Reading “A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism”

I’ve been excitedly awaiting Jairus Banaji’s A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism for some time. His book Theory as History is one of the most interesting works of Marxist scholarship concerning modes of production, divisions of labour, and agrarian studies to date. I find his work particularly interesting because he stresses both the importance of … Continue reading Reading “A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism”

Henri Lefebvre’s “Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche”

It seems common practice nowadays to fit Marx into one kind of triad or another. Marx-Lenin-Mao, for instance. Or Marx-Freud-Nietzsche - Ricoeur’s three “masters of suspicion.” Henri Lefebvre, eclectic and imaginative as ever, gives us his own triad of Continental giants in his aptly titled, newly translated, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche (or, The Realm of Shadows). … Continue reading Henri Lefebvre’s “Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche”

Some Thoughts from Reading Althusser

The attempt to turn back to theory such that the Marxist approach to knowledge itself can be explained is commendable. The (re)introduction of certain levels of abstraction - particularly the separation of the "mode of production" and the "social formation" - are important and remain influential, impressively they have become important in some forms of anthropological practice itself. But many the most important features of Althusser's work are themselves marred by the entire "problematic" or theory of theory that they are integrated within. There’s a circularity to Althusser’s claim of at once maintaining fidelity to Marx’s word while stating that Marx’s words couldn’t be Marxist enough. The autonomous theory still has to try and connect to reality, but it simultaneously wants to refute the “empiricist” subject/object relationship. Althusser’s solution is unclear, and perhaps contradictory.

Literature and Social Reflection (or: Yet Another Essay on Thomas Mann)

Among the works of literature dealing with Fascism or authoritarianism, it is often the dystopias that take center stage; both classics like Brave New World, and newer works such as Ready Player One - not to mention the burgeoning genre of Young Adult Dystopian literature - have gripped the imagination in troubling times and been utilized as … Continue reading Literature and Social Reflection (or: Yet Another Essay on Thomas Mann)