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Toward a political critique of reification: Lukcs, Honneth and the aims of critical theory
Anita Chari Philosophy Social Criticism 2010 36: 587 DOI: 10.1177/0191453710363582 The online version of this article can be found at: http://psc.sagepub.com/content/36/5/587

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Toward a political critique cs, of reification: Luka Honneth and the aims of critical theory
Anita Chari
Social Sciences Division, University of Chicago, USA

Philosophy and Social Criticism 36(5) 587606 The Author(s) 2010 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0191453710363582 psc.sagepub.com

Abstract
cs concept of reification in order This article engages Axel Honneths recent work on Georg Luka to formulate a politically relevant and historically specific critique of capitalism that is applicable to theorizing contemporary democratic practice. I argue that Honneths attempt to reorient the critique of reification within the terms of a theory of recognition has done so at the cost of sacrificing the core of the concept, which forged a connection between the socio-political analysis of capitalist domination and an analysis of the unengaged, spectatorial stance of human beings toward the world, showing how they together impede emancipatory social transformation. In order to accomplish the unfinished task of rendering the critique of reification applicable to contemporary critical theory, I seek to synthesize the advantages of Honneths approach, which cs emphasis on the pracfocuses on the normative aspects of the critique of reification, with Luka tical, political-economic dimensions of reification and the historically specific pathologies of the capitalist social form.

Keywords
cs, recognition, reification capitalism, Axel Honneth, Georg Luka

After decades of neglect, there has recently been a growing awareness in the field of political theory that a sophisticated critique of capitalism is crucial to understanding the limits and possibilities of democratic practice in the context of the contemporary neo-liberal conjuncture. Along these lines, a recent work by the philosopher Axel Honneth seeks to recuperate a concept that was central to the critique of capitalism

Corresponding author: Anita Chari, Social Sciences Division, The Society of Fellows, University of Chicago, 5845 South Ellis Avenue, Gates-Blake Hall, 305, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA. Email: anitac@uchicago.edu

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prevalent in a strand of western Marxism reification in order to highlight its relevance for understanding features of contemporary social reality. Rather than simply returning to the influential analysis of reification by Georg Luka cs, Honneth invokes the category of reification with a crucial twist. Luka cs used the concept to link a particular form of economic life, capitalism, with an unengaged and passive stance that individuals take toward the social world that is prevalent, even socially necessitated, in capitalist society. By contrast, Honneth argues that the most important aspects of reification can be understood in the terms of a theory of recognition, as a wholly intersubjective phenomenon whereby human beings lose sight of their originary affective and engaged relation with others in their social world. In this article, I argue that Honneths attempt to reorient the critique of reification within the terms of a theory of recognition has done so at the cost of sacrificing the core of the concept, which forged a connection between the socioeconomic structure of capitalist domination and the unengaged, spectatorial stance human beings take toward the social world, showing how they together impede emancipatory social transformation. While Honneths turn to reification is no doubt motivated by the intuition that the concept has relevance for the analysis of social injustices related to the structure of social life in contemporary capitalism, his decisive separation of the critique of reification from the critique of political economy leaves him with too thin an understanding of the socio-economic aspects of capitalist domination that the category of reification is intended to describe and critique. If this is the case, the question of why Honneth operates with such an emaciated understanding of the processes of reification remains, and it is a question that is crucial to understanding the central challenge that critical theory faces today: to formulate a politically relevant and historically specific critique of capitalism. I go about answering this question by exploring the way in which Honneths theory of recognition both responds to problems generated by the communicative turn of critical theory initiated by Ju rgen Habermas, and yet unintentionally reproduces them. An analysis of Honneths work on reification invites a discussion of how the concept of reification has been reformulated prior to the first generation of the Frankfurt School. My study reveals that Honneths concept of reification inherits a repressed version of the distinction between Habermas concepts of system and lifeworld that tends to effect a sharp distinction between intersubjectivity and communicative action on the one hand, and the structural critique of capitalism on the other. Honneth therefore deprioritizes the socio-economic aspects of reification on the basis of a purified concept of intersubjectivity. Purged of its material mediations, Honneths approach to intersubjectivity leads to a concept of reification that is inadequate to the task of criticizing capitalist forms of domination or to theorizing radical democratic political practice today. To the extent that critical theory remains bound to the dichotomizing framework of the communicative turn, I argue that it will be unable to formulate a politically relevant critique of contemporary neo-liberal capitalism, as the borders between the economy and the political are being articulated in new ways that confound its assumptions.1 In order to accomplish the unfinished task of rendering the critique of reification applicable to contemporary critical theory, I seek to synthesize the advantages of Honneths approach, which emphasizes the normative aspects of the critique of reification, with Luka cs emphasis on the practical, political-economic dimensions of reification and
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the historically specific pathologies of the capitalist social form. By bringing together Honneths and Luka cs approaches rather than opposing them, I develop a critique of reification that reconnects the social-theoretic, normative and political aspects of reification and lays the groundwork for a political critique of capitalism that can aid us in rethinking the possibilities for democratic practice in the present. In this article I first gloss Luka cs and Honneths theories of reification, highlighting their differences. Then I review Habermas formulation of the critique of reification in order to show the ways in which his communicative paradigm leads to a dichotomizing theory of reification. I contend that a dichotomy similar to the Habermasian system/lifeworld distinction remains problematic in Honneths theory despite his attempts to resolve the issue. Finally, I indicate how a more politically relevant critique of reification might be developed through a synthesis of Honneths and Luka cs theories, in particular by recognizing the distinct ideas about intersubjectivity implied by their respective theories.

cs: reification and capitalist subjectivity Luka


In Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat, Luka cs argues that reification is the central social pathology of capitalist society.2 Reification is above all an unengaged, spectatorial stance that individuals take toward the social world and toward their own practices. Reification is characterized by a lack of participatory involvement (Teilnahmslosigkeit) in social objects, whereby humans apprehend things in the world as inert objects to which human consciousness merely conforms rather than actively constructs. More specifically, according to Luka cs, reification is a form of consciousness that is uniquely constitutive of capitalism. It is the subjective stance that individuals take toward a society in which the economy exists as a separate, self-grounding and autonomous realm of social life, operating in a way that is seemingly independent of human will. By drawing attention to the ways in which the independence and objectivity of the economy function as a form of appearance or illusion that itself perpetuates the dominating social structure of capitalism, Luka cs makes explicit an unconscious link between subjects everyday practices and the dynamic of the capitalist economy. The concept of reification therefore describes the ways in which individuals in capitalist society fail to recognize that the economy is constituted by human practices, even as it appears to be an autonomous and self-perpetuating dynamic. Luka cs explicitly relates the critique of reification to the critique of commodity fetishism, theorized by Marx as a form of relation between humans that is disguised as a relation between things. Taking Marxs lead, Luka cs claims that if the unengaged attitude of reification characterizes human consciousness in capitalism, this has something to do with the peculiar structure of capitalist social life itself. In Capital, Marx referred to this field of problems with the idea of fetishism, which describes how social relations in capitalist society appear in the form of things as commodities whose actions and movements come to be regarded as beyond the domain of human agency.3 Commodities take on a life of their own, alienated and separated from the laborers that produce them. According to Marx, the fetish character of the commodity, which veils the social labor that produces the objects of human need, is the central structural feature
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of capitalism.4 No longer rendered meaningful by social relations external to labor, as in pre-capitalist societies, in capitalism labor takes on a self-grounding form, thereby rendering invisible its status as a social relation. The fetish character of labor consists in the fact that it is a form of social mediation that obscures itself from the experience of social actors, thereby taking on the character of non-conscious social determination. Labor under capitalism therefore exerts an objective form of compulsion upon individuals in capitalist society, and the social relations of labor take an alienated, selfobscuring form. Commodities in circulation appear to be mere things or objects of need, but in fact as commodities their movement follows the independent logic of exchange-value. While Marxs analysis of fetishism in Capital reveals the way in which the dynamic of the capitalist social form becomes autonomous and apparently self-perpetuating, he does not focus on the specific question of how individuals relate to commodities and to their own labor, nor does he address the ways in which the individuals subjective stance itself becomes a crucial feature of the capitalist mode of production.5 Luka cs essay on reification addresses this lacuna. If Marxs point was to show that commodity fetishism entails the obfuscation of human activity from the dynamic of capitalism, then Luka cs contribution is to emphasize that Marxs analysis presupposes a subject who regards the dynamic of capitalism as naturalized and immutable. Luka cs extends Marxs analysis by examining reification as a specific form of consciousness that accepts the fetish forms of capital as naturalized and independent of human agency. The production of this disengaged, spectatorial form of subjectivity, he contends, is as crucial to the reproduction of capitalism as the production of commodities. Indeed, this spectatorial stance itself becomes a commodity.6 Illustrating this point, Luka cs makes repeated use of the jarring metaphor of spectatorship, of a subject that can only look on passively at its own mechanistic activity: . . . the personality can do no more than look on helplessly while its own existence is reduced to an isolated particle and fed into an alien system.7 Luka cs thus makes explicit the link between the institutions of modern capitalism and a deformed and self-limiting form of rationality, which legitimates rather than critiques the unfreedom of capitalist social life. By formulating the problem this way, Luka cs reveals the specifically political dimension of reification, or rather the way in which reification promotes an apolitical orientation toward the capitalist social form. From the activity of philosophy to industrial labor, Luka cs shows that the defining feature of reification, the pervasive aspect of capitalist subjectivity, is the misrecognition of the practical basis of human activity. In capitalist society, reification perpetuates contemplation and passivity in relation to a seemingly inert and unchangeable social world. Humans do not recognize themselves or their own practice reflected in commodities or in society, nor do they recognize the fetishized processes of capitalism as an impediment to human self-determination. The result is that individuals come to relate to structures of domination as beyond the realm of their own practice, failing to see the ways in which human activity produces and reproduces this structure. Instead, society confronts individuals as an abstract, immutable structure, which appears to reproduce itself independently of human agency or reason. Consequently, Luka cs observes, human beings under the spell of reification continue to obstruct potential sites of social transformation.
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cs: reification as misrecognition Honneths critique of Luka


Although History and Class Consciousness is a foundational text for the Frankfurt School of critical theory, the theory of reification has tended to be neglected in contemporary discussions. An important exception to this rule is a recent work by Axel Honneth, Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea, which reinterprets the critique of reification within the terms of his theory of recognition to render it usable for contemporary social philosophy.8 Honneth responds to what has been perceived as a normative deficit stemming from the Marxist orientation of Luka cs work and the consequent neglect of the intersubjective dimensions of reification. To rise to the challenge of formulating the concept anew, Honneth translates the concept of reification into the terms of a theory of recognition, which emphasizes the phenomena of reification at the level of intersubjectivity. In Honneths framework, reification consists in the forgetting of the antecedent stance of recognition which is presupposed by our knowledge of and engagement with other persons and objects in the social world. I take issue with Honneths reconstruction of the critique of reification on two points. First, I argue that Honneths separation of the critique of reification from an analysis of the social form of capitalism results in an ahistorical concept of reification that is inadequate for theorizing contemporary political possibilities. Secondly, I contend that by separating the normative aspects of reification from an analysis of their socio-economic basis, Honneth evacuates much of the critical potential of the concept of reification for political theory, reducing reification to a phenomenon of intersubjectivity, whereby intersubjectivity is conceived too narrowly to ground a critique of social domination in capitalism. Rather than pose Honneths theory against Luka cs, I argue that Honneths work is more usefully seen as an effort to render explicit the implicit normative basis of Luka cs analysis. A full presentation of the architecture of Honneths theory of recognition goes beyond the scope of this article. I will only briefly gloss the basic points relevant to the discussion of reification, focusing particularly on Honneths restatement of his theory of recognition in his recent debate with Nancy Fraser, which sought to clarify the extent to which a theory of recognition could take over the theoretical role filled by the critique of capitalism in the more modest terms of that exchange, by claims for redistribution.9 Honneths theory of recognition seeks to reveal the moral constraints underlying social interaction and is based on the presupposition that the inclusion of members of society will always proceed through the mechanism of mutual recognition, whereby individuals are normatively incorporated into society by learning to view themselves as socially recognized in light of certain characteristics.10 Honneth argues that social theory requires concepts that can grasp social injustice in terms of subjects normative expectations of how society conditions their personal integrity. Therefore, he writes, the experience of a withdrawal of social recognition of degradation and disrespect must be at the center of a meaningful concept of socially caused suffering and injustice.11 For Honneth, the importance of social misrecognition as a motivation for social struggle is an empirical finding of social theoretic relevance, but it also indicates a normative principle of recognition that transcends these empirical instances. It therefore indicates a
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much-needed point of contact between social theory and the everyday expressions of injustice and disrespect, which has long been a blind spot in critical theory. Honneth writes:
This difficulty a legacy of the sociological anti-normativism that also prevailed in the older Frankfurt School must now stand at the beginning of any renewal of critical social theory. For without a categorical opening to the normative standpoint from which subjects themselves evaluate the social order, theory remains completely cut off from a dimension of social discontent that it should always be able to call upon. . . . What is needed is a basic conceptual shift to the normative premises of a theory of recognition that locates the core of all experiences of injustice in the withdrawal of social recognition, in the phenomena of humiliation and disrespect.12

Honneths reformulation of Luka cs concept of reification takes its lead from the phenomenology of misrecognition, which stands at the center of Honneths theory. Accordingly, Honneth effects a theoretical shift from what he perceives as the economism of Luka cs concept of reification to the analysis of reification in terms of recognition. Without such a reformulation, Honneth argues, the theory of reification is divorced from an account of the normative criteria by which the phenomena of reification can be criticized as well as an understanding of how reification can be experientially grasped. These normative criteria, on Honneths account, elude a theory that seeks to ground itself in an immanent critique of capitalism alone, since even the institutions of the capitalist economy are to some degree dependent upon the normative expectations placed upon them by members of a society. Honneth writes:
. . . even structural transformations in the economic sphere are not independent of the normative expectations of those affected, but depend at least on their tacit consent. Like the integration of all other spheres, the development of the capitalist market can only occur in the form of a process of symbolically mediated negotiation directed toward the interpretation of underlying normative principles.13

Honneth therefore diverges sharply from Luka cs in his decisive decoupling of the problematic of reification from the critique of the social form of capitalism. Honneth observes a fundamental problem in Luka cs argumentative strategy, which relies on a social ontology of practice in order to explain precisely why reification is a form of domination. Reification is meant to refer to a deformed, pathological structure of practice, a passivity of the subject in relation to other human beings and the objective world. On this reading, reification appears to be problematic, and thereby subject to critique, insofar as it violates certain ontological presuppositions of human activity. Honneth claims that Luka cs measures pathological, reified practice against the standard of a non-reified form of practice, a fundamental, originary, active form of interaction between the human being and the world. Insofar as we relate to the world passively or as Luka cs called it, contemplatively we deviate from the form of practice that is proper to the rationality of our form of life. In this sense, Honneth argues that Luka cs critique of reification is insufficiently justified by his social ontological critique: reified
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forms of practice merit critique not primarily because they contradict certain descriptive elements of social ontology, but rather because they violate certain moral principles.14

The forgetfulness of recognition


Honneth sees a more fruitful social theory of reification in Luka cs analysis of the subjective dimensions of reification, that is, the changes in the way subjects practically relate to the social world, rather than in the analysis of commodity fetishism. The key point that Honneth distills from Luka cs in this regard is the notion of Teilnahmslosigkeit, or lack of participatory involvement. This term refers to a form of interaction whereby subjects lose sight of their fundamentally active, engaged, and sympathetic engagement with the world, and instead act as detached observers, contemplating the world passively, without existential or emotional involvement.15 Honneth argues that in the critique of Teilnahmslosigkeit, lies an alternative, unofficial version of the critique of reification, which is based not on an idealist, demiurgic theory of human agency, but rather upon a normative standard of intersubjective praxis that, far from fully eroded in the present by the generalization of commodity exchange, forms an ineradicable kernel of human being in the world.16 In these moments, Luka cs doesnt contrast reifying praxis with a collective subjects production of an object, but with another, intersubjective attitude on the part of the subject.17 For Honneth, this unofficial strand of Luka cs argument suggests a way of recuperating the critique of reification from totalization: reification does not eliminate engaged, non-reified praxis altogether, it has merely concealed it from our awareness.18 Armed with this insight, Honneth proposes to reinterpret reification in recognitiontheoretic terms, arguing that the disinterested, contemplative forms of practice referred to as reified obscure but never fully eliminate the primary, interested, active stance of the human being toward the world. Honneth proposes to think this stance as a primary recognitional stance, which enjoys a genetic and categorial priority over all other attitudes toward the self and the world.19 Honneths critique of reification is based upon the priority of a recognitive, empathetic, interested relation of the human being to the world over a merely cognitive, passive attitude. Taking a suggestive line from Dialectic of Enlightenment as his inspiration, Honneth proposes to think reification anew as the forgetfulness of recognition, which indicates the process by which humans beings lose consciousness of the antecedent stance of care and recognition that underlies knowledge of other persons and of the world. This priority of recognition, according to Honneth, is both genetic and categorial. Using the insights of developmental psychology and socialization research, Honneth locates the chronological priority of recognition over mere cognition in the experience of affective relationships with significant others in childhood to show how a critique of reification can be rooted in learning processes that reveal the emotional conditions of thought processes.20 Honneth turns to Heidegger and Dewey to show the conceptual priority of recognition to cognition, which he argues is implicit in Luka cs theory as well. While Honneth develops a concept of reification that may be more analytically nuanced than Luka cs, demanding a higher level of empirical specificity in differentiating the phenomena of reification, it is hardly possible to overlook one crucial absence in
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Honneths theory of reification: it no longer views itself as a critique of socio-political relations in capitalism, which in Luka cs account formed the basis of the critique of social domination and of the elusiveness of self-determination. Why does Honneth distill such a narrow concept of reification from Luka cs theory, one which remains confined to such a small range of phenomena and which severs the tight link between the phenomena of reification and the structure of capitalist society? I contend that this question can be answered by viewing the critique of reification within the tradition of critical theory more broadly, paying particular attention to the way in which the concept of intersubjectivity has been theorized by Habermas and then Honneth as an attempt to reorient critical theory away from the normative model of the philosophy of the subject.21 Honneths reformulation of the critique of reification is an instance of a larger paradigm shift in critical theory towards communication and intersubjectivity and away from the structural critique of capitalism. The concept of reification, however, is useful only insofar as it calls into question this opposition. I will go on to argue that elements of Luka cs critique of reification indicate a more expansive way of theorizing intersubjectivity that avoids the stark distinction between intersubjectivity and materiality at the heart of Habermas and Honneths analyses.

The communicative turn of critical theory: beyond the production paradigm


For better or for worse, the contemporary reception of Luka cs is mediated largely through the work of the first-generation theorists of the Frankfurt School, who were greatly influenced by Luka cs critique of reification. The collapse of the Frankfurt School into idle pessimism is widely believed to be a result of their adoption of the thesis of total reification, in which the standpoint of critical theory is consumed by a thoroughly administered society. Luka cs, writing from the perspective of a revolutionary situation, addressed his analysis of reification to the practical questions that arose in the course of political struggle and he was oriented toward theorizing the possibility of revolutionary agency.22 By contrast, the early Frankfurt School theorists, discarding Luka cs positing of a revolutionary subject of history, saw in the concept of reification the key to why revolution had faltered. The critique of reification assumed a role in critical theory similar to that of psychoanalytic theory it was a tool to explain why the working class failed to assume their historical role, persisting in their enslavement to the ruling ideology. This was especially true of the works of Adorno and Horkheimer produced in the 1940s under the influence of Friedrich Pollocks state capitalism thesis, which diagnosed a new phase of capitalism in which state intervention and the primacy of the political over the economic had effectively absorbed the immanent contradictions that were previously present in the liberal phase of capitalism.23 In the hands of Horkheimer and Adorno, in their classic work Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), the critique of reification is detached from its basis in the Marxian analysis of the historically specific commodity form, and instead is deployed in the service of a critique of reason as such, which is now identified with instrumental rationality.24 Dialectic of Enlightenment, according to this familiar history, posits reification as a feature of all human societies, from the earliest shamanic rituals to the most recent manipulations of science, and thus capitulates to
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the myth of a social form without contradictions, where society supposedly no longer generates the standards for its own criticism. The reception of Luka cs own theory of reification has been tarred by its association with the pessimism of the Frankfurt School critique of reification. This tends to foreclose a real confrontation with the theory of reification at the conceptual level. Habermas reorientation of critical theory away from the paradigm of instrumental reason, which he argued was bound to an all-encompassing theory of reification, attempts to redeem the project of immanent critique by recuperating the perspective of communicative reason. The communicative turn of critical theory is an attempt to counter the pessimism of early critical theory by revealing the concealed presuppositions of its critique of modernity, which, according to Habermas, relies on a normative standard of communicative reason that is immanent in everyday practice. Central to Habermas project is the rejection of the paradigm of production, the normative model of human agency underlying the left-Hegelian project of Marx and early critical theory. The production paradigm of agency, according to Habermas, is at the core of what has been referred to as the philosophy of the subject, a normative model in which history is understood as the activity of a collective subject that exteriorizes itself through its productive activity and then reappropriates that which it has exteriorized.25 The general thrust of de-reifying critique, as theorized by Luka cs, which proceeds by revealing the historically constituted nature of existing social forms in order to comprehend the possibility of their transformation, is regarded as part of this problematic tradition of the philosophy of the subject. According to Habermas, this tradition restricts the concept of practice in a way that is unable to account for the immanence of reason to communicative relations themselves, which provides the practical standpoint of critique and discloses the proper sphere of social transformation. Habermas writes:
. . . the emancipatory perspective proceeds precisely not from the production paradigm, but from the paradigm of action oriented toward mutual understanding. It is the form of interaction processes that must be altered if one wants to discover practically what the members of a society in any given situation might want and what they should do in their common interest.26

Habermas thus reinterprets the critique of reification in the terms of communicative action, which he argues could succeed in grounding the normative standpoint of critique where the paradigm of production had failed. But insofar as Habermas critical project throughout relies on a sharp opposition between his intersubjective concept of interaction and the Marxian concept of work (Arbeit), which Habermas accuses of conflating instrumental and social action, I contend that his concept of intersubjectivity becomes abstracted from its material conditions of possibility.27 This will have implications for the way in which Habermas, and later Honneth, theorize the critique of reification.

Reification as the colonization of the lifeworld


Habermas describes his Theory of Communicative Action as a reformulation of the reification problematic in terms of systematically induced lifeworld pathologies.28 By
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reinterpreting reification from the perspective of communicative action, or, in other words, as a phenomenon of a lifeworld that is invaded by autonomous, norm-free systemic institutions, Habermas places the dimension of intersubjectivity at the center of the theory of reification. In effect, he argues that reification is comprehensible only as what he calls the colonization of the lifeworld by systemic rationalization the analysis of fetish forms is absent. Habermas reinterpretation of reification along these lines, I argue, has the problematic effect of sharply demarcating the intersubjective realm of the reified lifeworld from the denormativized sphere of systemic rationalization, without theorizing the ways in which the two are fundamentally intertwined without recognizing, in effect, both that the system is far from denormativized, and that the normativity of the lifeworld is materially constituted. Furthermore, I will show that Honneths attempt to address the shortcomings of Habermas theory, to set the theory back on its feet as Honneth puts it,29 nevertheless inherits from Habermas a constrained concept of intersubjectivity, implicitly generated by some (repressed) version of the opposition between system and lifeworld, which is ultimately responsible for Honneths narrow understanding of reification. What Habermas finds insightful in Luka cs is his analysis of reification as a systemic problem. As long as the production of goods is organized as the production of exchangevalues, which is accompanied by the commodification of labor power itself, economically relevant action orientations are detached from lifeworld contexts and linked with the medium of exchange value (or money).30 Interaction in such societies is coordinated through an external mechanism, rather than through the values and norms which properly characterize the sphere of interaction itself. On Habermas reading, Luka cs insight is to illuminate the connection between the sphere of the capitalist economy, mediated through the principle of (exchange-) value, and the deformation of what Habermas calls the lifeworld, that is, the horizon of communicative, social action.31 In Habermas terms, this connection, which is the core of the phenomenon of reification, can be stated as follows: The form of objectivity that predominates in capitalist society prejudices the world-relations, the way in which speaking and acting subjects can relate to things in the objective, the social, and their own subjective worlds.32 Habermas proposes to understand these quasi-objective mechanisms for coordinating action, such as the dimensions of the economy and the state, with the concept of system. Systemic integration is coordinated not through norms and values, but rather through the denormativized and autonomous steering media of money and power. In the system,
The mechanism for coordinating action is itself encountered as something external. Transactions that proceed through the medium of exchange value fall outside of the intersubjectivity of reaching understanding through language; they become something that takes place in the objective world a pseudonature.33

Apparently independent of human intersubjective constitution, the system takes on a self-grounding, thingly character. While Habermas credits Luka cs for challenging Max Webers pessimistic diagnosis of modernity, thereby implying an alternative theory of rationalization, which is not simply identified with reification, Habermas central critical point is that Luka cs relies on a
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too undifferentiated notion of rationalization. In effect, Habermas claims, Luka cs analyzes all processes of societal rationalization in light of the generalization of the commodity form and the abstraction of exchange. He writes:
As Luka cs takes only one medium into consideration, viz. exchange value, and traces reification to the abstraction of exchange alone, he interprets all manifestations of Occidental rationalism as symptoms of a process in which the whole of society is rationalized through and through.34

To give an account of its own normative foundations, Habermas contends, the critique of reification must appeal to the notion of communicative action in order to comprehend the standard of communicative rationality as itself inherent to the social lifeworld, even under conditions of reification. The main point of Habermas reformulation of Luka cs theory of reification is to distinguish between systemic components that remain within boundaries, and those systemic mechanisms which force their way into the domains of cultural reproduction, social integration, and socialization the sphere of the lifeworld.35 This overstepping of boundaries constitutes a colonization of the lifeworld, which, according to Habermas, refers to a more specific and differentiated notion of reification than the one Luka cs presents. Systemic integration, which Habermas posits as a functional requirement of complex societies, is not in itself problematic, nor does it constitute a form of reification. It is only when the steering media of the system overstep their boundaries and penetrate the communicative realm of the lifeworld that the problem of reification occurs. Habermas concept of society as system and lifeworld therefore aims to understand reification as the colonization of the lifeworld, without resulting in a totalizing critique of rationalization as such. He can thereby claim that some form of systemic integration that is, of economy and state will be necessary to all complex societies, as long as systemic structures do not penetrate the symbolically mediated lifeworld. His criticisms of Luka cs notwithstanding, Habermas explicitly says that his attempt to reinterpret the problematic of reification is fundamentally influenced by the Marxian critique of capitalism. However, it should be clear that his approach diverges in significant ways from that of Luka cs, particularly with regard to the way in which communicative action is conceived as immanent to the structures of linguistically mediated interaction: the critique of reification in capitalist society is rooted in the structures of communication itself, which contain an ineradicable potential for resistance to the lifeworldcolonizing systemic structures.

Two concepts of intersubjectivity


Habermas reorientation of critical theory within the terms of a theory of communicative action forms the horizon of Honneths own reworking of critical theory along the lines of a theory of recognition. In The Critique of Power, Honneth takes issue with Habermas conception of the system as a denormativized form of integration, arguing that this position obfuscates the ways in which normative structures of interaction are always embedded in social and political institutions.36 Honneths turn to recognition seeks to
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avoid the dualism inherent in Habermas theory, which concedes too much to systems-theoretic analysis. However, contrary to his own intention, Honneths theory tends to address the problem by reducing the field of phenomena referred to by Habermas with the concept of system to the lifeworld, that is, the sphere of social integration, which, rather than solving the conceptual problem, merely displaces it to a higher level. This helps to illuminate the curious way in which Honneth theorizes reification with reference to lifeworld concepts alone, as the forgetfulness of recognition, without accounting for the commodity dynamic. Honneths reinterpretation of reification confines the critique of reification to the plane of a purified intersubjectivity. He therefore does not grasp the critical core of the concept, whose original intent was precisely to explain the peculiarity of capitalism as a system in which intersubjective relations appear as relations between non-human objects and thereby exert an abstract form of compulsion upon human action. In order to recuperate the concept of reification for contemporary political theory, Honneth is certainly correct that the intersubjective dimensions of reification, which reveal the normative logic of reification, must be theorized in a more explicit way than in Luka cs text. However, it becomes clear in the exchange between Luka cs and Honneth, that two competing notions of intersubjectivity must be differentiated. On the one hand, Honneth theorizes intersubjectivity on the model of interaction between individuals: in his theory, recognition is essentially extra-institutional in character. Institutions (in the most general sense of the word) are not themselves the place of recognition; recognition takes place in the field of interaction between individuals. Jean-Philippe Deranty and Emmanuel Renault refer to this as an expressive concept of recognition, whereby institutions are conceived as an external, rather than internal, condition of recognition and, indeed, of subjectivation itself.37 Institutions can express or deny recognition, but this very way of figuring the problem tends to render the institutional contexts of recognition supplementary to, rather than constitutive of, individual demands for recognition. While Honneths expressive theory of recognition captures the normative content of demands for recognition, its reliance upon an interactionist concept of intersubjectivity is less able to grasp the material conditions of social struggles. On the other hand, the notion of intersubjectivity that can be distilled from Luka cs theory is one in which institutions, the institution of capital, for example, can be understood as veiled forms of social relations which are in some sense constituted by intersubjective agency. Therefore, institutions do not merely express or deny recognition in some way that is external to their constitution, nor can this concept of intersubjectivity be understood within the model of interaction that is presupposed by Honneths theory. Luka cs pushes beyond the terms of the purely interhuman intersubjectivity present in Honneths model, instead understanding interaction in a thicker sense, which can begin to theorize the material mediations of intersubjective interaction. Furthermore, the stark dichotomy between system and lifeworld is explicitly ruled out by the Luka csian position, insofar as the critique proceeds by revealing supposedly denormativized systemic structures to be self-obscuring forms of social relations, which can be criticized insofar as they are, in some sense, a product of human agency, and thus not merely given, necessary, or objective. It will perhaps be objected that my attempt to reactualize the critique of reification by recourse to the Luka csian model of intersubjectivity harkens back to untenable
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productivist normative presuppositions, which reinstate the long-ago discredited perspective of transsubjectivity. My objective, however, is to begin to unsettle the very assumptions of the communicative turn of critical theory, which have expelled the productivist model of intersubjectivity outlined by Luka cs from contemporary debates, as well as the dimension of materiality along with it. One need not reduce this model of agency to a pseudo-Hegelian caricature whereby de-reified practice is conceived as nothing less than mind and world coinciding to take the insight that de-reified practice will have something to do with making social institutions more reflective of human selfdetermination by making individuals conscious of the non-conscious forms of determination inherent in capitalist institutions. If the critique of reification is to have any relevance for theorizing political practice oriented toward overcoming social domination in capitalism, I argue that it must be based on a re-examination of the relation between intersubjectivity and social institutions.

The materiality of reification


The essence of the fetishism of the commodity, Marx observed, is that a relation between human beings takes on the form of a relation between things commodities and thereby assumes an autonomous form that conceals its fundamental basis the social relations themselves. What is crucial to note in this formulation is that while fetishism surely involves a certain kind of misrecognition that is, the misrecognition of the social relation masked by the relation between things it is not limited to this misrecognition. Moreover, what is rendered thing-like is not only other persons although through the commodification and mechanization of labor power this is also true. More fundamentally, it is the social relation itself that is rendered thing-like, objective and apparently immutable. To develop this point further, fetishism, as Marx theorized it, takes place at the level of social reality itself that is, in the social activity of commodity exchange. Although the fetish is an abstraction, it has an objective existence.38 We could understand this point in terms of Alfred Sohn-Rethels remark: What the commodity owners do in the exchange relation is practical solipsism regardless of what they think and say about it.39 Or as Slavoj Zizek humorously puts it, in capitalist society, individuals are fetishists in practice, not in theory.40 This is to underscore the crucial point of the materiality of reified social practice. Luka cs analyzes the phenomena of reification in terms of the mutually constitutive dimensions of subjectivity and objectivity.41 Reification is a form of practice that stands in a relation of mutual constitution to the fetish forms of capital. Luka cs connects an analysis of the rationalization of the labor process and the abstraction and commodification of labor with a theory of the ways in which human consciousness becomes progressively contemplative, passive, and unable to comprehend the dimension of human agency inherent in the dynamic of capitalism, which would provide the only means by which the autonomous form of capitalist domination could be overcome. I contrast this to Honneths way of addressing the status of macro-social settings, which contends that economic processes, for example, are not only normatively but also factually embedded in the normatively structured social order.42 With his theory of recognition, Honneth grasps crucial dimensions of the normative order of capitalist social relations, but he does so at the cost of neglecting the material constitution of those
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relations. This has implications for the relevance of his critique of reification to contemporary political theory.

Toward a political critique of reification


Habermas, Honneths, and Luka cs critiques of reification imply different ways of thinking the political through the lens of reification, and I will now delineate the respective critical models to which they point. I argue that aspects of Honneths theory of reification can be useful in thinking a political critique of reification when taken in conjunction with, rather than against, Luka cs theory. Habermas reorientation of reification through the concepts of system and lifeworld theorizes reification as the effect of systemic mechanisms impinging upon intersubjective relations, which should rightfully be directed by communication oriented toward reaching mutual understanding. For Habermas, then, reification is not simply a projection of the lifeworld. However, with the conceptual dichotomization of society into system and lifeworld, the critical dialectical character of the Luka scian analysis is lost. Habermas interprets the system as a denormativized structure, rather than as Luka cs had theorized it, as an autonomized structure, whose normativity is veiled. Furthermore, with his functionalist theory of society as a system, Habermas theory implicitly takes the existing forms of economy and state as necessary, and therefore cannot put forth a transformative politics. By collapsing the realms of the economy and state into the category of the system, Habermas cedes the theoretical basis for grounding a conception of radical participatory democracy, that is, a de-autonomized form of politics for such a form of true democracy would be unthinkable as a political system, in Habermas terms.43 As a consequence, Habermas understanding of the political-theoretic significance of the concept of reification is limited: he can only understand social movements that mobilize against forms of reification as boundary-defending forms of politics, which guard against the invasion of the lifeworld rather than transforming the systemic structures that reify the lifeworld. Honneths theory of reification is ambiguous in terms of its implications for a political theory of reification. On one hand, I contend that Honneths move away from the analysis of systemic rationalization that was central to Habermas analysis is a fruitful direction for the political critique of reification. Honneth rejects the functionalist notion of a de-normativized systemic structure at the core of Habermas account, thereby providing a pluralized account of reification that is not simply confined to the boundarydefending reflexes of agents in the lifeworld. Instead, the specific causes and sites of various instances of the forgetfulness of recognition must be separately investigated, in order to discover in each case how such forgetting is systematically enabled. Honneth writes: If the core of every form of reification consists in forgetfulness of recognition, then its social causes must be sought in the practices or mechanisms that enable and sustain this kind of forgetting.44 In that case, Honneths theory would not seem to rule out an analysis of the relation between the general structuring principles of society and the corresponding and mutually constitutive intersubjective phenomena of reification in effect, a project similar to the one Luka cs attempted. Yet at many other points in the text, the forgetfulness of recognition is viewed primarily as a cognitive process, and
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so what is needed is an account of how the cognitive process can cause our antecedent recognition to be forgotten.45 At such moments, Honneth seems to reduce the phenomenon of reification to the realm of affective intersubjective relations alone, ruling out an account of the mediation of social relations with the structures that constitute them. Even in terms of Honneths own theoretical trajectory, the focus on the affective identification of humans with significant others as the basis for a norm of de-reified forms of social practice lacks the political connotations of the earlier struggle for recognition. In Honneths work on reification, the lack of participatory engagement delineated by the concept of Teilnahmslosigkeit denotes that the primary, active, recognitive stance of the human being has merely been forgotten, but it is far from clear how this forgetting could be significant for social theory or political theory. When decoupled from the critique of fetishism, one must ask whether the concept of reification retains the necessary conceptual force for illuminating contemporary democratic politics.46 A serious consideration of this question cannot ignore the strengths of Honneths approach, which bring to the fore the crucial normative dimension of the critique of reification, admittedly undertheorized and only implicit in Luka cs account. Furthermore, I would argue that foregrounding the concept of Teilnahmslosigkeit, as Honneth does, should be central to the attempt to think the significance of de-reification as a normative standard of political practice in political theory. Focusing on the lack of participatory involvement characteristic of reification, this approach could point toward a critique that searches for points of intervention in autonomized social processes, translating them into the logic of the political or in Honneths terms, into the normative logic of recognition by grasping social and economic structures in light of their potential transformation.47 However, this promising line of inquiry is not pursued by Honneth in his study. His analysis indicates the possibility of articulating the normative logic of reification, but a political critique of reification would need to focus on the point of translation between the normative level of the theory of recognition and the social-theoretic analysis of the structure of capitalism, without reducing capitalism to a system in the Habermasian sense. Insofar as Honneth speaks of the structure of capitalism at all, however, he tends to operate with a rather problematic understanding of its processes, claiming, for example, that even seemingly anonymous economic processes are determined by normative rules.48 This has left Honneth vulnerable to the charge for example, by Nancy Fraser that he reduces the processes of capitalism to its order of recognition.49 Frasers critique raises the important question of whether Honneth grants any exteriority to the recognition order of capitalism, or rather whether capitalism is ultimately no more than its recognition order.50 Honneth has described his project as guided by a kind of moral monism, which argues that any normatively substantial social theory must discover principles of normative integration in the institutionalized spheres of society that open up the prospect of desirable improvements.51 In other words, as Honneth argues in The Struggle for Recognition, recognition is the moral grammar of social conflict. Therefore, even struggles that make claims for redistribution in the terms of class struggle, or in anti-capitalism terms, presuppose a moral logic of recognition as the basis of claims to redistribution. Marxist theory, according to Honneth, tends to sacrifice the logic of recognition to a metapolitical theory of the dynamics of capital to secure its scientific claims. This is self-contradictory, he claims, insofar as it must simultaneously conceive
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of the very same processes as strongly dependent on value-mediated communication in order to accommodate immanent moral demands for redistribution within them.52 In this sense, one might translate Honneths thesis to say that recognition denotes the structure of political emancipation as such, one which refuses the distinction made by the young Marx between political and human emancipation.53 To that end, Honneth might claim that contrary to the hesitations raised above about the relevance of a recognitiontheoretic concept of reification to theorizing politics today, only a theory of reification retranslated in this way can provide an account of the immanent logic of politics. Honneth concedes that his theory of the capitalist recognition order
. . . is, of course, not sufficient to explain the dynamics of developmental processes in contemporary capitalism. But it is only meant to make clear the normative constraints embedded in such processes because subjects face them with certain expectation of recognition.54

The recognition-theoretic approach thus appears to be an assertion of the autonomy of politics, posed in the terms of a normative social theory.55 Ultimately, I want to argue that by decoupling the critique of reification from the critique of fetishism, Honneth reinforces a problematic separation between the economic and the political, which renders the theory unable to grasp the breadth of emancipatory political struggles today, limiting politics to the logic of recognition without taking into account the dimensions of political movements that struggle for transformation of the existing structure of socio-economic relations. Nevertheless, I contend that Honneths pluralized understanding of the social mechanisms of reification suggests a fruitful way of comprehending a politics of de-reification, provided that it resists Honneths tendency to absorb material structures of domination fully within a lifeworld concept and to operate with a purified concept of intersubjectivity. Honneths pluralized account of reification, which begins with the diverse experiences of reification, can be used to expand the Luka csian account, which contends that the experience of reification is only comprehensible as such from the perspective of an analysis of totality. A truly political critique of reification would theorize more adequately the transition between these two moments to delineate the structure of de-reified practice. With the idea of a political critique of reification I seek to push beyond the terms of Frasers and Honneths debate in Redistribution or Recognition?, which tended to grasp anti-capitalist struggles as struggles over redistribution, thereby misrecognizing their potentially transformative character by construing their claims as claims posed primarily in the terms of distributive justice. Anti-capitalist struggles against neo-liberal globalization, for example, make claims that go beyond the demand for social recognition within existing institutions and institutionalized principles of legitimation and distribution, even if they are indeed motivated by feelings of social disrespect.56 Take the example of the landless workers movement (MST) in Brazil, which has organized massive occupations of land for use by displaced rural populations, expropriating more than 50,000 square kilometers of land for use by landless families. The logic of this movement cannot be reduced to a claim for social recognition, although this is obviously an important dimension of the struggle. Beyond the claim for recognition, the landless workers struggle
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against the institution of private property itself, setting up democratically organized rural cooperatives of agricultural producers on occupied lands.57 The structure of politicization in this movement invokes a translation from the analysis of capitalist domination to the forms of intersubjective practice that could alter those structures into de-reified political forms. Similarly, the Water Wars against the privatization and commodification of public water in Bolivia, in India, and in other parts of the world are yet another example that suggests that many political struggles today cannot be comprehended solely within the logic of recognition, nor can they be reduced to claims of redistribution. These are struggles against reification and they highlight the importance of a critique of reification that takes into account both the intersubjective and material dimensions of reification to theorizing democratic struggles in the present. Acknowledgments
I am grateful to Patchen Markell, Axel Honneth, Moishe Postone, John McCormick, Jacinda Swanson, and J. J. McFadden, for their suggestions on an earlier draft of this article, as well as to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for fellowship support and the Institut fu r Sozialforschung, Frankfurt am Main for office space during the writing of this article.

Notes
1. On the neo-liberal articulation of the economy and politics, see Aihwa Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006); David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); and Luc Boltanski, The New Spirit of Capitalism (London: Verso, 2005). 2. Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat, in Georg Luka cs, History and Class Consciousness; Studies in Marxist Dialectics, trans. R. Livingstone (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971). 3. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, trans. B. Fowkes (New York: Vintage Books, 1977). 4. See Moishe Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marxs Critical Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), part II, ch. 4, pp. 12383. 5. Certainly Marxs early writings focus on the question of the subjective stance of the worker in relation to the object of labor; however, his analysis there is not posed in the terms of a critique of commodity fetishism. 6. On this point see Theodor W. Adorno, The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture (London: Routledge, 1991) and Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (New York: Zone Books, 1994). 7. Luk acs, History and Class Consciousness, p. 90. 8. Axel Honneth, Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea, ed. Martin Jay (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). On the term social philosophy, which is somewhat different than political philosophy or social philosophy, in Honneths usage, see Axel Honneth, Pathologies of the Social: The Past and Present of Social Philosophy, in The Handbook of Critical Theory (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996), pp. 36998. 9. Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?: A Political-Philosophical Exchange (London: Verso, 2003). 603

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10. Axel Honneth, The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995). 11. Axel Honneth, Redistribution as Recognition, in Redistribution or Recognition? (New York: Verso, 2003), p. 132. 12. ibid., p. 134. 13. Axel Honneth, The Point of Recognition, in Redistribution or Recognition? (New York: Verso, 2003), pp. 2501. 14. For a discussion of social-ontological critique, see Honneth, Pathologies of the Social. 15. Honneth, Reification, p. 24. 16. The Heideggerian inflection of Honneths reading of Luka cs is noteworthy, although I will not deal with this theme in this article. In addition to Honneths chapter (ch. 2) on Heidegger and Dewey in the original German version of the work, Axel Honneth, Verdinglichung: Eine anercs and kennungstheoretische Studie, 2nd edn (Suhrkamp, 2005), see Lucien Goldmann, Luka Heidegger: Towards a New Philosophy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977). 17. Honneth, Reification, p. 27. 18. ibid., p. 31. 19. ibid., p. 36. 20. ibid., pp. 416. 21. On this point see Seyla Benhabib, Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986). 22. See John Rees, The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition, cs: Revolutionary Studies series (London: Routledge, 1998); Michael Lo wy, Georg Luka From Romanticism to Bolshevism (London: NLB, 1979). 23. Friedrich Pollock, State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations, in Critical Theory and Society: A Reader, ed. Stephen Eric Bronner and Douglas Kellner (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. 95118. 24. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002). 25. See Seyla Benhabib, The Origins of Defetishizing Critique, in Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), pp. 4469. 26. Ju rgen Habermas, Excursus on the Obsolescence of the Production Paradigm, in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), p. 82. 27. On the distinction between labor and interaction, see Ju rgen Habermas, Labor and Interaction: Remarks on Hegels Jena Phenomenology of Mind, trans. J. Viertel (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1973), pp. 2678. Before Habermas, Hannah Arendt proposed this distinction explicitly in contrast to the Marxian concept of labor. See Hannah Arendt, Karl Marx and the Tradition of Western Political Thought, in Social Research 69(2) (Summer 2002): 273319. 28. Ju rgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 1, Reason and the Rationalization of Society (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1984), p. xxxii. 29. Honneth, The Point of Recognition, p. 242. 30. Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 1, p. 358. 31. On the concept of the lifeworld, see Ju rgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 2, Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1987), pt VI. 604

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32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

44. 45. 46.

47. 48.

49.

ibid., p. 359. ibid., p. 358. ibid., p. 360. ibid., p. 374. Axel Honneth, The Critique of Power: Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory, trans. K. Baynes (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991). Jean-Philippe Deranty and Emmanuel Renault, Politicizing Honneths Ethics of Recognition, in Thesis Eleven 88 (February 2007): 99100. For a fascinating working-out of this thought, which shows the specific way in which Marx sought to expose Hegels logical categories as categories of social existence, see Lucio Colletti, Marxism and Hegel, trans. L. Garner (London: NLB, 1973). ~rperliche Arbeit: Zur Epistemologie Der Abendla ~nAlfred Sohn-Rethel, Geistige Und Ko dischen Geschichte (Weinheim: VCH, 1989), p. 37 [my translation]. iz Slavoj Z ek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso, 1989), p. 31. Luk~ acs, History and Class Consciousness, p. 84. Honneth, The Point of Recognition, p. 256. On this point see Thomas McCarthy, Complexity and Democracy: or the Seducements of Systems Theory, in Communicative Action: Essays on Ju rgen Habermass Theory of Communicative Action, ed. Axel Honneth and Hans Joas, trans. J. Gaines and D. L. Jones (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991). Whether my critique is applicable to Habermas later works, in particular Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), which does not focus on reification, cannot be addressed here. Honneth, Reification, p. 79. ibid., p. 58. On this point see Deranty and Renault, Politicizing Honneths Ethics of Recognition. They note that Honneth makes a conscious effort to avoid referring to it [his theory] as a politics of recognition, and that while His reluctance to discuss the political and his focus on the ethical has good reasons within his theory, his avoidance of the political is symptomatic of a weakness (p. 92). One brilliant attempt at such an analysis is K ojin Karatani, Transcritique: On Kant and Marx (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003). Honneth, The Point of Recognition, p. 254 (emphasis added); one exception to this tendency is an article delineating the new research program of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, where Honneth and Martin Hartmann present a concrete theory of the paradoxes of capitalism, in which a certain kind of structural analysis plays a greater role. See Martin Hartmann and Axel Honneth, Paradoxes of Capitalism, in Constellations 13(1) (2006): 4158. See both of Nancy Frasers contributions to Redistribution or Recognition? A PoliticalPhilosophical Exchange (London: Verso, 2003), for a discussion of this criticism. For a thorough discussion of the way in which Honneths theory constitutes a response to the shortcomings of historical materialism, which nevertheless tends to overcompensate for these shortcomings and thereby to repress the material mediations with which intersubjective interactions are mediated, see Jean-Philippe Deranty, Repressed Materiality: Retrieving the Materialism in Axel Honneths Theory of Recognition, in Critical Horizons 7(1) (2006): 605

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50.

51. 52. 53.

54. 55.

56.

57.

11340. See also Jean-Philippe Deranty, Les horizons marxistes de le thique de la reconnaissance, in Actuel Marx 38 (2005): 15978. While I concur with Frasers critique, I disagree with her argument that a two-front strategy that combines analysis of recognition and redistribution into one normative model suffices to solve the problem. In my framework, reification undercuts the binary between redistribution and recognition, which remains trapped within the framework of a liberal democratic politics. Honneth, The Point of Recognition, p. 254. ibid. In this regard, Honneths theory of recognition looks surprisingly more like Jacques Rancie ` res autonomous conception of politics than is immediately apparent, although Rancie ` re would reject the strong moral overtones of Honneths theory of social struggle as well as Honneths Hegelian conception of moral progress. What is somewhat similar in both theories is the focus on the experiential dimension of the political, as well as the delineation of the structure of emancipation demands for equality, although expressed in economic or social terms, contain an immanent political/ethical logic that is not reducible to the economic or sociological dimensions of the struggles. See Jacques Rancie ` re, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. J. Rose (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). For Rancie ` res own discussion of the relation of his theory to the theory of recognition, see Max Blechman, Anita Chari, and Rafeeq Hasan, Democracy, Dissensus and the Aesthetics of Class Struggle: an Exchange with Jacques Rancie ` re, in Historical Materialism 13(4) (November 2005): 285301. See also Jean-Philippe Deranty, Jacques Rancie ` res Contribution to the Ethics of Recognition, in Political Theory 31(1) (2003): 13656. Honneth, The Point of Recognition, p. 250. tienne Balibar, Three Concepts of Politics: Emancipation, For a discussion of this point, see E Transformation, Civility, in Politics and the Other Scene, trans. C. Jones, J. Swenson and C. Turner (London: Verso, 2002), pp. 139. Nancy Fraser has recently addressed this issue with her theory of abnormal justice, which diagnoses the contemporary situation as one in which the very metapolitical conditions of justice, that is, its subjects, institutional sites and norms of adjudication, are themselves placed radically in question. See Nancy Fraser, Abnormal Justice, in Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), pp. 4875. For a discussion of this movement see David McNally, Another World is Possible: Globalization & Anti-capitalism (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2006), especially ch. 6. See also Sue Branford and Jan Rocha, Cutting the Wire: The Story of the Landless Movement in Brazil (London: Latin American Bureau, 2002), esp. part II and part IV; and George Meszaros, Taking the Law into Their Hands: The Landless Workers Movement and the Brazilian State, in Journal of Law and Society 27(4) (2000): 51741.

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