Werner Bonefeld | On the meaning of critique

Kindly invited to a public lecture at Interdisciplinary study of institutions and society in the 21st century module by guest lecturer Prof. em. Werner Bonefeld:


On the meaning of critique.


The many variations in the Marxist tradition revolve around two contrasting readings of the critique of political economy as either a critique of capitalism from the standpoint of labour or as a critique of the capitalist labour economy. According to the former, capitalism is an historically overdetermined mode of the human metabolism with nature. It understands labour economy as a transhistorical principle of human existence. Its conception of socialism is programmatic in that it proclaims for a perfected system of labour organisation by means of central planning. According to the latter, Marx’s critique does not argue from the standpoint of labour. Instead, it is a negative critique of the capitalist labour economy. His critique transforms the natural determination of the categories of political economy into categories of the historically specific capitalist social relations. Unlike the former’s programmatic conception, it conceives of communism as the movement of negation against the social conditions that cause human suffering.


The lecture will be in English language on Monday, 13th of May 2024, at 5 p. m. at conference room of Philosophical Institute ZRC SAZU, Novi trg 2 street, 3rd floor, Ljubljana.


Kindly invited!


Recommended readings:

  • Bonefeld, W. (2014), Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy, London: Bloomsbury, chapter 8.
  • Bonefeld, W. (2023), A Critical Theory of Economic Compulsion, London: Routledge, chapters 1, 2, 6.
  • Marx, Karl (1990), Capital, vol. I, London: Penguin, chapters 2, 6, 23, 24.1 and 24.3.