Critical Marxism, Neo Marxism By Shubhra Ranjan Mam

Critical Marxism, Neo Marxism By Shubhra Ranjan Mam


Critical Marxism, Neo Marxism

(By Shubhra Ranjan Mam)


gramsci + George Luckacs :- (Reification)


They are known as fathers of New Marxism

Reification Is similar to the concept of alienation

the significance of Luckacs of that He could give the concept of alienation in his book "history and class consciousness".

Which is very much similar to Marx Alienation Even without reading alienation the scholars who deal with alienation are basically looking for emancipation.


Gramsy is known as father of both the schools of Neo-marxism 

  1.  Frankfurt school
  2.  Structural school

Frankfurt school :

  •  It was a school of social sciences founded in Frankfurt, Germany in 20s - 30s. The time when Germany was under totalitarianism Or Nazism

Q. What was the concern of these scholars?

Ans. To understand the causes behind growth of totalitarianism means the loss of freedom

 Q. Why this is a significance question ?

Ans. Because it questions the entire project of enlightenment. it predicted that human history is a history of progress of human reasoning. means, as time will more, our society will become more and more rational. means we will be more and more emancipated or more and more freedom. However, in reality developments moved in the opposite direction That means towards greater slavery For example, use of Technology Use of goods of ease of life etc..

Q. where are totalitarian societies at that time?

Ans. everywhere

1. means in the Western Europe for example, Germany, Italy, etc

2. Eastern Europe for example former USSR

3. Even in USA.: Originally Frankfurt, a school was stabilised in Germany but later on because of Hitler censorship and control, they shifted to USA, University of Columbia.

These are scholars realise that situation in usa is hardly different

Thus, there was loss of freedom everywhere. Loss of freedom means loss of individuality.

freedom = Own identity/ Actual individuality

Without freedom = Mass.

Emergence of mass society :- Homogenisation :- Totalitarianism.


Q. What is their area of research?

Ans. Critical analysis of human history

  1. Max was the first one to challenge the Liberal capitalist scholars. Who held that liberalism- capitalism leads to greater freedom. Marx held that freedom in these societies is false consciousness. People are taking isolation-alienation as freedom.
  2. Marx gave his own theory of history. According to Marx, Capitalism is not the end of history


Ans. Because it is not the most rational method of production.

Hence Marx held that history will Move not in a linear manner, but in a dialectical manner where contradictions will end

he will have a society where there will be perfect freedom and perfect equality.

for Marx Freedom and equality is not contradictory

Q. Who was the first person to question marks understanding of history?

Ans. gramsci

Q.  What was the Gramsci's point of view ?

Ans. Mark's understanding of history is partial because he could show how material force is safe history, but could not understand the role of cultural - ideological factor. Both together is psychological factors.


# The struggle ends the motivation. More long you struggle more, less you will be motivated.


Frankfort school scholars are Marxist, but still, they are critical of Marx understanding of history They are looking for the end of capitalism Like all Marxist, they also believed that emancipation will not possible without ending capitalism. Hence, they tried to understand their techniques through which capitalism controls and sustain itself.


Q. What was their basic questions?

Ans. Even where capitalism became Advance while workers are not in a position to go for revolution


Q. why workers are not resisting capitalism?

Q. Why capitalism is still sustaining ?

According to Herbert Marcuse

Workers are no more Proletariats means they are not Property less anymore They also poses various commodities (welfare state)

They find happiness in these Possession.

They are no more in a position to resist their exploitation.

They are continuously engaged in fulfilling their lower order needs.

Lower order needs means accumulation of commodities.

He Compares human turning into herds. Herds of sheeps and goats

Means loss of consciousness or ability think.

All have become mindless consumers

when a particular products comes Market. If one person acquire the product, others will follow. They fail to understand whether they really require the product or not


Q. how and when capitalism will survive or flourished

answer. so long people will keep on buying the goods, Capitalism will keep on surviving.


Q. How to ensure that people keep on purchasing the goods?

Ans. By transforming their culture


Q. Which type of culture sustains capitalism?

Ans. Consumerized culture. Thus, consumerism Should we made a global culture.


Q. Who are we?

Q. What is our identity?

We are consumers, Mindless consumers of utility.


Herbert Marcuse : 

Book: One dimensional man

He known as father of New Left means inspired new social movement That is environmental movement It means critic of capitalism.

According to him, humans have multidimensional personality But we have been reduced to one dimensional man. One dimensional man means mindless consumer of utility.

We are one dimensional man in a one dimensional society That means consumeralist society. 

Herbert Marcuse is palimistic, He does not find the scope for emancipation. : No Scope

Because it is no more possible to make people realise their exploitation.


Q. Why we fail to realise our exploitation?

Because consumeration has become mass culture It means when it has become universal we start treating it as natural.


Q. How this culture has become universal?

Ans. In this context, the best description has been provided by another prominent scholar of Frankfurt School


Theodore Adorno: 

Book: Authoritarian personality

He co authored dialectics of enlightenment

with Max Horkheimer  Who acted as a director of the Institute of social science, or Frankfort School for a long time

Theodore Adorno: Has investigated the role of technology in the creation of mass culture

he has analysed the growth of communication technology and advertisement industry in making capitalism as mass culture. he has specifically analysed the impact of advertisement and technology in music industry.


Q. how only a particular form of music has been promoted, and various forms of music become extinct ?

Both herkheimer and Adorno stabilised that Marx ignored the role of Culture. culture is no more apart of superstructure. Culture itself became a basic structure:  Most important industry : Basic industry

growth of all other industry depends on it.

  • culture is being produced at a mass level
  • culture is deliver at a mass level
  • culture is being produced continuously

Thus, there is no hope of emancipation


Q.  Which technology played major role?

Ans. communication Technology (ICT)

They have given the concept of negative dialectics As such, Marxism is against religion Consider it as opium of masses but a scholars like Hertbert Marcuse Think that if there is any hope of emancipation it is only in religion. 


Sources Of Influence: 

Frankfurt school is often not treated as Marxist school



Because they adhert from Marxist, alot.

They're incorporated ideas from the thinker of which either Marx was too critical or those who have been critic of Marx

They are Marxist because they are critic of capitalism They went emancipation of masses and advert to same basic principle of masses like concept of class struggle dialectics.

However, they are distant from marx Because of incorporation of certain ideas of


1. Hegel: 

Marks was a critic of Hegel But critical scholars incorporate Hagel's ideas That is the goal of ideas in shaping history.


2. Sigmond Freud :

He has greatly influenced the scholars of Frankfurt school.

Why ?

Frankfurt schools scholars could find answer in Sigmond Freud. 


Q. What answer? 

Why workers are not going for revolution?

Answer: Because Capitalists had impacted even their subconscious mind :-  Mind control even controlling the dream


3. Max Weber : 

 He was critic of Marx, but Frankfurt, a school scholars, brought max weber ideas also Max Weber has given the concept of rationality.

Modern societies means rational societies. according to Max Weber as societies will progress It will be Govern on Bureaucratic principles means rational legal authority

 Governance based on rational principles

However, this rationality means instrumental rationality and loss of critical rationality.


2nd generation, Frankfurter School


Habermas : 


1st Generation : 

  • Herbert marcuse
  • Theodore Adorno
  • Max Horkheimer


Q. What is the basic difference?

1st Generation The schools are Pessimistic : No hope for emancipation if it is any hope. It is religion

2nd Generation:  Optimistic : Hopeful emancipation not religion, but human reasoning


According to Habermas. The project of modernity has remained incomplete.


Why ?

Growth of bureaucratization and Technocratization : Loss of public Sphere

That means where governance has been hijacked by bureaucrats and technocrats.

It means no space for common man to participate in governance

No scope for development of human reasoning


Q. How Human Reasoning Develops ?


Ans. When we deliberate on public issue in public Sphere that means (communicative action in ideal  speech situation)

Thushe believes that human reasoning is yet to develop creating ideal speech situation.thus he became exponents of deliberative democracy And discourse ethics.

Thus, the fundamental difference in the first generation and the second generation scholar is that second generation is not a critic of enlightenment Modernity And is more optimistic They are closer to Marx.


Structuralism is start with Rousseau


According to a structuralist man is just a part of whole It means man alone cannot change the society.



Structure constrained the choices. Thus structuralism is a shift from human centric to structure centric analysis


Karl Marx.

Give the structural approach to study human society based on the superstructure model. It means politics cannot be studied in isolation. 

Thus, despite Marx believing workers developing consciousness For Revolution in his book "18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"



Gramsci has highlighted the role of superstructure Which has been comparatively neglected by Marx. grammes is suggest that history to be a study as a block. Gramsci has highlighted the constraining role played by cultural structures.


Q. Who plays the role in creating cultural structure?

Ans. Intellectuals

Gramsci Has given the concept of hegemonyIn present times, the most prominent structural Marxist is the French scholar, Louis Althuser. The author of Book :  for marx.


Q. What is the context of his Work? 

During his time, there was lot of confusion with respect to the idea of Marx. 

There were various schools within Marxism Giving different interpretation of Marx. 


  1. Orthodox Marxist  : For them, the prime purpose of Marx is revolution. Key principle of marks was historical materialism.


View of Althuser

He criticized Orthodox Marxist for their overemphasis of historical materialism. Which he calls as law of over determination. Mince economic structure and its role is being over emphasized.

The reason Marxism was criticized as economic determination.

Althuser is too much influenced by Gramsci. Gramsci has given three structure model. According to Gramsci, the relationship between base and superstructure is not unilinear and One Direction.

It's not that only economic structure, Shapes other structure.

In fact, the interaction between the structures is too complicated. 

It is not easy to determine which factor played the key role. 

For example it is difficult to say whether Russian Revolution started from economic structure and political structure.

Raj Singh

Hi There. I'm a professional Educator Cum Entrepreneur. Have done Technical as well as Professional Degree, Having Experience of 10 years as Educator and 8 Years of Entrepreneurship.

Comments Here