By Russell Jacoby
Watching that for either revolutionaries and capitalists, not anything succeeds like luck, Russell Jacoby asks us to reexamine a loser of Marxism: the unorthodox Marxism of Western Europe. the writer starts with a polemical assault on 'conformist' or orthodox Marxism, during which he comprises structuralist faculties. He argues cult of luck and technological know-how tired this Marxism of its serious impulse and that the successes of the Russian and chinese language revolutions inspired a mechanical and fruitless mimicry. He then turns to a Western substitute that neither succumbed to the spell of good fortune nor obliterated the person within the identify of technological know-how. within the 19th century, this Western Marxism already diverged from Russian Marxism in its interpretation of Hegel and its assessment of Engels' orthodox Marxism. the writer follows the evolution of this minority culture and its competition to authoritarian kinds of political concept and perform.
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Additional info for Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism
62 The main weapon of the petty-bourgeois hordes is history, or "historicism" in Althusser's lexicon. History and historicism compromise the rigor of science. " 63 Conformist Marxism 25 Next to history, the main danger to science is Hegel; Althusser has met this danger through exorcism. 64 Althusser learned that this was never, strictly speaking, true, except when he said it in 1965. Later he discovered Hegel everywhere and recast his thesis to save it: Marx was engaged in a lifelong flight from Hegel, and he attained safety only in death.
77 The evaluation of technology by Marxists succumbed to the same pressures; a dialectical critique was sloughed off. Marxists did not doubt that technology constituted the greatest achievement of capitalism, distinguishing it from all previous societies. The suffering or misfortune resulting from technology was caused by the social context, not the apparatus itself. Such logic stuffed technology into familiar categories of means and ends; technology was at best and worst a neutral endeavor. The evil resided only in the ends to which it was used.
35 The strength and the weakness of Spaventa, and an entire Italian Hegelian tradition, resided in concentration on subjectivity. Yet the charge of subjectivism leveled against Spaventa forgets that he cut his subjectivism from the same cloth as did Marx. "Man makes himself what he is," wrote Spaventa. "His world, his knowledge, and his happiness - all which he is as a man - is his own work. "37 The categories of consciousness, subjectivity, and history moved to the fore. "Knowledge is generally inexplicable - impossible - if the spirit - subjectivity - is simply a spectator.