This powerful critique of Marx's historicalmaterialism - as a theory of power, as an account of history, and as a political theory -has been revised to take note of the profound intellectual and political changes that have occurred since the first edition was published. Reviews from the first edition 'Giddens draws upon a formidable knowledge of anthropology, archaeology, geography, and philosophy to demonstrate the limitations of Marxism and to formulate his own interpretation of the history of societies (...) ... He does a masterful job of setting his theory within a historical and critical framework of writings on Marx. His clarity of thought and his deft and often humorous handling of the unavoidable jargon of sociology and Marxist political theory makes this book a critical work of the highest quality.' Journal of International Law and Politics 'By contrast with many practictioners in the rather murky area of social theory, Giddens clearly seeks to make himself understood, and he has the useful quality of provoking one to argument. He has let light into some dark places.' The Times Higher Education Supplement 'Although Marx, Durkheim, and Weber continue to fill more index space than any other authors, Critique is Giddens's most explicit and committed statement of his own conceptualization of social theory ... It is his most original and therefore most vulnerable book, at once a cause for celebration and an invitation to critical reappraisal of the author's entire theoretical project.' Environment and Planning. (shrink)
The emergence of ideological and political pluralism in the Soviet Union during 1990 led to a growing number of critiques of Marxism-Leninism. The development of the internal Soviet critique of orthodox Soviet Marxism-Leninism culminated in the publication of a two-part article by Georgii Shakhnazarov in Kommunist in 1991. In this article Shakhnazarov outlined a comprehensive critique of orthodox historicalmaterialism, and many of the ideas he developed became a central part of the Draft Party Programme of July/August 1991. (...) This programme amounted to the virtual social-democratisation of Soviet Marxism-Leninism. The collapse of Soviet Marxism-Leninism can in part be explained by the internal critique of its basic tenets which developed in the period after 1988. (shrink)
El objetivo de este trabajo es rastrear y articular el concepto de materialismo histórico, así como su relación con otros conceptos tales como política, teología y progreso, en los principales textos histórico-filosóficos de Benjamin. El marco teórico del trabajo es analítico-descriptivo.
This essay reconstructs Agamben’s theory of bare life as an example of an affirmative biopolitics, a politics of life that lies beyond sovereignty. The essay shows that his account of bare life constitutes a reworking of four central motifs found in Marx’s historicalmaterialism: the facticity of alienated existence, the fetishism of commodities, the profanity of bourgeois society, and the nihilism of revolution. Agamben’s renewal of historicalmaterialism explicitly turns on an innovative and controversial synthesis of (...) Benjamin and Heidegger. This essay argues that such a synthesis relies, implicitly, on the negative dialectics developed by Adorno. If correct, this interpretation suggests a way of understanding Agamben’s political thought as a particularly radical and consequent continuation of the project of critical theory. (shrink)
Reviews : Gregor McLennan, Marxism and the Methodologies of History, , pp. 272. Anthony Giddens, A Contemporary Critique of HistoricalMaterialism, , pp. 294. Raphael Samuel, ed., People's History and Socialist Theory. History Workshop Series, , pp. vi + 417. G. Osborne and W. F. Mandle, eds., New History Studying Australia Today, , pp. 216.
In this article I put forth a new interpretation of historicalmaterialism titled the supervenient interpretation . Drawing on the insights of analytical Marxism and utilizing the concept of supervenience, I advance two central claims. First, that Marx's synchronic materialism maintains that the superstructure supervenes naturally on the economic structure. Second, that diachronic materialism maintains that the relations of production supervene naturally on the forces of production. Taken together, these two theses help bring to the fore (...) the central tenets of historicalmaterialism. Furthermore, they help resolve what I call the problem of reductionism and the problem of verification . Key Words: Marx historicalmaterialism supervenience synchronic materialism diachronic materialism. (shrink)
This essay introduces Walter Benjamin’s historicalmaterialism to illuminate how history teachers may invoke a critique of the past and present through democratizing the production of knowledge in the classroom. Historicalmaterialism gives students access to the means of knowledge production and entrusts them with the task of generating a critique of politics though encounters with historical objects. The rise of the alt-right, alternative facts, and fake news sites necessitates social studies methods that intervene into (...) the fascist seductions of narrative in history. A Benjaminian pedagogy emphasizes reading practices that acknowledge the political layers of history inscribed within the objects. This generates space for forms of pessimism and dialectic critiques of barbarism that students may experience with history beyond the teacher’s capacity for understanding. In the name of democracy over fascism, the article adds a political critique to students’ historical and critical thinking skills. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen's influential ?technological determinist? reading of Marx's theory of history rests in part on an interpretation of Marx's use of ?material? whose idiosyncrasy has been insufficiently noticed. Cohen takes historicalmaterialism to be asserting the determination of the social by the material/asocial, viz. ?socio?neutral? facts about human nature and human rationality which manifest themselves in a historical tendency for the forces of production to develop. This paper reviews Marx's writings to demonstrate the extensive textual evidence (...) in favour of the traditional interpretation ? that for Marx, the ?material? includes the economic, and is thus ineluctably social in character. Thus those critics of Cohen who have urged the inclusion of the relations of production in historicalmaterialism's explanans do seem to have Marx's terminological and conceptual backing. (shrink)
Why does the world have the pattern of patriarchy it currently possesses? Why have patriarchal practices and institutions evolved and changed in the ways they have tended to over time in human societies? This paper explores these general questions by integrating a feminist analysis of patriarchy with the central insights of the functionalist interpretation of historicalmaterialism advanced by G. A. Cohen. The paper has two central aspirations: first, to help narrow the divide between analytical Marxism and feminism (...) by redressing the former's neglect of the important role female labor has played, and continues to play, in shaping human history. Second, by developing the functionalist account of historicalmaterialism in order to take patriarchy seriously, we can derive useful insights for diagnosing the emancipatory challenges that women face in the world today. The degree and form of patriarchy present in any particular society is determined by the productive forces it has had at its disposal. According to historicalmaterialism, technological, material, and medical advances that ease the pressures on high fertility rates (such as the sanitation revolution, vaccinations, birth control, and so on) are the real driving forces behind the positive modulations to patriarchy witnessed in the twentieth century. (shrink)
It is commonly supposed that Marx's Capital is part and parcel of his theory of historicalmaterialism. It is argued here, however, that this view is incorrect, and that Capital is distinguished from the more general theory of historicalmaterialism in its standing as a work of social science. This conclusion rests on several grounds. First, Capital is substantially more specialized than the theory of historicalmaterialism, since it is concerned only with one aspect (...) of one mode of production. As a result, Capital provides a more rigorous treatment of its subject matter. Second, Capital is based on a fund of empirical evidence which is substantially more detailed than that offered in support of the theses of historicalmaterialism. And third, given the preceding points, Capital is a developed empirical theory, whereas historicalmaterialism is best construed as a general program of research. For these reasons Capital is epistemically distinct from historicalmaterialism: unlike the latter, it is a substantive contribution to social science. (shrink)
Historicalmaterialism I take to be the view expressed in the well-known Preface to the Critique of Political Economy and exemplified in Capital and in many other writings by Marx and by Marxists. I shall begin with a few introductory remarks, next sketch in the theory, and finally contend that, despite real attractions, it too far limits the scope of legitimate historical enquiry to be ultimately acceptable.
In his pathbreaking analysis of the formation of an ideological “white” self-consciousness among American workers in the nineteenth century, David Roediger relies on a theoretical synthesis of historicalmaterialism and psychoanalysis. This paper explores the parallels in methodology and content between Roediger’s work and the critical theory of Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse, which was also based on a synthesis of Marx and Freud. The paper seeks to place Roediger’s arguments in a broader theoretical context and (...) to highlight the ongoing relevance of early Frankfurt School critical theory to contemporary discussions in critical race theory. (shrink)
The notion of mental production is currently ever more insistently making a place for itself in the dictionary of science and the public vocabulary. But at the same time, even professional philosophers sometimes feel no special need for that term when they offer characterizations of a particular society or of the process of social history as a whole. The reason for this is that the term "mental production" is often employed as a purely synonymous replacement for categories of historical (...)materialism and thus raises doubts as to whether it possesses significance and value of its own. No, it is not at all terminological considerations or mere "strangeness" that causes doubt or hesitation with respect to the notion of mental production, but the fact that it is still insufficiently understood, that we lack a comprehensive, theoretical picture of the social reality the term denotes. (shrink)
It is perhaps too early in the long history of humanity to draw definitive conclusions concerning the historical trajectories of traditional socialist countries. It is well known that major changes have been occurring in these countries, with most even turning away from socialism altogether. Many explanations have been propounded for this phenomenon. Some observers explain the turn away fromsocialism as a result of the backward stage of the development of productive forces. Everyone knows that most socialist countries were set (...) up during times of poor economic conditions. Certainly, it is difficult to say how advanced the productive forces need to be in order to set up a durable and practical socialist system. In discussing the problem, I will be re-examining the practice of so-called traditionalsocialism in concentrating mostly on China, a country which has been and still is guided by its understanding of Marx’s theory of historicalmaterialism. (shrink)
In Giddens view, there is historicalmaterialism "reductionism", "evolution" and "functional theory" three defects. "Reductionism," manifested in historicalmaterialism and the complex social relations of human history is about productivity, economic relations and class struggle, etc., as its reconstruction, Giddens proposed to "extend the level of time and space" as the division of social types of new standards; "evolution" of human performance in the history of historicalmaterialism as a lower stage to higher evolving (...) process, as its reconstruction, Giddens made from "pieces" and "time edge" perspective to explain social reproduction and social change as a process of its reconstruction, Giddens proposed a "random social change" model of the new point of view. Giddens reflection of historicalmaterialism and the "reconstruction" has some inspiration, but there are obvious flaws. According to the viewpoint of Anthony Giddens, HistoricalMaterialism ham three main deficiencies: "Reductionism", "Evolutionism" and "Functionalism". "Reductionism" exhibits on the HistoricalMaterialism's reducing the complicated human history and social relationships into the forces of production, economic relationships, class struggles, etc. As an alternation of it, Giddens advances the notion of "level of time-space distanciation", which serves as the new standard for dividing the societal types. "Evolutionism" exhibits on the HistoricalMaterialism's regarding the human history as a process which continuously evolutes from the lower stages to the upper ones. As a reconstruction of it, Giddens brings forward two concepts of "episode" and "time-space edge", which serves as the new criteria for identifying the general outline of the human history. "Functionalism" exhibits on the HistoricalMaterialism's describing the societal reproduction and social change from the viewpoints of "need" and "function". As a revision of it, Giddens puts forward the new model of "contingent social change" . Giddens' endeavors have certain significance in understanding HistoricalMaterialism, but his limitations are also obvious. (shrink)
Marx may be taken to hold that productive forces (e.g. the steam engine) explain productive relations (e.g. capitalism) more than the other way on, and that productive relations explain superstructures (e.g. the legal system) more than the other way on. There are no satisfactory standard causal understandings of these claims about explanatory primacy. That is, no standard causal understanding saves Marx from the traditional objection that relations very greatly affect forces, and superstructures very greatly affect relations. One satisfactorily articulated attempt (...) to save Marx has been the attempt to understand the claims teleologically. Three such understandings can be distinguished, but they do not work. The first fails since it attempts to explain events by way of abstract objects. The second fails since it attempts to explain a thing by means of that thing. The third fails for a related reason. Each understanding also fails for another reason as fundamental. So?called teleological explanations are in fact claims that standard causal explanations exist, which relevant explanations conflict with the ruling idea of Marx's philosophy, that history is somehow independent of men's consciousness and wills. There may be no evidence that Marx himself intended historicalmaterialism to be understood teleologically. There may be evidence against. (shrink)
In the article "Is Man the Starting Point of Marxism?" Comrade Mao Chongjie remarked: "The problem is not to what extent Marx emphasized man nor on how many occasions Marx mentioned man in his works. The problem is whether or not we should and how we could persevere in the materialist conception of history over the issue of man." Nevertheless, the author held that the cause for the progress of history lies "outside man" and therefore the source or cause of (...) the essential determinative of man also lies "outside man." Whatever the explanation, a viewpoint as such cannot be regarded as having "persevered in the materialist conception of history," either. In fact, it can be traced to the same origin as the idea of negating practice as the basic category of historicalmaterialism, which the author stated in another article. (shrink)
The paper begins with a proposal for a reconstruction of three major statements of the traditional Marxian version of historicalmaterialism. The general concept of an adaptive mechanism is introduced to explain how, in the Marxian sense, several parts of the superstruc-ture are to be thought of as determined by the economic base. The paper proceeds by asking whether the classical type of economic determination is valid not only for precapitalist and capitalist societies, but for socialist societies as (...) well. An answer in the negative is given. The author tries to outline a type of historicalmaterialism which takes into account the autonomous role of political institutions and social relations as determinants in socialist societies. (shrink)
There has only been sporadic engagement between the pragmatist and Marxist philosophical traditions. This is unfortunate because each has a great deal to learn from the other. This article seeks to form a bridge between the two traditions by reconstructing an argument from Marx and Engels for historicalmaterialism in the light of both traditions' shared emphasis on the centrality of action. There is much in the Marxist tradition that pragmatists can and should integrate into their own work, (...) particularly given their interest in cultivating richer democracies. (shrink)