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The Political Forms of Modern Society: Bureaucracy, Democracy, Totalitarianism

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Claude Lefort is one of the leading social and political theorists in France today. This anthology of his most important work published over the last four decades makes his writing widely accessible to an English-speaking audience for the first time.With exceptional skill Lefort combines the analysis of contemporary political events with a sensitivity to the history of pol Claude Lefort is one of the leading social and political theorists in France today. This anthology of his most important work published over the last four decades makes his writing widely accessible to an English-speaking audience for the first time.With exceptional skill Lefort combines the analysis of contemporary political events with a sensitivity to the history of political thought. His critical account of the development of bureaucracy and totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is a timely contribution to current debates about the nature and shortcomings of these societies. His incisive analyses of Marx's theory of history and concept of ideology provide the backdrop for a highly original account of the role of symbolism in modern societies. While critical of many traditional assumptions and doctrines, Lefort develops a political position based on a reappraisal of the idea of human rights and a reconsideration of what "democracy" means today.The Political Forms of Modern Society is a major contribution to contemporary social and political theory. The volume includes a substantial introduction that describes the context of Lefort's writings and highlights the central themes of his work.Claude Lefort teaches social and political theory at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He was a founder, with Cornelius Castoriadis, of the influential independent journal of the left, Socialisme ou Barbarie. John B. Thompson is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge.


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Claude Lefort is one of the leading social and political theorists in France today. This anthology of his most important work published over the last four decades makes his writing widely accessible to an English-speaking audience for the first time.With exceptional skill Lefort combines the analysis of contemporary political events with a sensitivity to the history of pol Claude Lefort is one of the leading social and political theorists in France today. This anthology of his most important work published over the last four decades makes his writing widely accessible to an English-speaking audience for the first time.With exceptional skill Lefort combines the analysis of contemporary political events with a sensitivity to the history of political thought. His critical account of the development of bureaucracy and totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is a timely contribution to current debates about the nature and shortcomings of these societies. His incisive analyses of Marx's theory of history and concept of ideology provide the backdrop for a highly original account of the role of symbolism in modern societies. While critical of many traditional assumptions and doctrines, Lefort develops a political position based on a reappraisal of the idea of human rights and a reconsideration of what "democracy" means today.The Political Forms of Modern Society is a major contribution to contemporary social and political theory. The volume includes a substantial introduction that describes the context of Lefort's writings and highlights the central themes of his work.Claude Lefort teaches social and political theory at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He was a founder, with Cornelius Castoriadis, of the influential independent journal of the left, Socialisme ou Barbarie. John B. Thompson is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge.

41 review for The Political Forms of Modern Society: Bureaucracy, Democracy, Totalitarianism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Szendi

    I really only read "Outline of the Genesis of Ideology in Modern Societies," in which Lefort outlines was he sees as three types of modern ideology (well, to him ideology is a modern phenomenon): so-called bourgeois ideology, totalitarian ideology, invisible ideology. His strongest analysis is of "so-called bourgeois ideology," while his analysis of "totalitarian ideology" seem so have been lost its luster in these days of recognizing that the term "totalitarian" really doesn't get us anywhere. I really only read "Outline of the Genesis of Ideology in Modern Societies," in which Lefort outlines was he sees as three types of modern ideology (well, to him ideology is a modern phenomenon): so-called bourgeois ideology, totalitarian ideology, invisible ideology. His strongest analysis is of "so-called bourgeois ideology," while his analysis of "totalitarian ideology" seem so have been lost its luster in these days of recognizing that the term "totalitarian" really doesn't get us anywhere. His discussion of "invisible ideology" (an almost Hegelian synthesis of the other two) is most remarkable for its palpable sense of frenzied disgust with the mechanics of contemporary society. That section is really quite good reading, and I love having the term "invisible ideology" in my toolbox.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo

    Ya no basta con señalar el conocido análisis marxista acerca de la brecha que existe entre la apariencia ideológica de la forma legal universal y los intereses particulares que la sostienen, como es común entre los críticos políticamente correctos de la izquierda. El contraargumento expuesto por teóricos como Claude Lefort y Jacques Ranciére según el cual la forma nunca es «mera» forma, sino que implica una dinámica propia que deja huellas en la materialidad de la vida social, es totalmente váli Ya no basta con señalar el conocido análisis marxista acerca de la brecha que existe entre la apariencia ideológica de la forma legal universal y los intereses particulares que la sostienen, como es común entre los críticos políticamente correctos de la izquierda. El contraargumento expuesto por teóricos como Claude Lefort y Jacques Ranciére según el cual la forma nunca es «mera» forma, sino que implica una dinámica propia que deja huellas en la materialidad de la vida social, es totalmente válido. Después de todo, la «libertad formal» del burgués pone en marcha todo el proceso de exigencias políticas materiales y prácticas, desde las demandas de los sindicatos hasta las del feminismo. Ranciére subraya con acierto la ambigüedad radical de la noción marxista de la brecha entre la democracia formal con su discurso acerca de los derechos del hombre y la libertad política, y la realidad económica de explotación y dominación. Sobre la Violencia Pág.181

  3. 5 out of 5

    mwr

    He gets modernity and totalitarianism right (or he is closer to it) than most. The Lacanian language is tiresome.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mengqi Wang

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Correia

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nir Haramati

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  10. 4 out of 5

    Djony Herfan

  11. 4 out of 5

    Grace

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wolf

  13. 4 out of 5

    Micah

  14. 4 out of 5

    William Hackman

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  16. 5 out of 5

    Miguel Yuste Martin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Agross

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emile Bojesen

  19. 4 out of 5

    F Cats

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josip Cmrečnjak

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  22. 4 out of 5

    ehk2

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diego

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abdullah Al Bayyari

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  28. 5 out of 5

    Quincunx

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephany

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schneitter

  31. 5 out of 5

    Bohdan Pechenyak

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kody

  33. 5 out of 5

    Devrim

  34. 5 out of 5

    Simanta Achilles

  35. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Kendrick

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Abinuman

  37. 5 out of 5

    James Fielden

  38. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey Faith

  39. 5 out of 5

    C

  40. 4 out of 5

    Hélène

  41. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

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