Kiss, Viktor: The reflexive Left, the global Left, the futuro Left? The actuality of the revolution as it is interpreted by Lukács in the 21st century. In: Balazs Bocskei (ed): The Infinity of Revolution. Georg Lukacs’s Political and Social Theory. Budapest. L’Harmattan Publishing, 2016. 186-215
Abstract. The Lukács’s theory of the actuality of the revolution sets out from the thesis of the “presence of the revolution”. In the first part of the study I argue by the fact that the works of Lukács in the twenties can also be interpreted as the attempt of drafting the revolution doctrine in which the Hungarian philosopher is studying the relation of the dimension of the so-called daily, the world historical and that of the constituent actuality to each other. In the second part of the study I put the question whether this frame of notions could be a starting point for the analysing position today. In my opinion, the precondition of this is that the original point of view of the “world historical actuality” should change to “historical actuality”: the presence of the revolution does not mean for me the theoretical hypothesis of the existence of a possible/probable world historical option to be realised, just the force and unavoidableness to change and revolutionize the existing political order. In the third part I try to interpret the phenomenon of the new millennium with the assistance of Lukács’ categories of the actuality of the revolution. In my opinion the present situation can be described along the theoretical scheme of the “three revolutions/the three Lefts”. In the course of this (1) I interpret the three situations that in the historical meaning result in the force of becoming revolutionised, the three inertial forces that weigh heavily on the existing political order. In parallel with this (2) I introduce the constituent logics, along which the revolutionary subjects of our days are developing and are crystallizing out – in the form of the reflexive Left, the global Left and future Left. I analyse it in details how the big political blocks of the “avoidance of changing” and the “changing” that oppose each other are being developed. According to the conclusion of the study, the revolution which is awaited by the Marxists (so did Lukács too), will never arrive any more – however, the revolution theory of Lukács can offer some help to the “big start again”.
Key words: revolution theory, post-Marxism, reflexive/fluid modernity, alter-globalisation movement, post-human/cyborg sociology, Outside-Inside logic, reality-Real
Viktor Kiss (Budapest, 1976) political scientist, ideology reseracher. The teacher of the Corvinus University of Budapest, member of the Research Group in Social Theory of the Institute of Political History
It is not by chance that from the numerous and far-reaching questions and problems of the revolution theory of Lukács the thesis of the “actuality of the revolution” is emphasized in the theoretical special literature the most. In a period when the really interesting question is no more “how we can be Marxists” but much more “how we can be Marxists another way”, this may not be otherwise either. The actuality of the revolution after the concept of Lukács is not simply an actual political diagnosis, or just the theoretical expression of the hope for the world revolution. Even more people think so that this notion was a new crystallizing point of a standpoint opposite to the common Marxian position, which not only affected the intellectual-political discussions of the past decades very much but it has also changed the picture of Marx essentially (Feenberg, 1989: 145.). After Tom Rockmore this neo-Marxism of Lukács opposes the “Engels-ism” of the then Marxists first of all. Rockmore says that it immediately jumpes out that Lukács is continuously criticizing the different ideas of Engels even in his mostly controlled periods and he blames him for the spread of certain over-simplifications and misunderstandings in the Marxian tradition. This element is at present in the first part of the twenties the most powerfully when Lukács considers the outline of an anti-Hegelian and anti-political Marx-picture as the main mistake of Engels, according to which setting out of the disclosures of the alleged father of Marxism “Feuerbach he changed the idealistic position to the materialism, he put the science on the place of philosophy and he changed the theories which were only ideological reflection for the social position of the philosopher by an objective and revolutionary theory which points beyond the boundary of the capitalist economy and hegemonic circumstances” (Rockmore, 2011: 36).
With his concept of the actuality of the revolution, Lukács opposed the “orthodox” Marxist of his time who wanted to construct the scientific theory of the development of the capitalism from the texts of Marx. It is obvious that for this kind of a positive project the Capital could become the main work for a German philosopher because this offered the similar conclusion: we are living in the reality of capitalism but the operation of this political system forecasts its own collapse with entire unanimity and necessity, its social consequences are leading to a revolution. The Marxian standpoint that was “attacked” by Lukács considers the revolution as an event of the future, in connection with which we can only be sure – the predictions of the Marxian positivistic science, the schematic history philosophical framework of the historic materialism, the transcendental theory of the class battles, it means the proper Marxian theoretic results. The revolution is an event in the future which has to come when the ebb situation of the today will be changed by the revolutionary flow. We know this theoretical strategy well from the literature of the radical Left of the past decades in connection with the criticism of the neoliberal globalisation. The theoretical position for example which is called “negative globalisation” by Zygmunt Bauman or Georg Ritzer got into an autocrat position during the attempts of the left-wing politics for a new basis. The Left of the 1990s, which has found its political positions in the rear-guard action of the welfare state (against the neo-liberalism believing in the market deregulation and being in offensive against the society) hoped for a long-term process that must work out both the socialistic alternatives of the today capitalist projects and the supporting radical movements – one just has to await the proper negative moment of the explosion. The standpoint of the negative globalisation considers the neo-liberal capitalism as a kind of wold (structure) in which the uncontrolled, unevaluated and uncompensated negative processes are ruling, moreover, for which we cannot find the positive counterpoints (Bauman, 2006: 96., Ritzer-Dean, 2015: 328.) and which will lead to the “era of the revolutions” again. According to the devotees of the negative globalisation, „in the meantime” the imperative of the radical way of thinking can only be the political and moral conclusion of a kind of this situation. (Endreffy, 2003). This is the situation of “socialism or barbarism” that is paraphrased by István Mészáros (Mészáros, 2005).
Revolution in the present tense: birth of another Marxian theory
The Lukács’s theory of the actuality of the revolution starts from the “presence of the revolution” and enables the establishment of ” another type” of Marxian position for the philosopher. In my opinion, the works of Lukács of the 20’s can also be interpreted as the attempt of drafting an original revolution theory too, in which the Hungarian philosopher is examining the relation of the dimension of the so-called “daily”, “world historical” and “constituent” actuality to each other.
On the first level the analysis is in direct connection with the political diagnosis and its target is to make a parallel between the position of Lenin before 1917 (he says that the notion of the revolutionary actuality originates from Lenin too) and his own position after 1919. As it is formulated by Michael Löwy, Lukács “was the philosopher of the period when the revolutionary movements, rebellions, the general strikes, the workers’ councils, the radical movements were mushrooming all over Europe when the capitalist world seemed to be the witness of a big revolutionary wave” (Löwy, 1979: 189.). The daily actuality of the revolution marks the moment when the general rebellion can break out at any time, when the rebellion of the whole folk is round the corner – this is actually the kind of paraphrase of the determination of Lenin „they do not want to live in the old way/they cannot rule the old way”.
Accordingly, Lukács has insisted on his thesis all the time, since he considers this as the most important element in the preface of 1967 of his book of 1924 with the title of Lenin in which he has directly introduced the category of “the actuality of the revolution” (Lukács 1970: 112.).
The second level of the concept is talking about the world historic actuality of the revolution. Lukács attributes this intellectual position to the standpoint of Marx who in his opinion was “able to see more in the misery of the proletarians than the misery “and he could “detect the revolutionary power in them”. In the background of the order of ideas the belief of Marxism can be found that the present period is convicted to the change, the existing order cannot remain in its current form because of the “main tendencies” and “contradictions” of the capitalism, it cannot overcome its even more serious crises and their consequences. So, (1) the capitalism increasingly sets up those objective situations and conclusions which we can only get rid of with a revolution and (2) the capitalism produces the group of people (the mass of wage-workers who are afflicted more and more) who could be subject to this kind of change. The world historical actuality of the revolution means after Lukács that thanks to the objective processes and tendencies the question of the (proletarian) revolution will be the first question in the capitalism which the political, intellectual and social life of the whole period turns around (Kouvelakis, 2003) – this will be which the events point at, which the different participants (Lukács, 1970: 13-14.) want to assist or avoid (consciously or unconsciously). On the level of the actuality of the world history the revolution is present as the “horizon of the proletarian movement”, “the ground note of the period”, the standard of the events”. The main point is whether the proletariat finally suffers the fate that is dedicated for them in the era of capitalism.
Finally, the concept of the actuality of the revolution is drafted by Lukács on a third level too, namely in the frame of a kind of neo-Marxian concept of which necessity just obviously results from the thesis of the world historical actuality. The texts of the History and Class-consciousness or the manuscript that turned up only some years ago in which Lukács tries to protect his Hegelian-Marxist concept in a polemic form in the second part of the 20s against the doctrines of the Second Internationale and its second line theoreticians (the lost manuscript was published with the title Tailismus and dialectics in 1996) gives and explicit answer why the dialectics will the key movement of the writings of these periods (Lukács, 1996).
The main enemy of Lukács is the form of Marxism that was ruling at that time and became extremely deformed in the Stalinism that handles the revolutionary process as the mechanical moments of the successions of the modes of production which has to break out at a specific point of the development of the forces of production or he considers it as the waves of the crises of the capitalist economy as the simple psychical-political reaction of the working class based on objective bases. When Lukács drafts his theses of the actuality of the revolution contrary to these opinions he does not simply produce the original philosophical transcription of the spontaneity of Luxembourg and the subjectivity ideal of Lenin but he also senses the most important movement of the Ford-Taylor period – and this is why in his opinion the question of the revolution has to be reconsidered in the frame of the “modern capitalism” again. Lukács takes the situation in the category of directness-intervention when the direct-observing relationship to the reality does not lead to different political-consciousness condition in case of the middle class and the proletariat in the capitalism. In the materialistic society both classes “become self-estranged the same way”, it means that in the time of rationalisation, calculation, goods-dominated both classes arrive at the same direct social experience.
The reason of this is – that is detected by Lukács among the first – that the Marxian belief according to which the situation of the workers can be compared with that of the slaves – as a kind of sweated, crippled and dehumanized creature who falls out of all forms of the society but the richness and survival is just based upon the situation of them. (Marx, 1848).
Lukács describes the process as the rough economic world of the “capitalistic mode of production” changes into the reality of the “capitalistic society”, as the “word of the mass-workers is organised around the Ford’s principles of production”. This appears for Lukács as the finish of the establishment of the capitalistic totality and his target is to reveal revolutionary side of this totality (Noys, 2010 :111.). The thesis of Lukács seems to produce a big effect on the neo-Marxism of the following decades: in respect of the proletarian revolution it is not the primary or basic change in the capitalism that the fate of the workers took a turn for the better, they have less reason to rebel under the new work-organisation-distribution circumstances, that the oppressive and pacify apparatus of the political class are operating better or that the capitalism is more successful than ever in the past as far as the crisis management and the self-improvement are concerned. It is also true but the main point is after all that the capitalism turned from economic mechanism or as you like it mode of production into capitalist society, the workers of which are subjective participants – even if the working class also carries on denying the system objectively. (Negri, 1982). Which it is about here – says Lukács – „is just the special problem of our times, the modern capitalism – emphasis GYL” (Lukács, 1971: 320). We arrive at the third level of Lukács of the actuality of the revolution thesis now: in the capitalist society the revolution cannot only be timely as the presence of the radical events (revolutionary wave, accumulated tension, letting the genie out of the bottle etc.), as the big question-standard of the period any more, (the fate of the bourgeois revolution, the presence of the future proletarian revolution behind, between and by the means of the “phenomenon of the bourgeois society” etc.) but as the permanent present objective possibility of the revolutionary ideas and the revolutionary agents too.
In the conception of Lukács the constituent actuality of the revolution joins the conception of the world historic actuality. He thinks so that the crises and tendencies of the capitalism can develop the working class only as the objects of the capitalism, it means that only as “the enemy of the capital”, the mess of people who individually oppose the system “in psychological sense”. The objective capitalism movements of the capitalism have developed the moments when the break out of the “public disturbance” is very likely. However, the question whether there will happen changes of high importance and in the suitable direction in these moments will be decided by a long subjective-political process that started well before the objective revolutionary situations during which the mass of workers develops to a class “for themselves”, a conscious revolutionary subject (Lukács, 1971: 282.). The chapter about History and Class-consciousness from the ‘Standpoint of the proletariat’ (‘A proletariátus álláspontja’) introduces the process which – taking the analyses of Negri with the similar topic as a starting point in this study – I call the constituent actuality of the revolution. (Negri, 1999). In this chapter, Lukács turns to „Hegel in order to set up a theory in connection with the mutually constituent relationship between subjective and objective. According to Lukács (and this is the point that is criticized by Negri with good reason) the development of the revolutionary subject is a kind of instrument to reach the critical and revolutionary awareness” (Weeks, 1998:118.). Lukács introduces how the individual who fastens the reality in the directness of the forms of consciousness of the materiality but becomes “the enemy of the capital” more and more can arrive from the “consciousness of the goods”, willing to break through” “psychological consciousness”, the rebellion against the social “torn apart” of his human core, etc. at the proletarian class-consciousness – i.e. how the proletariat as a revolutionary subject can originate under the circumstances of materiality (Lukács, 1971: 440-470.). The constituent actuality of the revolution means two processes: 1. It means on the one hand, as it is made for the individuals (by the tendencies, big questions and contradictions of the given era) even less possible that they live their lives along the observing-accommodating strategies and grasp the reality with the existing intellectual means. 2. On the other hand it means the process how – Lukács cites the thoughts of Lassalle and Buharin in connection with this – the individuals create their own collectivism, political forms and subjective consciousness as changing-constituting actors while “they can get to the disclosure of the necessity of the comprehensive change more and more during their practical fights and they establish the suitable and useful forms of consciousness.”. (Lukács 1971: 508-509)
Postmodern Marxism – revolution without world-history?
In the past time the feeling arose in many people that “a period full of revolutions will come”, a kind of historical frontal passage of which straws in the wind have already arrived. Whether we face the daily actuality of the revolution again, the first happenings of a big world revolution? From the Arabian spring, through the Southern European rebellions until the Occupy Wall Street movement everything pointed to it, as if the desired return of the politics happened in the form of the return of the revolution. Or as if we had to do with the other component of the daily actuality after Lukács, the accumulation of the social tenseness, moment close to the explosion that blows everything apart? The widening palette from the victory of Syriza, through the turn of the British Labour Party until the American success of Bernie Sanders refers to that, as if we were living the political renaissance of the socialist and anti-capitalist alternative. Moreover, the reports of the news are streaming to us just from all points of the world, which – it is enough, if we think of the events in connection with the French Nuit debout movement – one can confirm the belief that the city streets are getting hot in the metropolitan areas. However much attractive interpretations they are, in my opinion we could make less big mistakes at the beginning of the 21st century than to attach the hopes of the radical Left to the perspective of the close coming of the saving revolutionary apocalypse. In the rest of the study I try to think about the problems of the actuality of the revolution exceeding the level of the direct analogies. In the course of this, one has to give an answer to the question first, how far the original Lukács’s categories of the revolution theory are valid and how much they can be used under the circumstances that have been changed?
A „postmodern Marxian” attempt which wants to reformulate the daily, world historical and constituent actuality of the revolution in the frame of a unified theory under the circumstances of the new millennium, has the preceding events of course. One can consider the social-theoretical trilogy of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt as its monumental attempt (however, they are rather connected with the revolution theory of Lenin and Gramsci directly), in the background of which the rise of the alter-globalisation movements must have been standing. Negri and Hardt saw the birth of a new, global and radical political pole in that, how the international protesting actions against the big international organizations have become a wide coalition against the capitalist globalisation after the year of 1999 led from above, during some years. (Desgupta-Kivisto, 2014:15.) Maybe, the most well-known part of the theory is how the pair of authors change the conflict between the bourgeous-class and the proletarians that led to the final clash to the conflict between the Empire and the Multitude, it means that “the multitude replaces the working class but the Multitude is not a class in the traditional way of thinking” (Negri-Hardt, 2014: 18.) According to Negri, a global structure has been built up after the bipolar world order in which the power originates in the form of complex international socio-political networks. Negri – who was also influenced by the Lukács’s materialization through the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari – clearly resonates with the problem of History and class-consciousness at this point. He identifies the constituent actuality of the revolution in the “constituent power” accordingly, or rather this power enables that the “common” that is continuously formed in the capitalism can finally leave the existing ideological and practical frameworks at any moment. (Kiss, 2016a)
The theories that “rediscover” the Lukács’s conceptions of the actuality of the revolution directly or indirectly have in common that they essentially change the internal emphases of the original triad: denying the central position of the world historical actuality (the popularity of the philosophy of Deleuze and Badiou is also playing a role in it) they replace the centrum of the analysis onto the side of the constituent or daily actuality of the revolution. The biggest debates were produced by the book of Judi Dean with the title The Communist Horizon, in which the author tries to clear up the (within the framework of the Lukács’s theory hardly risible) the relationship between the latter – besides the whole discrediting of the world historic actuality. Dean says that after Lukács the party is obliged to develop the collective consciousness – he is right in this, just on condition that it is not about a party that comes up in the name of the world historic actuality…. „The time of the traditional sectarian Marxist party is up that is organised around some master theoreticians and offers an overall explanations about the world and the world history. These parties have only approached the organization and the practice on practical basis…. Contrary to them, those anarchist groups were right which have emphasized the consensus, community, the action and the creativity instead of the leading role of the intellectuals and the knowledge, which has established the order that people want to live in” (Dean, 2012: 100).
In the third part of this study I will set out from the fact that beside the rehabilitation of the original triad of Lukács and the simple exclusion of the “doubtful” categories (and putting the notion of constituting into the centre) it means the transformation of triad to double-polar there is a third solution for the raise of the actuality of the revolution today again. In my opinion, in connection with the categories of the daily, world historic and constituent actuality of the revolution it is worth focusing simply not only on the notions themselves so that we can transfer them into the today analyses – but one has to focus on the theoretical problems too which Georg Lukács wanted to solve with their assistance. Since, Lukács was dealing with the actuality of the revolution in the frame of two questions. The philosopher was interested on the one hand in the relationship between the daily and world historic actuality, of which reason was undoubtedly the victory of the October Revolution (and the expectations in connection with the wave of the world revolution) which has put the revolutionary question into the centre how the similar non-clear proletarian revolutions which usually arrive “before time” can be switched to the final questions of the world history – and actually, this question has moved the renaissance questions of the Marxism after 1956 too. The other problem that is included in the title of the History and class-consciousness is studying the relationship between the constituent and the world historic actuality. He feels perfectly that people simply do not want to recognize in the classical (Engles-ist) Marxism that in the reality an increasingly tension is developing between the world historic and revolution process.
The world historic actuality of the revolution is the product of the objective “tendencies” of the capitalism and the “even more deepening crises”. The world historic actuality means that we are living the pre-history of the moment even today, when the class-conflict is becoming strained, the crisis cannot be solved any more, the big question of the era has to be decided, the subject on the world historic level can decide it – if it is established. Lukács sets it against the orthodox Marxism that the revolution can always “only” be up-to-date, never necessary. At the end of the process there are two possibilities for the humanity – the two historic possibilities: either they fight the revolution and in the course of this the working class does it with which the big question of the era can be only solved: with the transition to the socialism, the expropriation of the forces of production, the proletarian dictatorship etc. – or the whole humanity falls because the solutions within the system are not effective after a point any more („or the lower class wins or they fall together”). The questions from where the revolutionists come up who will just do what they had to, who will the possibility make to a world historic turn?
Lukács says that the world historic process makes its way to the establishment of the objective circumstances, in which the active people are moving and (unconsciously or with a false awareness) acting – the result is the born of the objectively given alternatives and possibilities. However, the process of the revolutionary development is moving in waves, it leads to the emergence of cumulative-type and subjective psychic-conscious and possible political forms, to the birth of radical subjects. The solution of Lukács to bring these two processes (objective revolutionary situation and radical subject) harmony with each other, is well-known. The class-consciousness that originates the relationship between the proletarian class that is fighting a word-historical battle and the workmen who are living in the society of materialism, are devoted to the constant unruliness but unable to break out, at the same time it also transfers through the terms, actions of materialism and forms of consciousness, it makes the spontaneous energies of the revolution – as it makes the existence of the proletariat an objective fact. However, instead of the detailed analysis of this solution it is worth returning to the starting question. In my opinion, not the solution (the whole conception of the constituent actuality and the “Bolshevik” characters of the category of the class-consciousness etc.) became complicated in the aspect of the experience of the past decades first of all but the issue itself.
Lukács consistently performs the two central elements of the Marxian conception of the world history in his analyses: (1) he said that, however, the world history is a compulsory proceeding because of the crises induced by the antagonism of the economic basis, the social contradictions and the development of the forces of production that is moving towards its harmonious end – however, this progression is realised by the classes of the revolution, if „the engine of the history is the revolution” (battle of classes hypothesis). Furthermore, that (2) the world history is divided to periods from which the capitalism and the socialism (communism) can be interpreted as the negation of each other (mode of production hypothesis). There is no question, whether in this world the historical revolution has an exactly defined place and content – that the most thorough rethinking can only proceed that the Revolution in capital letters, the answer to the question is not a necessity, just a possibility. Lukács as a Marxist could not undertake the conclusion that he has to separate his theory of revolution from this rigid scheme of the world history, if he really wants to understand its eventuality, spontaneity and process-character.
In my opinion, the raising of the actuality of the revolution is possible after the conceptual trio of Lukács (the daily, world historical and constituent actuality of the revolution) – however, the precondition of this is that the „world historical actuality” changes to „historical actuality”. The constituent actuality plays just the role of the instrument of the fulfilment of the world historic actuality for Lukács: it makes possible that the option of the revolution shall be real and comes true. The constituent process of the revolutionary subject means the guarantee that the outcome of the world historic drama will be successful, that the proletariat plays the role that was sorted out for them, it means that (formulated with the well-known formula) the object and subject of the processes shall be at the same time. (Vajda, 1997: 276-277).
The tragedy of the early Marxian Lukács that while he took an original and inspiring position even today with putting the development of the revolutionary subject into the centrum, this constituent process could appear in the whole of the theory only pro forma. The fiction of the proletariat as the leading character of the world history necessarily results from the standpoint of the world history laid down by itself, as compared to which the real process usually fall behind – and only the Party and the proper awareness can join them (Žižek, 1996). If I am talking about the historic actuality I would like to separate the process of the development of the revolutionary actors from this subordinated position that is already indefensible today.
I assume a kind of autonomous and possible development process that is supported and not targeted by the historic actuality after Lukács: it means that the historical actuality of the revolution does not mean the theoretical assumption of the existence of a possible/probable world historical option to fulfil, “only” the need and unavoidableness of changing and revolutionizing the existing order. The duty is to find the “big questions”, “contradictions” of the next period – the new millennium – about which the global conflicts will deepen (irrespective the consciousness of the participants), the social-political processes crystallizing which force the existing order to a constant acclimatization and change – and which stand behind the visible radical phenomenon of our days and continuously evoke those collective political processes which is called constituent actuality by several analysts of Lukács.
In this conception of Lukács, on the one side there is standing the general force of the new millennium becoming revolutionised and the problems of the change around the spirit of time, on the other side there are standing the logics of the establishment of the more and more identifiable radical subjects – the sense of the analyses is the description of the dynamic relationship among them which would be surely called dialectics by Lukács.
Three revolutions/Three Lefts – Georg Lukács and the political map of the new millennium
In this part I try to interpret the phenomenon of the new millennium with the categories of the actuality of the revolution of Lukács. In the course of this (1) I introduce the three situations which results in the force of revolutionism of the present time in historical terms, those three inertial pressures which weighs heavily on the existing order. Parallel with this I introduce (2) those constituent logics along which the revolutionary subject of our days are developing and crystallizing. I think so, that the present situation can be described by placing them side by side, it means that along the theoretical scheme of the „three revolutions/the three Lefts” – it should be added that from the “three Lefts” of the 21st century the first one has been actually existing for one and a half decade, while we do not even know the outlines of the “last” one.
a: the runaway world, the alter-globalisation movement and the reflexive Left
The “reflexive Left” has been already born when the alter-globalisation movements entered the scene at the symbolic moment of the 2000s, which will undoubtedly return in several forms in the next decades even after the half decade long agony and disappearance of these movements. It is not by chance that the expression I used refers to the thesis that was set up by Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens or just by Scott Lasch (parallel but not independently from each other of course) which is talking about the beginning of the period of the second modernity which we can call “reflexive modernity” (Beck-Giddens-Lash, 1994; Lynch, 2000). The analysis in the background of the conception of reflexivity undoubtedly takes a very important element from the events of the previous years: he takes the process “how the world gets free”, “the capitalism becomes global”, (paraphrasing Marx) „every previous strong relation breaks up”. „We can learn that the more we control the processes, the more they can slip out of our control – the world gets free. If we want to make the world safe and predictable, for example through the science and the technics, the opposite often happens, just in case of the environmental problems and the climate change” (Giddens, 2000: 3).
In the neoliberal decades after the structural transformation of the capitalism (Beck-Bonss-Lau, 2003) – which resulted in the beginning of the second modernity according to the original theory – along the famous slogan of TINA (There is no alternative!) all late modern boundaries were eliminated under which the capitalism was operating (Giddens, 1991: 70-78.). As a result of this, the capital “becoming international” and “American”, the “winning” of the liberal democracies and the consumption, the “development” of the civilization, the technical “improvement” or just the economic “growth” could happen in a one-sided, uncritical and self-dangerous way – however, that the negative consequences and contradictions of these processes became even more obvious, just like the growth of the global unevenness, the climate change, wasting and the exhaustion of the resources, the social effects of the wars, the neoliberal competition, destruction, or the Great Powers, the financial organisations, the hazard of the dominance and the profiteering of the multinational companies.
In this period, when the “side effects” become even more obvious and they are increasing and worsening, the political front lines are crystallizing along the opposite pairs of “changing” or “constancy” after Lukács – that is the certain symptom of the historical presence of the revolution. On the one side one can find the cult of the “direct answer”, the constant reaction and adjustment (risk society), the reform of the individuals and the societies (the society of paranoia, post-modernism), the strengthening of the belief in the beneficial effects of the further unlimited characters (neoliberal ideology) or the programmes of the visions (third way) drafted along the role of the political reformer, the cleaning effects of the shock therapy. The other side originates at the moment of the birth of the radical subject: as the era of the neo-liberal capitalism is essentially the era of the global deregulation, the era of reducing – and what is even more important – that of losing control, it is obvious that the ideologies, the spontaneous actions and movements of the “word can be different” along the effects of something like a shock, the helplessness and unsustainability. It is well-known how the conception of the reflexive modernity itself has developed to the Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder-branded ideology of the social democracy over time. However, I think that the first process of becoming revolutionised in the new millennium can be described just along the notion of “reflexivity”. The released processes of the global capitalism are those which cannot leave the individual alone, they force the social groups and regions to react continuously and even more vehement. The speciality of “the reflexive Left” is for me on the political map of the neo-liberal capitalism that it is about a movement which is born from the reaction to the “running out” of the processes and the “side-effects” of the tendencies and the growth of these side-effects pushes it into the direction of the collective action, the theoretical consciousness, the establishment of the own forms and visions.
The extreme diversity of the alter-global movements evidently resulted from that fact that in the era of the neoliberal globalisation the processes got free parallel with each other on numerous territories of the world. Meanwhile, this thematic and ideological eclecticism have caused essential problems in respect of the unity and organizational concentration of the movement, actually it enabled that the process of becoming revolutionised could take a form that was different from the former ones. One has to agree with the statement of Geoffrey Players that the early 2000s has brought two new forms of the birth of the radical subject – as the constituent character of the revolution has reborn in two forms too (Players, 2010). The constituent timeliness of the revolution could develop along the slogan of “the world can be different”: the whole of our life was grabbed by the power of the neoliberal globalisation, this way, we ourselves are the partakers of those tendencies which show their real face more and more – and finally they react on us. This is the “way of the conscious human being”, it means the majority of those feelings, life strategies and ways of life which can be adjusted to the framework of another type of globalisation. According to the fans of the alternative globalisation, the mass of the personal activities and changes not only undermines the operation of the capitalist system in the present form in the future, but regarding its outcome it also sets the development of humanity on a sustainable path – its “personal and political” thesis revives in the form of eco-political activism first of all. The target of the autonomous element and initiatives that differs from the everyday life of the neoliberal capitalism and opposes it is not only the “sabotage” of the capitalism – as it is drafted by Naomi Klein in connection with the world of brands – but the birth of the kind of contact and community forms and pieces of experience which can finally lead to birth of a new world society (and world economy) (Klein, 2005). The generation that provides the backbone of the movement qualifies the total revolutionary logic as a romantic illusion, in order that he can put the thousand millions of actions of the “Small Marching out”, the “critical mass” of the point-like alternatives which undermine and replace the suitable processes. The new collective subject originates in a many-polar, horizontal, subjective and indirect way – incorporating the hopes in connection with the postmodern world with the relations and its personal activities in the vision of an “activist society” in all respects. The target is: to leave the today unsustainable and unacceptable logics of the civilization, the economy, the consumption, the politics, the globalisation, etc., in order that the emotional-communicative community of the “the world can be different” builds them up along an alternative logic again.
The other way of the radical constitution of the reflexive Left, which we can call the direction of “anti-globalisation”, does not follow the logic of the above mentioned “anti-power” but that of the “counter-power”. Along the slogan of „the politics can be different” he thinks that the existing economic, media and political structures which lead to the groundless negative effects can only be changed, if we can replace those institutions and can regulate those actors which we set free in the past decades. Its modern way is the “counter politics”, it means the establishment of those rivalries in the public and on the court of the movements which (1) regarding their nature, operate a different way just like the official politics and media (2) provide the suitable framework for the numerous different political action and participants to act uniformly and work out the common principles and solutions. Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello contrast the strategy of the counter power with the old power-centric paradigm of the revolution in their book with the title the Globalisation from below. In our opinion it is not only impossible to take over the position of the global powers but it is not desirable either – whereas, the „interstitial places” (the global “gaps” and “leaks”) are awaiting that they become the places of the radical changes. The anti-globalisation revolutionary direction puts the solidarity and the form of networking in the centre: „if the network can hold people and those practices and actions together which were exercised by isolated and marginal groups of the society until that time; if the common act takes place, the source of an independent power is also established the
b: the faked universality of the Inside, the refugee crisis and the global Left
The movements of the “reflexive Left” that was born as the criticism of the civilisation of the West (the development and its real price) and as the answer that was given for the side effects of the neoliberal capitalism have fallen into a serious crisis and agony by the end of the past decade. Moreover, the credit crunch in 2008 has reshaped the map. All these do not mean of course that the processes of becoming revolutionised that got going along the anti-power and the counter-power would have been lost for good and all, because the support of the constituent actuality of the revolution is provided exactly by this historic actuality which makes the cumulative character of all similar movements possible – so, we can be the witnesses of the even stronger and significant coming back of the reflexive Left anytime. The second decade of the new millennium is much more about – let’s think of the emergence of the populist Left, the unprecedented flow of refugees in Europe, the tragedy of Aleppo, or the majority of the kind of rebellions that date back to the Arabian spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement – about the birth of a completely different logic of radicalisation: the reflexive constituent logic that has developed in connection with the question of control, it is completed by the constituent movement that is developing along the inside and out binary logic that puts the question of universality into the centre of the interest: the “communism of the Outside”. The inside and out logic is not new for itself: it was actually the primary form of the international politics – essentially, it is the political imagination of the national state that interprets peace and welfare inwards and it is running competition and border lining outwards (Walker, 1993). What has changed for the new millennium in my opinion is that on the one hand the energy originating from the labour/capital relationship within the national states has dried up, on the other hand the outside/inside political logic has obtained a central role in the global space and in the everyday life of the societies too – far away from the mere national state dynamic. The outside/inside logic is the theory of the global capitalism – drafting it in classical Marxian terms it is not that of the “base” but the “superstructure”, the global political matter, the postmodern capitalist societies. I consider the birth of “the global Left” a constituent process (this is for the time being the process of filling up a still free space in many respects), in the background of which there will be the disclosure of the false universality of the global Inside that is constructed along the outside/inside logic.
In my opinion, one can understand with the assistance of Žižek most of all why the logic of outside-inside obtained priority in the past decades in the global space – and in the national political systems more and more. Because the reality and the Real Lacanian-post-Marxian theory put the thesis into the centre the first time that while the reality and the way of life of the developed countries are based on the assumption that the global casting is just like this that the consequences and operation of the global capital have the similar implications – however, this fact cannot be included in the symbolic order of the Developed World, one cannot face it and its traumatic affects cannot be accepted because the basis of the reality of the developed civilization is the barbarism of the capitalism on the other parts of the world (Žižek, 2011). I think so that Žižek essentially renewed the thinking paradigm of the today Left that he “turned around” the statement according to which the “main question” of the era is the dependence of the peripheries on the centrum, it means that a part of the world can exploit and subjugate the other one. After him, it is exactly the other way: the “big question” of the global capitalism is the dependence of the centrum on the peripheries, it means that it is the Real that is establishing the reality.
The analysis of the today capitalism based on the theories of Žižek is needed in order that it becomes clear: why the outside/inside logic obtains a leading role in the world of politics by the beginning of the new millennium. The important role of the outside/inside political logic does not only mean that it simply had to be exported from the old past of the national state into the total global space – but it seems to be the most effective answer in the case when the relationship of the Real and reality of Žižek is under a constant threat already. To put it simply: the illusions of the neo-liberal era and the fantasy of the “end of the history” passing away the politics has to face new tasks. From the viewpoint of the revolution theory is really important that the credit crisis of 2008 drew attention to the fact that the mainstream politics changed. The procedure certainly began with the anti-terror war of George W. Bush: the discoursive and political defining, constant shaping, managing of the Inside, the drawing and protection of the boundaries and the mobilization against the Outside and the powers acting in the name of the political communities etc. are aligning themselves on the one side of the outside/inside politics. The released capital, the offer of the new global elites towards the citizens of the developed world is authoritarian and right-winger in all respects: the former two participants require just all of the decisions and management rights for themselves, in return they promise that they maintain, protect and develop the reality in which the “Westerners” are living.
The constituent revolutionary process of the global Left is born from the position of Outside against the false universality of the global Inside. In order that this new constituent logics becomes understandable one has to put the question from which viewpoint one can consider the more and more politically and discursively shaping global Inside universal that builds on the today structure of the capitalism. Actually, it is about the subjective process that this global Inside interprets itself as the island of peace, welfare, freedom, mobility and power in the unquiet global ocean – and where would this message be more authentic than in the dependent subaltern regions of the Outside that is cut up by wars, which is finessing with particular strategies and close up with half-success, where people are in need and are suffering from oppression? Consequently, the Inside is the universally valid completion of the values and targets desired by the Outside. (It is not by chance that the fundamentalist enemies of the Inside appear who want its killing or the Outside becoming totally and romantically independent – or both, like the ISIS or other religious fundamentalism). In my opinion the subjective logic establishing the global Left can originate because the universalism is “false” in all respects, it means that the precondition of everything that appears on the whole globe as desirable is that it can be only realized on a little part of the Earth. In my opinion, in the second decade of the new millennium on the wide scale from the Arabian spring to the Occupy Wall Street movement there are emerging the outlines of a new kind of radical subject from this tension.
This model of the birth of the global Left actually resonates with the model of the traditional Marxian communism, when it thinks so that: through the collective experience of the revolutionary process it can lead to the draft of an alternative universality. The constituent revolutionary logic of the global Left is the “communism of the Outside” – similar to political (not world-historical) logic of the “universal class” in Marx and Lukács. (Sayers, 2015) (‘the global Outside cannot abolish the conditions of its own life without abolishing all the inhuman conditions of life of society today which are summed up in its own situation.’) Of course it is not about that the global Left would have some fictive subjects which originating from the isolation of the Inside, recognizing and continuously experiencing the unfairness and main point of the global structures, being organized along the solidarity of the Outside would finally be the carrier of some kind of a total global revolutionary option that is foreseen in advance. There is no guarantee for the revolutions and the revolutions do not mean guarantee for anything anymore. In my opinion the lifestyle of the developed countries is present as the kind of universal value which became the ideological framework of the mobilization, the development and the individual success in all parts of the world (where some movement started in the past decades). The feature of the global capitalism is that thanks to the mechanism of the outside-inside logic they are on several points just illusions which cannot be realized. The global Outside wars, the antidemocratic regimes, the economic subordination and fluctuations, the condition of under-globalisation, the natural disasters, the modernizations that cannot be carried out and the world of the social inequalities. In this situation the establishment of the Left is a subjective process of becoming revolutionised during which the belonging to the global Inside (made difficult and impossible by the walls and problems) becomes an act from the individual final goal; it means that the way how the belonging to the world of the Inside becomes the synonym of oppression, unfairness and hypocrisy, worthlessness etc. – that opposes the Outside representing the whole of humanity as a category of value (freedom, fairness, honesty, social behaviour, charity, valuable life etc.) and having become political. From the point of view of the constituent process of the global Left it seems at the moment that the crucial point today, the wave of refugees became a political question, the stuck of the mobilization of the several hundred millions of workers of the third world and the development of the leftist radical movement and intellectual positions in the world of the Inside that originates from the effect of them. The global Left replaces the harmless and cynical slogan We are the World by the slogan We are the 99 per cent which from right of the beginning lies down that the world of the global Inside itself is the institutionalised oppression and untruth which is maintained by the global status quo.
c.: the dimension changes of the humanity, the return of the political and the futuro Left
In the part of the chapter so far I was looking for the answer how the revolutionary subjects of the first two decades of the new millennium become constituent. In my opinion, the “big questions, contradictions and tendencies” of the present era in the meaning of Lukács evoked the new forms of the revolutionary actions along the reflexive and outside/inside political logic. A third constituent logic is just being born too which must be ever more important in the 21st century. However, it is difficult to identify, while the characters of the reflexive and global Left can already be proved from the kind of exact movements and events like the alter-globalisation movement and the Arabian spring, the Spanish Indignados or the wave of refugees of our days – in case of the futuro Left these exact forms still cannot be identified. In this case the revolution is only present “in the sense of history” in the pressure and tension that are caused by the changes and technical development of our days. The concept of the futuro Left includes a theoretical hypothesis as far as the consequences of the technical development is concerned. The concept of the futuro Left is based on the theoretical thesis that the frameworks of the human being are essentially extended in the new millennium, we can be the witnesses of the change of the dimension of the humanity. „In this respect not only the perspectives of the whole of the humanity are expanding but the life of every single individual changes are essentially too. The change obviously appears in the series of cultural traumas which evoke intensive emotional answers, the search of new identities and often face violent opposition too.” – writes for example William Mott in connection with one of the change of dimensions. (Mott, 2005:9.). The big question of the future is the “filling” of the new dimensions by the humanity – the futuro Left refers to the probable establishment of the revolutionary subjects in connection with this which realize the “political return” already with their existence in one sense or another” (Mouffe, 1993). In my opinion the process of the changes of dimensions of the new millennium can be captivated along the trans-local, the trans-real and trans-human concepts the best. The prefix “trans-“ that means beyond something refers to the fact that as a result of the “development” of the science, the technology and the civilization (running in the economic and political context) people have overtaken the previous frameworks on certain fields, therefore they have to adjust their way of thinking and practical solutions to the conditions that have changed (and not calculating with some kind of romantic anti-modernity already given).
1. The trans-local turn means the change that is referred to the concept of globalisation by Zygmunt Bauman and which is described as the change of the physical condition of modernity by him. In the time of the “fluid modernity” the solid forms of the modern capitalism break up and they are replaced by the fluid forms of life. Bauman says that the basis of this change is that in the time of the globalisation the humanity exceeded the locality in the traditional sense of meaning. The global space is the “space of the constant movement which has lost its control ability and the boundary can be passed over very easily between its own virtual and real being” (Bauman, 1998: 88). The spaces beyond the locality provide the basis of the trans-local dimension. The work of Bauman with the title of Liquid Modernity mentions four types of these trans-local places: the amicus (functional in the way of the plazas, sterile and homogenous), the phagicus (normalizing-homogenizing in the way of the global metropolis) spaces and the non-spaces (the neutral places just like the hotel room) and the empty spaces (which are not the old places any more but they are still waiting for the occupation) (Bauman, 2000:91-110). In the trans-local time the local dimension of the individual life has been lost and it was transferred to new places: some got the sterile spaces of the consumer world, the others the rust areas of the rest of the old local world, the under-globalized places. Bauman explains the politics theory of this era along the class of the comparison of the “tourists” and the “hooligans” (Bauman, 1998), supposing that the conflicts of the individuals who are moving on the trans-local spaces on the global half-court out of necessity will be the basis of the radicalism of the new millennium.
2. The trans-real turn is actually owing to a special direction of the development of the communication instruments, it means that in the technical meaning of the word the development of the so-called virtual reality. The virtual reality (in its original form a kind of simulation which to a large extent looks like and to a large extent we feel as it was real) takes the qualitative change in the everyday life of people that non-real things start to function as real for them too. The world exceeds the level when there was a rigid boundary between the fact and fiction – and the fiction and the “sensual-optical-illusion” becomes the part of the reality. (Kiss, 2016b). Jean Baudrillard is the pioneer theoretician of this change for me who has taken the tendency of the hyperreal reality that became virtual (Baudrillard, 1983). In my opinion we can be the witness of three parallel processes already in our days too, on this early level of the necessary technology: the living space that becomes virtual (Internet-Facebook, Postmodern Metropolis), the recovery with the real virtuality (Pokemon GO) and making ourselves virtualized (PC games/Avatar). This virtual revolution that belongs to the favourite topics of the popular and scientific-fantastic film industry in the new millennium became part of our life even in their first outward forms – we can say that even bigger part of our reality becomes un-real as far as its tendency is concerned, we are facing the trans-real dimension in all respects.
3. Finally, the main point of the trans-human turn is that the humanity exceeds its own genus boundaries that the previously rigid boundaries between the human and non-human become blurred on Earth. At present there are three obvious directions. As particular results of medical science super-man is just being made from the human being, the so-called AI development, it means the artificial intelligence, with which man-shaped machines could be produced, the development of genetics and the cloning technics leads to the multiply, control and change of the relative position of the human race – it is not in vain that the debates in connection with this have openly political character. In the trans-human era the “„cyber will be the ontology of the humanity”, all of us will be cyborgs and we will produce cyborgs around us, we all will be artificial and the nature will be our big problem (Haraway, 2005). In the trans-human era there are produced a lot of books on the “historical actuality” of the revolution in the sense of Lukács, the most inspiring maybe the work of James Hughes with the title of Citizen Cyborg which tries to reveal how this political map of this era will look like how the radical movement of the human machine world will be born. After Hughes two positions of the Left will rise in connection with the expanded dimensions. Their basis is that the Left has to give up its belief in the role of the Saviour of the technics. The one is BioLuddista which will oppose this degenerated world of the capitalism and the humanity in the name of an eocological vision, the other one is the „democratic trans-humanism” which attempts to fit the loosely interpreted cyborg-reality the human community (Hughes, 2004).
For me it is essential that in connection with the change of the dimensions of the humanity we can obviously talk about the historical actuality of the revolution in our days: in the sense of politics the humanity is forced by the radical change, the powers of the status quo are pressed insomuch that it can obviously support the rising new radical positions and movements sooner or later. The exact logics of the futuro Left and its becoming constituent as the revolutionary subject we cannot know yet of course – but it is not definitely needed. While the identification of the reflexive and the global Left calls the attention to the birth of the new revolutionary channels of the new millennium, the concept of the futuro Left rather refers to the fact that “the political system of co-ordinates of the 20th century (that divided the free positions of the political space to liberals, right-wingers, socialists and populists – and which had its outsider opponents) has lost its validity” (Hughes, 2004: 65.). The socialists and the radical Left of our days faces two worrying theoretical questions in this situation. On the one hand, whether there has been any left from the source of the previous Left, the movements of the golden age, the heritage and symbols which are valid and continuable in the new millennium. On the other hand how it is possible to position us again in the period of the development of the new revolutionary objects, the new historical forces and the rise up of the new political logics. I think so that the viewpoint of Lukács of the actuality of the revolution can provide assistance to formulate the answers in both cases. The revolution that was expected by the Marxians and which was ingrained into the traditions of the Left did not happen and will not come any more either – but along the thesis of Lukács of the present tense of the revolution the Big Start will be possible that turns to the processes of becoming revolutionised in the new millennium. „The one version of Marxism has set – argues Douglas Kellner by the need of a postmodern Marxism – the proletarian revolution and the industrial capitalism cannot be carried on. The Marxism of the future has to break away from the proletariat as the subject of the revolution and the socialism-image that was in close connection with it. One has to recognize the new subjects of the social transformation in the new millennium” (Kellner 1993: 43).
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