The Postmodern Prince: Critical Theory, Left Strategy, And The Making Of A New Political Subject

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John Sanbonmatsu's Postmodern Prince is a work of political theory with a focus on questions of strategy. At the same time it provides an original and illuminating intellectual history of the Left from the 1960s to the present. It examines the politics of the New Left in the 1960s, showing how its expressivism led to political division and also prepared the ground for postmodernism. It shows also how the political economy of academic life in an increasingly commodified society strengthened the basis of postmodernism.

The Postmodern Prince provides a historically grounded critique of postmodernism, and a history of how the socialist Left has helped to create its ideas. In the course of this two-sided critique, it develops a brilliant account of a Marxism that sets itself the task of building a collective political subject—a successor to Machiavelli's Prince and Gramsci's Modern Prince—capable of challenging capitalism in its moment of global crisis.

Sanbonmatsu demonstrates the limitations of the work of Foucault, and more recently, Hardt and Negri's much-acclaimed Empire. In the process he validates for Marxism the classical idea of politics as hegemonic in scope, revolutionary in aspiration, and dependent on the capacity of leadership to rise to unforeseen challenges. He draws on an extraordinary range of historical, political, and philosophical analyses to set out the preconditions for a renewal of strategic and theoretical vision for the Left.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583670903
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

John Sanbonmatsu is assistant professor of Philosophy and Religion at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA.

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Table of Contents

1 Romancing the left 21
A romantic structure of feeling 23
Faith vs. works 31
The Pentecostal mysticism of Norman O. Brown 37
Morbid symptoms appear 46
The expressivist legacy 48
2 Speaking in tongues 51
The cyborg speaks in tongues 55
"Breaking the silence" : postmodernist identity politics 63
La Lingua Continua 66
Expressivism as reification 68
3 Baroque theory 71
"Use value" and the Baroque arsenal of theory 76
Commodity aesthetics 87
Trend innovation in theory 90
Against the autonomy of theory 96
Theory as practice 98
4 The French ideology 101
Althusser, Foucault, and the liquidation of experience 103
"Two, three ... many Geists" : reification and the automation empire 114
The catechism of praxis 119
5 The prince and the archaeologist 125
Exemplary lives 125
The Virtu of the modern prince 131
Strategy and the modern prince 134
Foucault's "great refusal" of strategy 137
Teaching literacies of power 143
Against pedagogy 147
Reversal of fortune 153
6 The postmodern prince 157
Form in modern political thought 160
Lenin's leviathan 168
Enter, stage left : the modern prince 172
Unity and difference : the challenge of translation 178
The postmodern prince 182
Totality and perception 191
Toward a new theory of the whole 199
7 Metahumanism 203
Empathy and attentiveness to others 208
Humanism, suffering, and love 214
New gnosis 218
The fight for eros 223
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