• RRP: £16.99
  • You Save: £0.88 (5%)
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Minor scuffing to the corners of the cover - no creasing to spine - pages unmarked
Trade in your item
Get a £2.02
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique Paperback – 22 Feb 1990


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
£16.11
£12.03 £8.23

Frequently Bought Together

Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique + The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism
Price For Both: £25.10

Buy the selected items together


Trade In this Item for up to £2.02
Trade in Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £2.02, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press (22 Feb 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745606148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745606149
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

′This book is indeed a pleasure to read.′ Radical Philosophy

′Erudite and intelligent study.′ Theory, Culture & Society

From the Back Cover

It has become an intellectual commonplace to claim that we have entered the era of ′post–modernity′. Three themes are embraced in this claim – the poststructuralist critique by Foucault, Derrida and others of the philosophical heritage of the Enlightenment, the supposed impasse of the High Modern art and its replacement by new artistic forms, and the alleged emergence of ′post–industrial′ societies whose structures are beyond the ken of Marx and other theorists of industrial capitalism.

Against Postmodernism takes issue with all these themes. It challenges the idealist irrationalism of poststructuralism. It questions the existence of any radical break separating Post–modern 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 cultural history, Against Postmodernism takes issue with some of the most forthright critics of post–modernism – Jurgen Habermas and Frederic Jameson, for example. But it is most distinctive in that it offers a historical reading of these theories. Post–modernism, Alex Callinicos argues, reflects the disappointed revolutionary generation of ′68, and the incorporation of many of its members into the professional 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 in its own right.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
'Postmodernity' and revolution: the subject of this book may be summed up by these two words apparently with little in common. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
1
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Spectralis on 3 Mar 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The power of this book is that it explains the development of postmodernist theories in relation to the failure of the struggles of the 60's to overturn capitalism and the subsequent rise of neoliberalism. Callinicos shows that the theories of the leading proponents of postmodernism were not new and were drawn from the nihilism and anti-enlightenment of Nietzsche. Many of the claims made by postmodernists for a new epoch of capitalism were based on no empirical evidence and were simply false. The hallmarks that were supposed to define this new epoch were well established aspects of modernism itself. Most importantly, this book exposes the failure of postmodernism to offer a challenge to capitalism and, as an alternative to this capitulation, Callinicos argues for a an engagement with the many developing contemporary struggles that appear to have passed postmodernism by.

This book is worth reading alongside Peter Bürgers, 'The Theory of the Avant Garde' and 'Discourses of Extremity', Norman Geras devastating critique of Post-Marxism.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Mann VINE VOICE on 4 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback
Callinicos discusses the various aspects of Postmodernism - the artistic, cultural, philosophical and political ideas - but doesn't believe they constitute a real break from modernism.
As a Marxist he argues that there are always two basic criticisms of Capitalism. The pre-capitalist critique essentially wants to return to a time before the rise of Capital, and is therefore pre-Enlightenment and essentially unprogressive. The other response is the Marxist response which accepts the developments of Capital - the Enlightenment, Democracy, division of labour etc - and wants to progress these changes forward to the next stage, in which the "promise" the Enlightenment is fulfilled: The massive increases in production are made available to the many, and the division between rich and poor is removed.
For Callinicos, Postmodernism is an example of a pre-capitalist response to Capitalism and modernity. It is anti-enlightenment and attempts to go back to a time before the rise of the enlightened political subject with rights and freedoms and instead to create a sort of dream reality where pleasure, boredom, indifference and consumption rule.
Callinicos is a clear writer who is able to summarise the ideas of others neatly - although sometimes missing their subtleties. He provides an interesting analysis of Postmodernism (aka deconstruction, poststructuralism etc) which the reader probably won't agree with, but this is one of those books that is worth reading because in disagreeing with Callinicos it will help the reader generate their own ideas on the subject.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Tough, but worth it 1 July 2000
By Dylan Stillwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Alex Callinicos is, at heart, a political activist, a revolutionary socialist who is involved with day-to-day organizing. It is this practical work, I think, that makes him such a powerful critic of postmodernism. Without one foot in the real world, nobody could confront such a steaming pile of academic nonsense without sliding into complete irrelevance.
Alex starts off with a strong, refreshing judgement:
"I do not believe that we live in 'New Times', in a 'postindustrial and postmodern age'... I deny the main theses of poststructuralism, which seem to me in substance false. I doubt very much that Postmodern art represents a qualitative break from the Modernism of the early twentieth century. Moreover, much of what is written in support of the idea that we live in a postmodern epoch seems to me of small calibre intellectually, usually superficial, often ignorant, sometimes incoherent."
But, of course, he has to defend these claims, which (unfortunately) requires delving into the postmodernist babble about "discourse" and "metanarratives." As a result, this book is a very very difficult read, even for those who are familiar with postmodern theory. In the preface, Callinicos even seems to regret having to follow such a "tortuous path." But the journey is well worth it, thorns and all, especially for exasperated college students who must grapple with these ideas in their classes.
Alex does not boil down all opposing theories to his own viewpoint. In fact, this book points out many of the open questions that remain in philosophy and social theory. In every area, however, postmodernism proves to be a dead end, leading to political inactivity and confused relativism.
Rather than simply dismissing these views, Callinicos unearths their historical roots. Postmodernism is not just bad philosophy; it is the reflex of disillusioned intellectuals. When the revolts of the late 60's and the hopes of Stalinist "socialism" both collapsed, many radical academics retreated to their snail's shell of empty theory.
Alex's ability to see postmodernism in context comes from his grounding in active, classical Marxism. If you can make it past the thick stew of difficult terms, this book will do more than help you fend off fashionable academic trends. It will also point the way forward to a revolutionary Marxist tradition, where philosophical and political debates do "not take place in discourse but on the terrain of politics itself."
14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
An optimistic Marxism 27 May 2001
By TheIrrationalMan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Alex Callinicos, political philosopher and Marxist-Trotskyist activist, launches a blistering attack against the leading stars in the postmodern, or poststructuralist, trends in recent thought, such as Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and Lyotard, by regarding their idealist irrationalism as the last decadent gesture of late capitalism. His "symptomatological" critique interprets their efforts to decentre the autonomous, undifferentiated "subject", or self, in addition to their tepid relativism and their tortuously obscure writing style as signs of a reactionary nihilism on the part of disillusioned, middle-aged bourgeois academics. Central to Callinicos's analysis were the events surrounding the failure of the student insurrection of Paris '68, which, in consolidating peacemeal reformism in the form of trade unionism on the one hand, and allowing the Maoist left to emerge triumphant on the other, effectively ruled out any chance of a people's revolution,leading to the detumescent revolutionary fervour of many intellectuals, which culminated, according to Callinicos, in the "crisis" which he considers the postmodern phenomena. Callinicos also discounts any claim made by postmodernism towards elaborating a coherent or practicable theory of political resistance. He also takes issue with major thinkers in the post-Marxist camp, such as Marcuse, Adorno and Horkheimer, whom he dismisses for their political quietism, even though his critique is greatly indebted to at least one neo-Marxist, Jurgen Habermas, in his urge to continue the project of modernity, in a bid to rewaken the hope of further human emancipation. Callinicos's broad-ranging critique also leads him to attack the theorists of the post-industrial society, who maintain that classical Marxism is incapable of penetrating the mystified structures of global, or "disorganised capital", and he rebuts by claiming that there has been no significant change in the methods of capital accumulation since Marx' day, and that worldwide revolution is still necessary and justified. He also argues that postmodernism does not in any way represent a qualitative break with the Modernism, in terms of literary, aesthetic or architectural styles, but is merely a refinement of it. However, Callinicos's optimism leads him into a blind-alley, as his findings, compiled in 1989, has been overtaken by events, such as the growth of thw worldwide web (e-commerce, m-commerce) the heightening of globalised capital, the further erosion of nation-state boundaries and the proliferation of the services industry as opposed to manufacture - all which have inaugurated a new phase in capital formation which may elude even Callinicos's efforts at analysis. Secondly, Callinicos's negative criitque, though effective at times in pointing out some of the contradictions that bedevil cultural theory, does not offer a clear programme for political action. The only path open to him, of course, is the attempt to establish another "meta-narrative" such as the working-class emancipation, a course that his no become out-of-date subsequent to the colossal failure of communism in the Soviet Union, and the establishment of the Stalinist terror state. By contrast, poststructuralism, with its obsession with the fragment, the paradox and the plural nature of values, seems to occasionally offer a not always positive, but often energetic engagement with, political aporias. Nevertheless, Callinicos's study contains a wealth of useful information and many interesting observations on the historical, economic, literary and aesthetic trends dominant up to the Modernist impasse, and is supported by extensive quotations and a bibliography. Overall, however, he misses the point, as his analysis is far too partisan and hence, incomplete, to be totally convincing.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
a nice argument for not jumping in the current bandwagon 22 Nov 2001
By EDUARDO ENRIQUEZ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been engaged in an study of philosophy only for the past two years and mostly for my interest in politics and social science. I like many people have heard this word "postmodernism" a lot before studying philosophy and of course wandered what all these was about. Now after really sudying the current trends in philosophy and how things were in that field not too long ago i have to say that intellectuals are not different from children always chasing for the new toy to buy or adeolecents following the latest musical trends or latest trends on fashion just because its popular. Dissilusion intellectuals who were too inocent to believe that 1968 was going to be the revolution who later drifted into this "postmodernism" as almost escapism but without forgetting their radicalness (is that a real word in english)is an important argument that Callincos makes although i wish he treated how strange is to see some Leftists calling themselves postmodernists without thinking how complaining so much about modernism as to call oneself postmodernist does not sound too far from conservative or fascist gloom, anti-rationality and nihilism because lets remember in these postmodern times in which "metanarratives" have been discredited we have seen a reinassance of anti-rational, sectarian, nihilistic and fascistic nationalism everywhere. Personally after studying what these postmodernism was all about i thought it must be a philosophical trend dominated by political and social conservatives being after all so much inspired by Mr. Nietzche and nazi symphatizer Mr.Heidegger and arguing so much on points of no return wich negates us the posibbility of further significant positive changes.
Like Callincos argues nevertheless its almost just funny to see all these theoretical elaborations from these relativists trying to convince us these times are so much different from say before 1975 and also trying to convince us of some suposedely points of no return which if anyone will distance Michel Foucault work from all this postmodernist blabla will see that all of these is just another passing fad. This is not to deny "postmodernism" any real value or interesting insight something which Callincos doesnt do either, but his interesting analysis of the current situation of societies, the economy, the arts and of politics could let us separate in some ways what is going on right now from exagerations of the interpretation of current or fashionable ideologies or trends and also let us see how much these later are shaped by the first ones. I guess in a few words many of the readers of this book will be ones who just dont like to be trendy.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
a nice argument for not jumping in the current bandwagon 22 Nov 2001
By EDUARDO ENRIQUEZ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been engaged in an study of philosophy only for the past two years and mostly for my interest in politics and social science. I like many people have heard this word "postmodernism" a lot before studying philosophy and of course wandered what all these was about. Now after really sudying the current trends in philosophy and how things were in that field not too long ago i have to say that intellectuals are not different from children always chasing for the new toy to buy or adeolecents following the latest musical trends or latest trends on fashion just because its popular. Dissilusion intellectuals who were too inocent to believe that 1968 was going to be the revolution who later drifted into this "postmodernism" as almost escapism but without forgetting their radicalness (is that a real word in english)is an important argument that Callincos makes although i wish he treated how strange is to see some Leftists calling themselves postmodernists without thinking how complaining so much about modernism as to call oneself postmodernist does not sound too far from conservative or fascist gloom, anti-rationality and nihilism because lets remember in these postmodern times in which "metanarratives" have been discredited we have seen a reinassance of anti-rational, sectarian, nihilistic and fascistic nationalism everywhere. Personally after studying what these postmodernism was all about i thought it must be a philosophical trend dominated by political and social conservatives being after all so much inspired by Mr. Nietzche and nazi symphatizer Mr.Heidegger and arguing so much on points of no return wich negates us the posibbility of further significant positive changes.
Like Callincos argues nevertheless its almost just funny to see all these theoretical elaborations from these relativists trying to convince us these times are so much different from say before 1975 and also trying to convince us of some suposedely points of no return which if anyone will distance Michel Foucault work from all this postmodernist blabla will see that all of these is just another passing fad. This is not to deny "postmodernism" any real value or interesting insight something which Callincos doesnt do either, but his interesting analysis of the current situation of societies, the economy, the arts and of politics could let us separate in some ways what is going on right now from exagerations of the interpretation of current or fashionable ideologies or trends and also let us see how much these later are shaped by the first ones. I guess in a few words many of the readers of this book will be ones who just dont like to be trendy.
13 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Orthodox Marxist misses Post-Modernism 11 July 2000
By Gareth Morley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Callinicos is the most intellectual member of the leadership of the British Socialist Workers Party, a (basically) Trotskyist organization. His comments on post-modernism as an artistic movement is provocative, as is his discussion of Jurgen Habermas.
Callinicos is seen as a bit outside the pale philosophically in the SWP because of his fondness for the Stalinist hack Louis Althusser. Althusser believed Marxism was a science and that philosophy is nothing but the class struggle by other means. The SWP takes a fundamentalist view that politics can still be understood in 1930s Marxist terms as a division between the exploiting bourgeoisie and the righteous (but invariably stupid) proletariat. The answer to all problems is always to join the revolutionary party. Not surprisingly, Callinicos is hostile to post-modernism, which is suspicious of any meta-narrative that claims absolute validity for itself, and which is inclined to a more pluralistic view of politics.
But for all his erudition, Callinicos is as unable to refute postmodernism as Dr. Johnson was to refute Berkeley. Those who abandon divine revelation, or theory-independent observation as sources of knowledge, as Marxists are obliged to do, can never put the meta-narrative back together again. If all ideas are historically relative and dependent on class position, is this not true of Marxism as well? Does the SWP leadership not continue to believe in Marxism because otherwise its organization, and the psychic and material benefits it derives from it, would fall apart? If Marxists can describe post-modernists as petty bourgeois symptoms of the decline of late capitalism, how can they avoid the redescription that post-modernists would use against them: would-be priests of a theological despotism?
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback