E. P. Thompson and the Making of the New Left: Essays and by E. P. Thompson

By E. P. Thompson

E. P. Thompson is a towering fi gure within the fi eld of work historical past, top recognized for his enormous and path-breaking paintings, The Making of the English operating Class. yet as this assortment exhibits, Thompson used to be even more than a historian: he used to be a committed educator of employees, a super polemicist, a talented political theorist, and a tireless agitator for peace, opposed to nuclear guns, and for a rebirth of the socialist project.
 
The essays during this booklet, a lot of that are both out-of-print or tricky to procure, have been written among 1955 and 1963 in the course of probably the most fertile classes of Thompson’s highbrow and political lifestyles, while he wrote his nice works, The Making of the English operating Class and William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary.

They demonstrate Thompson’s insistence at the energy of a humanistic and democratic socialism besides the worth of utopian considering in radical politics. all through, Thompson struggles to open an area self reliant of respectable Communist events and reformist Social Democratic events, opposing them with a imaginative and prescient of socialism equipped from the ground up. Editor Cal Winslow, who studied with Thompson, offers context for the essays in a close advent and reminds us why this eloquent and encouraging voice is still so proper to us this day.

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Gramsci’s theory of ‘common sense’ tends, however, to dissolve the terrifying force of this pre-existing totality. It is these competing conceptions of consciousness and agency – the proletariat’s innate capacity for philosophizing and reflection and the proletariat’s dissolution into the forces of reification – which determine much of the subsequent theorization of the everyday within Western Marxism. Roberts 01 chaps 45 25/1/06 17:14:59 46 P H I LO S O P H I Z I N G T H E EVERY D AY The Everyday, Space and Temporality The remarkable expansion of methodological work on consciousness and agency within this period is effectively, therefore, a retheorization of the temporality and spatial boundaries of revolutionary praxis from within a retheorized understanding of the temporal and spatial orders of capital accumulation and capitalist social relations.

In this regard, History and Class Consciousness is the more influential and more prescient work, for in contrast to Korsch, Lukács’ return to Hegel, dialectics and the problem of social agency is at the same time a philosophical recovery of the categories of alienation and commodity fetishism. Through the theoretical elaboration of the concept of alienation, Roberts 01 chaps 33 25/1/06 17:14:57 34 P H I LO S O P H I Z I N G T H E EVERY D AY Lukács introduces a normative standard of social critique into Marxism that in turn qualifies and nuances Korsch’s more general commitment to ‘revolutionary consciousness’: namely, that the dehumanization of bourgeois society exists independently of any individual consciousness of its effects.

Less attention is given, however, to the impact of the new German documentary and proletarian writing which emerged in the Soviet Union and Weimar Republic, and, as such, to the figure of the worker-correspondent. The worker-correspondent is as significant as the documentary photographer and the Productivist technician in the development of the cultural category of the everyday in the 1920s, insofar as he or she is seen to close down the distance between subject and object, near and far, part and whole, demanded of the new cultural modes.

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