9781781680285_freudianism-max_221

Freudianism: A Marxist Critique

Early critique of Freud from a Marxist and linguistic perspective.

Freudianism is a major icon in the history of ideas, independently rich and suggestive today both for psychoanalysis and for theories of language. It offers critical insights whose recognition demands a change in the manner in which the fundamental principles of both psychoanalysis and linguistic theory are understood. Volosinov went to the root of Freud's theory adn method, arguing that what is for him the central concept of psychoanalysis, "the unconscious," was a fiction. He argued that the phenomena that were taken by Freud as evidence for "the unconscious" constituted instead an aspect of "the conscious," albeit one with a person's "official conscious."

For Volosinov, "the conscious" was a monologue, a use of language, "inner speech" as he called it. As such, the conscious participated in all of the properties of language, particularly, for Volosinov, its social essence. This type of argumentation stood behind Volosinov's charge that Freudianism presented humans in an inherently false, individualistic, asocial, and ahistorical setting.

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  • Winners of our Radical Thinkers competition!

    To launch Set 7 in our Radical Thinkers series, we ran a competition last week to win a copy of every available book published in the series so far.

    After a week of frenzied-question posting and a website crash in the face of Radical Thinkers popularity, I’m delighted to announce the winners and runners-up!

    Thank you to everyone who entered, and a huge congratulations to the following:

    US/Canada:

    Winner: Owen Cantrell (also winner of our favourite tweet re: the website crash)

    2nd place: Corey Nelson

    Runners-up: Tim O'Neil, Alan Ra and Thomas L Ruan

    Special Prize for Effort: Matt Kavanagh

    Rest of World:

    Winner:  Daniel Bristow

    2nd place: Dominic Teflise 

    Runners-up: Nikos Overheul, Evangelos Sakkas and Miša Krenčeyová 

    To remind you of the prizes: the winners will receive all available titles in the seven series published so far, those in second place will win a full Set 7, and the runners-up will win a book of their choice from Set 7. All have now been notified by email.

    Now for the answers to those all-important questions….

    1. Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism

    The second chapter in The Sprit of Terrorism began as a contribution to a debate on the events of September 11th organized jointly by the New York University and France Culture in Washington Square, Manhattan. In an interview with the New York Times regarding French theory in American universities, Baudrillard remarked:

    “The French gave Americans a language they did not need. It was like the Statue of Liberty. Nobody needs French theory.” Which other widely known French theorist spoke at this event?


    ANSWER: Jacques Rancière

    2. Max Horkheimer, Critique of Instrumental Reason

    “At the end of the Nazi period (I thought at the time) a new day, the beginning of an authentically human history, would dawn in the developed countries as the result of reforms or revolution. Along with the other founders of Scientific Socialism, I thought that the cultural gains of the bourgeois era – the free development of human powers, a spiritual productivity – but stripped now of all elements of force and exploitation, would surely become widespread throughout the world.”

    In a groundbreaking book written by Horkheimer and his life long colleague and collaborator the first chapter states that the Enlightenment has always aimed at liberating men from what?



    ANSWER: Fear

    3. Karl Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy

    One of the most famous works produced by the European revolutionary movement, Marxism and Philosophy is the first attempt by a Marxist to apply Marx’s critical and materialist method to the history of Marxism itself.

    Towards the end of the Second World War, which student of Karl Korsch enthusiastically put to verse The Communist Manifesto?


    ANSWER: Bertolt Brecht

    4. Ludwig Feuerbach, The Fiery Brook: Selected Writings

    A great amount of the young Marx must remain unintelligible without reference to certain basic Feuerbachian texts. These selections, most of them previously translated, establish the thought of Feuerbach in an independent role.

    Which essay by Feuerbach, part of which is included in this collection, influenced Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and caused Engels to remark, “One must himself have experienced the liberating effect of this book to get an idea of it. Enthusiasm was general; we all became at once Feuerbachians”?



    ANSWER: The Essence of Christianity

    5. Fredric Jameson, A Singular Modernity

    A major interpretation of the concepts of modernism and modernity.

    In his introduction to this book Jameson refers to a postmodern philosopher and his comments on two other well-known philosopher’s facial hair. Name these three men and their preference or not for beards.


    ANSWER: Jean-François Lyotard (clean-shaven) OR Deluze (clean-shaven). Marx (bearded), Hegel (clean-shaven) 

    The full quote is: "For Lyotard, as for Deleuze, the philosophers of the past were to be reinvented and rewritten in the post contemporary idiom […] the operative slogan being the famous evocation of 'a bearded Hegel and a clean-shaven Marx.' " As the question asks for three philosophers we can accept either Deluze or Lyotard

    6. Maurice Godelier, Rationality and Irrationality in Economics

    An analysis of social and economic systems and why they appear and disappear throughout history. As of 2001 Maurice Godelier owns what object, which was also possessed by Pierre Bourdieu and Claude Levi-Strauss?



    ANSWER: CNRS Gold Medal or Médaille d'or 

    7. Simon Critchley, Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of commitment, Politics of Resistance

    "Philosophy begins in disappointment.” Simon Critchley writes in the introduction to this work. “Nihilism is the breakdown of the order of meaning, where all that we previously imagined as a divine, transcendent basis for moral valuation has become meaningless. […]For some, this is the defining experience of youth – witness the deaths of numerous young romantics, whether Keats, Shelley, Sid Vicious or Kurt Cobain.”

    Which of four these dead romantics died youngest?


    ANSWER: Sid Vicious

    8. Wilhelm Reich, Sex-Pol: Essays, 1929-1934

    Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst who made significant contributions to psychoanalytic theory. His controversial views on sexual and class oppression resulted in his expulsion from the International Communist Party of Germany in 1933 and from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1934.

    Reich was subject to libricide by both the United States and the Nazi Party. Name another physician also interested in sexual repression who was subject to same fate under the Nazis.


    ANSWER:  Magnus Hirschfeld or Freud

    9. Alain Badiou Ethics: An Essay On The Understanding of Evil

    In this book Alain Badiou shows how our prevailing ethical principles serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo and fail to provide a framework for an effective understanding of the concept of evil.

    Name a major influence on Badiou’s Ethics who famously said “Ne pas céder sur son désir.”

    ANSWER:  Jacques Lacan

    10. Slavoj Žižek Welcome to the Desert of the Real

    “The fact that September 11 attacks were the stuff of popular fantasies long before they actually took place provides yet another case of the twisted logic of dreams: it is easy to account for the fact that poor people around the world dream about becoming Americans – so what do the well-to-do Americans, immobilized in their well-being dream about? About a global catastrophe that would shatter their lives – why?”

    Prior to this quote Žižek mentions a film in the top fifty highest grossing films of all time staring an actor also known as ‘The Fresh Prince’. Name this film.


    ANSWER: Independence Day

    11. André Gorz Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology

    Against the background of recent technological developments, Gorz's major new book explores the political agendas facing both right and left in the midst of the transformations of the nature of work and the structure of the workforce.

    What is the connection between Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times and André Gorz’s journalistic career?


    ANSWER: Gorz wrote for Les Temps Moderne

    12. V.N. Voloshinov Freudianism: A Marxist Critique

    An early critique of Freud from a Marxist and linguistic perspective.

    Voloshninov was a member of a group of philosophers whose thought on language and art addressed the social and cultural issues posed by the Russian Revolution and its degeneration into the Stalin dictatorship. 

    ANSWER: Bakhtin

    The hugely popular Radical Thinkers series publishes beautifully designed and affordable editions of important works of theory and philosophy. Covering a full spectrum of critical thought, the series includes work from radical thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Georg Lukács, Gillian Rose, Jean-Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno and many more.

    Set 7 will be launched in a series of fortnightly events at the ICA, starting on the 9th April. More details here.

    Corrections: Due to a typo the answer to question 5 had read Marx (clean shaven) and Hegel (bearded). This was changed for the correct Marx (bearded) and Hegel (clean shaven). Winning entries were taken for the correct answer although no entries were submitted to any other effect.

  • Radical Thinkers – Win all available titles of the entire series!

    This competiton has now ended. See the winners, and answers to the questions, here!

    The notorious Radical Thinkers competition is back, this time to celebrate the publication of Set 7. The prize: every available title in the collection! That is an entire library of radical thought from Althusser to Žižek; a total of some seventy plus books.

    The highly popular Radical Thinkers series publishes beautifully designed and affordable editions of important works of theory and philosophy. Covering a full spectrum of critical thought, the series includes work from radical thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Georg Lukács, Gillian Rose, Jean-Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno and many more.

    First launched in 2005, there are now eighty titles in the series. In 2009, Set 4 was launched with a sleek, acclaimed new cover design from Rumors, which has become a hallmark of the series. They have been widely praised, including in the Guardian, Bookforum and the New Statesman.

    Two winners (one from the US/Canada and one from the rest of the world), will win all available titles in the seven series published so far. Two runners up will win a full set 7, and 6 more will win one of the books from set 7.

    Set 7 is launched with a series of fortnightly events at the ICA. 

    How it works:

    There will be twelve questions in total, each relating to a title from Set 7 of the series.  Up to three questions will be posted here every day this week. And as ever—they are not meant to be easy.

    The final questions will be posted at 4pm GMT on Friday 22 March. The winners will be the first person in each territory to email the correct answers to all twelve questions after this time. The email address for entries will be posted with the final question on Friday. The winners will be announced and all the answers will be posted on Monday 25 March.

    Please do not post the answers on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else—entries accepted by email only. Any comments posting the answers will be deleted.

    Good luck!

    Monday

    1. Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism

    The second chapter in The Sprit of Terrorism began as a contribution to a debate on the events of September 11th organized jointly by the New York University and France Culture in Washington Square, Manhattan. In an interview with the New York Times regarding French theory in American universities, Baudrillard remarked:

    “The French gave Americans a language they did not need. It was like the Statue of Liberty. Nobody needs French theory.”

    Which other widely known French theorist spoke at this event?

    2. Max Horkheimer, Critique of Instrumental Reason

    “At the end of the Nazi period (I thought at the time) a new day, the beginning of an authentically human history, would dawn in the developed countries as the result of reforms or revolution. Along with the other founders of Scientific Socialism, I thought that the cultural gains of the bourgeois era – the free development of human powers, a spiritual productivity – but stripped now of all elements of force and exploitation, would surely become widespread throughout the world.”

    In a groundbreaking book written by Horkheimer and his life long colleague and collaborator the first chapter states that the Enlightenment has always aimed at liberating men from what?

    Tuesday

    3. Karl Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy

    One of the most famous works produced by the European revolutionary movement, Marxism and Philosophy is the first attempt by a Marxist to apply Marx’s critical and materialist method to the history of Marxism itself.

    Towards the end of the Second World War, which student of Karl Korsch enthusiastically put to verse The Communist Manifesto?

    4. Ludwig Feuerbach, The Fiery Brook: Selected Writings

    A great amount of the young Marx must remain unintelligible without reference to certain basic Feuerbachian texts. These selections, most of them previously translated, establish the thought of Feuerbach in an independent role.

    Which essay by Feuerbach, part of which is included in this collection, influenced Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and caused Engels to remark, “One must himself have experienced the liberating effect of this book to get an idea of it. Enthusiasm was general; we all became at once Feuerbachians”?

    Wednesday

    5. Fredric Jameson, A Singular Modernity

    A major interpretation of the concepts of modernism and modernity.

    In his introduction to this book Jameson refers to a postmodern philosopher and his comments on two other well-known philosopher’s facial hair. Name these three men and their preference or not for beards.

    6. Maurice Godelier, Rationality and Irrationality in Economics

    An analysis of social and economic systems and why they appear and disappear throughout history.

    As of 2001 Maurice Godelier owns what object, which was also possessed by Pierre Bourdieu and Claude Levi-Strauss?

    Thursday



    7. Simon Critchley, Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of commitment, Politics of Resistance

    "Philosophy begins in disappointment.” Simon Critchley writes in the introduction to this work. “Nihilism is the breakdown of the order of meaning, where all that we previously imagined as a divine, transcendent basis for moral valuation has become meaningless. […]For some, this is the defining experience of youth – witness the deaths of numerous young romantics, whether Keats, Shelley, Sid Vicious or Kurt Cobain.”

    Which of four these dead romantics died youngest?

    8. Wilhelm Reich, Sex-Pol: Essays, 1929-1934

    Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst who made significant contributions to psychoanalytic theory. His controversial views on sexual and class oppression resulted in his expulsion from the International Communist Party of Germany in 1933 and from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1934.

    Reich was subject to libricide by both the United States and the Nazi Party. Name another physician also interested in sexual repression who was subject to same fate under the Nazis.

    9. Alain Badiou Ethics: An Essay On The Understanding of Evil

    In this book Alain Badiou shows how our prevailing ethical principles serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo and fail to provide a framework for an effective understanding of the concept of evil.

    Name a major influence on Badiou’s Ethics who famously said “Ne pas céder sur son désir.”

    FRIDAY
    -
    first entries from each territory with the correct answers to all 12 questions takes all! Good luck!




    10. Slavoj Žižek Welcome to the Desert of the Real

    “The fact that September 11 attacks were the stuff of popular fantasies long before they actually took place provides yet another case of the twisted logic of dreams: it is easy to account for the fact that poor people around the world dream about becoming Americans – so what do the well-to-do Americans, immobilized in their well-being dream about? About a global catastrophe that would shatter their lives – why?”

    Prior to this quote Žižek mentions a film in the top fifty highest grossing films of all time staring an actor also known as ‘The Fresh Prince’. Name this film.

    11. André Gorz Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology

    Against the background of recent technological developments, Gorz's major new book explores the political agendas facing both right and left in the midst of the transformations of the nature of work and the structure of the workforce.

    What is the connection between Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times and André Gorz’s journalistic career?

    12. V.N. Voloshinov Freudianism: A Marxist Critique

    An early critique of Freud from a Marxist and linguistic perspective.

    Voloshninov was a member of a group of philosophers whose thought on language and art addressed the social and cultural issues posed by the Russian Revolution and its degeneration into the Stalin dictatorship.

    Name the philosopher by which this group took its title.



    Those in North America email verso@versobooks.com.

    For the rest of the world, including the UK, email enquiries@verso.co.uk.

    Please put RADICAL THINKERS COMPETITION in the subject line or your entry may not be counted.


    Winners will be announced on Monday.

     

  • An Introduction to Radical Thinkers Set 7

    Fortnightly from the 9th of April, 2013, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, five engaging speakers will be introducing the thought of Ludwig Feuerbach, Simon Critchley, Max Horkheimer, Alain Badiou and Wilhelm Reich. These events will span themes from sexuality to economics, idealism to ethics, covered in the author’s books in the new set of Radical Thinkers.

    Set 7, released this month, is the latest addition to the series. These beautifully designed books have been described by Owen Hatherley as “a compendium of left-wing philosophical and political thought.”

    The following provides a brief introduction to the thinkers and offers some related preparatory materials.

    Continue Reading