A key strength in Lanning’s book is his discussion of the problem of how exactly class consciousness can develop. This, Lanning’s argument suggests, heightens the importance of the concept of imputed class consciousness even more. This emphasizes the unity between subjective factors (agency) and objective relations. The development of consciousness through a revolutionary organization and by a conscious minority are, in Lanning’s view, absolutely fundamental to any future goal of socialism. Lukács had a massive influence on Western Marxism, and for good reason; History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics is undoubtedly his greatest work. Contact me here: Lenin understood individual agency and historical necessity very differently, arguing that, contrary to the dominant viewpoint, they are neither incompatible nor do they stand at opposite ends of the spectrum (42). By taking the worst aspect of Lukac’s H&CC and warming it up, the trots have repositioned a smiling corpse in the shop window once again, this time at a different angle to scare the punters. It sought to render explicit the dependence of Marx’s thought on Hegel’s dialectic as a means of elucidating both the distinctive character of historical materialism as a form of theoretical inquiry and its revolutionary rejection of the modes of thinking prevailing in capitalist society. Potential salvation comes in the form of the rather controversial Lukácsian solution – imputed class consciousness. Lanning also provides a strong critique of sociological studies of class and brings into question the very notion that we can understand class without also understanding class struggle. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. Thus Lukács sees Marx as the theorist, not of the laws of the dialectic or of inevitable social transformation, but of revolutionary subjectivity, of the proletariat as ‘the identical subject–object’ of history. The role of the revolutionary party is to impute or ascribe knowledge or content of consciousness to the working class and, as Lanning argues, the concept of imputed class consciousness is therefore recognition of the functional dependency of the working class on the Communist Party. As Lanning states, what is important in the role is one that ‘ascribed or imputed to others a character and quality of knowledge important for their immediate struggles and long-term goals’ (173). The historical necessity of this mission conceives the working class in such a way as to diminish the role of choice and agency, swallowing the subject up in a mechanistic historical process. We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website. Yet, perhaps even more importantly, some critics argued that this Stalinist shift was not unrelated to theoretical inadequacies in what Breuer called Lukács’s ‘blueprint for tyranny’ (12) – History and Class Consciousness itself. Non-revolutionary attitudes in such situations are a ‘manifestation of reification’ (168) and organizations such as trade unions, alone, are incapable of providing the necessary practical and theoretical mediations that might alter this. It is the substance or content of consciousness mediated by a social movement, a political organization or party, or the leading sector of a class’ (55). © Marx & Philosophy Society 2020 If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order. Robert Lanning Your email address will not be published. Furthermore, it provides a clearer picture of what Lukács meant when he identified the proletariat as both the subject and object in history – that is, they stand in a relationship to history that is neither deterministic nor idealistic.
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