Marx and the Postmodernism Debates: An Agenda for Critical Theory

By Lorraine Y. Landry | Go to book overview

modernity are susceptible to a more constructive tension with Marx's work. Indeed, the debates' contemporary perspectives on and commitment to critical-practical engagement with ideological features of the Enlightenment and capitalism can be revitalized by the contributions of Marx's materialist critique.


NOTES
1.
Habermas, Discourse. See also, Habermas, "Philosophy as Stand-In and Interpreter," in Kenneth Baynes et al., eds., After Philosophy, pp. 296-318.
2.
Habermas Jürgen, The Theory of Communicative Action: Volume I, trans. Thomas McCarthy ( Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1984) and The Theory of Communicative Action: Volume II, trans. Thomas McCarthy ( Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1987).
3.
Habermas, Autonomy and Solidarity, ed. Peter Dews ( London: Verso, 1986), p. 107.

Habermas's concern with the critiques of reification and rationalization stem from the Frankfurt School appropriation of Lukacsian and Weberian analyses for an emancipatory critical theory. Taking the aporetic critique of instrumental (or technocratic) reason which issued from this engagement as his starting point, Habermas intends that a different theoretical approach can quell what he perceives to be its attendant political dangers. That is, he attempts to meet the theoretical pessimism of this approach to Enlightenment modernity and the conservative or antimodern political tendencies he associates with it in his theory of discursive redemption of the Enlightenment's legitimate aspira-tions.

His theory of communicative action, then, incorporates concern with the dismantling of welfare-state structures and the criticisms of capitalist growth with its multifaceted oppressions of new social movements as arenas for legitimation crises. Habermas argues that his discourse ethics acquires its importance as critique on this construal of the paradoxes of modernity as the colonization of the life-world by instrumental rationality in such a way that the imperatives of system maintenance have taken priority over communicatively secured social integration. Enlightenment ideals of autonomy, self-development and freedom are encapsulated in the realization of Habermas's project of modernity as a procedural theory of natural rights. Hence, the defence of these democratic values against the threat of antimodern or postmodern conservatism comprises a core stake of Habermas's project.

Recall Chapter 2, Part I, for elaboration of this summary statement.

4.
For a similar account, see Mark Poster, "The Modern versus the Postmodern," in Critical Theory and Poststructuralism, pp. 12-33.
5.
For example, many of the Habermasians' views discussed in Chapters 3 through 5 operate more or less within Habermas's framework though not entirely uncritically. The model of Enlightenment rationality and modernity presented in Chapter 1 could also be seen as conceding more to a Habermasian view than a poststructuralist view.
6.
See Chapter 2 for the point that features of Habermas's framework prejudges the poststructuralists. These concerns will resurface in Part II of this chapter. For another source that points out the "Enlightenment blackmail" of

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Marx and the Postmodernism Debates: An Agenda for Critical Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Chapter 1 the Project of Modernity 1
  • Notes 23
  • Chapter 3 Derrida 45
  • Notes 58
  • Chapter 4 Foucault 67
  • Notes 76
  • Notes 95
  • Chapter 6 a Fruitful Tension Approach 105
  • Notes 126
  • Chapter 7 Marx and the Postmodernism Debates 141
  • Notes 156
  • Chapter 8 an Agenda for Critical Theory 169
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 227
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