Rethinking Class Conflict in American Society

Writing at the Financial Times today, Daniel Ben-Ami reviews Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict, now available from Telos Press. Save 30% when you order your copy in our online store.

Any serious attempt to understand the US’s current impasse by moving outside the conventional framework should be welcome. The stale pairings of liberal and conservative, right and left, no longer cut it.

Joel Kotkin, an American academic and author, has come up with the unlikely proposal of understanding the country’s predicament in terms of class conflict. But his conception is a world away from the old socialist notion of a combative proletariat battling against an intransigent ruling class. Instead, his is an innovative attempt to rethink the main contours of US society.

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Joel Kotkin on America’s New Class System

Writing in today’s USA Today, Glenn Harlan Reynolds (aka Instapundit) reviews Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict, just published by Telos Press. Order your copy in our online store.

We’ve heard a lot of election-year class warfare talk, from makers vs. takers to the 1% vs. the 99%. But Joel Kotkin’s important new book, The New Class Conflict, suggests that America’s real class problems are deeper, and more damaging, than election rhetoric.

Traditionally, America has been thought of as a place of great mobility—one where anyone can conceivably grow up to be president, regardless of background. This has never been entirely true, of course. Most of our presidents have come from reasonably well-off backgrounds, and even Barack Obama, a barrier-breaker in some ways, came from an affluent background and enjoyed an expensive private-school upbringing. But the problem Kotkin describes goes beyond shots at the White House. . . .

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Joel Kotkin on the Liberty Law Talk Podcast

On the Liberty Law Talk podcast today, Joel Kotkin talks with host Richard Reinsch about The New Class Conflict, now available from Telos Press. It’s a smart, wide-ranging interview that covers many of the central issues Kotkin raises in his new book: the way that today’s high-tech oligarchy, unlike the early twenty-century industrial magnates, have amassed both financial and cultural power; the exacerbation of wealth inequality in places like California as a result of government bureaucratization; the consolidation of the media by coastal urban elites and the consequent effect on cultural perceptions; the control over both U.S. political parties by the wealthy and the resulting distortion of the democratic process; and a whole lot more.

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Now Available for Pre-Order: Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict

Telos Press Publishing is happy to announce that Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict is now available for pre-order. The book will be released on September 1, 2014.Pre-order your copy here, and we will ship it as soon as it becomes available.

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Why Lukács Still Matters

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Linas Jokubaitis looks at Paul Piccone’s “Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness Half a Century Later,” from Telos 4 (Fall 1969).

In 1969, when Paul Piccone wrote “Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness Half a Century Later,” almost fifty years had passed since the publication of Georg Lukács’s magnum opus. Piccone wrote this essay to mark that anniversary, and he argued that this work was an “underground classic.” Moreover, he asserted that this book was essential for any analysis of modern thought. According to Piccone, everyone attempting to understand and overcome the ideological crisis of Marxism would be wise to consult this book.

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Alexander Kluge's Counterproducts and Public Sphere Theory

Michael Bray’s “Openness as a Form of Closure: Public Sphere, Social Class and Alexander Kluge’s Counterproducts” appears in Telos 159 (Summer 2012). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue here.

This essay analyzes the seductions and impasses of the “openness” of public sphere theory in class society. It does so by sidestepping the more obvious limits of formal-discursive models of publicity and critically engaging with the theory and practice of Alexander Kluge, whose foundational work with Oskar Negt, Public Sphere and Experience, continues to ground experiential and affective models. For Kluge, this experiential turn was necessitated by the classist exclusions rationalist forms of publicity enact and it also made clear the need for “counterproducts” (rather than theoretical accounts) to combat audiovisual pseudo-publicity and construct a “proletariat public sphere.” Drawing together Kluge and Negt’s compelling account of exclusion and the specific character of Kluge’s own film and television counterproducts, shows how the latter fail to answer to the concerns the former, and helps explain the peculiar substitution, in Kluge’s films, of “feminine labor” and protagonists for the proletariat. This substitution, I suggest, is paradigmatic for the continuing shift of the “new left” away from issues of class. In closing, I propose the potential of a “populist public sphere” to more adequately address both the exclusions diagnosed by Kluge and Negt and the issues of gender “ciphered” in Kluge’s films.

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