I started reading the new translation/edition of Kluge and Negt’s History and Obstinacy on the bus to and from teaching. What I’ve read is really great so far, and it got me thinking about humans.
As I see it, the book can be seen as an important and necessary counterpart to Backhaus and Reichelt’s work. Whereas those two took up and tried to extend Adorno’s account of social objectivity, Kluge and Negt’s took up and extended Adorno’s account of subjectivity and natural history.
I say important and necessary because although I obviously think the work of the NML and Value-Form Theory is immensely important, it seems to me that it is likewise important to link this work and focus the inverted world back on the society that constitutes it. Moreover, Kluge and Negt’s approach, provides a perspective on humans that avoids the sort of humanism I have always been averse to. Rather than treating human nature as an essence that has somehow persisted through out a history that only need be reunited with its alienated appearance for it to be restored, they focus on how such a history has left its mark upon the human subject; from the pre-historical imperatives of self preservation that have given us our fingerprints, through primitive accumulation, to capital; indicating not only how this sort of negative-humanism could be brought together with value theory, but the gravity of the obstacles that impede negating them.