International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs | Directory of Programs, Centers, and Projects

Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity

Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity

In a non-Marxian era such as that of the early 21st century, the Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity problematizes the heritage of Marx’s critique of political economy. Its theoretical and empirical focus is on the historical fate of modern and supermodern capitalism.“Supermodern Capitalism” is one where: (a) modern man’s idealization, discovered by Weber, that, if we just desire, everything in our lives can be calculable and predictable, is no longer practically true; and yet (b) the Galilean idealization of the mathematizability, and hence technologizability, of nature still remains. This ambivalence demonstrates that in practice we live around the limit at which collapse is imminent, caused by the capitalist economy and the metamorphosis of classes into races. This collapse was set as a possibility as soon as the fateful encounter took place between modern capitalism and Galilean science through modern technology. This brings critical theory back to the problem: how can we think capitalism through historical limits? The solution we offer is the so-called theory of mediating structures.

The abandonment of Marx’s modernist dogmas casts a serious doubt on his theories of value and of surplus value – theories that cannot be circumvented but are obviously dubious. Instead of the famous, albeit dogmatic, understanding of capital as c+v+m, the theory proposes to think it as c+v+V+m-z, where V is the power of labour that generates innovations in production (but not in circulation) conceived as variable capital, and z is the ecological devaluation of capital. Marx’s uncritical idealizations are that (1) V=0 and hence surplus value is produced in exploiting every labor power; and (2) that z=0 (thus collapse occurs at z>m). The procedure proposed in the critical discussions of Marx’s theories of value and surplus value can be generalized, with some reservations, as follows: Schumpeterization of Marx, Marxization of Schumpeter.

The emphases on which ICTS focuses its attention are the following:

– a theory of mediating structures (general critical theory, following the Marxian logic in the problematization of structures as politics, science, information and so forth);
– a discussion of the problem of the limits between modern and supermodern capitalism, by staging a critical dialogue between Marx and Weber in a time, which is neither Marxian or Weberian;
– a return to the problem, abandoned by quite a few critical theories, of thinking capitalism in historical limits as a problem for the so-called ecollapse;
– a renewal of Marxian labour theory of value and of the theory of surplus value by Schumpeterian theory of innovations;
– a consideration of the consequences of the Marxian “critical history of technology” in the light of biotechnologies (and most of all of the so-called enhanced human) and the accelerating acceleration of life;
– a return to the problematique of the logics of the dialectical in the light of a renewed analytics of time.


Contact Information
Deyan Deyanov, Director

Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity
James Boucher, 23

Eurasia and Eastern Europe

Year Established

Fellowships and Potential Scholarly Affiliations