Castoriadis

I’ve always meant to read Castoriadis, but never gotten around to it. For one thing he was a huge influence on other people I read and take from (Solidarity UK, CLR James, Facing Reality, Glaberman, etc). He also came to reject Marxism, and takes lots of heat from it from orthodox marxists, which to me says there could be something to him, like my friends from Faridabad Majdoor Samachar. Castoriadis came to ideas that seem obvious to many of us now, but were from Mars 30 years ago. The division between workers and management, autogestion, the notion of revolution as autonomy of society as a whole, rejection of ideas about the economy/superstructure, determinism, party dictatorship, etc.

Now I’ve discovered that Castoriadis presents a new theory of consciousness that abandoned the traditional marxist notions of false consciousness. I can’t find any of his writings I can quote (they’re in book form or on google books), however he rejects the seperation between theory and practice, and the idea that ideas are exclusively the products of economic classes. Castoriadis sought to refound our ideas about consciousness (though it seems like he only touches on this in his broader discussions of economic and social agency) on active rationality of people who come to ideas from any number of routes, and who are capable of transformation through active engagement in autonomous struggle and self-reflection. I have to do further research into his works to draw any conclusions.

I’ve also discovered Zero Work/Midnight Notes partly came to their understanding of the problems with traditional marxist economics and the role of self-organization in history via Castoriadis. See this link.

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2 thoughts on “Castoriadis

  1. I went to an event with Andre Grubacic and he referenced how he’s frineds with Castoriadis. Grubacic rep’d the IWW hard and said some pretty neat things. Can’t say much for Castorias though, since I’ve never heard him rep the OBU yet.

  2. Castoriadis is dead, so that’d be weird if they’re still friends. Castoriadis wasn’t down with unions so much. He was one of the original councilist types, came to his own conclusions without much knowledge of the others, wrote to Pannekoek back and forth and etc. He is interesting because he came to IWW-like conclusions (decision making power in the workplace helps constitute class, perhaps more than ownership even), but in terms of building unions he argued that unions are trapped in the contractual relationships of capitalism and can’t go beyond them (instead he saw the need for workers councils and the like at high points of struggle).

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