Chris O’Kane: Reification and the Critical Theory of Society: Production, Reproduction and Crisis

Chris O’Kane: Reification and the Critical Theory of Society: Production, Reproduction and Crisis

This lecture focuses on the role production plays in capitalist society. More specifically, it is concerned with how critical theories of reification construe the role of production in capitalist society in light of the 2008 social crisis. I argue that a critical theory of reification that draws on Horkheimer, conceiving of crises as inherent to the reified form of social reproduction in capitalist society, is more suitable for a contemporary critical theory of reification than post-Habermasian reinterpretations of reification.


To do so, I first show how a number of recent post-Habermasian reformulations of reification effectively naturalise and try to democratically regulate reified social production and reproduction, making them ill-suited for grasping and thus critiquing crises. This leads me to revisit Lukacs and Horkheimer’s seminal formulations of reification. Here I argue that Horkheimer’s interpretation marks an unacknowledged advancement over the foreshortened account that Lukacs provides. For Horkheimer’s critique of the antagonistic social constitution of the supraindividual autonomous and socially objective dynamic of exchange, which mediates social production and the state, compelling individuals on both sides of the class relation in a historical trajectory that inevitability triggers crises, propounds a critical theory of the crisis-ridden reproduction of the reified form of society. I close by arguing for the relevance Horkheimer’s conception of reification by assaying the recent historical trajectory of crisis and austerity.

Chris O’Kane is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University. His recent articles focus on Marxian state theory, critical theory and the domination of nature, and the relationship between critical theory and the critique of political economy. He is currently revising his thesis for publication with Brill, co-editing a three-volume Sage Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory with Werner Bonefeld, Beverly Best and Neil Larsen, editing the selected works of Alfred Sohn Rethel, and working as a contributing editor for Historical Materialism.

Porečevljenje in kritična teorije družbe: Produkcija, Reprodukcija, Kriza

Predavanje obravnava vlogo, ki jo ima produkcija v kapitalističnih družbah. Natančneje, zanima me, kako kritične teorije porečevljenja razumejo vlogo produkcije v kapitalistični družbi v luči družbene krize iz leta 2008. Zagovarjam tezo, da je kritična teorija porečevljenja, ki črpa iz Horkheimerjevega razumevanja krize kot inherentne porečevljenim oblikam družbene reprodukcije v kapitalističnih družbah, bolj primerna za sodobno kritično teorijo porečevljenja kot post-Habermasovske reinterpretacije porečevljenja.


Zato bom najprej pokazal, kako številne post-Habermasovske reformulacije porečevljenja dejansko naturalizirajo in poskušajo demokratično regulirati porečevljeno družbeno produkcijo in reprodukcijo, to pa jih dela neprimerne za razumevanje in torej kritiko kriz. Od tu preidem do ponovne obravnave Lukacsovih in Horkheimerjevih prelomnih formulacij porečevljenosti. Zagovarjam, da Horkheimerjeva interpretacija predstavlja nepriznan napredek od prekratkega orisa, ki ga poda Lukacs. Horkheimerjeva kritika antagonistične družbene konstitucije supraindividualne, avtonomne in družbeno objektivne dinamike menjave, ki posreduje med družbeno produkcijo in državo, sili posameznike na obeh straneh razrednega odnosa v zgodovinsko smer, ki neizbežno sproža krize, vzpostavi kritično teorijo reprodukcije porečevljene oblike družbe, ki je polna kriz. Zaključim z argumentom za relevantnost Horkheimerjevega pojmovanja porečevljenosti z obravnavo nedavnega razvoja krize in varčevanja.

Chris O’Kane je asistent v Hatfield School of Government, na Portlandski državni univerzi. Njegovi zadnji članki obravnavajo marksovsko teorijo države, kritično teorijo ter dominacijo narave in odnos med kritično teorijo in kritiko politične ekonomije. Treuntno svoj doktorat prireja za objavo pri založbi Brill, z Wernerjem Bonefeldom, Beverlyem Bestom in Neilom Larsenom so-urednikuje tri zvezke Priročnika za Frankfurtsko šolo kritične teorije pri založbi Sage, ureja Izbrana dela Alfreda Sohn Rethla in dela kot prispevajoči urednik revije Historical Materialism.

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