Book Section2021-03-02
This chapter proposes one definition of critical materialism and a critique of politics based on several authors from Marx to Foucault. This critique occurs in several stages and unfolds as a criticism of universals such as human freedom, general interest, political rationality, or reconciled political community. The decisive materialist-historical question, then, is which of the different materialities is dominant at a certain point of time. I argue that Marx condemns politics as an illusion. He thought of ‘political reason’ as a form of ‘spiritualism’. Hence, critical materialism argues for a move away from the illusion of politics.
Keywords: historical materialism; historical block; material practices; political illusion; materialism (philosophy); critical materialism; political science; Foucault, Michel; Althusser, Louis
Title
The Historicity of Materialism and the Critique of Politics
Author(s)
Alex Demirović
Identifier
Description
This chapter proposes one definition of critical materialism and a critique of politics based on several authors from Marx to Foucault. This critique occurs in several stages and unfolds as a criticism of universals such as human freedom, general interest, political rationality, or reconciled political community. The decisive materialist-historical question, then, is which of the different materialities is dominant at a certain point of time. I argue that Marx condemns politics as an illusion. He thought of ‘political reason’ as a form of ‘spiritualism’. Hence, critical materialism argues for a move away from the illusion of politics.
Is Part Of
Place
Berlin
Publisher
ICI Berlin Press
Date
2 March 2021
Subject
historical materialism
historical block
material practices
political illusion
materialism (philosophy)
critical materialism
political science
Foucault, Michel
Althusser, Louis
Rights
© by the author(s)
Except for images or otherwise noted, this publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Language
en-GB
page start
313
page end
326
Source
Materialism and Politics, ed. by Bernardo Bianchi, Emilie Filion-Donato, Marlon Miguel, and Ayşe Yuva, Cultural Inquiry, 20 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 313–26

References

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  • Adorno, Theodor W., and Max Horkheimer, Briefwechsel, 4 vols, in Theodor W. Adorno. Briefe und Briefwechsel, 8vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1994–), IV.4: 1950–1969 (2006)
  • Foucault, Michel, ‘“Omnes et Singulatim”: Toward a Critique of Political Reason’, in Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Power, ed. by Paul Rabinow, James D. Faubion (New York: New Press, 2001), pp. 298–325
  • Foucault, Michel, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78, ed. by Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
  • Foucault, Michel, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, ed. by Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
  • Horkheimer, Max, ‘Anfänge der bürgerlichen Geschichtsphilosophie’, in Gesammelte Schriften, 19 vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1987), II, pp. 177–268
  • Marx, Karl, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, ed. by Friedrich Engels, in MECW, V (1976), pp. 6–8
  • Marx, Karl, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, in MECW, III (1975), pp. 3–129
  • Marx, Karl, ‘Critical Marginal Notes on the Article “The King of Prussia and Social Reform. By a Prussian”’, in MECW, III (1975), pp. 189–206
  • Marx, Karl, ‘Kritische Randglossen zu dem Artikel “Der König von Preußen und die Sozialreform. Von einem Preußen”’, in MEW, I (1981), pp. 392–409
  • Marx, Karl, ‘Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher’, in MECW, III (1975), pp. 133–45
  • Marx, Karl, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction, in MECW, III (1975), pp. 175–87
  • Marx, Karl, ‘Thesen über Feuerbach’, in MEW, III (1958), pp. 5–7
  • Marx, Karl, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 3 vols (London: Penguin, 1976), I, trans. by Ben Fowkes
  • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels, Marx-Engels-Werke, 44 vols (Berlin: Dietz, 1956–2018) [= MEW]
  • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works, 50 vols (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1975–2004) [= MECW]
  • Žižek, Slavoj, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999)

Cite as: Alex Demirović, ‘The Historicity of Materialism and the Critique of Politics’, in Materialism and Politics, ed. by Bernardo Bianchi, Emilie Filion-Donato, Marlon Miguel, and Ayşe Yuva, Cultural Inquiry, 20 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 313-26 <https://doi.org/10.37050/ci-20_17>