Sep 03 2010

The Algebra of Revolution

Hello all. My first week at Duke is over and I have lots of things to think about. I’m finding myself thinking about theory right now more than literary texts, which is definitely strange for me. I hadn’t really thought about theory seriously for a while. I’m going to be doing a lot of Marx this semester and bio-political theory. This is a huge change from my heavily archival time at Georgetown. I’m also finding the pace of research in a doctoral program way different from a Master’s program. There isn’t this rush to figure out what you need to be studying. I’m not quite sure what to do with this. Of course, my┬áreaction to this new and different space is to blog, and blog I will.

So here’s some of my observations on Georg Luckacs’s History and Class Consciousness. As an extension of my Master’s thesis, I’m really interested in how science and/or religon attempts to understand the invisible world. Dialectical Marxism has an interesting way of imagining history in terms of an invisible world occupied by the invisible forces. As Luckas puts it: “In the class struggle we witness the emergence of all the hidden forces that usually lie concealed behind the facade of economic life, at which the capitalists and their apologists gaze as though transfixed” (65). But what does it mean to expose a hidden force? How can a force be seen? Is this similar to the science of physics, which matematically reveals what forces are eventhough they cannot be detected by the human eye? Is Marx merely the mathematician of social forces? Luckas seems to think so: ”

The revolutionary nature of Hegelian dialectics had often been recognised as such before Marx, notwithstanding Hegel’s own conservative application of the method. But no had converted this knowledge into a science of revolution. It was Marx who transformed the Hegelian method into what Herzen described as the ‘algebra of revolition.” (27).

I had never thought of Marx as a kind of social scientists, in the most literal sense, but I’m starting to believe he was. His attention to these invisible forces are so obviously infused with the hard sciences that I’m surprised I hadn’t really noticed this until now.

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