive political exposures," whereby the working-class moves beyond purely economic struggles and comes to oppose all forms of oppression, as representing the conditions for the emergence of new forms of subjectivity that point beyond the fetishism that characterizes bourgeois society.
What does it mean for the "philosophy of praxis" to be Gramsci's principal legacy to the Marxist tradition? Wolfgang Haug first outlines Gramsci's struggles—against Bukharin's materialism, against Croce's and Gentile's idealism—that led him to reclaim the "vital source" of Marxist thought. But, Haug then explains, Gramsci's theoretical work represents not a position in philosophy but a reconstruction of philosophy from the outside—indeed, "from below." The result is both a philosophical conception, incomplete in itself, and a way of working that is embodied in the concrete projects that occupied the rest of Gramsci's attention: the analysis of politics and civil society (including the concept of hegemony), the study of culture, and the examination of Fordism. For Haug, the task before us is to "begin anew" with Marx and historical materialism, aided by the criteria of historical experience and Gramsci's philosophy of praxis.
The first entry in the Remarx section is Margot Backus's interview with longtime activist and Socialist Worker's Party organizer Eamonn McCann on the Good Friday Agreement and the antiimperialist movement in Northern Ireland. In the course of their conversation, McCann and Backus explore the real contradictions that were never addressed in the Agreement, the salient differences between the situation in Northern Ireland and that of South Africa, the lack of support for key republican ideas within the Republican movement, the historical role of the civil rights movement, and the fixing of nationalist and unionist identities in the electoral rules of the Agreement. Backus's afterword makes clear that the deadlocking of the Good Friday Agreement has had the unfortunate consequence of creating the conditions for new rounds of violence in Northern Ireland.
Peter Amato, in the second Remarx essay, interprets Marx's "first critique" of Hegel, the Critique of Hegel's Doctrine of the State, as reflecting the standpoint of a broad critique of Hegel's notion of science. Thus, according to Amato, Marx criticizes the external, speculative rationality that Hegel attributes to social reality (and that serves as his justification of existing institutions) while, at the same time, recognizing Hegel's advance from Kant as making a truly historical and critical philosophical social science possible. Amato's view is that Marx establishes the methodological principles for emphasizing the historical-subjective dimensions of social institutions and processes, for arriving at a "rational grasp of irrational historical conditions," and thus, for "making the world more rational that it is."
What is the relevance of Lukács's philosophy and literary theory after the postmodern "war on totality" and, especially, "after communism"? In his review of Eva Corredor's collection of interviews with a wide range of postwar intellectuals (including Etienne Balibar, Cornel West, and Terry Eagleton), Matthew Callihan notes the enduring, albeit controversial and contested, legacy of Lukács's work. What merits special attention for Callihan are Lukács's conceptions of totality—including a forgotten dimension of Lukács's writings, the loss of the whole—and the role of literary realism—even while nineteenth-century forms may no longer be appropriate and new realisms may have to be invented for our times.
Richard Joines commends Geoff Waite's polemic against the contemporary influence of Nietzsche's thought, Nietzsche's Corps/e, as a valiant "attempt to solve the riddle of Left-Nietzscheanism." Waite's project of breaking Nietzsche's spell (and, with it, of recovering a communist project from its supposed failure) involves both revealing the esoteric intentions hidden within the exoteric surface of the Nietzschean corpus and developing a specifically Marxist theory of esotericism and intentionality. Joines's conclusion is that Waite's volume is, like Brian Lloyd's Left Out and Shadia Drury's books on Strauss, Kojève, and the American Right, "indispensable reading to the rethinking of Marxism."
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