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A few preliminary remarks on Seminar 6: Marx, Marxism and Philosophy Today

Again, a thank you to Arto Artin­ian and Peter Brat­sis for lead­ing the sem­i­nar last week on the ear­ly Marx’s Paris Man­u­scripts and I will reori­ent some of the dis­cus­sion this week around the cru­cial con­cept of alien­ation and Objec­ti­fi­ca­tion and a few remarks on the cri­tique of the Hegelian dialec­tic and where I think Marx was begin­ning to crys­tal­ize his stud­ies in phi­los­o­phy and polit­i­cal economy.

This week’s read­ing (a bit delayed) is G. Lukacs’ sec­tion 1, the phe­nom­e­non of reifi­ca­tion from the clas­sic essay, “Reifi­ca­tion and the Con­scious­ness of the Pro­le­tari­at” pages 83–110 in His­to­ry and Class Con­scious­ness. This work of Lukacs is the first major con­tri­bu­tion to Marx as Philoso­pher in the tra­di­tion (pace Plekanov and Lenin). We will look at it through the lens of the Kant­ian dis­tinc­tion between the phe­nom­e­nal and noue­mal realm and think through the move­ment of ratio­nal mech­a­niza­tion and the cal­cu­la­bil­i­ty of every­day life along­side the full com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of every­thing. With­in the com­mod­i­ty struc­ture itself, we will begin to under­stand what reifi­ca­tion is and too preva­lent it still is today.

I hope to sit­u­ate Lukacs work as well to give a sense of the immen­si­ty of his con­tri­bu­tion to Marx­ist Phi­los­o­phy in epis­te­mol­o­gy, aes­thet­ics and lit­er­ary crit­i­cism, as well as great essays on Strat­e­gy and tac­tics. Gyor­gy Lukacs was tru­ly a his­tor­i­cal actor and intel­lec­tu­al who con­sis­tent­ly tried to bridge the­o­ry and prac­tice and as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary com­mu­nist con­sis­tent­ly engaged in long term prac­tice of insur­rec­tion. We will also dis­cuss the major influ­ence of the ear­ly Hegel on his thinking.

For the fol­low­ing week, we will read Korsch and a short piece by Adorno on “Why still Philosophy?”