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The purpose of this second part of this special issue is to contribute to a better understanding of the nature of Soviet society. It is not possible to analyse such a…
The purpose of this second part of this special issue is to contribute to a better understanding of the nature of Soviet society. It is not possible to analyse such a society in all its complexities within the space of one study. There are, however, some economic relations which determine society's major features. We believe that commodity‐production relations in the Soviet Union are of this type.
Over the last decades, the social sciences have become increasingly concerned with the role of the state and the politics of institutional restructuring. Within mainstream…
Over the last decades, the social sciences have become increasingly concerned with the role of the state and the politics of institutional restructuring. Within mainstream political science this has led to the development of a “state-centered” research program that emphasizes the autonomy of institutions. Marxist theory, however, has continued to adhere to a “society-centered” perspective, seeking to combine an ability to account for institutional change with the analysis of more structural social and economic forces. After some introductory comments that frame the problematic within which the paper is situated (Section 1), I discuss in Section 2 three of the most important recent Marxist attempts to construe the relation between socio-economic imperatives and political institutions. My argument is that Marxists’ attempts to relativize the autonomy of state institutions are too often still based on the postulation of an unexplained structural moment. This leaves them vulnerable to institutionalist claims concerning the autonomous nature of institutions. Section 3 proposes a different way of thinking the role of institutions in capitalist society. This approach breaks with a causalist, structuralist mode of explanation and relies on a more hermeneutic understanding of the role of institutions. I will shift the problematic to the relation between institutions and agency, arguing for a more pragmatist understanding of the role of institutions and an agency-based understanding of the formation of socio-economic imperatives. Section 4 concludes with some thoughts on the prospects held out, as well as the challenges faced, by the approach proposed in this paper.
In recent years, the concept of “reification” has virtually disappeared from debates in social theory, including critical social theory. The concept was at the center of…
In recent years, the concept of “reification” has virtually disappeared from debates in social theory, including critical social theory. The concept was at the center of the revitalization of Marxist theory in the early twentieth century generally known as Western Marxism. Georg Lukács in particular introduced the concept to express how the process described in Marx's critique of alienation and commodification could be grasped more effectively by combining it with Max Weber's theory of rationalization (see Agger, 1979; Stedman Jones et al., 1977).1 In Lukács's use, the concept of reification captured the process by which advanced capitalist production, as opposed to earlier stages of capitalist development, assimilated processes of social, cultural, and political production and reproduction to the dynamic imperatives and logic of capitalist accumulation. It is not just interpersonal relations and forms of organization constituting the capitalist production process that are being refashioned along the lines of one specific definition of economic necessity. In addition, and more consequentially, the capitalist mode of production also assimilates to its specific requirements the ways in which human beings think the world. As a result, the continuous expansion and perfection of capitalist production and its control over the work environment impoverishes concrete social, political, and cultural forms of coexistence and cooperation, and it brings about an impoverishment of our ability to conceive of reality from a variety of social, political, and philosophical viewpoints.
As there are different interpretations of the object of study in the preface to the first edition of Capital (Volume I) by Karl Marx, disagreements arise over the object of…
As there are different interpretations of the object of study in the preface to the first edition of Capital (Volume I) by Karl Marx, disagreements arise over the object of study on political economy, which becomes a “difficult problem.” The purpose of the paper is to bring a new solution to the “difficult problem.”
Based on the analysis of the logic of the original text, the authors attempted to give a new interpretation of the “difficult problem” by analyzing the structure of Capital. The object of study of political economy is “the relations of production in the broad sense” of the capitalist mode of production.
It comprises relations of production in the narrow sense and exchange relations in the broad sense, and the latter can be divided into exchange relations in the narrow sense and distribution relations. The three of them correspond to Volume I, II and III of Capital, respectively. Consumption in “the four-section theory” is not studied by the political economy.
And the four-section theory is not a part of the theory of Marxist economics but a part of the classical economics criticized by Marx. Therefore, the object of study of socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics is “the relations of production in the broad sense” regarding the socialist mode of production with Chinese characteristics, which is different from the capitalist relations of production in the broad sense.
Despite profound differences, both the German Historical School and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School have in common a theoretical and cultural heritage in…
Despite profound differences, both the German Historical School and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School have in common a theoretical and cultural heritage in Central European traditions of social thought and philosophy. Although both schools often are perceived as quintessentially German traditions of economic and social research, their methodological presuppositions and critical intent diverge strongly. Since the objective of the Frankfurt School was to carry the theoretical critique initiated by Marx into the twentieth century, and since its members did so on a highly abstract level of theoretical criticism, the suggestion may be surprising that in terms of their respective research agendas, there was a common denominator between the German Historical School and the Frankfurt School critical theory. To be sure, as will become apparent, the common ground was rather tenuous and indirect. We must ask, then: in what respects did their theoretical and analytical foundations and orientations overlap? How did the German Historical School, as a nineteenth-century tradition of economic thinking, influence the development of the Frankfurt School?
Drawing upon Alfred Sohn-Rethel's work, we argue that, just as capitalism produces abstract labor, it coproduces both abstract mind and abstract life. Abstract mind is the…
Drawing upon Alfred Sohn-Rethel's work, we argue that, just as capitalism produces abstract labor, it coproduces both abstract mind and abstract life. Abstract mind is the split between mind and nature and between subject/observer and observed object that characterizes scientific epistemology. Abstract mind reflects an abstracted objectified world of nature as a means to be exploited. Biological life is rendered as abstract life by capitalist exploitation and by the reification and technologization of organisms by contemporary technoscience. What Alberto Toscano has called “the culture of abstraction” imposes market rationality onto nature and the living world, disrupting biotic communities and transforming organisms into what Finn Bowring calls “functional bio-machines.”
This is the first English version of Karl Kautsky’s essay “Theories of Crises,” originally published in 1902 in Die neue Zeit, the theoretical organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Kautsky’s essay was a review of Michael von Tugan-Baranowsky, Studien zur Theorie und Geschichte der Handelskrisen in England (Studies on the Theory and History of Commercial Crises in England), published in 1901. Kautsky’s review of Tugan-Baranovsky’s book is divided into five sections: (1) “Introductory Remarks”; (2) “The Decreasing Tendency of the Rate of Profit”; (3) The Explanation of Crises by Underconsumption; (4) Tugan-Baranovsky’s Theory of Crises; and (5) The Changes in the Character of Crises. We have translated in full the Sections 3 to 5.
This chapter is about the modern, Western education system as an economic system of production on behalf of the capitalist mode of production (CMP) and globalization towards a single, global social space around market capitalism, liberal democracy and individualism.
The schooling process is above all an economic process, within which educational labour is performed, and through which the education system operates in an integrated fashion with the (external) economic system.
It is mainly through children’s compulsory educational labour that modern schooling plays a part in the production of labour power, supplies productive (paid) employment within the CMP, meets ‘corporate economic imperatives’, supports ‘the expansion of global corporate power’ and facilitates globalization.
What children receive in exchange for their appropriated and consumed labour power within the education system are not payments of the kind enjoyed by adults in the external economy, but instead merely a promise – the promise enshrined in the Western education industry paradigm.
In modern societies, young people, like chattel slaves, are compulsorily prevented from freely exchanging their labour power on the labour market while being compulsorily required to perform educational labour through a process in which their labour power is consumed and reproduced, and only at the end of which as adults they can freely (like freed slaves) enter the labour market to exchange their labour power.
This compulsory dispossession, exploitation and consumption of labour power reflects and reinforces the power distribution between children and adults in modern societies, doing so in a way resembling that between chattel slaves and their owners.
Evidence from a study in Middlesborough is presented in favour of the proposition that an adequate analysis of domestic labour in modern society depends on taking into…
Evidence from a study in Middlesborough is presented in favour of the proposition that an adequate analysis of domestic labour in modern society depends on taking into account its content and distribution. In particular, the characteristics of the gender division of domestic labour suggest the need for an integrated theoretical approach which draws on the insights of both Marxists, concerning the development of the capitalist mode of production and feminists concerning the operation and impact of patriarchy.