SOCIALISM AS A REGULATIVE IDEA?
Kōjin Karatani’s Structure of World History is a book so strange and ambitious, and of such striking theoretical imagination, that any approach to it risks misrepresenting its object.  Kōjin Karatani, The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, trans. Michael Bourdaghs, Durham and London 2014. It is a bid to refound Marxist theory and historiography in general, unearthing the fundamental structures of human society and tracing their transformations over time, from the earliest nomadic hunter-gatherer bands to the present, in a sort of universal history. In doing so, Karatani offers to remedy a deficiency that he traces back to Marx: the lack of an adequate concept of the state or the nation and a reductive—arguably bourgeois—understanding of ‘the economic’. It is also a philosophical work, exemplifying Karatani’s mode of Kantian–Marxian ‘transcendental critique’ in its re-examination of the essential structures of society. Finally, it is an attempt to revise the strategic orientation of his Transcritique (2003), anticipating how a simultaneous world revolution might yet be possible.
Subscribe for just £45 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3
- Slavoj Zizek: The Parallax View The philosophical basis for social action, as recast in Kojin Karatani’s striking Transcritique. On Kant and Marx. Slavoj Žižek investigates the irreducible antinomies of production and circulation—or economics and politics—as envisioned from the gap in between.
- Akira Asada: A Left Within the Place of Nothingness Japan’s Left is the least known of any major state, outside its own borders. Asada Akira situates it in a wide-angled panorama of his country: Japanese political, philosophical and cultural life from inter-war days to the dissatisfied, postmodern present.