"Constellations. Journal of Critical Theory" opens a call for original manuscripts for next issue


Coordinators: Jordi Maiso and José A. Zamora (IFS, CCHS-CSIC)


Since its origins, Critical Theory has been understood as the reappropriation of Karl Marx’s critical analysis of modern capitalist society. The term "critical theory" itself was a way of alluding to the continuance of the emancipatory Marxian theoretical tradition (in a socio-political context that did not allow a more explicit formulation). The goal was to update this emancipatory tradition in a transformed reality – an endeavor that was diametrically opposed to the attempt of converting Marx oeuvre into a closed worldview in order to legitimate new power structures.  

The ruptures of the first half of the "short century" changed the physiognomy of bourgeois society and demanded a deep checkup of some of the inherited securities of the Marxist tradition, as well as the engagement with other intellectual currents: philosophy and social theory, psychoanalysis and artistic  movements, etc. The critical theorists incorporated some of the driving forces of these currents – though their tense relationship with the core of Marx’s theory persisted.

Nevertheless, the way Critical Theory understands the core elements of Marx's analysis and its interpretation of the ability of these elements to account for the changes of modern capitalist society are two essential questions in understanding its theoretical approach. A critical analysis of the relationship between Critical Theory and Marx is crucial in order to grasp the scope of this theory. The main purpose of this issue of Constelaciones is not to contribute to a historiographical clarification of the recepton, transformation and criticism of certain Marxian elements in Critical Theory. It aims rather at a reconsideration of the relationship between Marx and Critical Theory from the perspective of out current theoretical urgencies. Firstly, by connecting today's discussion on Marx regarding the actual stage of capitalism with the possibilities of updating Critical Theory. And, secondly, by analyzing how the critical reception of the Marxian approaches in Critical Theory may contribute to the present debate on Marx.

In both cases the point is evaluating Marx and Critical Theory for the purpose of a critique of capitalist society, which today is marked by a profound crisis with an uncertain outcome, and by increasing tendencies towards de-civilization and extreme barbarism.

-Critical Theory's critique of Marx significantly affects his conception of history and its significance for social theory. Marx's relation to modern philosophy of history is not just one of the most controversial issues of his theoretical legacy, but also one of his friction points with Critical Theory, which raises serious questions about Marx’ current validity.

-A further relevant question is the relationship between structure and action. That is to say, the establishment of an objectivity produced and reproduced by the action of individuals, which becomes  independent from them and finally determines their actions, subordinating them to the reproduction of the objective structures of the capitalist mode of production.

-This relationship between structure and action has sparked heated controversies about dialectics and its role in the critical theory.

-The specific form of abstract domination in capitalism also raises further relevant questions: regarding the relationship between structure and class conflict, the integration of the proletariat and the possible subjects  of emancipation. Is total integration possible in an antagonistic society? How does critical theory relate to emancipatory praxis?

-This question leads us to evaluate the current significance of the concept of ideology. How does it relate to commodity fetishism? How does the evolution of capitalism affect the transformations of ideology? May culture industry be understood as the current manifestation of ideology?

Original manuscripts regarding these and related issues may be submitted for the 8th issue of Constellations. Journal of Critical Theory. The originals should be sent before October 15, 2016 to edaccion [at] constelaciones-rtc.net