I have begun to properly work on the task of turning my thesis into a book. I’d previously jotted down some thoughts on the sort of major changes I need to implement in order to turn it into a book as well as the many weak points I want to change. Today I started to assemble these notes into a document outlining what I plan on changing that the hopeful publisher – the historical materialism book series – requested.
I think the major obstacles in turning my thesis into a book are twofold; in the first place it possesses the structure of a thesis and spends too much time differentiating itself from other work in the field; in the second place the relationship between the comparative historical account I give in the main body of the thesis and my argument for how and why this account is relevant to a vital and contemporary Marxian critical theory of society has to be remedied. The same is true of the uneasy relation between whether I am simply arguing for distinguishing between each figures notion of fetishism and social domination or if and how I am using these distinctions towards a greater end. (These uneasy relations were very much a product of the years long process of writing the thesis. Sam Knafo’s comment that you don’t really know what your thesis is about until you finish it was right in my case.) I think that both of these problems can be remedied by revising the introduction to provide a more thorough account of the failings of contemporary critical theory in order to frame the importance of the historical reconstruction and criticism that occurs in the main chapters. This in turn should help the conclusion.
In addition I believe it would strengthen the work to add a section after my chapters on the Hegelain-Marxism of Lukacs, Adorno and Lefebvre, discussing later critical theory and the NML’s account of fetishism and social domination. This part would provide a general discussion of how the NML differentiates itself from the Hegelian-Marxism previously discussed and allow me to differentiate the model I provide at the end from theirs. The proposed section could begin by discussing how this conjunctural interpretation of fetishism as critical theory undergoes a general polarisation and is either dismissed in an inadequate manner by Habeermas or treated in a purely philological manner by Backhaus and Reichelt. The exceptions to this rule would be the work of Postone (and perhaps Open Marxism) providing me with a greater opportunity to provide an account and criticism of Postone’s account of fetishism and social domination.
Moreover, I need to somewhat refocus the key question(s) that underly my study to emphasize how each particular thinker’s interpretation of fetishism as an account of social constitution and the constituent properties of social domination articulates a critical theory that not only accounts for the social genesis and dynamic of this notion of social domination, but in doing so provides an account of the complex social operation of this logic of domination that does not fall into a welaungschung in which the theory of fetishism provides a one-dimensional explication of society in toto.
Finally, I think that adding the following points can strengthen the key issue, and my investigations of each thinker by going into more detail about:
- Whether the notion of personification and autonomisation is different in each thinker and if and how this relates their theories of fetishism and social domination.
- How each thinkers different theories consist in theories of domination. This might bring out an interesting distinction between Marx and others in that Marx does more to describe how people are compelled and correspondingly maimed by this compulsion. Others might be said to focus more on the maiming and dehumanisation whilst undertheorizing social compulsion. Central to this is the question of the human qua the subject in Capital – i.e. is Marx’s account of the subject more in terms of an abstract account of agency whilst others might be said to read this loss of agency etc in terms of dehumanization? (This might also be a way of linking Marx’s abstract account of the subject in terms of a more fully complex way of which this is felt on the individual level.)
- How the question of reproduction as inherent to a theory of society is also inherent to a theory of social domination insofar as a theory of social domination in articulating how and why the particular logic of a society is tantamount to a type of social domination that reproduces itself and society through individuals. In other words, such an account of reproduction is inherently linked to constitution and domination and a rigorous account of it is necessary for a theory of social domination.
- These points should also help to bring out the degree to which theories can be said to engage with social complexity inasmuch as these theories of social domination’s accounts of constitution and reproduction account for other aspects of society involved in the processes.