Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Progressive Marxism vs. Negative Marxism

There was a book launch session for Karl Marx and Contemporary Philosophy at the Historical Materialism conference in London on 28 November. Meade McCloughlan and Nick Gray gave papers responding to the book. Their papers can be found here.

Gray's response chracterizes my contribution, together with those of Moishe Postone, Chris Arthur, and Patrick Murray, as "negative Marxism," in the sense that the four of us stress the discontinuity between Marx's project and the modern project of enlightenment, especially as the latter is represented by Kant and Hegel. Alternatively, we are negative Marxists because we think Marx's critique of political economy is also a critique of Hegel, insofar as, according to our readings of Marx, Hegel's spirit is isomorphic with capital. On either version of the characterization, we set ourselves apart from "progressive" Marxists who see Marx as augmenting, radicalizing, or otherwise furthering the modern project.

I think this is an astute way of drawing what is perhaps the major line of demarcation in the field of Marxism/Marxology. Moreover, I'm happy to embrace Gray's nomenclature. Negative Marxism is hereby emblazoned upon my standard!