Critical and Neo-Marxist Theory
The Frankfurt School (often refers to Critical Theory) basically picked up the idea of Carl Marx and other philosophers such as Hegel, Nietzsche and Freud. Developed by Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and Fromm, the Frankfurt School revolved on 2 main ideas: (1) all ideas influenced by the current times and by prevailing thought patterns, and (2) a person cannot separate facts and values and has to be self-reflexive and self-critical and develop a critical stance toward society. This is against the prevailing practice among empirically oriented sociologists of studying social matters in isolation/employing quantitative techniques, thereby separating facts and values. The Frankfurt School is a combination of theory and practice. Also, Horkheimer linked culture to personality formation; taking into account the economic process, the individuals and the totality of the system that affects and produces the people's thoughts.
Horkheimer and Adorno argued that the masses are heavily and unknowingly influenced to conform into a culture that is not typically in them. Such are made possible by the use of popular culture to manipulate individuals, to standardize taste, to distract from real world and to encourage passiveness.
From Hegel, Marx took the notion of dialectical historical development. But instead of Geist that is developing, it is the society. Marx's approach was materialism. Habermas converted this into idealism and added Weber's rationalization, Durkheim's consensus, and Parson's value generalization, which gave emphasis on communicative action and the generation of ideology.
For Marx, change developed out of contradiction and in material base but Habermas says change occurs out of contradictions in ideas and how they are legitemized through norms and values. Legitimation therefore is the new set of norms and values used to justify the system. And when legitimation becomes the new set of norms and values used to justify the system, it leads to consensus breakdown and thus, societal crisis simply because it has opened itself to abuse.
In traditional societies, particularly during the Age of Enlightenment, the breakdown of religious norms and values led to idea of rational exchange between equals. Also, the early liberal capitalism has brought organized capitalism.
The need for formal legitimations that are based on reason and rationality is a must to avoid such crisis and lead to change in society.
There are 2 types of action and rationalization: (1) purposive-rational action using means-end rationality which is used by the capitalist system, and (2) communicative action using reason.
The communicative action in which we converse provides necessary context for informed opinion. This paves the way to develop consensus about truth. As well, in formulating the concept of ideal speech, he stressed the need for 4 criteria:
• Understandability of utterances
• Truth of utterances
• Reliability and sincerity of speaker
• Authority (right to offer ideas)
Meanwhile, critics argue that Habermas' idea on builing formal legitimation to "idealize" Marx's theory is too idealistic. The universal consensus is said to be impossible. The speakers do not have equal ability. And if there is a conflict, the question of who will handle it arises.
Other Variants of Marxism:
• Hegelian Marxism (Antonio Grimsci)
• Neo-Marxian Economic Theory (Braverman)
• Fordism and Post-Fordism
• Historical Marxism
• Analytical Marxism
• Post-Modern Marxian Theory (Laclau/Mouffe)