I’m pleased to announce that an article I’ve been working on for over a decade, “Critical and Revolutionary Theory,” is now available in an excellent new book edited by Daniel Benson. The book also includes a dialogue between me and Philippe Corcuff on “Domination and Emancipation in the Current Conjuncture,” along with an introduction by Benson and pieces by Luc Boltanski, Nancy Fraser, Rosaura Sánchez, Asad Haider, Françoise Vergès, Ajay Singh Chaudhary and Yves Citton. Click here for more details.
Excerpt from “Critical and Revolutionary Theory”: “This article elucidates the reasons behind the retreat from Marxism in contemporary critical theory, and it offers an account of the revolutionary theory that is born of emancipatory struggles as an antidote to this retreat. It begins by briefly elucidating the explanatory power and transformative force of revolutionary theory, as it has been developed in the Marxist tradition, in order to shake it lose from the straw-person depictions, gormless mantras, anti-communist dogmas, historical tommyrot, and vulgarly reductive accounts that petty-bourgeois intellectuals and many others have used to try and discredit it. After clarifying how historical materialism is a collectively produced, transdisciplinary, systemic, radical and fallibilistic science of history rooted in collective struggle, it deploys this framework of analysis to develop a counter-history of critical theory. In this sense, the critique of the Frankfurt School that it advances is not simply an internal or immanent critique but is rather a materialist analysis of its social and historical function in the international political economy of ideas. As we shall see, the type of research promoted under the label ‘critical’ by the global theory industry—which is driven by capitalist interests and policed by their hegemonic enforcers—is work whose critical appearance belies a conformist core.”