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«Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy. On Subversion and Negative Reason»: Werner Bonefeld

About Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy

Subversive thought is none other than the cunning of reason when confronted with a social reality in which the poor and miserable are required to sustain the illusion of fictitious wealth. Yet, this subsidy is absolutely necessary in existing society, to prevent its implosion. The critique of political economy is a thoroughly subversive business. It rejects the appearance of economic reality as a natural thing, argues that economy has not independent existence, expounds economy as political economy, and rejects as conformist rebellion those anti-capitalist perspectives that derive their rationality from the existing conceptuality of society. Subversion focuses on human conditions. Its critical subject is society unaware of itself. This book develops Marx’s critique of political economy as negative theory of society. It does not conform to the patterns of the world and demands that society rids itself of all the muck of ages and founds itself anew.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction: Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy

Section I: On the Critique of Political Economy as a Critical Social Theory

2. Political Economy and Social Constitution: On the Meaning of Critique
3. Society as Subject and Society as Object: On Social Praxis

Section II: Value: On Social Wealth and Class

4. Capital and Labour: Primitive Accumulation and the Force of Value
5. Class and Struggle: On the false Society
6. Time is Money: On Abstract Labour

Section III: Capital, World Market and State

7. State, World Market and Society
8. On the State of Political Economy: Political Form and the Force of Law

Section IV Anti-Capitalism: Theology and Negative Practice

9. Anti-Capitalism and the Elements of Antisemitism: On Theology and Real Abstractions
10. Conclusion: On the Elements of Subversion and Negative Reason

Selected Bibliography


“Werner Bonefeld’s outstanding book revitalizes the best tradition of critical theory, which he proficiently combines with the critique of political economy and new readings of Marx. Bonefeld’s book is essential for anyone who wants to understand the inverted world of capitalism and to fight its barbarism.” –  Massimiliano Tomba, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Università di Padova, Italy

“Bringing together Adorno’s Critical Theory and Marx’s Critique of Political Economy sheds rather new light on basic concepts of Marx’s Critique like the law of value, class, and state, and allows Werner Bonefeld to leave the usual roads of discussion travelled over the last four decades. This becomes clear not only when the relationship between economic law, labour, action, and force is discussed but also when the anti-capitalist implications of this approach are developed. This book is really a big step forward in the discussion of capitalism and its critiques.” –  Michael Heinrich, University of Technics and Economics, Berlin, Germany and author of An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

“Werner Bonefeld is one of the most rigorous and uncompromising critics of capitalism writing today. This book criticises and carries forward the most advanced thinking on critical theory and the critique of political economy. A must, a delight.” –  John Holloway, Professor of Sociology at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades in the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico.

“Reclaiming the Marxian critique of political economy for critical theory, Werner Bonefeld reveals an overlooked trajectory of the Frankfurt School leading from Adorno to ‘the new reading of Marx.’ Bonefeld pushes ‘the new reading of Marx’ to recognise the class structure enforced by the state’s ‘law-making violence’ that underlies the law of value. Critical theory needs to be anti-capital, Bonefeld argues, and he makes good on that subversive demand with a critique of economic categories that exposes the social sources of ‘the dazzling spell of the world of value.’ Bonefeld writes at the frontiers of the renewal of critical theory as the critique of political economy.” –  Patrick Murray, Creighton University, USA, and author of Marx’s Theory of Scientific Knowledge

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