grinker at SPAMmweb.co.za
Mon Jun 19 02:37:41 MDT 2000
ending 18 June 2000
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Following the publication of the seminal essays in History and Class
Consciousness in 1923, the Hungarian revolutionary Georg Lukacs was
witch-hunted by Stalin's literary henchmen for his 'left deviation'.
Until now, Lukacs' only recorded response was his own self-criticism in
the introduction to the 1967 edition. Lukacs' manuscript 'A defence of
History and Class Consciousness' lay unknown in the Soviet archives for
seventy-five years, with the critical comment 'Destroy maybe?
Incomprehensible script from a whinger who does not express his point of
view clearly and straightforwardly'.
The nameless archivist's criticism, thankfully, was not the last word,
and we have a new essay from the late Lukacs that is surprisingly
contemporary. Although the polemics against forgotten figures of 1920s
Marxism seem arcane, the ideas that he is defending remain compelling.
Against the radicals who, throughout the twentieth century, have tried
to de-politicise Marxism, turning it into just another approach to
understanding the world, Lukacs insists on the role 'of the subject in
the historical process'. While his critics denounce Lukacs for his
'subjectivism', he insists that revolutionary change cannot come without
the subjective factor. A postface by Slavoj Zizek, whose book The
Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology re-raised the
question of subjectivity last year is a worthy companion-piece to
Lukacs' lost essay.
Georg Lukacs, A Defence of History and Class Consciousness, Verso,
London/New York, £16/$23
Read The Week: www.heartfield.demon.co.uk/week.htm
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