Abstract Labour: A Critique by Jean-Marie Vincent

By Jean-Marie Vincent

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Luklics was no doubt somewhat justified in his strenuous criticism of the 'pessimistic' internal life which shields itself with power in order to enjoy its Lukacs: Individuality and the Teleology of Works 23 own moods within the complacent sphere of egotistical isolation; but here again the internal life in question is characterised by an overflow which retreats from the experience of inner schism, from the disjunction of the individual from social relations, and from the fallacious character of totalisations put forward in the sphere of practice.

It would be difficult to attain a greater rigour than Luklics in the exploration of this antagonism between soul and life, forms and experience, supra-temporal validity and current reality. 2 In fact, in his fluctuations between a historical problematic and a transhistorical one - which by no means reflects an eclectic approach - he showed the difficulty of thinking this question through in the same terms that it is raised. In Soul and Form as well as in the writings of the Heidelberg period, he does not at all seek to hide the crisis 14 Abstract Labour: A Critique of values or the disappearance of meaning in a world of sin and guilt; rather, he radicalises all these themes to avoid the trap of false reconciliations and facile syntheses.

There should not be complete continuity between subjectively produced meanings and significant objective structures, but rather, precisely, permanent elements of discontinuity that prevent the individual and the social from becoming rigid. Weber did not really analyse the automatic social mechanisms and arrangements which ossified the mediations between the individual and the social, but his pressing interrogations about the individual's danger of falling into servitude and the danger of social relations becoming barren and inhabited only by schemas and phantom-actions, go well beyond those of Marx.

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