Postone reading group

Stranded as we are by the pandemic, a group of us has nevertheless decided to remotely revisit Moishe Postone’s 1993 classic Time, Labor, and Social Domination. Because it is a dense text, we propose to split its reading into four sessions: two main, and two supplementary. It will be divided as follows, spaced out over the first four weekends of July 2020.

Zoom invitations will be sent out via email or messenger, so while most of the participants will be from NYC others can join in as well.


First session

Sunday, July 5
1:00-4:00 PM

The first main session will cover roughly the first half of the book, excluding the chapters on Friedrich Pollock and Max Horkheimer, but will include as optional readings a seminal essay by Lukács and an early iteration of Postone’s thesis.

Required reading

  1. Moishe Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (1993). Pgs. 1-83, 87-90, 123-225.

Optional readings

  1. Georg Lukács, “Reification and the Standpoint of the Proletariat” (1921). Pgs. 83-222 in History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics (1923).
  2. Moishe Postone, “Necessity, Labor-Time, and Social Domination” (1978).


Second session

Sunday, July 12
1:00-4:00 PM

The second main session will cover roughly the second half of the book, excluding the chapter on Jürgen Habermas, but will include as optional readings several pieces that contrast Postone’s interpretation of Marx with that of others.

Required reading

  1. Moishe Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (1993). Pgs. 263-399.

Optional readings

  1. Moishe Postone, “Theorizing the Contemporary World: Robert Brenner, Giovanni Arrighi, David Harvey” (2006). Pgs. 85-107 in History and Heteronomy: Critical Essays (2009).
  2. Moishe Postone, “Labor and the Logic of Abstraction: An Interview with Timothy Brennan” (2009).
  3. Moishe Postone, “The Capital has Limits Does Not Mean It Will Collapse: An Interview with Frank Ruda and Agon Hamza” (2016).


Third session

Sunday, July 19
1:00-3:00 PM

The first supplementary session will go over responses to Time, Labor, and Social Domination, most of which were written on the occasion of its reprinting in 2004. Participants in the two main sessions can volunteer to summarize the optional readings.

Required readings

  1. Loren Goldner, “The Critique of Pure Theory: Moishe Postone’s Dialectic of the Abstract and the Abstract” (2005).
  2. Aufheben collective, “Moishe Postone’s Time, Labor, and Social Domination: Capital beyond Class Struggle?” (2007).
  3. A New Institute for Social Research, “Postone and Class Theory” (2018).

Optional readings

  1. Michael Heinrich, “Too Much Production: Postone’s New Interpretation of Marx’s Theory provides a Categorical Critique with Deficits” (2004).
  2. Chris Arthur, “Subject and Counter-Subject”  (2004).
  3. Werner Bonefeld, “On Postone’s Courageous but Unsuccessful Attempt to Banish the Class Antagonism from the Critique of Political Economy” (2004).
  4. Peter Hudis, “The Death of the Death of the Subject” (2004).
  5. Endnotes collective, “Communization and Value-Form Theory” (2010).
  6. Alan Milchman, “The Value-Form, Reification, and the Consciousness of the Collective Worker” (2010).
  7. Patrick Murray, “Moishe Postone, 1942-2018” (2018).
  8. Jacob Blumenfeld, “For Moishe Postone” (2018).


Fourth session

Sunday, July 26
1:00-3:00 PM

The second supplementary reading group will relate Postone’s reinterpretation of Marx to critical theory by looking at his own criticisms of the Frankfurt School, and is intended mostly for readers who are already interested in that tradition.

Required reading

  1. Moishe Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (1993). Pgs. 84-87, 90-120, 226-260.

Optional readings

  1. Theodor Adorno, “Is Marx Obsolete? Late Capitalism or Industrial Society” (1968).
  2. Moishe Postone and Barbara Brick, “Critical Pessimism and the Limits of Traditional Marxism” (1982).
  3. Helmut Reichelt, “Jürgen Habermas’ Reconstruction of Historical Materialism” (2000).
  4. Moishe Postone, “Critique, State, and Economy” (2006).
  5. Moishe Postone, “Critical Theory and the Historical Transformations of Capitalist Modernity” (2017).