Franz Jakubowski

Franz Jakubowski

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Franz Jakubowski was a Marxist theorist. Born in Poznań
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

, Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

, he grew up in what was then the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

. His father was a doctor. From 1930 to 1933 he studied law in Heidelberg, Berlin, Munich and Breslau, before completing his studies in political science at Basel University. After student activism and the agitational role he would briefly play in Danzig, Jakubowski abandoned Europe, and settled in the USA, changing his name to Frank Fisher and marrying Elisabeth Spanjer. There he would play a part in establishing the Alexander Herzen Foundation
Alexander Herzen Foundation
The Alexander Herzen Foundation was a non-profit foundation, legally established in 1969 in Amsterdam, dedicated to publish samizdat manuscripts from dissidents in the former Soviet Union in the original language or in translation...

, a publisher of samizdat
Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader...

 soviet literature.

Contribution to theory

Jakubowski published his only major work, a book based on his doctoral thesis, in Danzig, 1936. It is entitled Ideology and Superstructure in Historical Materialism, ISBN 0-85031-154-3 and may be seen as an extension to the seminal work of Karl Korsch
Karl Korsch
-Biography:Korsch was born in Tostedt, near Hamburg, to Carl August Korsch, a secretary at the cantonal court and his wife Therese. In 1898 the family moved to Meiningen, Thuringia and Korsch senior attained the position of a managing clerk in a bank...

 on the centrality of the Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.Hegel developed a comprehensive...

ian dialectic
Dialectic is a method of argument for resolving disagreement that has been central to Indic and European philosophy since antiquity. The word dialectic originated in Ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato in the Socratic dialogues...

 to Marxian thought. Jakubowski rehearses for the reader the steps Marx and Engels took away from Hegel, via Feuerbach, to their 'historical materialist' position. Its unique contribution to Marxian thought is the clarity of its exposition of the relationship between subject and object in Marxian theory.
"In order to combat a widespread misunderstanding, it must be stressed that the superstructure
A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships...

 is real. Lenin in particular tended to overlook this, when he contrasted being and idea in his 'reflection theory'. The superstructure is no less real than its base. The terms 'reflection' and 'to reflect', which Engels was fond of using when he was discussing ideological superstructure, can be misleading; these terms are meant to indicate something about the relationship between base and superstructure, not to describe the superstructure itself. There are in fact two forms of reality: the material reality and the 'ideal' reality (ie, the reality of human ideas). Political and legal superstructure are as real as the base. Both are social relations consisting of human relationships. Both exist in the idea, both are also material realities. As Marx said in The Holy Family, 'The communist workers know full well that property, capital, money, wage labour etc. are in no way the mere creations of their imagination but are the extremely concrete and practical results of their own self-alienation', and the same is true of non-economic relationships. The reality of social ideas, then, forms a necessary and constituent part of the material reality of social relationships. Material relations are what they are only in conjunction with the ideas which correspond to them. The reality of both is expressed by their social efficacy."

Ideology and Superstructure also offered a critique of competing interpretations of Marxian thought, particularly that associated with Karl Kautsky
Karl Kautsky
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-German philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theoretician. Kautsky was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the coming of World War I in 1914 and was called by some the "Pope of...

 and that with Max Adler.


History has not been kind to Jakubowski. His one contribution is still read in certain small Marxist political currents, and occasionally touches the fringes of academic study, for example, a brief review in the journal Radical Philosophy by British philosopher Kate Soper
Kate Soper
Kate Soper is a British philosopher and the author of and contributor to over a dozen books on feminism and Continental Philosophy, addressing the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, Karl Marx and Simone de Beauvoir, among others...


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