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Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique Paperback – January 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: POLITY PRESS (1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745606148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745606149
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,325,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dylan Stillwood on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Alex Callinicos is, at heart, a political activist, a revolutionary socialist who is involved with day-to-day organizing. It is this practical work, I think, that makes him such a powerful critic of postmodernism. Without one foot in the real world, nobody could confront such a steaming pile of academic nonsense without sliding into complete irrelevance.
Alex starts off with a strong, refreshing judgement:
"I do not believe that we live in 'New Times', in a 'postindustrial and postmodern age'... I deny the main theses of poststructuralism, which seem to me in substance false. I doubt very much that Postmodern art represents a qualitative break from the Modernism of the early twentieth century. Moreover, much of what is written in support of the idea that we live in a postmodern epoch seems to me of small calibre intellectually, usually superficial, often ignorant, sometimes incoherent."
But, of course, he has to defend these claims, which (unfortunately) requires delving into the postmodernist babble about "discourse" and "metanarratives." As a result, this book is a very very difficult read, even for those who are familiar with postmodern theory. In the preface, Callinicos even seems to regret having to follow such a "tortuous path." But the journey is well worth it, thorns and all, especially for exasperated college students who must grapple with these ideas in their classes.
Alex does not boil down all opposing theories to his own viewpoint. In fact, this book points out many of the open questions that remain in philosophy and social theory. In every area, however, postmodernism proves to be a dead end, leading to political inactivity and confused relativism.
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14 of 22 people found the following review helpful By TheIrrationalMan on May 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Alex Callinicos, political philosopher and Marxist-Trotskyist activist, launches a blistering attack against the leading stars in the postmodern, or poststructuralist, trends in recent thought, such as Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and Lyotard, by regarding their idealist irrationalism as the last decadent gesture of late capitalism. His "symptomatological" critique interprets their efforts to decentre the autonomous, undifferentiated "subject", or self, in addition to their tepid relativism and their tortuously obscure writing style as signs of a reactionary nihilism on the part of disillusioned, middle-aged bourgeois academics. Central to Callinicos's analysis were the events surrounding the failure of the student insurrection of Paris '68, which, in consolidating peacemeal reformism in the form of trade unionism on the one hand, and allowing the Maoist left to emerge triumphant on the other, effectively ruled out any chance of a people's revolution,leading to the detumescent revolutionary fervour of many intellectuals, which culminated, according to Callinicos, in the "crisis" which he considers the postmodern phenomena. Callinicos also discounts any claim made by postmodernism towards elaborating a coherent or practicable theory of political resistance. He also takes issue with major thinkers in the post-Marxist camp, such as Marcuse, Adorno and Horkheimer, whom he dismisses for their political quietism, even though his critique is greatly indebted to at least one neo-Marxist, Jurgen Habermas, in his urge to continue the project of modernity, in a bid to rewaken the hope of further human emancipation.Read more ›
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By EDUARDO ENRIQUEZ on November 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have been engaged in an study of philosophy only for the past two years and mostly for my interest in politics and social science. I like many people have heard this word "postmodernism" a lot before studying philosophy and of course wandered what all these was about. Now after really sudying the current trends in philosophy and how things were in that field not too long ago i have to say that intellectuals are not different from children always chasing for the new toy to buy or adeolecents following the latest musical trends or latest trends on fashion just because its popular. Dissilusion intellectuals who were too inocent to believe that 1968 was going to be the revolution who later drifted into this "postmodernism" as almost escapism but without forgetting their radicalness (is that a real word in english)is an important argument that Callincos makes although i wish he treated how strange is to see some Leftists calling themselves postmodernists without thinking how complaining so much about modernism as to call oneself postmodernist does not sound too far from conservative or fascist gloom, anti-rationality and nihilism because lets remember in these postmodern times in which "metanarratives" have been discredited we have seen a reinassance of anti-rational, sectarian, nihilistic and fascistic nationalism everywhere. Personally after studying what these postmodernism was all about i thought it must be a philosophical trend dominated by political and social conservatives being after all so much inspired by Mr. Nietzche and nazi symphatizer Mr.Heidegger and arguing so much on points of no return wich negates us the posibbility of further significant positive changes.Read more ›
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