Self-consciousness and Identity

  • Richard Westerman
Part of the Political Philosophy and Public Purpose book series (POPHPUPU)


Westerman examines Lukács’s identification of the proletariat as the site of the overcoming of reification. While agreeing that his argument is not entirely convincing, Westerman argues that its failure is more interesting than normally assumed. First, Lukács suggests that reification produces a contradictory structure within individual consciousness that fragments the subject, leaving their lives increasingly empty. While his argument may not succeed entirely, it offers useful ways to think about how reification may be ruptured, and the seeming permanence of capitalism may be brought into question. Such fragmentation, however, is only negative—and may equally well generate reactionary responses as revolutionary ones, as shown by the recent rise of populism. Lukács suggests that an open, inclusive Party is the way to avoid this: it provides a fluid forum in which subjects may work together in generating a common identity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Westerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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