Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bloch reviews Lukács

I just read an old piece, Ernst Bloch's review of Lukács' History and Class Consciousness from 1923. No great surprises here, yet it's still an amusing read. Bloch saves his criticism for the last few pages. The review zooms in on the dialectical “now” when the subject freely assumes the future by creating it. According to Bloch, Lukács's social categories - which are "sociologically homogenizing" and miss the "polyrhythmic" character of history (p.618) - cannot do justice to this "now". By limiting himself to a merely social dialectics, Lukács is forced to adopt an ascetic "agnosticism" towards everything transcendent. Yet history is "not just the social acquisition by as yet concealed social humans, but also the artistic, religious, and metaphysical acquisition by the clandestine transcendental humans" (p. 618). All this comes into play in the longing that animates the "now". Lukács misses it, thereby also missing the dimension of the new, the not-yet-conscious. Utopia, in short. Predictable? Perhaps. But quite well argued. And I like Bloch's description of his own brand of Marxism as “the metaphysics of the cosmic interpretation of dreams [die Metaphysik der kosmischen Traumdeutung]” (p. 621)!


Bloch, Ernst (1969) “Aktualität und Utopie. Zu Lukács’ ’Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein’”, pp. 598-621, in Philosophische Aufsätze zur Objektiven Phantasie. Band 10. Gesamtausgabe der Werke Ernst Bloch in Sechzehn Bänden, Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp.

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