With the rise of myriad forms of identity politics which corresponds to a new “Trinity Formula” of leftist analysis of capitalism (class, race, and gender), major currents in the contemporary radical left in the past decades have shifted their aim. This book addresses the ideological, theoretical, and practical dilemmas of the contemporary academic and activist left from a Marxist standpoint.
Covering contemporary developments in Left thought and ideology and putting them into social and historical context, the chapters provide a theoretical confrontation with the myriad ways it has tended to accommodate itself to neoliberal ideology, rather than fundamentally opposing it.
The contrast between the Marxian emancipatory project and what the progressive left has made of it has never been more glaring than now, a time in which capital no longer seems to confront a political barrier. It is this predicament that The Conformist Rebellion evaluates, for a renewed approach to emancipation from capital.
Elena Louisa Lange is senior research fellow and lecturer at the University of Zurich. She is the co-editor of two books on Asian Philosophy and the author of Value without Fetish: Uno Kôzô’s Theory of Pure Capitalism.
Joshua Pickett-Depaolis is an independent researcher and an editor of the political theory journal Counter Attack. His interests include Marxist strategic thought and the Clausewitzian tradition of political realism
INTRODUCTION: THE CONFORMIST REBELLION OF THE CONTEMPORARY LEFT
PART I:FROM CLASS TO COMMUNITY – Race, Gender, and Cross-Class Struggles
Chapter 1: Todd Cronan: Antidiscrimination and the End of Marxism. The Roots of Contemporary Politics in Cold War Theory and Culture
Chapter 2: Robert Pfaller: The Dubious Wonder of Identity
Chapter 3:The Meaning of ‘Gender’ in Current Debates of the Left. A Discussion Between the Editors and Jane Clare Jones
Chapter 4: Anton Jäger: Mourning and Melancholia – The Millennial Left between New Left and Old Left
Chapter 5: Joshua Pickett-Depaolis: The Poverty of Immediacy – A Critique of the Communization Current
PART II: THE CULTURE OF THE CONFORMIST REBELLION – Culture Wars, Identity Politics, and Art
Chapter 6: George Hoare: Popular Sovereignty, Left Liberalism, and the Brexit Culture Wars
Chapter 7 : Samir Gandesha: Dictatorship Contra Critique
Chapter 8: Maren Thom: Cultural Representation - The Backlash Against Woke Aesthetics as Anti-politics
Chapter 9: Haseeb Ahmed: On What Art is Not, or:Art as A Left-Wing Hobby
PART III ECLIPSE OF EMANCIPATION – Confronting Streams in the Academic and Activist Left Today
Chapter 10: Nick Nesbitt: Racial Capitalism and Social Form
Chapter 11: Nivedita Majumdar: Is Postcolonial Theory’s Ethical Turn a Political Dead-End?
Chapter 12: Austin Williams: Growth and the Appropriation of Nature. Left-wing Misanthropy, the Rise of Authoritarianism, and the Pro-Capitalist Character of Environmental Discourse
Chapter 13: Raji C. Steineck: Outside(r) fetishisms: Pathologies of Displaced Critique
About the Authors
This is an extremely well-conceived and executed book. The preponderance of radical theory today has moved very far from traditional concerns with class and exploitation, rooted in an interest-based framework. Instead, it has embraced concepts like marginality, exclusion, otherness, etc. This collection joins a small but significant stream of work, published over the past decade, that is pushing back against this faux radicalism.
This book has many strengths—breadth, depth, range of authors, as well as a cohering intellectual spine. It would make an excellent coursebook, offering options for both required reading and suggested reading on various sociology / social theory / cultural theory / political history / political theory / critical theory-style courses.
There is a real need for a robust debate within the left on what emancipation means or can mean in the wake of neoliberalism, and for a renewal of Marx’s critique of political economy. It is not that the left is oblivious to systematic forms of oppression, but that it has ceded the analytical tools—which Marx provides—with which to criticize them. This book will fill an important place in contemporary left scholarship.