Rethinking Marxist Approaches to Transition

A Theory of Temporal Dislocation


Author: Onur Acaroglu
In Rethinking Marxist Theories of Transition, Onur Acaroglu traces the concept of transition across the tracts of Classical and Western Marxism. Rarely directly invoked, transition between different societies appears as an imminent social reality, and a useful conceptual tool for critical social theory.

Transitions as qualitative shifts between societies are often considered as eventual historical stages, or effaced altogether. Theorising transition in a new direction, Onur Acaroglu elaborates a theory of temporal dislocation. Considering transition through a framework of out-of-joint temporalities, the notion comes through as an undervalued tendency in social reproduction.

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Onur Acaroglu, Ph.D. (2020), University of Birmingham, is a doctoral researcher. He has published articles and reviews on contemporary Marxism and political theory, including Paris 1871 and Fatsa 1979: Revisiting the Transition Problem (Globalisations, 2019). He is an editor of Marx and Philosophy Review of Books.
The curious neglect of transition in left theory
The structure of the book

PART I | The Theoretical Heritage: Transition in Classical and Western Marxism

Chapter 1 – ‘Poetry of the Future’: Marx and the Problematic of Transition
The primacy of production
Production and alienation
The separation of the political and the economic
The tasks of social revolution and non-contemporaneous contemporaneity
Communism as positive supersession
Marx and transition
Towards a theory of transition

Chapter 2 – Interlacing of Times: The ‘Althusser effect’, Temporality and Transition
Expressive totality to ruptural unity: Althusser reading Marx
Temporal dislocation: Balibar reading Althusser
‘Revolution against ‘Capital’’: Gramsci reading Marx
Time of times: Althusser reading Gramsci

Chapter 3 – The Discursive Turn: The Post-Marxist Gramsci of Laclau and Mouffe
Class, popular interpellations, and populism
Discourse and hegemony
The impasses of discourse analysis and the melancholy of radical democracy

Summary: The Marxist transition debate and the notion of multiple temporalities

PART II | Transition as Hermeneutic: The Dichotomy of Melancholy and Utopia

Chapter 4 – Left Melancholy: Obstacle or Resource?
Mourning and ‘left’ melancholy
Melancholy as obstacle
Melancholy as resource

Chapter 5 – Through the Melancholic Impasse: Utopia
Anti-utopianism and the neoliberal closure of the future
Reformulating the utopian
Marx, Engels and utopia
Bloch and the Not-Yet
Spatio-temporal utopianism as method: Harvey and Levitas
Timelessness of utopia

Summary: Melancholy, Utopia, and Transition as a Hermeneutic

PART III | Enacting transition: Substantive Left Visions

Chapter 6 – Lineages of Postwork Theory
Antiwork politics: The critique of productivism
The autonomist corollary
Postwork departures

Chapter 7 – Postwork: A Contemporary Left Vision
The post-work agenda
Postcapitalism: Mason on the information economy
Inventing the Future: The post-accelerationist techno-utopian strain

Chapter 8 – Demands, Agency and Strategy
Non-reformist reforms
Social reproduction and the agency of transition
Organising transition: Prefiguration after Occupy

Summary: Transitional Left Politics and a Prefigurative Left Vision

All interested in historical materialism, left theory, and anyone concerned with the theoretical and practical aspects of anti-capitalist social movements and political parties.