Posts Tagged 'marxian'

Sartre on the “Fused Group”

In his massive existential Marxian work, Critique of Dialectical Reason,  author Jean-Paul Sartre explains how a seriality of seemingly unrelated people (except through markers of class, ethnicity, or gender, etc.) can come together to form a social force: a group:

[I]n the movement of History, an exploiting class, by tightening its bonds against an enemy and by becoming aware of itself as a unity of individuals in solidarity, shows the exploited classes their material being as a collective and as a point of departure for a constant effort to establish lived bonds of solidarity between its members.  There is nothing surprising about this: in this inert quasi-totality, constantly swept by great movements of counter-finality, the historical collectivity, the dialectical law, is at work: the constitution of group (on the basis, of course, of real, material conditions) as an ensemble of solidarities has the dialectical consequence of making it the negation of the rest of the social field, and, as a result, of occasioning, in this field in so far as it is defined as non-grouped, the conditions for an antagonistic grouping (on the basis of scarcity and in divided social systems) (346).

Thus the common praxis, as the totalisation and struggle against a common praxis of the enemy, realises itself in everyone as the new, free efficacity of [their] praxis, as the free intensification of [their] efort; every freedom creates itself laterally as the totalisation of all freedoms, and totalisation comes to it through the others as a lateral dimension of its individuality, in so far as it is freely individual for them.  This has nothing to do with the radical transformation of freedom as individual praxis, since the statute of this freedom is to live the very totality of the group as a practical dimension to be realised in and by its individuality.  But it is true that there is a new relation between freedoms here, since in every totalisation of the group, the freedom acknowledge themselves to be the same…And the unity of this freedom beneath the shifting multiplicity of the syntheses is itself, and fundamentally, the relation between a negative unity of all (totalisation through annihilation by the enemy) and the negation of this negation to the extent that it is occasioned as totalising and that it produces itself freely on this basis (402-3).


Satre, Jean-Paul.  2004.  Edited by Jonathan Ree and translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith.  Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume 1.  New York: Verso.

Information Capitalism

information technology

Christian Fuchs writes that despite all of the talk about living in a “post-capitalist,” “post-modern,” or “information society” we still live in a society that is dominated by the structures of capitalism and class divisions:

For describing contemporary society, Marxist scholars have suggested terms that focus on transformation of the productive forces, like digital capitalism…high tech capitalism…informatic capitalism…and communicative capitalism…I prefer such terms to radical discontinuous terms like information society or postmodern society because the first contain a critical negativity.  But they convey the impression that technology (digital, virtual, high technology) determines society: that is, that the relations of production are a linear result of the productive forces.  Change in contemporary society affects forces and relations, structures and actions, because society is based on a dialectical dynamic of these two qualities…

Concepts like knowledge, information, postmodern, postindustrial, Internet, and network society fail to grasp the dialectic of continuity and discontinuity of society.  They construct the changes connected to new media as radical novelties and ignore the continuing dominance of capitalist structures.  In order to stress that capital accumulation is transformed by the rise of knowledge and information technologies and the transnational spatial model connected to the flexible regime of accumulation, I have suggested using notions like transnational network capitalism, transnational informational capitalism, or transnational knowledge capitalism as key concepts for describing contemporary society. (Fuchs, 390, 399)


Fuchs, Christian.  “A Contribution to the Critique of the Political Economy of Transnational Informational Capitalism.”  Rethinking Marxism 21, no. 3 (July 2009): 387-402.

Marx and Mode of Production and Social Formation Theory

The Third International Comintern where some of the MPSF theory was hammered out.

The Third International Comintern where some of the MPSF theory was hammered out.

Erik K. Olsen writes about the historical formation of Mode of Production and Social Formation Theory (MPSF):

Looking beyond the Preface [to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy] to other parts of Marx’s mature writing, the claim that MPSF accurately represents Marx’s theory of society and history becomes even more difficult to sustain because the theory is plainly incompatible with them.  In the introduction to the Grundrisse (1973), for example, Marx describes the relationship among various aspects of the economy and society as “organic,” and his historical analyses illustrate this.  Marx’s nuanced and multifaceted discussion of the development of capitalism in Britain in volume 1 of Capital (1967, pt. 8), for example, would be irrelevant if he hled a view of society and social change based on a simple expressive totality.  Instead, the three basic sociological laws of MPSF theory imply that a history of technology would be sufficient to describe the origins of capitalism in Western Europe.  The analysis Marx does provide would not only be unnecessary, but it would distract attention from the prinum agens.  Marx’s writing on the prospects for changes in class relations in nineteenth-century Russia (collected in Shanin 1983) provide another, similar counterexample.  In neither case does he approach the question from the perspective of how the social structure conforms to the necessity imposed by production technology.  Instead, he analyzes these situations in terms of the complex set of forces and factors that contest and shape one another…The basis for the expressive-totality ontology in Marxist theory is found not in Marx but rather in Engels.  (Olsen, 183)


Olsen, Erik K.  “Social Ontology and the Origins of Mode of Production Theory.”  Rethinking Marxism 21, no. 2 (April 2009): 177-95.


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