Sohn-Rethel’s Intellectual and Manual Labour argues that the “real abstraction” of commodity exchange makes possible “ideal abstraction” in cognition. In a radical version of the Marxist base-superstructure argument, Sohn-Rethel claims that abstraction must first exist in reality before it can appear in a pure form in the intellect. Mirroring Marx’s “critique of political economy,” Sohn-Rethel’s “critique of epistemology” attempts to prove that Kant’s a priori categories should not be grounded in the timeless transcendental subject but rather in the historical development of human society.
From 1919 to 1934, the Socialist government in Vienna sought to create a comprehensive working-class culture, striving to provide a foretaste of the socialist utopia in the present. In Red Vienna, Gruber critically examines the impact of this experiment in all areas of life, from massive public housing projects and health and education programs to socialist parades, festivals, and sporting events designed to create a "new" working class.