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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Sherikhova Ekaterina

Sherikhova Ekaterina

MA student of Department of World History, Classics and Law, Faculty of Humanities, Kozma Minin Nizhny Novgorod State Pedagogical University (NNSPU), 1 Ulyanova str., Nizhny Novgorod 603950, Russia.


Lukács and Benjamin: Two Versions of Historical Materialism / Logos. 2018. № 1 (122). P. 143-156
annotation:  The problem of different perceptions of Soviet reality is investigated by analyzing the experiences of Walter Benjamin and György Lukács in the context of the epoch of pilgrimage in the “red” Moscow of Marxist philosophers. Furthermore, an attempt to analyze the two authors’ conceptions of historical materialism is undertaken. The two philosophers’ journey through the capital of the Soviet State, as well as their scientific activities, is well-studied in foreign and domestic historiography. However, this specific comparison of Benjamin and Lukács, within the chosen parameters, has not yet been paid due attention.
Over the course of the research, episodes of the two Marxists’ life in Moscow are considered, revealing the main reason for both Walter Benjamin’s speedy departure and the cause for Lukács’ long stay in the capital: the philosophers saw two different Moscows. Benjamin was in the USSR during the heyday of the New Economic Policy, while Lukács witnessed its eclipse. An investigation of the different conceptions of historical materialism in the works of both authors is used to conclude that, for Lukács, historical materialism serves primarily as a method for studying the history of capitalist society. This explains the author’s concern with the real needs of the proletariat: a change in these needs leads to a change of the functions of historical materialism, yet never interrupts historical development. To some extent, Benjamin also perceives historical materialism as a kind of method designed to rupture the historical continuum in order to release the genuine image of the past. Material things are the carriers of this image. On the basis of the foregoing, the position is substantiated: despite the fact that Benjamin and Lukács belong to the same generation of Neo-Marxists, their versions of historical materialism have more differences than similarities.

Keywords:  Neo-Marxism; works of art; historical materialism; the theory of the history; capitalist society; the proletariat
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