Ethics and Politics in Contemporary Theory: Between Critical Theory and Post-Marxism. Published by Routledge 2004 ISBN: 0415237378
In this book I develop a sustained critique of critical theory and classical Marxism. The stimulus for this derived from my Research Fellowship at the Centre for Theoretical Studies, University of Essex (1998-99) during which I systematised my approach to a long standing interest in defending a politics for the left, without falling foul of what I perceive as the obvious deficiencies of Marxism.
To do this I had to interrogate the conventional wisdom that critical theory (notably the works of Adorno and Habermas) and post-structuralist theory (in particular the works of Laclau, Butler and Agamben) are incompatible, as well as counter the argument that they cannot engage critically with the politics of capitalism. It explores these debates thematically, focusing in turn on critiques of Marxism, the politics of language, idealisation in political theory, epistemology, citizenship and subjectivity, conflicting representations of democracy and the ethical implications of post-Marxism and critical theory. Locating theoretical reflection in relation to changing political conditions, I argued that a number of affinities within these approaches, as well as their shared distance from the Marxism of the 2nd International, pointed toward a revitalised conceptualisation of public and political life.
Although much previous theoretical work had compared Habermas with Foucault and Derrida, my contribution was the first to explore critical theory in relation to explicitly political versions of post-structuralism. Since its publication a number of authors, notably Thommassen (2005, 2006) and Norval (2006), have published further work in this area. My research has also informed the work of Bowman in his recent text Post-Marxism versus Cultural Studies: Politics, Theory and Intervention (Edinburgh University Press, 2007). I have further developed this work in a number of publications in journals and edited book collections.