Werner Bonefeld - Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy On Subversion and Negative Reason

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Angelus Novus
Joined: 27-07-06
Feb 4 2014 18:33
Werner Bonefeld - Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy On Subversion and Negative Reason

Ignoring for a moment the rather hefty price tag, this looks very promising. Looks like the summation of Bonefeld's work.

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction: Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy

Section I: On the Critique of Political Economy as a Critical Social Theory
2. Political Economy and Social Constitution: On the Meaning of Critique
3. Society as Subject and Society as Object: On Social Praxis

Section II: Value: On Social Wealth and Class
4. Capital and Labour: Primitive Accumulation and the Force of Value
5. Class and Struggle: On the false Society
6. Time is Money: On Abstract Labour

Section III: Capital, World Market and State
7. State, World Market and Society
8. On the State of Political Economy: Political Form and the Force of Law

Section IV Anti-Capitalism: Theology and Negative Practice
9. Anti-Capitalism and the Elements of Antisemitism: On Theology and Real Abstractions
10. Conclusion: On the Elements of Subversion and Negative Reason

Selected Bibliography

Pennoid's picture
Joined: 18-02-12
Feb 4 2014 21:16

Forgive my ignorance, what's with the "Anti-capitalism" and anti-semitism stuff? Any idea?

Joined: 12-07-13
Feb 5 2014 11:06

I think 'Elements of Antisemitism' is in reference to a later section in the Dialectic of Enlightenment.

I recall it being really good (although like all Adorno irritatingly heavy to read). It investigates the development of anti-semitism and how it changed along with the development of capitalism etc.

It evaluates the base material function of judaic and christian belief, and amongst other things points to rabbinic judaism's origin as a religion of pragmatism and the 'overcoming of immediate fear' centred around the survival of a specific social/cultural group. With the establishment of Christianity, this threatened the Christian dogma of self-sacrifice deemed central to various ruling powers throughout history. They also interrogate how Germanic christianity laid the basis for Nazi anti-semitism, which is interesting and gives some great one-liner quotes in the process.

In short they trace the root of Christian anti-judaism to the 'deceptively positive meaning given to self-denial' drawn from the idea its followers should imitate christ, and Christianity's initial need (during its formative period) to polemicise this in an intense fashion against Judaism in order to define its own identity and recruit new followers. It places this difference in moral code at the root of the anti-semitic caricatures/stereotypes of the 'greedy jew'.

I think they also analyse its fluctuating association with socialism and anarchism - I can't quite remember this bit, but I think the general idea was that where there existed no understanding of capitalism's specific historical peculiarities (mechanistic disempowerment of humanity as a whole to an externalised force that we ourselves reproduce every day), anti-semitism tended to take root.

jura's picture
Joined: 25-07-08
Feb 5 2014 09:21

Angelus, doesn't it (from the titles of the chapters) look a bit like a collection of older articles? (Still, it's useful to have them in one place.)

Pennoid's picture
Joined: 18-02-12
Feb 5 2014 16:22


That actually sounds pretty fascinating. Thanks for the summary!

Hektor Rotweiler
Joined: 11-08-11
Feb 7 2014 03:40


As you rightly point out, Bonefeld has previously written about these themes, sometimes in multiple essays, the book however comprises new, and perhaps definitive, presentations of the topics.

Joined: 12-07-13
Feb 7 2014 09:39

Glad to be of some help!