Labour, Humanism and the Play of Mediation: A Rejoinder

Ana C Dinerstein*, Frederick Harry Pitts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This rejoinder focuses on two issues discussed in Samuel Mercer’s review of our book A World Beyond Work? Labour, Money and the Capitalist State Between Crisis and Utopia. The first concerns our alleged defence of concrete labour against abstract labour, the second concerns the accusation of humanism. Firstly, the rejoinder clarifies our understanding of concrete and abstract labour as dialectically intertwined, and the implications of this for class struggle in and against the ‘play of mediation’ between the two. Secondly, the rejoinder pleads guilty to the charge of humanism in how we approach work and alienation. We argue that the criticism is based in the idea of an ‘epistemological break’ in Marx’s work. We situate our work in a countervailing reading of Marx that sees a humanist core and continuity characterising both the ‘early’ conceptualisation of alienation and estrangement and the later conceptualisation of real abstraction in the critique of political economy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRethinking Marxism
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Jul 2021


  • abstract labour
  • concrete labour
  • humanism
  • Marx
  • post-work


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