History and Class Consciousness
|History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics|
The 1923 German edition
|Original title||Geschichte und Klassenbewußtsein: Studien über marxistische Dialektik|
|Published in English||1971|
|ISBN||0 262 62020 0|
History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics (German: Geschichte und Klassenbewußtsein: Studien über marxistische Dialektik) is a 1923 book by the Hungarian philosopher György Lukács. The work for which he is best known, it re-emphasizes Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's influence on Karl Marx, analyses the concept of class consciousness, and attempts a philosophical justification of Bolshevism. Lukács later came to believe that it confused Hegel's concept of alienation with Marx's.
History and Class Consciousness attempts a philosophical justification of Bolshevism, stressing the distinction between actual class consciousness and 'ascribed' class consciousness, the attitudes the proletariat would have if they were aware of all of the facts. Lukács re-emphasizes Hegel's influence on Marx, stresses dialectics over materialism and makes concepts such as alienation and reification central to his theory. Lukács argues, in the essay "What is Orthodox Marxism?", that methodology is the only thing that distinguishes Marxism: even if all its substantive propositions were rejected, it would remain valid because of its distinctive method.
In 1967, History and Class Consciousness was republished with a new preface in which Lukács described the circumstances that allowed him to read Marx's newly deciphered Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 in 1930, two years before their publication. After reading them, Lukács concluded that in History and Class Consciousness he had made a basic mistake, that of confusing Hegel's and Marx's respective concepts of alienation. To Hegel, alienation is the objectivity of nature, but for Marx, it refers not to natural objects but to what happens to the products of labor when social relationships make them commodities or capital.
Extremely influential, History and Class Consciousness is the work for which Lukács is best known. Lukács's pronouncements in "What is Orthodox Marxism?" have become famous. David McLellan believes that the publication of Marx's key earlier writings vindicated Lukács's interpretation of Marx. Lucio Colletti writes that although the publication of those writings disproved some of the assumptions of History and Class Consciousness, the problem of the nature of alienation remained as valid as before.
History and Class Consciousness was a crucial text for the French Situationist Guy Debord, although Debord believed that Lukács, by arguing that the Bolshevik party provided a mediation between theory and practice that enabled proletarians to determine events within their organization instead of being spectators of them, was describing the exact opposite of how it functioned in reality.
M. C. Howard and J. E. King praise Lukács's Hegelian understanding of how to specify the interests of the proletariat for its sophistication.
- McLellan, David (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 547. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
- Wright, Erik Olin; Levine, Andrew; Sober, Elliott (1992). Reconstructing Marxism: Essays on Explanation and the Theory of History. London: Verso. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0 86091 554 9.
- Marx, Karl; Colletti, Lucio (1992). Early Writings. London: Penguin. pp. 16–17. ISBN 0-14-044574-9.
- McLellan, David (1995). Karl Marx: A Biography. London: Papermac. p. 443. ISBN 0-333-63947-2.
- Hussey, Andrew (2001). The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 214. ISBN 0-224-04348-X.
- Debord, Guy (1994). The Society of the Spectacle. New York: Zone Books. p. 81. ISBN 0-942299-79-5.
- Howard, M. C.; King, J. C. (1992). A History of Marxian Economics Volume II, 1929-1990. London: Macmillan. p. 39. ISBN 0-333-38814-3.
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