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By Jean L. Cohen

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Extra resources for Class and Civil Society: The Limits of Marxian Critical Theory

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Since the old class concepts and prejudices are presupposed from the outset, the key dilemma endemic to any class theory based on Das Kapital cannot even be posed. I am referring to the fact that it is possible neither to deduce the classes or class struggles (social action) of any given capitalist society from the analysis of the capitalist system (structures) nor, inversely, to derive the structures from the "appearances" (social classes and social movements). The only question that concerns our structuralists, however, is where, in which structures, to place the intermediate strata between capital and labor, and the state.

It should be clear that Marxism can no longer fulfill this function. The Marxist assumption that the institutions of modern civil society and the class relations of the capitalist mode of production are one and the same occludes the very aspects of society that must be interrogated and precludes any understanding of what is new about the new social movements. The corresponding vision of a future community that has abolished once and for all the duality of society and state conceals the positive institutional achievements of modernity.

4. The version of neo-Marxian class analysis enjoying the greatest vogue is the theory of the new intellectual class. ), 29 echoes of the old theme of the treason of the clerks (Julien Benda), managerial revolution (James Burnham), and the new class (Milovan Djilas) have emerged in a new form. The red thread uniting this diversity is the transference of the class referent of the historical materialist theory of revolution from workers to intellectuals and the identification of their concerns for critique, emancipation, participation, egalitarianism, or social justice as an ideological bid for establishing their own class power against both capital and labor by taking control of the state.

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