Interview with Moishe Postone: “Critique and Dogmatism”

Excellent interview by Anej Korsika of Moishe Postone at Chicago.

I enjoyed Postone’s forthrightness. His appraisal of Anti-Semitism as a reactionary populism; his critique of current dogmatic Leftist siding with reactionary assemblages in the Middle-East at the consternation of actual Progressive Leftist in the same Arab Nations; his return to Marx’s Grundisse, and its understanding in situating Marxism in the veritable “abolition of labor” rather than other concepts such as surplus-value, etc; also, the specificity of the logic of capital formation as a specific historical formation, not as an abstract category or universal, but the actual working out of concrete temporal capital relations, etc.

He also criticizes traditional Marxism in its labor theory. Times and history have moved on. “The main factor is the capitalist use of technology and processes of rationalization, which are wiping out many jobs. I think we are in a race for time and I don’t think anyone has a worked out political vision of getting beyond the system based on proletarian labor. … What I find very sad is that once upon a time the Left tried to understand global shifts of power.”

His whole battle with current orthodox traditionalist Leftist over the Middle-East stems from their blanket mythology of the Arab-Israeli conflict as central, when for the leftist at street level in most Arab countries the issue is “neoliberalism, which has made the political repression intolerable because of the growing economic differentiation that is happening in all of these societies (its happening in Israel too). There is a much greater gap between rich and poor. The one thing I am a bit pessimistic is that I am not sure this can be solved even by a democratic society. That is what I am a little nervous about. … One consequence has been the tendency by many to become dogmatic, furiously anti-imperialistic. This made life considerably easier- all you needed was one criterion: if it is against the United States, we are for it! As a result, much of the Left once again got in bed with a number of very unsavory authoritarian regimes. As brutal and horrible as colonialism was, in Libya, for example, Italians killed huge numbers of people, I don’t think this can serve to justify Gadafi. The Left must get away from this Manichean view, which has served as an ideology of legitimation.”

Very interesting…


In the beginning of 2011 I spent three months at the University of Chicago, studying under the supervision of professor Moishe Postone, my foreign advisor on PhD. As times pass ones outlook and theoretical perspective inevitably changes and many of the views I held at the time are now different or gone. Nonetheless professor Postone still remains a source of great inspiration, especially from the perspective of posing the right questions that remain valid as ever. At the time I used the opportunity to conduct an interview that was published in the student newspaper Tribuna, of which I was an editor in charge (2009 – 2011, an interesting story on its own, that deserves to have its own article). Anyway, the interview was never published in its original, i.e. in English. For someone that is already well acquainted with the work of Postone it probably won’t be that interesting…

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