Re: new interpretations of marx

John, Daniel, and others,

i have nearly finished this book--i have been reading it very carefully,
since i plan to make use of this reinterpretation in my phd dissertation.
i myself have not considered myself to be a marxist economist, despite my
having studied marxist economics rather intensively, and then a close
friend and colleague of mine (who does consider himself to be a marxist)
told me that i should read this book--that it was "very important"...
implying that it would be relevant to my study of marx, the frankfurt
school and foucault.

my point (i guess) being that if postone is successful in redefining what
it is to be a marxist in this way, that i will certainly reconsider this
label... and this is my question to the list: do you think that it would
have also changed foucault's mind? is postone "silently waiting" at the
corner of foucault and marx? (i say "silently" only because aside from my
friend's recommendation, i have heard nothing about this radical new
marxist vision despite its being published four years ago...)

in my estimation, postone is certainly coming from the standpoint of the
frankfurt school--that is, he is using their terms and methodology, and
this is all to the good (i have a tremendous amount of respect for the
early frankfurters such as adorno)--but his interpretation of marx is
certainly "post-modern" (if you will allow me to use this abused label for
the moment), in that marx's "critique of political economy" (meaning a
critique of "ricardian" political economy) is an imminent critique (for
those not familiar with the term--meaning: a critique from within) of a
society that is "mediated by labor"... _not_ a transcendental critique of
capitalism "from the standpoint of labor" (traditional marxism). in this
interpretation, postone has marx stealing much of nietzsche's thunder...
and this would mean that the second half of foucault's _the order of
things_ would have to be radically rewritten. this would make much of the
debate between marxists about whether marx was an hegelian or a kantian
entirely moot, in that both presuppose a standpoint from which to view (or
critique) the world that does not exist (the modernistic "view from
nowhere"), whereas postone has marx taking up foucault's position (which
was also nietzsche's--see his critique of kant's idea of the
"thing-in-itself") which is a position of "historical relativism"--that
historical periods are characterized by completely different epistemes
(foucault's term), "collective representations" (durkheim's term), or
"mediations" (postone's term). so his (marx's) critique of ricardo amounts
to this (in postone) that ricardo envisioned the commodity (or labor)
mediated society as being a universal phenomenon, when in fact it is the
defining feature of capitalism, and that this mediation (or episteme)
imminently reveals (through a negative dialectic) in itself its own
overcoming in the form of communism--a society in which labor "mediation"
no longer exists...

and this is marx's vision of the future: the "death of labor"...


David J. Wiltsee
Dept. of Economics
University of Utah

> From: Daniel F. Vukovich <vukovich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: new interpretations of marx
> Date: Wednesday, October 15, 1997 9:28 AM
> John, and all,
> I read a few chapters of this a few years back, especially in relation to
> Postone's re-readings of Marx on time. That in angle in itself is
> noteworthy, b/c this has been a neglected dimension in Marx et al. What
> especially like is his insistence that the point isn't to critque what
> happens to labor (i.e., on the market), but to apprehend the very
> itself, as a "rational" and spectral abstraction, "before" the selling,
> etc. of labor.
> I'll have to look at it again to be more exact. On the subject, though,
> I'd like to plug Balibar's recent "The Philosophy of Marx," a brief but
> characteristically illuminating reading of Marx.
> Best,
> Daniel Vukovich
> At 01:47 AM 10/15/97 -0400, you wrote:
> >I wonder if some of the more Marxist-oriented members of this list had
> >come across the following title:
> >
> > _Time, Labor, and Social Domination_ by Moishe Postone
> > published by Cambridge University Press, 1993; ISBN #0-521-56540-5
> >
> >I have only read the first chapter but it seems, on that admittedly slim
> >basis, to be one of the more insightful reconstructions of the Marxist
> >critique of capitalism and politics.
> >
> >Mr. Postone wants to work past the specifics of Marx's analysis of
> >capitalism and beyond the kind of pessimism associated with the
> >School. I haven't read all of it yet, but would be interested in
> >from those who have fully digested this angle on Marxist thought.
> >
> >Thanks for any response,
> >
> >--John
> >
> >
> Daniel Vukovich
> English; Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
> University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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