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A Society Adrift: Interviews and Debates, 1974-1997 by Cornelius Castoriadis

By Cornelius Castoriadis

This posthumous number of interviews and coffee papers given by way of Castoriadis among 1974 and 1997 is a full of life, direct creation to the taking into account a author who by no means deserted his substantially severe stance. It presents a transparent, convenient rsum of his political rules, prior to their occasions and profoundly suitable to modern day world.For this political philosopher and longtime militant (co-founder with Claude Lefort of the innovative staff Socialisme ou Barbarie), economist, psychoanalyst, and thinker, unending interrogations-how to appreciate the area and lifestyles in society-were intertwined together with his personal existence and combats.An very important bankruptcy discusses the heritage of Socialisme ou Barbarie(1949-1967); in it, Castoriadis offers the perspectives he defended, in that staff, on a couple of topics: a critique of Marxism and of the Soviet Union, the bureaucratization of society and of the employees' stream, and the primacy of person and collective autonomy. one other bankruptcy offers the idea that, crucial to his pondering, of imaginary significationsas what make a society cohere.Castoriadis continuously returns to the query of democracy because the never-finished, planned production by way of the folks of societal associations, examining its prior and its destiny within the Western global. He scathingly criticizes representativedemocracy and develops a perception of direct democracy extending to all spheres of social existence. He wonders in regards to the probabilities of reaching freedom and autonomy-those specifications of real democracy-in a global of unending, meaningless accumulation of fabric items, the place the mechanisms for governing society have disintegrated, the connection with nature is decreased to 1 of harmful domination, and, specifically, the inhabitants has withdrawn from the general public sphere: an international ruled by means of leisure pursuits and lobbies-a society adrift.

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It was no longer any particular position that was challenged, but Marxism as a whole. ’’ That fight lasted three years. For a long while the people who called themselves, characteristically, the ‘‘anti-tendency’’ fought back with nothing but polemical, mutually contradictory arguments (‘‘the workers’ standard of living isn’t rising’’; ‘‘it is rising, but that isn’t meaningful, or it doesn’t mean what you say it does,’’ and so on). It was only during the last three months before the split that they at long last produced three texts attempting to defend an incoherent version of neopaleomarxism, which their authors didn’t publish, to my own personal regret.

Only twice in the first volume of Capital, in different places, does he incidentally mention how workers resist pressure to increase their yield, and both times he depicts it as unavoidably doomed to failure, which means that the worker is a purely passive object of capital in production, that there is no class struggle in production, but rather, complete domination, unchallenged because unchallengeable, of one class over the other. But the history of modern industry isn’t merely the history of the great pitched trade union battles; it’s also and above all the history that goes on eight hours a day, sixty minutes of every hour, sixty seconds per minute in production and around production.

Marx hasn’t much to say about that. He says it is ‘‘determined by historical and moral factors’’ at each point, and goes on to postulate implicitly that it should be assumed to be constant. But that’s logically arbitrary and false in reality. For the sake of convenience and as a first approximation, we can hypothesize that the worker’s standard of living remains constant if we are talking about the situation of the economy over a very short period. That’s absolutely impossible over one or two centuries—which is what Marxist theory of the capitalist economy is talking about.

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