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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Raskov Danila

Raskov Danila

Associate Professor, Head, Center for the Study of Economic Culture, Smolny Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
Saint Petersburg State University (SPbU), 58–60 Galernaya str., 190000, St. Petersburg, Russia.


The Rhetoric of Institutionalism: Thorstein Veblen’s Irony / Logos. 2019. № 6 (133). P. 253-274
annotation:  The article centers on the rhetoric of Thorstein Veblen, who combined economic, sociological and anthropological approaches in an organic way. The paper emphasizes the importance and heuristic significance of Veblen’s use of the trope of irony. An ironic stance buttresses his critique of the status quo and promotes an understanding of the socio-economic structure as complex, controversial and sometimes absurd. The article highlights the examples and themes that Veblen described with recourse to irony. Irony accompanies his criticism of the status quo, and it appears in his account of such phenomena as the leisure class, business culture, higher education, modern Western civilization as epitomized by America, and in his exposure of the postulates and hidden ideologies of mainstream economics.The author shows that Veblen’s followers took his irony as an idiosyncrasy typical for someone descended from Norwegian farmers, while the tropes themselves were usually unfavorably contrasted with serious research, i.e. that side of his heritage was regarded as a caprice that interfered with later recognition of Veblen’s merit. The article intends to demonstrate exactly the opposite by calling attention to irony in the social sciences and showing its significance for them. Irony as a negative and multifaceted characterization of reality better reflects the phenomena themselves with their inherent paradoxes and complexity. Irony assists us in keeping a proper distance from the intensity of a description and in revealing socio-economic processes with all their dynamics and contradictions. It is the ironic that makes Veblen’s heritage relevant after all.
Keywords:  rhetoric; Thorstein Veblen; irony; institutionalism; leisure class.
Laziness and Labor: Variations on a Malevich Theme / Logos. 2019. № 1 (128). P. 259-272
annotation:  What idleness, leisure, and free time have in common is that they are the opposite of labor; all three are linked with the cessation or interruption of labor. The article takes Kazimir Malevich’s provocative essay Laziness as the Truth of Mankind (1921) as the starting point for an examination of the complex and fraught issue of the balance between idleness and labor. Malevich redefines idleness as grace, as the point of labor and its peer, and as something that is not only a release from hard labor but that also leads to peace and God. The author proposes a reading of Malevich’s apologetics of idleness in juxtaposition with Marx’s early focus on the issues of human freedom and on alleviating alienation in a newly arranged society, and with Paul Lafargue’s argument that workers would do better to fight for the right to be idle than for the right to work. The comparison with Marx and Lafargue reveals a fundamental flaw in their socialist program of heroic labor, which preserved the exploitation of labor but had the state rather than the capitalists appropriate it. Malevich’s argument comes close to certain insights of John Maynard Keynes in which he envisaged science and technology resolving economic problems by enabling humanity to enter an age of idleness and plenty. Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical deliberations round out the contemporary understanding of the relationship between labor and idleness. From this point of view, laziness and idleness become essential elements of meaningful labor. The option to remain idle, to reject work, to prolong it or to delay its completion are becoming the sine qua non of creative labor worthy of a free person.
Keywords:  laziness; idleness; alienation; Kazimir Malevich; Paul Lafargue; Giorgio Agamben.
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