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A Philosopher Against the Grain: The Actuality of Georg Lukács

A Philosopher Against the Grain: The Actuality of Georg Lukács

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A Philosopher Against the Grain: The Actuality of Georg Lukács

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  1. A Philosopher Against the Grain:The Actuality of Georg Lukács Paul RJ Falger, PhD Master Student Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Maastricht University, the Netherlands GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  2. Georg Lukacs (1885-1971) GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  3. Georg Lukács (1885-1971) • Hungarian philosopher, published History and Class Consciousness *(1923), the most influential 20th century Western Marxist text • Was NOT involved with “Star Wars” episodes. • *original title: Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  4. Georg Lukács (1885-1971) • Crucial philosophical texts 1st half, 20th century: • ‘Tractatus Logico–philosophicus’(Wittgenstein, 1922) • ‘Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein’(Lukács, 1923) • ‘Sein und Zeit’(Heidegger, 1927) • ‘Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein’: little known & studied (English transl., 1971), politically most important. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  5. Actuality of Georg Lukács • Precursor, ‘Existentialism’: Heidegger & Sartre (Goldmann, 1977) • Founding father, ‘Critical Theory’ of Frankfurter Schule: Adorno, Horkheimer, Fromm & Marcuse (Jay, 1973; Bronner, 2011) • Grandfather, radical 1967-8 student uprisings: W. Germany, France, the Netherlands, US et al. (Dannemann, 2009) • Unintended instigator, Hungarian Uprising, October 1956, Minister of Education, Nagy administration (Kadarkay, 1991). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  6. Actuality of Georg Lukács • Urgently Needed: Critical theory building for analyzing, understanding & changing Totalität of present ‘neo-liberal market’ capitalist thinking • Urgently Needed: Philosophy & philosopher as radical political actor: Badiou, Todorov, Žižek et al. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  7. Actuality of Georg Lukács • January 1st 2012, the Hungarian Government officially closed Lukács Archivum (Budapest) because of “…lack of need for further scientific study of Lukács (and his [Leftist-Messianic-Utopian] ideas)” (e-mail December 23, 2011). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  8. Georg Lukács (1885-1971) • “…Is a new reading of Lukács possible? Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: • Is a new reading of Lukács necessary?”(Bewes & Hall, 2011; Thompson, 2011). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  9. Georg Lukács (1885-1971) • “…Jewish by birth, raised in a Catholic country, and turned Protestant, Lukács incarnated alienation in its deepest and broadest sense” • “…Archetype of the rebellious son”; …His father is the key to his tragedy”(Kadarkay, 1991). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  10. Georg Lukács (1885-1971) • Rejected his haut bourgeois upbringing: father bank president, mother from wealthiest Jewish family in Central Europe • Sought & lived cultural & political alternatives • ‘From Romanticism to Bolshevism’ (Löwy, 1979). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  11. Georg Lukács (1885-1971) • Before Marxism, Lukács already was influential European literary & art critic* in mostly a-political literary ‘circles’(Weber Circle: Heidelberg – Lukács Circle: Budapest) • Becoming Marxist: defeat Austrian-Hungarian monarchy in World War I, Lenin, Russian Revolution 1917, revolutionary ‘events’ Germany & Hungary 1918-23 (‘Soviet councils’). • * Soul and Form (1911), Theory of the Novel (1915-20). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  12. Historyand Class Consciousness • Written 1919-1922 • Published (German), 1923 • Repudiated, after severe CP criticism, 1924 • Re-printed, with New Introduction (1967), 1970 GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  13. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • Essays, reflecting Lukács’ development as radical Western Marxist thinker (1919–1922) • Rethinking Kantian-Hegelian roots of Marxism • Defining alternative concept Verdinglichung (Reification) vs. Entfremdung (Alienation) (Marx) • Opposing Engels’ interpretation of Marxism. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  14. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • Theoretical: What is Orthodox Marxism (1919); Class Consciousness (1920); ReificationandProletarianConsciousness (1922) • Political: LegalityandIllegality (1920); Towards a Methodology of the Problem of Organization(1922). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  15. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • Major philosophical & political themes (Löwy, 1979): • “…A revolutionary humanism defined from standpoint of the proletariat”: • Critique of Verdinglichung • Critique of inhuman effects capitalism • Guideline for human emancipation through socialist revolution. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  16. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • “…A philosopher and critic: but not much of a writer. […] He wrote Hungarian badly. […] Essentially a German thinker and writer”(J Lukacs, 1988) • “…Lukács expressed himself in Hegelian terminology impenetrable to anyone lacking postgraduate competence in philosophy”(Service, 2007). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  17. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • Footnote to Marx’s 11th thesis on Feuerbach: “…Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert ; es kommt darauf an, sie zu verändern” (Marx, 1845-6). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  18. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein Philosophical discourse & understanding: • Kant: ‘Idealism’: Subject-Object dualism • Hegel: ‘Idealism’: Subject-Object identity Conservative dialectics & ‘History’(bourgeoisie) • Marx: ‘Materialism’: Revolutionary dialectics & ‘History’(proletariat). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  19. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein Practical-political discourse & understanding: • 4) Proletariat negates Verdinglichung by revolutionary action, creating new Totalität (cycle thesis-antithesis-synthesis) • 5) Communist Party (CP) leads proletariat into action • 6) Critique of Lenin’s view of role of CP. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  20. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein Verdinglichung: (from ‘commodity fetishism’, Marx): • Psychic structure of man in capitalist society • Interhuman relations determined by production relationships (exchange values) • Qualitative human values transformed into quantitative ones • Perception & understanding of Totalität increasingly lost (alienation). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  21. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein Totalität: • The total societal process made up of all relations between social classes & nature • Dynamic entity, continuously in the process of structuration & destructuration through interactions of social classes • No psychological perspective outside Totalität • All elements dialectically referring to each other. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  22. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • Geschichte: man’s inseparable state from his (subjective) meaning and his surrounding (objective) world (as in Hegelian ‘History’) • Klassenbewuβtsein:consciousness of possibility & necessity fully understanding (dialectical process of) Totalität, thereby changing Totalität. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  23. Historyand Class Consciousness:ItsDefence • Written, 1925-6, not published, thought lost • Discovered late 1980’s • Published, 1996 (German), 2000 (English) GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  24. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • Lukács ‘encouraged’ to repudiate his masterpiece in 1924 • CP pressure: deviating from Marx – Engels orthodoxy & criticizing Leninist CP line • Increasing influence authoritarian Stalinism • Wrote defence Chvostismus und Dialektik * in 1925-6; lost manuscript, first published 1996! • * A Defence of H and CC: Tailism and the Dialectic (2000). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  25. Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein • In 1932, early, unknown works by Marx were published (Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844) • Corroborated Lukacs’ ideas of Verdinglichung and the Hegelian roots of Marxism • Embarassment of CP doctrine; no rehabilitation, silent career as philosopher in Moscow. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  26. Life-Span Evaluation • Lukacs’ lived rebellious life (1919 & 1956 uprisings), courageous in developing humanistic, Utopian Marxism, going ‘against the grain’ of orthodox CP doctrine, while staying loyal to & fighting for personal beliefs and ‘the right cause for mankind’. GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  27. On the Barricades • Georg Lukács, ‘Volkscommissar’ for Education, Budapest Soviet Council, 1919, lecturing ‘the proletariat’ GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  28. Selected References • G Lukács: Geschichte und Klassenbewuβtsein (1923). • G Lukács: Chvostismus und Dialektik [1925-6] (1996); A Defence of History and Class Consciousness: Tailism and the Dialectic (2000). • T Bewes & T Hall: Georg Lukács - The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence (2011). • SE Bronner: Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction (2011). • R Dannemann: Georg Lukács: Eine Einführung (n.d.). • R Dannemann: Lukács und 1968 (2009). • L Goldmann: Lukács and Heidegger - Towards a New Philosophy (1977). • M Jay: The Dialectical Imagination - A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research 1923-1950 (1973). • A Kadarkay: Georg Lukács: Life, Thought, and Politics (1991). • M Löwy: Georg Lukács - From Romanticism to Bolshevism (1979). • M Thompson: Georg Lukács Reconsidered (2011). GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24

  29. Kösönum sepen, Thank You! • Any Questions Anyone? GLS Symposium 2012, USC, June 23-24