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Beyond Leviathan: Critique of the State
by István Mészáros
István Mészáros was one of the greatest political theorists of the twentieth century. Left unfinished at the time of his death, Beyond Leviathan is written on the magisterial scale of his previous book, Beyond Capital, and meant to complement that work. It focuses on the transcendence of the state, along with the transcendence of capital and alienated labor, while traversing the history of political theory from Plato to the present. Aristotle, More, Machiavelli, and Vico are only a few of the thinkers discussed in depth.
The larger objective of this work is no less than to develop a full-fledged critique of the state, in the Marxian
Preface to Beyond Leviathan
by István Mészáros
(Feb 01, 2018)
The state cannot be other than Leviathan in imposing its structurally entrenched power on overall societal decision-making. Yet a way must be found to extricate humanity from the ever more dangerous, arbitrary, and alienated form of the Leviathan state. Indeed, the survival of humanity depends on it. | more…
REVIEW OF THE MONTH
Capital’s Historic Circle Is Closing
The Challenge to Secure Exit
by István Mészáros
(Dec 01, 2017)
Places: Global
With the structural crisis of the capital system, the expansionary historic circle through which capital could dominate humanity for a very long time is perilously closing. That closure brings with it the danger of humanity’s total destruction in the interest of capital’s absurdly prolonged rule. | more…
From Primitive to Substantive Equality—via Slavery
by István Mészáros
(Sep 01, 2016)
Topics: HistoryPhilosophyPolitical Economy
Places: Global
Unlike materially grounded and strictly determined primitive equality, the realization of universally shared substantive equality is feasible only at a highly developed level of social/economic advancement that must be combined with the consciously pursued non-hierarchical (and thereby non-antagonistic) regulation of a historically sustainable social reproductive metabolism. That would be a radically different social metabolism, in contrast to all phases of historical development hitherto—including of course the spontaneous primitive equality of the distant past rooted in the grave material constraints of directly imposed natural necessity and struggle for survival.… “Materiality” of that kind, despite its unquestionable substantiveness, as linked to the corresponding hemmed-in “spontaneity,” is obviously not enough in order to achieve historical sustainability.… The requirement of materiality, in the case of the human being whose fundamental existential substratum is objectively determined nature, is essential. The seminal condition of materiality with regard to equality can be swept aside or wished out of existence—as a rule in a revealingly discriminatory and class-bound self-serving way—only by some idealist philosophical conception; one that predicates the commendability of some kind of equality (e.g., “in the eyes of God” or “before the Law”) and at the same time denies the realizability of materially embodied substantive equality, in its defense of a most iniquitous social order. | more…
The Critique of the State
A Twenty-First Century Perspective
by István Mészáros
(Sep 01, 2015)
Topics: MovementsPolitical EconomyState Repression
Places: GlobalUkraine
The allegedly less and less power of nation-states is a great exaggeration, voiced by governments in the interest of justifying their failure to introduce even some of their thoroughly limited and once solemnly promised social reforms.… The overwhelming historical failure of capital was—and remains—its inability to constitute the state of the capital system as a whole, while irresistibly asserting the imperatives of its system as the material structural determination of societal reproduction on a global scale. This is a massive contradiction. Inter-state antagonisms on a potentially all-destructive scale—as presaged last century by two world wars still without the now fully developed weapons of total self-destruction—are the necessary consequence of that contradiction. Accordingly, the state that we must conquer in the interest of humanity’s survival is the state as we know it, namely the state in general in its existing reality, as articulated in the course of history, and capable of asserting itself. | more…
The Necessity of Social Control
by István Mészáros
Topics: MarxismPhilosophy
Places: Global
István Mészáros is one of the greatest philosophers that the historical materialist tradition has yet produced. His work stands practically alone today in the depth of its analysis of Marx’s theory of alienation, the structural crisis of capital, the demise of Soviet-style post-revolutionary societies, and the necessary conditions of the transition to socialism. The Necessity of Social Control grew out of the need for an easily accessible work that would provide a way into his thinking for the uninitiated. Mészáros took this challenge seriously, and produced this book as an introduction to, and summation of, the central ideas governing his analysis. | more…
Reflections on the New International
Dedicated to the Memory and Legacy of President Hugo Chávez
by István Mészáros
(Feb 01, 2014)
Topics: MarxismMovements
Places: AmericasGlobalVenezuela
The need for the establishment and successful operation of The New International is painfully obvious and urgent today. The enemies of a historically sustainable societal reproductive order, who occupy at the present time still the dominant position in our increasingly endangered world, do not hesitate for a moment to exploit in the interest of their destructive design, with utmost cynicism and hypocrisy, the existing decision-making and opinion-forming organs of the international community, from the Security Council of the United Nations to the great multiplicity of the national and international press and to the other mass media under their direct material stranglehold.… At the same time the adherents of the much needed socialist alternative are fragmented and divided among themselves, instead of internationally combining their strength for the cause of a successful confrontation with their adversaries. | more…
Structural Crisis Needs Structural Change
by István Mészáros
(Mar 01, 2012)
Topics: Economic CrisisMarxism Movements
When stressing the need for a radical structural change it must be made clear right from the beginning that this is not a call for an unrealizable utopia. On the contrary, the primary defining characteristic of modern utopian theories was precisely the projection that their intended improvement in the conditions of the workers’ life could be achieved well within the existing structural framework of the criticized societies…. As we also know, the high-sounding “utilitarian” moral principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number” came to nothing since its Benthamite advocacy. The problem for us is that without a proper assessment of the nature of the economic and social crisis of our time—which by now cannot be denied by the defenders of the capitalist order even if they reject the need for a major change—the likelihood of success in this respect is negligible. | more…
The Dialectic of Structure and History: An Introduction
by István Mészáros
(May 01, 2011)
Topics: MarxismPhilosophy
The investigation of the dialectical relationship between structure and history is essential for a proper understanding of the nature and the defining characteristics of any social formation in which sustainable solutions are being sought to the encountered problems. This is particularly important in the case of capital’s social formation, with its inexorable tendency toward an all-embracing, structurally embedded determination of all aspects of societal reproduction and the—feasible for the first time ever—global domination implicit in that form of development. It is therefore by no means accidental that, in the interest of the required structural change, Marx had to focus critical attention on the concept of social structure, in the historical period of crises and revolutionary explosions of the 1840s when he articulated his own—radically new—conception of history. | more…
The Work of Sartre: Search for Freedom and the Challenge of History
by István Mészáros
Topics: Philosophy
Places: France
This landmark book, first published in 1979, met acclaim as a doubly important work of radical philosophy. Its subject, Jean-Paul Sartre, was among the twentieth century’s most controversial and influential philosophers; its author, István Mészáros, was himself establishing a reputation for profound contributions to the Marxian tradition, which would continue into the next century. In this completely updated and expanded volume, Mészáros examines the manifold aspects of Sartre’s legacy—as novelist, playwright, philosopher, and political actor—and in so doing casts light upon the entire oeuvre, situating it within the historical and social context of Sartre’s time. | more…
The Communal System and the Principle of Self-Critique
by István Mészáros
(Mar 01, 2008)
Topics: Marxism
The collapse by century’s end of most of the post-revolutionary social experiments of the twentieth century put socialists nearly everywhere on the defensive. Today’s call for a “socialism for the twenty-first century” is an attempt to transcend this defensive posture and to engage fully with the most urgent problem of our time: the creation of a sustainable socialist order. In this respect, “István Mészáros,” in the words of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, “is someone who lights up the road. He points to the core of the argument we must make in order to go beyond the defensive attitude in which the world’s peoples and revolutionary movements find themselves, and to take the offensive, throughout the world, in moving toward socialism” (quoted from back cover of Mészáros, O desafio e o fardo do tempo histórico [Sáo Paulo: Boitempo Editorial, 2007]; English edition, The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time [forthcoming from Monthly Review Press, 2008]). | more…
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