György Lukács

marxist philosopher and literary critic (1885–1971)
(Redirected from Lukács)

György Lukács (13 April 18854 June 1971) was a Hungarian philosopher, æsthetician, literary historian, critic, and Marxist.

From a very early stage the ideological history of the bourgeoisie was nothing but a desperate resistance to every insight into the true nature of the society it had created.


  • Admirers of the ‘purified’ Nietzsche have been hard put to unite his sanctioning of barbarity with an often subtle and rarefied cultural critique. But we can easily dispose of this dichotomy. In the first place, the union of ultra-refinement and brutality was by no means a personal quirk requiring psychological elucidation, but a universal, psychical-moral distinguishing mark of imperialist decadence.
    • The Destruction of Reason, Chapter 3, “Nietzsche as Founder of Irrationalism in the Imperialist Period” § 3

History and Class Consciousness (1968)

as translated by Rodney Livingstone (MIT Press: 1971)
  • Only the dialectical conception of ... reality as a social process ... dissolves the fetishistic forms necessarily produced by the capitalist mode of production and enables us to see them as mere illusions which are not less illusory for being seen to be necessary.
    • p. 13
  • Unmediated concepts ... veil the relations between objects. ... They are, therefore, objects of knowledge, but the object which is known through them is not the capitalist system of production itself, but the ideology of its ruling class.
    • pp. 13-14
  • The function of these unmediated concepts that have been derived from the fetishistic forms of objectivity is to make the phenomena of capitalist society appear as supra-rational historical essences.
    • p. 14
  • In Marx the dialectical method aims at understanding society as a whole. Bourgeois thought concerns itself with objects that arise either from the process of studying phenomena in isolation, or from the division of labor and specialisation in the different disciplines.
    • p. 28
  • Bourgeois thought judges social phenomena conscious or unconsciously, naïvely or subtly, consistently from the standpoint of the individual. No path leads from the individual to the totality.
    • p. 28
  • Critical philosophy implies above all historical criticism. It dissolves the rigid, unhistorical, natural appearance of social institutions; it reveals their historical origins.
    • p. 47
  • History does not merely unfold within the terrain mapped out by these institutions. It does not resolve itself into the evolution of contents, of men and situations, etc., while the principles of society remain eternally valid. ... On the contrary, history is precisely the history of these institutions, of the changes they undergo as institutions which bring men together in societies. Such institutions start by controlling economic relations between men and go on to permeate all human relations (and hence also man's relations with himself and with nature).
    • pp. 47-48
  • At this point bourgeois thought must come up against an insuperable obstacle, for its starting-point and its goal are always, if not always consciously, an apologia for the existing order.
    • p. 48
  • The highest degree of consciousness, the crassest form of 'false consciousness' always manifests itself when the conscious mastery of economic phenomena appears to be at its greatest.
    • p. 64
  • From a very early stage the ideological history of the bourgeoisie was nothing but a desperate resistance to every insight into the true nature of the society it had created.
    • p. 66


  • Communist ethics make it the highest duty to accept the necessity to act wickedly. This, he said, was the greatest sacrifice the revolution asked from us. The conviction of the true communist is that evil transforms itself into bliss through the dialectics of historical evolution.
    • Quoted in "Utopia & Revolution: On the Origins of a Metaphor" by Melvin Jonah Lasky, pg 53. Transaction Publishers, 1976

Quotes about Lukács

  • The international disputes which united and divided Luxemburg, Lenin, Lukács, Gramsci, Bordiga or Trotsky on these issues represent the last great strategic debate in the European workers’ movement. Since then, there has been little significant theoretical development of the political problems of revolutionary strategy in metropolitan capitalism that has had any direct contact with the masses. The structural divorce between original Marxist theory and the main organizations of the working class in Europe has yet to be historically resolved. The May-June revolt in France, the upheaval in Portugal, the approaching dénouement in Spain, presage the end of this long divorce, but have not accomplished it. The classical debates, therefore, still remain in many respects the most advanced limit of reference we possess today. It is thus not mere archaism to recall the strategic confrontations which occurred four or five decades ago. To reappropriate them, on the contrary, is a step towards a Marxist discussion that has the—necessarily modest—hope of assuming an ‘initial shape’ of correct theory today. Régis Debray has spoken, in a famous paragraph, of the constant difficulty of being contemporary with our present. In Europe at least, we have yet to be sufficiently contemporary with our past.
    • Perry Anderson, "The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci", New Left Review (1976)
  • The work of Lukacs is important, not because he solves but because he poses in its sharpest and most acute form the fundamental dilemma of the Marxist conception of class and of the proletariat, the dilemma of the gap between the proletariat as an empirical entity and the role assigned by history to the proletariat as a class—the gap which Marx revealed, but did not explore, when he invented the dismissive category of the "Lumpenproletariat".
    • E. H. Carr, "Lukacs and Class-consciousness" (1971), published in From Napoleon to Stalin and Other Essays (1980)
  • Our present needs should surely drive us to a re-examination of Marx's method of inquiry, and put an end to a situation in which so many historians, philosophers and sociologists of the English-speaking world (the economists, impressed by the economic foundations of Marxism, have done rather better) by-pass Marx altogether or treat him as of barely peripheral interest to their concerns. Lukacs's extreme anti-empiricism may be an exemplar of the opposite vice. But this should not excuse our myopia. It is rather as if a modern mathematician did not take the trouble to master Einstein, and went on with his studies as if Einstein had never existed.
    • E. H. Carr, "Lukacs and Class-consciousness" (1971), published in From Napoleon to Stalin and Other Essays (1980)
  • "We are in the war," said Lukacs, when I cried out against the shooting of six men from that first regiment which "quite simply ran away at the first fire." "In war, fugitives and traitors must be shot. If not, all right, then, let the Czechs in and the revolution will be lost." I hope there is some pacifist revolutionary with an answer to that. I have none.
    • "In Communist Hungary" 1919 article, Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution (2020)
Wikipedia has an article about: