Money, Commerce, Language, and the Horror of Modernity in ‘The Isle of Voices’
Money, not merely as subject in literature but also in its very form and function, exhibits qualities of spectral evanescence, fetishised power over the imagination, and the uncontrollable transgression of boundaries and limits, which closely parallel the concerns and anxieties of Gothic literature. Yet it is in the writings of economic theorists and commentators on market society like Adam Smith and Karl Marx that these Gothic anxieties about money are most clearly articulated. Stevensons short story ‘The Isle of Voices’, read in the context of his comments on money in his other writings, is one of the few fictional texts which uses these properties of money to create what might be called a ‘financial Gothic’ narrative, which nevertheless has insights and implications for the narratives of capitalist modernity in general.
The structure/agency debate has been among the central issues in discussions of social theory. It has been widely assumed that the key theoretical task is to find a link between social structures and acting human beings to reconcile the macro with the micro, society and the individual. This book considers a general movement in which the collective concepts established by the early pioneers of modern sociological thought have been reconsidered in the light of both theoretical critique and empirical results. It argues that the contemporary sociological preoccupation with structure and agency has had disastrous effects on the understanding of Karl Marx's ideas. Through a critical evaluation of 'structuration theory' as a purported synthesis of 'structure and agency', the book also argues that the whole idea of a structure-and-agency 'problem' mythologises the fracture lines that do run through relatively recent sociological thought. Michel Foucault's ideas were used to both shore up existing positions in sociology and to instantiate (or solve) the 'new' structure-agency 'problem'. Foucault allowed sociologists to conduct 'business as usual' between the demise of structuralism and the contemporary consensus around Pierre Bourdieu-Anthony Giddens-Jurgen Habermas and the structure-agency dualisms. Habermas is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary social theory.
Since the Enlightenment, liberal democrat governments in Europe and North America have been compelled to secure the legitimacy of their authority by constructing rational states whose rationality is based on modern forms of law. The first serious challenge to liberal democratic practices of legal legitimacy comes in Karl Marx's early writings on Rousseau and Hegel. Marx discovers the limits of formal legal equality that does not address substantive relations of inequality in the workplace and in many other spheres of social life. This book investigates the authoritarianism and breakdown of those state socialist governments which claim to put Marx's ideas on democracy and equality into practice. It offers an immanent critique of liberalism, and discusses liberal hegemony, attacking on liberalism from supposedly post-liberal political positions. Liberalism protects all individuals by guaranteeing a universally enforceable form of negative liberty which they can exercise in accordance with their own individual will. Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy both affirms and limits human agency through the media of rationality and legality. The conditions of liberal reason lay the groundwork for the structure of individual experience inside the liberal machine. The book also shows how a materialist reformulation of idealist philosophy provides the broad outlines of a theory of critical idealism that bears directly upon the organisation of the labour process and the first condition of legitimate law concerning humanity and external nature. Mimetic forms of materialism suggest that the possibilities for non-oppressive syntheses and realities are bound up with a libertarian union of intellect.
any of Marx and Engels' conception of human emancipation that was not
open to being read through the lens of the Jewish question, only that this reading
misconstrues the ‘real humanism’ they sought to nurture. As the
philosopher Karl Löwith puts it in his monograph Max Weber and KarlMarx , Marx sometimes appeared to identify human emancipation with
‘emancipation from every kind of particularity in human life as a whole;
from the specialisation of occupations
. (KarlMarx and
Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto , 1848)
No conception of anarchism is further from the
truth than that which regards it as an extreme form of democracy.
Democracy advocates the sovereignty of the people. anarchism
advocates the sovereignty of the person. (George Woodcock
with this approach is evident in two recent studies
of historical materialism: Steve Rigby’s Marxism and History and Gerry
Cohen’s KarlMarx’s Theory of History.2 Rigby claimed that the discovery of
a series of ‘internally coherent but mutually contradictory Marxes . . . is the
inevitable result of a variety of readers making sense of Marx’s extensive
works’; and, given the multiplicity of Marxes thus conceived, Rigby pointed
out that his aim was not to outline what Marx actually said but to reconstruct
what is most useful from Marx’s ‘ambiguous legacy’. Similarly
3 Antisemitism, critical theory and the ambivalences of Marxism
Citizens, let us think of the basic principle of the
International: Solidarity. Only when we have established this life-giving
principle on a sound basis among the numerous workers of all countries will
we attain the great final goal which we have set ourselves. (KarlMarx
– a speech given following a congress of the First International, 8
1 Red Saunders and Roger Huddle, interview (4 June 2000); Widgery, Beating
Time, p. 56.
2 KarlMarx, Capital: Volume 1 (Penguin, Middlesex, 1976), pp. 164–165.
3 Marx, Capital: Volume 1, p. 165.
4 Colin Barker, ‘A “new” reformism?’, International Socialism Journal, 2:4
(Spring 1979), p. 89.
5 KarlMarx and Frederick Engels, ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in
KarlMarx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works in One Volume (Lawrence
and Wishart, London, 1968), p. 38.
6 Cited in: Brocken, The British Folk Revival, p. 8 (ellipsis in Brocken).
7 Brocken, The
confusions that they have perpetuated, Race Relations theorists
have played an important role in the crisis of anti-racism.
In the first part of this chapter we examine the conventional social science
approach that underpins Race Relations theory and contrast this with the
Hegelian-inspired approach that underpins the work of KarlMarx and the
emancipatory strands of post-Marx Marxism. The purpose of this examination is
not to provide an exhaustive explanation of either approach, but rather to highlight the essentially elitist nature of Race Relations theory. This elitism
Thompson’s critique of
Althusserianism, Anderson wrote it at a moment when his own understanding of Marxism was evolving. For, by the late 1970s, he had moved from his
earlier flirtations with Althusserianism to embrace the more orthodox interpretation of historical materialism associated with the work of G. A. Cohen.
Cohen’s interpretation of Marxism is characterised by its analytically rigorous defence, in his KarlMarx’s Theory of History: A Defence (1978), of
two key propositions: first, ‘the forces of production tend to develop
throughout history (the developmental