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The Postmodern Prince: Critical Theory, Left Strategy, And The Making Of A New Political Subject Paperback – August 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1583670903 ISBN-10: 1583670904 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Sanbonmatsu is assistant professor of Philosophy and Religion at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583670904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583670903
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,691,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on June 7, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "The Postmodern Prince", John Sanbonmatsu sets out to critique the philosophical tendencies of the radical left of the past few decades from a Gramscian Marxist perspective. This effort succeeds quite well, though there are some problems.

In the first chapter, Sanbonmatsu gives an overview of the various postmodern, expressivist, new feminist etc. ideas of the proper radical position to take up, and he criticizes them for being meaningless and undermining leftist strategy by focusing on difference instead of unity. The second chapter is a continuation of this, taking aim at postmodern charlatans like Norman Brown and radical expressivist feminism like Mary Daly.

In the third chapter Sanbonmatsu explores a question that will be dear to all readers of radical leftist works: why do many radical leftists, especially postmodernists, write such terrible philosophical prose? Sanbonmatsu convincingly argues that this is in fact because the words, as reactionaries already suspected, are meant to hide a lack of content, or rather are draped around the content (still usually very little) in a baroque style. He also shows, however, that the reactionaries were wrong in suspecting this was because of the extreme leftism of their positions: on the contrary, the style is a product of the commodification of academic theory, and is in fact intended to undermine the more meaningful leftist theories such as Marxism.

The fourth chapter is perhaps the best part of the book, and ABSOLUTELY DEMOLISHES the pretensions of Foucault, while also effectively pointing out the failures of Althusser and his epigones Hardt & Negri. This chapter is a must-read for every radical leftist and everyone interested in (political) philosophy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Also available in a hardcover edition (1583670890, $65.00), The Postmodern Prince: Critical Theory, Left Strategy, And The Making Of A New Political Subject by John Sanbonmatsu (Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA) is a study and critque of radical politics in the postmodern world. A scholarly accounting that dissects the flaws of philosophies that compromise individuals' and society's ability to strategically plan and enact social change, The Postmodern Prince searches for ways to enable societal transformations based upon humanitarian ethics and principles. Blending the evaluations of advanced philosophy with an outlook of practical realism, The Postmodern Prince is a welcome addition to modern political science and philosophy shelves and reading lists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony M. Orum on November 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really like the energy and thought that went into this book. Sanbonmatsu takes up the real concerns of progressives today -- what can be done to change the political directions of the world, and to make the world a better place in which to live. I especially liked his critical review of postmodern theory, theory that is clever but, unlike the work of Marx, for example, offers no hope or solutions to the critical problems in the world. The author provided a compelling critique of this line of work. Just wish he had a better set of solutions than he offered at the end.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful By calmly on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I didn't realize when I read that this book was a critique of postmodernism that, in style, it would be so similar to many "postmodernist" works. It seems far too complicated for me.

I am not an academician, but it feels like the author could have made his point briefly:
1) Socialists need to be practical.
2) They need to be empathetic to other people and to animals too.
3) We need a sustainable, much less violent, world.

Sanbonmatsu presents what seems like Jainism meets Marxism, although, for some reason, by way of Norman O. Brown, Herbert Marcuse, Antionio Gramcsci, Michael Foucault, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and others.

I'd suggest you try Rudolf Rocker if you are attracted to liberatarian socialism. He may not answer all the questions that Sanbonmatsu asks, but it doesn't seem for me that Sanbonmatsu does either.
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