History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics

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MIT Press, 1972 - Philosophy - 356 pages

This is the first time one of the most important of Lukács' early theoreticalwritings, published in Germany in 1923, has been made available in English. The book consists of aseries of essays treating, among other topics, the definition of orthodox Marxism, the question oflegality and illegality, Rosa Luxemburg as a Marxist, the changing function of Historic Marxism,class consciousness, and the substantiation and consciousness of the Proletariat.Writing in 1968, onthe occasion of the appearance of his collected works, Lukács evaluated the influence of this bookas follows:"For the historical effect of History and Class Consciousness and also for the actualityof the present time one problem is of decisive importance: alienation, which is here treated for thefirst time since Marx as the central question of a revolutionary critique of capitalism, and whosehistorical as well as methodological origins are deeply rooted in Hegelian dialectic. It goeswithout saying that the problem was omnipresent. A few years after History and Class Consciousnesswas published, it was moved into the focus of philosophical discussion by Heidegger in his Being andTime, a place which it maintains to this day largely as a result of the position occupied by Sartreand his followers. The philologic question raised by L. Goldmann, who considered Heidegger's workpartly as a polemic reply to my (admittedly unnamed) work, need not be discussed here. It sufficestoday to say that the problem was in the air, particularly if we analyze its background in detail inorder to clarify its effect, the mixture of Marxist and Existentialist thought processes, whichprevailed especially in France immediately after the Second World War. In this connectionpriorities, influences, and so on are not particularly significant. What is important is that thealienation of man was recognized and appreciated as the central problem of the time in which welive, by bourgeois as well as proletarian, by politically rightist and leftist thinkers. Thus,History and Class Consciousness exerted a profound effect in the circles of the youthfulintelligentsia."George Lichtheim, also in 1968, writes that "...The originality of the early Lukácslay in the assertion that the totality of history could be apprehended by adopting a particular'class standpoint': that of the proletariat. Class consciousness ;not indeed the empiricalconsciousness of the actual proletariat, which was hopelessly entangled with the surface aspects ofobjective reality, but an ideal-typical consciousness proper to a class which radically negates theexisting order of reality: that was the formula which had made it possible for the Lukács of 1923 tounify theory and practice."


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User Review  - William West - Goodreads

Arguably the essential text of "religious Marxism". It suffers from many of the problems one generally associates with the pronoun. Read full review


What is Orthodox Marxism?
The Marxism of Rosa Luxemburg
Class Consciousness
Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat
The Changing Function of Historical Materialism
Legality and Illegality
Critical Observations on Rosa Luxemburgs Critique
Towards a Methodology of the Problem of Organisation
Notes to the English Edition

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About the author (1972)

Georg Lukacs was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher, aesthetician, literary historian, and critic.

Rodney Livingstone, Reader in German at the University of Southampton, has edited and translated numerous works by Lukacs, Theodor Adorno, and others.

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