lukács history and class consciousness summary
He notes that reification is a ‘condition of one-dimensionality’ (15) that ‘projects a barrier onto immediate conditions’ (14). This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages. This book is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in one of the most important and controversial Marxists of the twentieth century or in sociological discussions of class more generally. The first of these involves the relationship of the ‘later’ Lukács to the ‘earlier’ Lukács of History and Class Consciousness fame. 209pp., $24.95 pb In History and Class Consciousness, Lukács laid out a wide-ranging critique of the phenomenon of “reification” in capitalism and formulated a vision of Marxism as a self-conscious transformation of society.

Critics of Lukács (and perhaps any form of democratic centralism more generally) will immediately recognise at least two potential problems here – the first concerning the structure and role of the revolutionary party and the second centred on the process of developing consciousness itself. Georg Lukács remains a controversial figure in Marxist philosophy for at least two interrelated reasons.

This forms the basis of Lanning’s critique of revisionist Marxists, who, he states, ‘argue for amendments to premises designed to achieve a goal that revisionists refuse to consider’ (117).

As the revolutionary tides receded, Lukács found philosophical and political reasons for retreating to a more orthodox historical materialism which laid much greater stress on objective constraints and processes than his version of the early 1920s had. Subjective factors are crucial in initiating discussions and action, and although ‘the structure of the relations of production operates independently of the people who produce those values’ (47) this is a relative rather than absolute independence. The first of these criticisms assumes that any type of imputation of consciousness from an organized party to the working class necessarily implies a kind of top-down, elitist relationship. Georg Lukács and Organizing Class Consciousness, MEP Publications, Minneapolis, 2009. The proletariat cannot liberate itself as a class without simultaneously abolishing class society as such. Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences! 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. Sorry to hear that Jane has been upset by ‘the trots’: hope she can get over it soon. Critics tend to argue that Lukács conception of the inner transformation of the proletariat and the development of its objective historical mission (what Lanning calls the ‘main point of the concept of imputed class consciousness’ (185)) implies that their role is one without agency.
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Lanning argues that imputed class consciousness is ‘not an autonomously operating social force.

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. Robert Lanning 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. Email me when others comment on this review. However, as Lanning makes clear, these are caricatures of how Lukács understood the interaction between historical necessity and individual agency.


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