Fredric Jameson

Major work: Postmodernism, or the cultural logic of late capitalism.
Key concepts: Postmodernism, late capitalism, totality, political unconscious, modernism, periodisation, aesthetics
Related figures: Adorno, Sartre, Formalists

In Jameson�s article �Actually Existing Marxism� he identifies Marxism as a certain complex of problematics, rather than positions within existing problematisations. (p.19)

Surplus value is most often thought of as a problem within economics, crises within Marxism often arise at the point where the characteristics of capital appear to change � often leading to perception that Marxism is not longer valid. Hence post-Marxism is compared to Bernstein�s revisionism, where the �revolution� and the Hegelian dialectic were discredited.

However the drive to profit maximisation and the structural needs of capital to expand suggest it is axiomatic that capitalism has fundamentally changed (p.23). Compare this to Baudrillard�s Mirror of Production, where exploitation and profit are relegated to only a stage in capitalism the dynamic of which is the process of the instantiation of the code over life.

For Jameson the first post-Marxist is Bernstein appearing at the beginning of the modern itself. All the various revisions are more transparent within the new age. Changes in the nature of social life are viewed dialectically, as the product of deeper continuities (over and above the discontinuity and breaks) that the structure enlarges at each stage.

Post-marxism has as its centrepiece the critique of revolution. Jameson assumes �perhaps unjustly� that �political reasons most often motivate the philosophical debates� around ideas like �totality and telos� e.t.c. though this doesn�t not preclude investigation of these notions within philosophy itself. When discussing revolution, need to do without image and representation, as they are often pernicious social ideological imaginary. At the bottom of the quarrel about the term is violent imagery of armed insurrection.

Jameson is important to contrast with other positive post-modernisms, like Negri for instance in his recognition of the defeat of a certain left project based around the proletariat.

on this site
on other sites
Read essay: Reading notes: Warren Montag - postmodernism and its discontents (ed. E Kaplan) Douglas Kellner on Jameson�s career 

"Actually Existing Marxism� in Marxism beyond Marxism eds. Makdisi, Casarino, Karl , Routledge New York, 1996

"Totality as conspiracy," in� The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinemas and Space in the world system - Bloomingtin: Indiana University Press 1992 pp 9-84.

Sartre: The Origins of a Style (1961)

The Political unconscious

The prison house of language

Marxism and Form

The seeds of Time

Brecht and Method (2000),

The Cultural Turn (1998)

The Ideologies of Theory: vol. 1, Situations of Theory, vol. 2, Syntax of History (1988)

Late Marxism: Adorno, or, the Persistence of the Dialectic (1990)

Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (two chapters online [])

Jameson Bibliography