Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Specters of Marx

Specters of Marx

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Specters of Marx'
Start a new discussion about 'Specters of Marx'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Spectres de Marx: l'état de la dette, le travail du deuil et la nouvelle Internationale is a 1993 book by French philosopher Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

 first published by Éditions Galilée and translated into American English as Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning & the New International. It was first presented as a series of lectures during a conference, “Whither Marxism?”, on the future of Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 held at the University of California, Riverside
University of California, Riverside
The University of California, Riverside, commonly known as UCR or UC Riverside, is a public research university and one of the ten general campuses of the University of California system. UCR is consistently ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse universities in the United...

 in 1993.

Contents


The title Spectres of Marx is an allusion
Allusion
An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication. M. H...

 to Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

' statement at the beginning of the Communist Manifesto that a "spectre [is] haunting Europe." For Derrida, the spirit of Marx is even more relevant now since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in 1989 and the demise of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. With its death the spectre of communism begins to make visits on the earth. Derrida seeks to do the work of inheriting from Marx, that is, not communism, but of the philosophy of responsibility, and of Marx's spirit of radical critique. Derrida first notes that, in the wake of the fall of communism, many in the west had become triumphalist, as is evidenced in the formation of a Neo-con grouping and the displacement of the left in third way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

 political formations. At the intellectual level, it is apparent in Francis Fukuyama
Francis Fukuyama
Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist, political economist, and author. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford. Before that he served as a professor and director of the International Development program at the School of...

's proclamation of the end of ideology. Derrida issued a timely reminder of the reasons for that spectre of Marx:
For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelise in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realised itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth.


Derrida went on, in his talks on this topic, to list 10 plagues of the capital or global system. And then to an account of the claim the creation of a new grouping of activism, called the "New International".

Derrida's ten plagues are:
  1. Employment has undergone a change of kind, e.g., underemployment
    Underemployment
    Underemployment refers to an employment situation that is insufficient in some important way for the worker, relative to a standard. Examples include holding a part-time job despite desiring full-time work, and overqualification, where the employee has education, experience, or skills beyond the...

     and requires ‘another concept’.
  2. Deportation of immigrants. Reinforcement of territories in a world of supposed freedom of movement. As in, Fortress Europe
    Fortress Europe
    Fortress Europe was a military propaganda term from the Second World War which referred to the areas of Continental Europe occupied by Nazi Germany, as opposed to the free United Kingdom across the Channel...

     and in the number of new Separation barrier
    Separation barrier
    A separation barrier is a wall or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate two populations. These structures vary in placement with regard to international borders and topography...

    s being erected around the world, in effect multiplying the "fallen" Berlin Wall
    Berlin Wall
    The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

    manifold.
  3. Economic war. Both between countries and between international trade blocs: USA - Japan - Europe.
  4. Contradictions of the free market. The undecidable conflicts between protectionism and free trade. The unstoppable flow of illegal drugs, arms, etc..
  5. Foreign debt. In effect the basis for mass starvation and demoralisation for developing countries. Often the loans benefiting only a small elite, for luxury items, e.g., cars, air conditioning etc. but being paid back by poorer workers.
  6. The arms trade. The inability to control to any meaningful extent trade within the biggest ‘black market’
  7. Spread of nuclear weapons. The restriction of nuclear capacity can no longer be maintained by leading states since it is only knowledge and cannot be contained.
  8. Inter-ethnic wars. The phantom of mythic national identities fueling tension in semi-developed countries.
  9. Phantom-states within organised crime. In particular the non-democratic power gained by drug cartels.
  10. International law and its institutions. The hypocrisy of such statutes in the face of unilateral aggression on the part of the economically dominant states. International law is mainly exercised against the weaker nations.


On the New International Derrida has this to say:
The ‘New International’ is an untimely link, without status ... without coordination, without party, without country, without national community, without co-citizenship, without common belonging to a class. The name of New International is given here to what calls to the friendship of an alliance without institution among those who ... continue to be inspired by at least one of the spirits of Marx or of Marxism. It is a call for them to ally themselves, in a new, concrete and real way, even if this alliance no longer takes the form of a party or a workers’ international, in the critique of the state of international law, the concepts of State and nation, and so forth: in order to renew this critique, and especially to radicalise it.

External links