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Time, Labor, and Social Domination

Time, Labor, and Social Domination
A Reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory


  • Date Published: September 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521565400

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About the Authors
  • Moishe Postone undertakes a fundamental reinterpretation of Karl Marx's mature critical theory. He calls into question many of the presuppositions of traditional Marxist analyses and offers new interpretations of Marx's central arguments. He does so by developing concepts aimed at grasping the essential character and historical development of modern society, and also at overcoming the familiar dichotomies of structure and action, meaning and material life. These concepts lead him to an original analysis of the nature and problems of capitalism and provide the basis for a critique of 'actually existing socialism'. According to this new interpretation, Marx identifies the core of the capitalist system with an impersonal form of social domination generated by labor and the industrial production process are characterized as expressions of domination generated by labor itself and not simply with market mechanisms and private property. Proletarian labor and the industrial production process are characterized as expressions of domination rather than as means of human emancipation. This reinterpretation entails the form of economic growth and the structure of social labor in modern society to the alienation and domination at the heart of capitalism. This reformulation, Postone argues, provides the foundation for a critical social theory that is more adequate to late twentieth-century capitalism.

    • Widely reviewed and well received when published in hardback
    • Offers an impressive critique of traditional Marxism and its real-world forms
    • Controversial: argues that for Marx, the alienation of labour, rather than who gets the surplus value, is the defining feature of capitalism
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Postone has produced the best analysis of Marx's mature socioeconomic theory since David Harvey's The Limits to Capital (1982). It is obviously the fruit of long years of research and lengthy meditation. It is the kind of work that is well worth waiting for.' David McLellan, American Political Science Review

    'In this complex, dense, richly argued, and rewarding monograph, Moishe Postone offers a fundamental reconstruction and reinterpretation of the core structure of Capital. The rigor and richness of Postone's arguments makes this a key book even for those with other perspectives on capitalist dynamics.' Bob Jessop, American Journal of Sociology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521565400
    • length: 440 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 154 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.663kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. A Critique of Traditional Marxism:
    1. Rethinking Marx's critique of capitalism
    2. Presuppositions of traditional Marxism
    3. The limits of traditional Marxism and the pessimistic turn of Critical Theory
    Part II. Toward a Reconstruction of the Marxian Critique: The Commodity 4. Abstract labor
    5. Abstract time
    6. Habermas's critique of Marx
    Part III. Toward a Reconstruction of the Marxian Critique: capital
    7. Toward a theory of capital
    8. The dialectic of labor and time
    9. The trajectory of production
    10. Concluding considerations.

  • Author

    Moishe Postone, University of Chicago

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