From Peter Osborne’s fantastic The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde, pp. 164-5.
“Marx and Engel’s error was to see in this
process an ultimately linear tendency towards the elimination of every social
bond ‘other than naked self-interest… callous “cash payment”’: a drowning of
‘the heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of
philistine sentimentalism, in the icy waters of egotistical calculation’. To
the contrary, it has turned out to involve, not their elimination, but their transformation and contradictory reintegration into the fabric of social relations in
capitalist societies. As Balibar has argued, the history of capitalist
societies is best viewed as ‘a history of the reactions of the complex of ‘non-economic’ social relations, which
are the binding agent of a historical collectivity of individuals, to the
de-structuring with which the expansion of the value form threatens them. This
applies as much to those Marx cites (religion, occupational status, family,
nation, age and sex) as to those he omits (race, ethnicity). Indeed, one might
even go so far as to say that it is the contested articulation of these
relations with those of the production and circulation of capital which
constitutes the political process in capitalist societies. The historical
articulation of temporal form is one of the main things at stake in such
All this in the course of defining Heidegger as a "conservative revolutionary" or "reactionary modernist." Seems to me to be a provocative re-framing of the termes de la lutte. I tend toward erring on the side of "going through" rather than "going back," so all this appeals to me. And further, provokes one to try to figure out how these terms work out vis a vis current political dynamics at home… Who’s on the side of what – who’s "conservative" in this game, and who’s not?
And then try to put all this about conservative modernism in contact with the great passage on Charlotte Street today, and where are you now?
Oh, and almost forgot the Bonus Question:
Is (or, what would it mean to think of) literature (or Literature) as one of "reactions of the complex of ‘non-economic’ social relations," one of those "binding agents"?