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Post-Marxist Theory

An Introduction

Philip Goldstein

Publication Year: 2005

Poststructuralist Marxism, or post-Marxism, is a theoretical viewpoint that elaborates and revises the work of Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault. Unlike traditional Marxism, which emphasizes the priority of class struggle and the common humanity of oppressed groups, post-Marxism reveals the sexual, racial, class, and ethnic divisions of modern Western society. This book surveys the different versions of post-Marxist theory: the economic theory of Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff, the historical methodology of Michel Foucault, the political theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the feminism of Judith Butler, the materialist philosophy of Pierre Macherey, and the cultural studies of Tony Bennett and John Frow. Providing a coherent framework for these otherwise quite divergent theorists, Philip Goldstein outlines the history of Marxist philosophical or theoretical views and explains how they all count as post-Marxist.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii

I am grateful to Joseph Natoli, without whose encouragement I may not have put this book together. I am also grateful to the University of Delaware for the leave and the University of California at Berkeley for the facilities that enabled me to write this book. I thank my charming wife Leslie for her close, skeptical questioning of my views, my friends at...

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Introduction: From Marx to Post-Marxism

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pp. 1-21

In 1973 Alice Walker flew to Eatonville, Florida, to plant a tombstone on Zora Neale Hurston’s unmarked grave. Posing as Hurston’s niece, she interviewed the physician, undertaker, and neighbors of Hurston and sought but did not find the grave in the cemetery’s waist-high grass. Afterward, she commissioned a tombstone that declared Zora Neale Hurston “a genius of the South novelist folklorist anthropologist 1901...

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1. Economics and Theory: Althusserian Post-Marxism

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pp. 23-35

In the popular autobiography The Future Lasts Forever, Althusser says that, during the fatal weekend in which he murdered his wife Hélène Rytman, they argued very violently. On Sunday morning he awoke to find her lying dead, her neck broken, and he ran through the courtyard yelling “I’ve strangled Hélène.” To explain why, he confesses that, born in Algeria, raised Catholic and celibate, and living in...

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2. From Archaeology to Genealogy: Michel Foucault and Post-Marxist Histories

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pp. 37-51

Foucault examines the breakdown of phenomenology, not Marxism, whose limits, he says, the study of the Gulag exposes (Foucault, Power/Knowledge 134–37); nonetheless, like Althusser, he suggests that, contrary to foundational, humanist ideals, the discourses of the disciplines or power/knowledge impose ideals of normality and thereby reproduce themselves and/or the subject. Althusser too claims that, constituting or...

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3. Post-Marxism and Democracy: The Political Theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe

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pp. 53-65

Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical studies both indicate that, rooted in institutional practices, discourse evolves distinct configurations which oppose ruling class aims but still regulate the body, institutions, and even society. This contingent, historical view of discourse repudiates the Althusserian opposition of science and ideology and fosters, at least implicitly, a democratic coalition of women’s, African...

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4. Sex, Gender, and Philosophy: The Feminist Post-Marxism of Judith Butler

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pp. 67-79

It is well known that Judith Butler espouses deconstruction, feminism, psychoanalysis, queer theory, speech-act theory, Foucauldian poststructuralism, Hegelian and Nietzschean philosophy, and so on. Indeed, she adopts so many theories that scholars consider her prose remarkably dense even for an academic. To belittle her prose, Martha Nussbaum says, for example, that, “if you are not familiar with the Althusserian...

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5. From Althusserian Science to Foucauldian Materialism: The Later Work of Pierre Macherey

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pp. 81-95

In 1988, when I visited Pierre Macherey in his Parisian apartment, he sat quietly in a big lounge chair surrounded by shelves of books while I gradually summarized several British and American critiques of his famous A Theory of Literary Production (1966). After fifteen minutes, he abruptly exclaimed, “I wrote that book over twenty years ago,” and, running around the room, gathered reprints of his recent essays...

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6. Post-Marxism and Cultural Studies: The Reception Theory of Tony Bennett and John Frow

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pp. 97-108

Like Pierre Macherey, Tony Bennett, John Frow, and Toby Miller initially adopt Althusserian theory and subsequently develop a Foucauldian view of cultural practices; however, instead of presenting a historical account of misinterpretations or “true errors,” Bennett, Frow, and Miller claim that authoritative institutions, what Frow terms “regimes of reading” and Bennett calls “reading formations,” constitute...

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pp. 109-113

As I have indicated, influenced by Althusser and Foucault, the work of Tony Bennett, Judith Butler, John Frow, Ernesto LaClau, Pierre Macherey, Chantal Mouffe, Stephen Resnick, Robert Wolff, and others critiques traditional Marxist notions of class context and economic determination and assimilates poststructuralist concepts of discourse or power/knowledge. Among the most successful Marxist...


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pp. 115-124

Works Cited

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pp. 125-140


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pp. 141-145

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484029
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791463017
Print-ISBN-10: 079146301X

Page Count: 154
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture