Alex Callinicos. Professor of European Studies, postmodernism: A Marxist critique. A Callinicos Contra el posmodernismo. A Callinicos. Ediciones RyR. Libros antiguos (hasta ), raros y curiosos – Literatura – Ensayo: Contra el posmodernismo, alex callinicos. Compra, venta y subastas de Ensayo en. Alex Callinicos’s 20 research works with citations and reads, including: Marx’s Unfinished but Magnificent Critique Contra el postmodernismo · Article.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling posmoedrnismo about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Against Postmodernism by Alex Callinicos. Against Postmodernism by Alex Callinicos.

It has become an intellectual commonplace to claim that we have entered the era of ‘postmodernity’. Three themes are posmodernisjo in this claim; the poststructurist critique by Foucault, Derrida and others of the philosophical heritage of the Enlightenment; the supposed impasse of High Modern art and its replacement by new artistic forms; and the alleged emergence of ‘post-ind It has become an intellectual commonplace to claim that we have entered the era of ‘postmodernity’.

Three themes are embraced in this claim; the poststructurist critique by Foucault, Derrida and others of the philosophical heritage of the Enlightenment; the supposed impasse of High Modern art and its replacement by new artistic forms; and the alleged emergence of ‘post-industrial’ societies whose structures posmodernismp beyond the ken of Marx and other theorists of industrial capitalism. It challenges the idealist irrationalism of post-structuralism.

It questions the existence of any radical break separating allegedly Postmodern from Modern art. And it denies that recent socio-economic developments represent any fundamental shift from classical patterns of capital accumulation. Drawing on philosophy and history, “Against Postmodernism” takes issue also with some of the most forthright critics of postmodernism — Jurgen Habermas and Fredric Jameson, for example. But it is most distinctive in that it offers a historical reading of the theories of such currently fashionable thinkers as Baudrillard and Lyotard.

Postmodernism, Alex Callinios argues, reflects the disappointed revolutionary generation of ’68, and the incorporation of many of its members into the porfessional and managerial ‘new middle class’. It is best read as a symptom of political frustration and social mobility rather than as a significant intellectual or cultural phenomenon posmoderniamo its own right.

Paperbackpages. Published April 15th by Palgrave MacMillan first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Against Postmodernismplease sign up. Be the first to ask a coontra about Against Postmodernism. Lists with This Book.

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Aug 04, Alex Birchall rated it really liked it. Callinicos’ argument is to reject postmodernism as a ‘retreat’ by the intellectuals of the s and 80s.

The argument is presented in a series of rather disconnected essays. Chapter 1 discusses the various ‘terms’ that label the myriad ‘shifts’ we have apparently experienced from modernity to post-modernity – post-capitalism, post-bourgeois, post-collectivist, conrra, post-traditional, post-industrial, post-liberal or indeed ‘neo-liberal’ etc As Callinicos argues, postmodernists argue BOTH that postmodernity is a separate stage of history, and it isn’t; postmodern art is a continuation of modern art, but it also isn’t; postmodernism is anti-revolutionary, but holds Walter Benjamin and other revolutionary thinkers up as precursors.

Nonetheless we see academics in various genres and studies claim a shift to postmodernism. Art became postmodernist in the Dadaist phase. Theatre made its shift from the Brechtian ‘dialogue’ to the Artaudian ‘theatre of the senses’ the ‘body without organs’ picked up by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.

And of course, postmodern social theory from Lyotard disparaged so-called ‘metanarratives’ and insisted on the fragile, fragmented, fluctuating, mobile, and chaotic nature of the social reality against any kind of explanation.


This switches in Chapter 2 to an understanding of modernist art and commodification. The objective of this chapter and the shift is to continue the argument begun in Chapter 1 that no such shift to postmodernity has occurred as has been described.

Against Postmodernism by Alex Callinicos

Firstly the concept of ‘modern’ is explained as the sweeping up of traditional societies by various events: Modernity was perceived to be the ‘endgame’ or the realised ideals of the Enlightenment. Weber’s theory of ‘rationalisation’ and the Parsonian theory of evolutionary stabilisation are subsumed under a Marxist theory of historical materialism which is rightly considered as a ‘superior’ posmosernismo of historical change.

The chapter then turns to the genesis of modernism in history, with some nuanced analyses that require a background in the history of art that I don’t really have.

An interesting reformulation of Perry Anderson’s arguments regarding fin-de-siecle European society end of 19th c. We also see the reactions to modernity posed by Nazism and the various responses to reactions incl.

Contra el posmodernismo – Alex Callinicos – Google Books

Following that is a discussion of avant-garde and its exhaustion, which Callinicos argues “dramatized the more general exhaustion of Modernism”. Chapter 3 turns to poststructuralist theory and deconstruction. Posmodernlsmo origins of this theory are located in the philosophy of Nietzsche, specifically the ‘fiction’ of the subject, the plural nature of the self and the idea of ‘will to power’, and how thought is simply expressive of this power.

In both Nietzsche and Foucault we see thought here reduced to interpretation and thus an irrational perspectivism or relativism is introduced. This is characterised accurately by Alain Badiou as “contemporary sophistry”, or an enemy of thought. Poststructuralism is either ‘textualist’ Derrida, de Man and so on or ‘worldly’ Foucault, Edward Said In ‘textualism’ “there is no outside-text” as Derrida controversially puts it.

This had a dramatic effect on cultural studies in particular where everything became a text to be interpreted but nothing posnodernismo actually be judged according to objective standards. In the ‘worldly’ poststructuralism it is history and societal understanding that is deconstructed or denaturalised through genealogy.

There are three logical aporias Callinicos identifies in poststructuralism.

The first is its treatment of rationality, to be found in its philosophy of language. Derrida’s well known splitting of Saussurean holism is in his concept of “differance” – the ‘difference’ of presence and absence and the ‘deferral’ of presence through the operation of signifying chains. Hence presence is always invoked but not achieved, always transcendent but disrupted from appearing.

This position, Callinicos argues, does not cal,inicos the existence of objects. It is not an extreme idealist ontology or a retreat to a magical variant of phenomenology. This is why Ferry and Renaut joke about Derrida’s similarities to Heidegger the “self-occultation of Being” as Callinicos puts it is similar to differance.

This linguistic isolation from reality poses problems for Derrida later on. Habermas labels Derrida’s position as convergent on Jewish mysticism – nothing beyond the immediate present can be known, but only alluded to.

Because that which is external to the present is ‘unnameable’ because it is outside discourse, Derrida denies himself the means by which he can analyse the social forces behind racial apartheid, for example which he attempts to do in his work.

It seems it is simply untrue that there is only ‘discourse’ as means of communication that has no reference to reality. The second aporia is ‘resistance’. In contrast to Derridean textualism in which anti-realism is manifested in the separation of discourse from reality’worldly’ poststructuralism insists on the grounding of discourses in socio-political reality.

The problem is that one category is reduced to another. In Foucault and in some places Deleuze, power or sometimes ‘desire’ is all that knowledge is.

Against Postmodernism

Knowledge cannot be separated from its social context. This may or may not be ontologically anti-realist but callonicos we have a position of extreme epistemic relativism.

The modes of resistance le here fall incredibly short. In Foucault we have the challenging of a ‘dominant knowledge’ by disparate ‘local knowledges’. This relativist framework structures much of the ‘new sociology of knowledge’, ‘alternative epistemologies’ and anti-realist conceptions of pos,odernismo relationship between the knowledge of indigenous peoples and scientific knowledge. Not only is this relativism dangerous basically promoting authoritarianism over and above the powers dallinicos objective judgment but it is also politically weak against Foucault’s omnipresent systems of power located in institutions.


In Deleuze, the concept of ccontra becomes mystified in his vitalist philosophy outlined in A Thousand Plateaus. Resistance is located in ‘life itself’ – a life that is dislocated and disunified, contrra contrast to the unities of ‘body’ and ‘state’.

This theme is repeated in the so-called feminist ‘new materialism’, specifically Rosi Braidotti’s concept of “zoe” life-force which she derives from Deleuzian inspiration. Marxism and Foucauldianism are thus highly incompatible if one accepts the arguments made here. The third aporia is that of the ‘subject’. We see in Derrida that ‘the subject’ is written by the text or comes to life through discourse. Foucault argues ‘the individual’ is produced by power.

Deleuze argues that the body as commonly understood is a reified form around organicity rather than a deterritorialised ‘smooth space’. Yet this is analytically contradicted by Foucault’s borrowing from Nietzsche of the concept of stylisation, the self as a work of art that is ‘created’.

How can the self be coherently organised if it is just made up of disparate discourse? This implies a principle callinios individuation which is denied in poststructuralism. While Chapter 4 is losmodernismo systematic critique of Habermas his posmodsrnismo of communicative rationality as manifest in contemporary liberal democracyCaplinicos 5 returns to the critique of tendencies of postmodernist thought.

First the concept of ‘post-industrial society’ is totally dismantled through an analysis of misinterpretations of economic trends by the relevant theorists. Secondly, Fredric Jameson’s identification of a new period of ‘multinational capitalism’ as concordant with the rise of postmodern art is criticised. The third shift that is criticised is the so-called move from ‘Fordism’ to ‘post-Fordism’ with post-Fordism being rejected as an intelligible category as well as Lash and Urry’s exegesis of the move to a ‘disorganised’ capitalism structured around mobility and the disaggregation of national and ethnic orders.

Baudrillard’s concept of ‘hyper-real’ and his formulation of commodity fetishism is next, and cllinicos with that of Adorno and Horkheimer as well as the Situationists. Finally, we come back to the strongly supported notion that postmodernism represented a political retreat by much of the Left.

Callinicos’ objective is to back this up with evidence. The rise of the ‘new middle class’ and the disparate interests of its members is analysed. Socialist revolution was seen by the radicals of the 60s and 70s as impossible and indeed undesirable. Very quickly, the ideals of the Enlightenment were rejected by those who claimed to be pluralists and democrats.

Callinicos elsewhere has argued that postmodern theories served as a vehicle for conta Left intelligentsia to air out their political disillusionment and newfound love for a particular kind of consumption practice Callinicos calls it an “overconsumptionist dynamic”, see p. But these theories often had anti-democratic implications. This was the brutal “trahison des clercs” treason of the clerks that continues to imperil the Left today.

Posmodernusmo book is an essential read for students and academics across the humanities, particularly those interested in the history and periodicity of art, as well as anti-postmodernist social theorists like myself, and perhaps, a general readership of those who affiliate themselves with the political Left.

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