Abstract This essay centres on the English translation (2000) of Georg Lukács’s Tailism and the Dialectic (written in either 1925 or 1926). Lukács is generally heralded as a founding theoretician of a ‘Western Marxism’, in opposition to ‘Eastern’ Soviet Marxism, and his most impressive and most influential work, History and Class Consciousness (1923), is generally treated as having rehabilitated Marxist concern with questions of subjectivity. It might therefore come as a surprise when Lukács in Tailism states that the purpose of History and Class Consciousness was to demonstrate ‘that the organisation and tactics of Bolshevism are the only possible consequence of Marxism’. In my view, however, this should already be abundantly clear from History and Class Consciousness . For Lukács’s absorption with proletarian subjectivity was motivated by an obsession with what he saw as its immaturity. And he coined the category of ‘reification’ in order to explain his disappointed expectations, to explain, that is, why the proletariat did not make a ‘socialist’ revolution in the ‘objectively ripe’ situation of an ‘imperialist war’ created by ‘moribund capitalism’. In short, Lukács did raise anew the question of the subjective, but only to then declare that workers, not even ‘the most revolutionary among them’, could never attain proper class consciousness, which he attributed instead to the ‘revolutionary party’ bearing the properly revolutionary theory. For this reason I agree with Slavoj Žižek’s characterisation of Lukács as the ‘ultimate philosopher (my emphasis) of Leninism’ – although I do think that Lenin himself would have found, as he did in connection with one of Lukács’s other works, Marxism ‘present only at a verbal level’. My concern is two-fold: with a critique of the methodological short-cuts that Lukács made in his purely conceptual derivation of the concept of reification, and his purely conceptual attribution of it as the necessary form of working-class consciousness ‘in its immediacy’; and with the dangerous political consequences that Lukács derived from his assessment of the reified character of working-class subjectivity, mainly a theoretical guarantee that the party with the proper revolutionary theory must always be right, or at least more right than anyone else.
Historical Materialism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2013
Keywords: Lukács; Lenin; Luxemburg; reification; class consciousness; commodity fetishism; intellectual labour; revolution; the revolutionary party; relation between party and class; Western Marxism
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera