Marxism, post-Marxism and the discourse of late capitalism : a critical evaluation of the work of Roy Bhaskar, Fredric Jameson and Ernesto Laclau
This thesis is a contribution towards negotiating a way through the terrain of contemporary Marxist theory in the conditions of late capitalism. A Marxism which is responsive to the prevailing conditions and open to reconfiguration. I have chosen to concentrate on the works of Bhaskar, Jameson and Laclau because they all have attempted to develop their own projects rather than reiterate an orthodox Marxist line. I begin the thesis through an examination of the contribution of Althusser. Althusser's theoretical work sets up the conceptual parameters of the thesis, and offers a way into negotiating a path beyond the Marxism/post-Marxism divide. In the first chapter I demonstrate the ongoing influence of Althusser on all three of the theorists in question. This inevitably has to include a historical contextualisation and a restaging of the events that gave rise to Althusser's Marxism. Althusser had an enormous impact on Marxist theory, and the rapid decline of structural Marxism left a void which has yet to be dealt with adequately. Althusser has thus provided the possibility of connecting all three thinkers and at the same time has enabled an overview of the distinctive approaches of them. A critical evaluation of Bhaskar, Jameson and Laclau will be the theme of chapters two, three and four. The approach I will take will be to argue that each of the protagonists offers something different for a reconfigured Marxism. I will orientate the chapters on Bhaskar, Jameson and Laclau around the following critical considerations: What does Marxism in the conditions of postmodernity entail? If one takes seriously the criticisms posed by postist thought, then what remains distinctively Marxist after this process? The issue of class has been central to any Marxist analysis, but is it possible to articulate a class transformative project alongside the new social movements? How have Bhaskar, Jameson and Laclau responded to these issues and others relating to contemporary Marxism? It is in trying to answer these questions as applied to these three theorists, that the originality of the thesis lies.