by François Laruelle
Rendering Marxism Real and Intelligible
Marxism may have “lacked” the Real and tied its fate to the history-world. It may have consequently lacked the theory according-to-the-Real of this history-world. These are not just some “observations,” but a new style of theoretical hypotheses. They assume a “program” as much as they imply that program.
Compared to whatever philosophy’s past was, whether metaphysical or Marxist, philosophy as interpretation (herme-neutics), position (differential), correction (Marxist), decision in general, or whatever, can only but want to render itself more concrete and more intelligible, more real and better elu-cidated. This has been the case ever since Parmenides gave the definitive formulation being and thinking are the Same. What is important is the double action, this divided effect of philosophy on itself. Non-Philosophy, on the other hand, aban-dons this duality in order to deduce, not thought, but the trans-formation of thought, from the Real. And the Real is neither being nor thought, at the most it is a negative possibility for the concreteness of the object and rigor of thought, for the ob-ject that ceases to be empirical or the thought which ceases to be separately philosophical or scientific.
Marxism is “realized” or “made concrete” by philosophy in several complementary ways:
1. By bringing Marxism a real ground that it was assumed to be lacking, since materialism is seen as an abstraction by philosophical idealism. However, from a larger and more encompassing [englobant] philosophical point of view, it does not at all lack the real, of which it has its own kind—this is an illusion bound up with the struggle of philosophical positions. It is only from a non-philosophical point of view that Marxism really lacks an identity and the Real as identity, it is from this perspective alone that it is an abstraction in a new sense, as is every philosophy. But we can only say that the materialist break lacks the “idealist” sort of Being and ground that it expressly intends to do without. Rather than replace it with a more philosophical “real,” we instead propose to identify the kind of non-philosophical Real that this philosophical real merely indicates in a symptomatic way.
2. By specifying and determining its efficacy for various situations, its revolutionary, critical, and transforming power of intervention [force d’intervention]. From this perspective, Marxism intends to effectively realize what every philosophy, even idealist ones, believes philosophy to be able to do: transform the world, no longer through meaning and interpretation, but at last to change the world practically. We propose here to accentuate this aspect by maintaining the reality and (relative) autonomy of the superstructure, of the object of its practice, rather than by deducing the superstructure in an idealist way from the infrastructure (i.e., from the existence close to the nature of society): consequently maintaining the consistency and the reality (not only “material”) of every “ideology” and every form of knowledge, like those of the object that it imperatively needs. Moreover, to axiomatically conceive a sufficiently universal Real in order to open the mode of immanence within it onto this reality of the superstructure, its now relative autonomy. So it is urgent to deregionalize the “infrastructure,” but also to undo how it has been made fundamental, to recognize in its Marxist form a model in the axiomatic and not philosophical sense, of the immanent Real, the identity of which is by definition more than a singularity—the universal in flesh-and-blood (the “universal,” as we will write it).
3. Finally, it is equally urgent to identify what kind of order Determination-in-the-last-instance (DLI) really is, seeing if it must be understood dialectically or with a dialectical complement, or if it must be understood outside of every dialectic and even outside of every form of philosophical order. This is the condition for the universality of this “syntax.” The few indications Marx and Engels provided for this subject may only be worthwhile as symptoms in order to extract the radi-cal concept, meaning the real kernel of DLI rather than its “rational kernel” (which can only be a philosophical artifact).
In other words, within the Marxist DLI there is nothing lacking philosophically. At any rate, DLI is unintelligible for reasons that are philosophical twice over: at first, unintelligible as the ultimate mechanism of transcendence, a motor of Philosophical Decision, and then unintelligible a second time as a materialist break which truncates this mechanism and amputates a part of itself. By contrast, we are looking for Marxist DLI—it is a concept clearly displayed or radicalized— a third form of unintelligibility where it would be unintelligible even for the terms of unintelligibility internal and proper to philosophy, thus of an unintelligible intelligibility within the terms of the thought-world.
Unified Theory of Marxism
There are several transformations of Marxism’s axioms that are necessary in order to rid Marxism of the philosophical antinomies and insufficiencies that paralyze its concept. For example (because there are many more):
1. A uni-versalization of the concept of “base” or infrastructure, a uni-versalization of its real kernel and immanence in the form of a radical immanence of the last-instance foreclosed to every superstructure, so that here again the content of the infrastructure in the Marxist sense no longer appears except as a symptom and a limited model of this “real base” in a new sense. This new “real” is the presupposed that must suspend the philosophical antinomies of Marxism (which is better than “resolving” them).
2. A syntactic uni-versalization, consequence of the radicalization of the “real base”: the axiomatization of the causality known as “determination-in-the-last-instance,” which must be understood as the non-ontological causality and in particular as non-materialist causality of the Real(’s)-immanence, and as the critique in actuality of material causality (and not only formal or final causality).
3. A “unified theory” of science and philosophy, recognized as one of Marxism’s essential but aborted projects. This is the condition for comprehending its historical form as a specification of this uni-versal scheme that we are calling non-Marxism.
4. A unification of other antinomies like theory and poli- tics, theory and practice, science and ideology, a unification that is every bit as immanent or in-the-last-instance. This is not a synthesis, fusion and confusion, but only identifications in-the-last-instance. Non-Marxism has no criteria for a choice between Marx and his tradition, between revolution and the ontology of the individual, between infinite rectification and permanent revolution, between class consciousness and taking a stand [prise de parti], etc. Non-Marxism does not take place among these antinomies or these opposed interpretations, but within the Real that unifies these antinomies in-thelast-instance within their theory, treating the whole tradition as a possible domain of available objects and properties.
5. A withdrawing from philosophical sufficiency through the theoretical reduction of philosophy to the radical immanence of its real base. It implies the distinction of philosophy’s structure and its sufficiency or pretension with regard to the Real. In this sense—as a pretension to the Real—it is more than an ideology, it is a hallucination but one which possesses a consistency or an objective reality, that of the “World.” The concept of ideology, even “material ideology,” is too general and unitary. Philosophy is the principle form, universal in its transcendent way, of every regional form of knowledge [savoirs régionaux] but it is what we are treating as the universal concept, this time in the radical sense of the word, of the superstructure.
6. A mutation within the concept of the “(historical) science of ideology,” which must become even more of a universally “transcendental science” that is identically scientific and philosophical, a mutation of the form-world or philosophy, consequently of the thought-world (which encompasses [englobe] the regional forms of knowledge as they are drawn directly from philosophy, because they are “philosophizable” or pertain to the universalized concept of “ideology”).
So we are not changing the general kind of hypothesis (the Real determines in-the-last-instance the theory that is adequate to it), but we mean to extract the theoretical (non-dialectical) kernel and primarily real (non-transcendent) kernel by transferring this hypothesis onto a terrain other than that of society and history, onto the terrain of the Real as radical immanence whose structure of “productive forces” is only a symptom still specified within the conditions of the thought world (of capital and philosophy reunited). It is important to recall the probable axis of Marxism as an emergent and universal theoretical style: on the one hand the determinationin-the-last-instance of theory by the Real (against the idealist interpretations of theory), on the other hand the immanent unification of philosophy and science (against the syntheses through supplementary philosophical axioms). From this perspective the distinction between HM (science of history) and DM (philosophy of science) is a theoretical catastrophe that is philosophical in essence and reestablishes an old hierarchy and a poorly elucidated distinction. But the discovery of the Real is necessary (and the discovery of theory as determined by the Real rather than by politics) in order to see the scope of philosophy’s resistance and worldly incorporation [englobement] and in order to bring an end to the vacillation of sometimes deciding for Self-Consciousness, and sometimes deciding for the Structure, sometimes for the Auto-interpretation, sometimes for Praxis, etc. This discovery is necessary in order to repeat the Marxist style in a radical way outside of the idealism (including materialism) of the thought-world.
“Marxism”—it is necessary to keep this general proper name—is a theoretical discovery that Marx did not have the theory of (this is Althusser’s thesis). But this theory can only be formed through another discovery, one which can certainly no longer be the discovery of Structure and the Unconscious, but instead is the discovery of the condition of every emergence determined by the Real as Radical Immanence of-the-last-instance. Marx discovered in a practical way the unified theory of history-society, but restricted it right away to this object. He did not understand it as a specification of more universal axioms, the theoretical sense of which has not been laid out. He only discovered it inside, not only of this or that philosophy (this is the materialist break), but inside the primacy of philosophy, which subsists within the break. NonMarxism only grasps the “principle” of a universal theory, the axioms and theorems of which can later be specified in the restricted conditions of the thought-world. Complementarily, we must explain the global failure of this limited form, not only by the particular practical and theoretical limitations imposed by history and globalized capitalism, but by the nature of its fundamental axioms which are co-determined by the thought-world itself. It is not only the materialist break that is histrionically [théâtralement] enveloped within Hegelian idealism, it is also the unified theory that is, as enveloped, prevented from taking place within philosophy.
Marxism, a Miscarriage, a Material, a Symptom, a Limited Model
Non-Marxism consists in uni-versalizing in-the-last-instance the scientific and philosophical formulas of Marxism and in suspending the ultimate validity of their representative form or more widely their form of the thought-world, while nevertheless conserving this validity as a simple material. There are several ways to consider Marxism under the general heading of “materials” according to the non-Marxist point of view: 1. As a premature and “miscarried” form, if you will, of nonMarxism; it is not contradictory to affirm its objective reality or consistence, and its aborted character at the same time. 2. Also the possibility of “repeating” Marxism, meaning cloning it, producing a clone with this material. 3. As a symptom that non-Marxism is condemned to use and so it is given the radical concept of symptom. 4. Finally, as a limited and particular model of non-Marxism, or something that has validity only within—or perhaps at the limit of—the thought-world.
The specific rigor of Marxism is the search for the unilaterality of theory according to a real immanent base. But its insoluble contradiction, internal as a birth defect or an ir- retrievable malformation—which moreover gives it a kind of objective consistency—is the hurried effectuation, in a glob- ally philosophical mode, of this experience of the Real and the form of thought that it demands. Marx has, so to speak, poorly understood (or understood it in a “hasty” way under the influence of philosophy) the radical meaning of the new theoretical genre that he came close to. Unified theory is understood by Marx in a dominant mode, by nature philosophical, even when Marx meant to be scientific, rather than unified theory being understood as a real unification through its cause in-the-last-instance. This haste (worldly, capitalist-andphilosophical) caused Marx to short-circuit the conditions for a real “last-instance” and left his thought between miscarriage, symptom, and model, according to the aspect of the theory taken into account. So Marxism is: 1. a limited form of a unified theory, a theory under philosophical domination, where science and philosophy are not equal and not equally determined by the Real within a non-philosophy; 2. a nontranscendental science (not real in-the-last-instance), realized prematurely under a philosophical form; 3. a substitute (the HM/DM break) for philosophical essence (where DM anticipates and retcons [rétrospecte] HM), fills in for the absence of a uni-versal unified theory, which the science of history would only have been a mode of. A repetition, in a nearly really immanent base, which is therefore a uni-lateral repetition, is possible however and can be delivered—a second birth—as non-Marxism, while these givens will be transformed into symptoms and models.
We are not putting forth historical hypotheses on the constitution of the Marxian doctrine and the Marxist tradition (following what political and theoretical crises?), we take them holistically [globalement] with their pretensions and their heterogeneity as a symptom of a status that is inseparably theoretical and experimental (its failures). If Marxism is in fact important for philosophy, this importance can only be seen from our perspective through a non-Marxist posture. A philosophy of Marx, for Marx, neo-Marxist, etc., can only be allowed as a simple enrichment of the materials or objects of non-Marxism. This is a symptomatic formation in two senses: in the banal sense of the word and in a more profound sense, only the non-Marxist perspective can make Marxism its symptom, as Marxism ceases to be read according to itself in order to be itself in its radicalized form. What is given as Marxism is instead an originally compromised philosophical sufficiency and themes or operations which announce non-Marxism, but without its radicality.
The elaboration of non-Marxism modifies the axioms, but first the axioms that relate to the fundamental themes that are just as symptomatic here: real base, infra/superstructure duality, determination-in-the-last-instance, science and philosophy, the “three sources.” And to themes seemingly more secondary “aspects,” “sides,” “supports,” “instances,” “theses,” etc. Many of the symptoms we undoubtedly could interpret in the Hegelian style, or the structuralist one, but that already bear witness to a philosophical strangeness that it is necessary to follow rather than avoid. As long as we are willing to take a moment to receive it, let us say as an “affect” rather than as a weak form of the dialectic, a post-Hegelian figure, it manifests a kind of primary irreducibility and philosophical regression in which the interpreters refuse its chance. Is the duality of principle instances, for example, a “topographical metaphor” as topological idealism would like to believe? Without a doubt one is allowed to see a basic materialism, but this materialist duality must be conceived as immanent and (not only or primarily) as transcendent, spatial, drawn up and constructed according to the order of the World.
Or even: the Marxist position within philosophy is the symptom of a more universal (uni-versal) posture than philosophy, this uni-versality marks its true “difference,” its extraordinary identity.
Concerning all of these points, the essential symptoms for non-Marxism are apparently provided by HM rather than DM. On the other hand, understanding HM as a simple specified form in the history of an axiomatic that is uni-versal (and transcendental, not formal) otherwise than the Marxist one is apparently a permanent and “performative” critique of DM, at once of the “new materialism” and the revised dialectic that it needs. These appearances are not false but, more precisely, the fundamental concept of syntax which serves as a symptom for us is DLI, proper to HM, while what serves for us as a symptom of the concept of the Real is that of “matter” and its immanence, proper to DM. From our perspective, HM and DM are indissociable since a complete comprehension of philosophy’s structure is demanded, a structure which is always the association of these two complementary, or sometimes supplementary, dimensions. A single theory unifies here in an immanent way, outside of every division or antinomy, the two forms of materialism that it treats as materials. Non-Marxism does not “overcome” them within their dialectical unity, it unifies them by bringing them back to a cause-through-immanence.
Marxism is here suspended, not absolutely, but in its philosophical sufficiency alone. Generally suspended and reduced to the state of materials from which we are producing a nonMarxism, Marxism becomes one of the dimensions of nonMarxism and a particular interpretation given by it. Marxism therefore necessarily becomes the object of a special repetition, we will call this special repetition “uni-lateral” and not “bilateral” or absolute. On the whole, the entirety of its axiomatic system is uni-laterally displaced by the function of determination (a function held by non-philosophy) in the “occasional” cause; by the place of a general theory and first philosophy, not of a simple “superstructure,” but of a unified theory, though regional or specified by the limited conditions of history and society. We will not confuse a specific effectuation of universal unified theory (which non-Marxism is) and a limited theory, philosophical in a dominant way (as Marxism spontaneously is).
Marxism’s Philosophical Side
In general, though not to say without exception, the problem of the existence of a “philosophy of Marx,” indeed a “Marxist philosophy,” that has been presented and is to come remains posited inside philosophy itself. It is true that philosophy is present and interwoven in all of his works. This compromise with philosophical sufficiency does not at all save him, on the contrary, it only saves his “textuality.” In the work of the postmoderns, the “ideological” generality of the text has become the required reference so as to abstain from posing the problem of the “identity” (of Marxism) and so we are supposed to believe we are going to get rid of “totality” through these means.
These two theses—1. There is no philosophy of Marx, only a Marxist usage of philosophical concepts and categories; 2. But Marx is decisive for philosophy—are correct though equivocal. They can take on a meaning that is strictly philosophical itself, because the “new materialism” and the critique of idealism expressed there are in the end recovered for the benefit of an ultimate philosophical authority. Or re- covered by another practice of philosophy, but this other practice, resulting from a materialist break, is too weak and too narrow to take up a global transformation of philosophy. Materialism, even a “new” one, is only an anti-philosophical or anti-idealist thesis, which needs a complement of a generally idealist-philosophical practice of concepts. The absence of philosophy then remains measured by the presence of its older particular forms and has an effect only on them. The philosophical circle is undoubtedly broken, but it is not abolished. At best the new categories forged by Marx serve to transform their old forms. Without it being a matter of an explicit auto-interpretation of these categories (always shifted, displaced in relation to themselves), it remains a more general and englobing circle of auto-interpretation that cannot be identified except under more radical conditions.
As for what we have all too often believed, that Marxism has not been read as the philosophy it deserves to be, it nevertheless is one through and through, without then being only one. Even if philosophy is only one of Marxism’s “aspects,” it is only repressed by materialism. It is philosophy not only through its Hegelian references, the most apparent, but much more profoundly through its repressed Platonic roots, and remembered only recently—we will return to this issue.
Marxism does not lack philosophy, it is simply a philosophy that is at once auto-mutilated and hetero-mutilated by the impact of science and politics, an impact it “loads” the autodivision proper to philosophy with. In fact, if not a systematic philosophy, within Marx there is at least some philosophy but, more fundamentally still, a constitutive remainder of philosophical sufficiency.
So as to formalize the style of this co-belonging, we may say that Marxism maintains an internal and external relation with philosophy, a relation that belongs to philosophy’s congenital idealism. It is undoubtedly a nonphilosophical practice of philosophy on the whole, but the formula is ambiguous, overly general and liable to take on a final idealist sense. This is still an interpretation of “transformation,” it is not a transformation and it is more than a transformation of “transformation.” An interpretation of “practice,” not a practice and more than a practice of “practice.” Moreover, the more critical usages of Marx often significantly ignore the critical import of contemporary philosophy, for example that of deconstruction, which could have provided a warning concerning the unfathomable philosophical resistance, told of its power, of its ruses inaccessible to a simple materialist break. It is true that in order to “unify” revolutionary materialism and deconstruction, without simply “deconstructing” materialism or falling back into a philosophical synthesis, it is necessary to straight away exit the one, the other, and their being blended together. “Transformation” and “practice” cease to be the ultimate forms of (auto-)“interpretation” when the new materialism itself is related—in a manner altogether more rigorously Marxist—no longer to itself but to a heteronomous cause, tearing it finally from the constituent philosophical horizon. Philosophical Decision, cut off by itself and by something other than it (politics), still engenders materialism and once again renders Marx’s thought “decisive,” as the philosophers say, “for the thinking of our time.” The heterogeneous game of Marxism within or with philosophy, and of philosophy within or with Marxism, cannot confront the problem of its most fundamental axioms and above all the still philosophical status of its axiomatic type (“theses”).
As materialism appears to defy the philosophical Reason that enables it to identify with idealism (the congenital idealism of Philosophy-with-a-capital-P), so many philosophers find it unintelligible and set out, as we mentioned, to make it “admissible.” There are innumerable attempts to render materialism philosophically acceptable: recently, for example, by existentialism (Sartre), through structure (Althusser), by the transcendental phenomenology of auto-affective life (Henry), through the transindividual as synthesis of the collective and the individual (Balibar), by the deconstruction of its “spectres” (Derrida), through contractuality and metastructure (Bidet). So many philosophies destined to supply it with a supplement of intelligibility and concreteness, of some anti-abstraction. Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc., are perhaps like Noah’s cloak intended to cover this apparent lack of philosophy, an original incompetence that is itself philosophical.
The thought that can be found within Marx has, for exam- ple, allowed for two unilateral excesses at the extreme limits. On the one hand, but not only, the Marxist-Leninist tradition that claims to enrich this thought and adapt it philosophically to the demands of “proletarian struggles,” providing it with the philosophy the proletariat needs. Hence a build-up of the transcendence (revolution, class struggle, taking a stand, and inversely, self-consciousness) of axioms that are generally taken from the philosophies of the day (Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger) or from the dominant ideologies (structuralism, Lacanianism, etc.). On the other hand, at the opposite extreme, the unconditional refusal of Marxism-Leninism, the return to the immanence of Marxian texts or, more profoundly, of the individual or labor power (Michel Henry). Sometimes worldwide revolution, world-communist, sometimes the textual and overcautious economy of contemporary thinkers who believe they can save a thought from being disowned by history by returning to its texts. A median solution consists in inferring, from the sketches and traces of a philosophy scattered even in texts, a philosophy for Marx, salient points of a thought in the process of emerging.
A philosophy for Marxism can undoubtedly always be worked out in competition with DM, which is too easily declared foreign to Marx. But why return to these “idealist” schema (in a large sense)? So that it is at least materialist and at any rate intends to “leave philosophy?” They are normalizations and reappropriations, but also deviations. The philosophical normalization of Marxism, begun with Marx, is its principal deviation, more than a simple deviation, it is precisely the normalization of its non-philosophical style. The philosophical history of Marxism is that of a war of appropriation, of idealist reconquest, while its real history is that of its failure, its violence and what is undoubtedly joined with it, its theoretical incompleteness that motivates philosophical desire.
We intend to maintain that neither Marx nor his interpreters have, at bottom, put forth the problem of philosophy and that Marxism is then still an interpretation of the World that adds to the thought-world rather than transforming it. Marx is a “nonphilosopher” by the strict measure that philosophy can always deny itself in the form of materialism—as far as that goes. This is a sense of “non-philosophy” that is scarcely weaker and less servile than the postmodern. As for its philosophical normalizations, they come back to represent it, to dissolve its “heretical” effects within an image of thought, to reject them as unintelligible whereas they are only philosophically unintelligible and their specific intelligibility must be invented. Does non-Marxism intensify it? re-affirm it? Rather, it radicalizes this emergence that returns to the thematic of “exiting philosophy” (Ausgang) through a non-philosophical practice of philosophy.
Non-Marxist Practice of Philosophy
How can the opaque heart in more than one account of Marxism be elucidated? Rather than adding philosophical axioms to the opacity of determination-in-the-last-instance and the opacity of its real conditions of performation, filling in this philosophical void, this void which is philosophy itself, with the repeated attempts to proliferate neo-Marxisms meant to nuance Marxism and make it tolerable, it is a matter of returning to its simplicity and its minimal character, and above all returning to the radicality of its axiomatic and understanding that it is at least a line of flight outside of philosophy, and undoubtedly more. Rescuing Marxism from metaphysics is effectively an illusion as long as it is not rescued from philosophical sufficiency itself, belief in the Real and desire for the Real. This is Marxism’s divided and uneven history, its doctri- nal multiplicity, this is the salvage efforts that have given rise not only to political and historical causes (more profoundly they are causes of philosophy itself) but also its dialectical essence so as to appear as if it were the best while really being the worst. Marx wanted to practically transform philosophy and intervene in the World. But the idea of this transformation is itself philosophical and worldly. The philosophy-world is not in itself really able to be transformed and it is only able to be transformed for the subject, which is the “Stranger”—being the real content of the “proletariat” and “class struggle”—and transformed for its account alone. It is more than a correction of these concepts within the same problematic that it needs, maybe more than an overhaul of the problematic—an abandonment, we will see, of the “problematic”—and of its philosophical sense to the benefit of the “unified theory.” But what is still more radical than the overhaul is the change of terrain. Furthermore: this is the same acquisition of a terrain upon the non-place of philosophy. Or better still: this is the being-given (of) terrain rather than the givenness of a new terrain. And it is, on the other hand, the axiomatic acquisition of a new object, the thought-world as the unification of capitalism and philosophy. Marxism has a meta-Marxist dimension, a supplementary philosophical duplication, which is the element of all these corrections, improvements, rejuvenations, renewals, etc. But for the other terrain of the radical Real, foreclosed to theory, it is possible to identify within the jumble of heteroclite categories of the Marxist tradition (vulgarly interpreted as “imaginary Marxisms”) the uprightness of a rigorous theoretical intention for the innermost unification of science and philosophy, the invention of a new kind of thought.
In order to identify this “posture,” it is not necessary to add postulates to what already exists, to philosophically complexify Marxism and include it within a more general structure that is always assumed to be first. We propose a minimalism or a simplification, better yet: an impoverishment of Marxism. Philosophical enrichment is the process of all the post-Marxisms and all the overhauls, a process which responds to a unique and double slogan that is, as we know, of a philosophical nature: make Marxism more concrete, make it closer to the singularity of the individual, to the singularity, to the “real” of history; make it also more intelligible by importing scientific and, above all, philosophical elements. In its generality, this double slogan could also be, as we have seen, that of non-Marxism, but it gives it a non-philosophical sense and realization. Non-Marxism is not, in particular, the substitution of a new philosophy as a better foundation for an old one. Marxism already possesses its philosophy, it has all too much of it. And it is the global position and the usage of this philosophy that it is a matter of evaluating, as encompassing [englobant], the materialist break and later, on the basis of this material, as a simple support [apport] inside this new theory.
Non-Marxism’s wager is that these philosophical appropriations, among other less coherent and polished ones, lack non-Marxism’s specificity which is to be a theory of existent forms of knowledge unified by the Real itself as Determination-in-the-last-instance. Let us try to think these aspects of Marxism together, each in its place and without one dominating the other. We will give up on once again grounding it in “reason” and in the “dialectic,” in “structure” and in “life,” which runs the risk of spreading the evil, namely this trait of being premature or hasty which did not leave Marxism enough time to perform its “idea,” if we can put it that way, or its “Telos.” Not thinking Marxism’s position but radicalizing its own invention of a theoretical posture of an unknown type, nothing less than its “accomplishment….” If there is a non-philosophical practice of philosophy, it cannot only be a political practice, but more universally a real practice of philosophy. How do we make philosophy a simple contribution [apport], equal to the others, with its sufficiency removed from it, if not by determining it in-the-last-instance by the Real which is as non-political as it is non-scientific and non-philosophical? The non- cannot have any other “content” except that of the radical immanence of the Real or strictly following from it, without being a relation of negation to philosophy itself and co-determined by it (or by class struggle, etc.). We will invert—at least—the usual approach of a philosophical appropriation of Marxism. Rather than completing Marxism through axioms drawn from the tradition, in general from transcendence or the thought-world, from thought-as-capital, we will instead disappropriate every constitutive relation to philosophy (but not its materials, symptoms, and models), i.e., every relation to it that is itself philosophical.
Discovering the Identity of Marxism
The first appearance of a thought may not be the least re- fined, the least inhuman, even if it is the most tragic. Maybe a special repetition, a uni-lateral one, without reciprocity, is necessary in order to explain it without deferring to it. Something like a eugenics of theory might be possible precisely because man as presupposed radical real excludes the possibility of eugenics for humanity’s benefit. Marxism can give the impression that it is a theoretical composite, contradictory, and poorly formed from various contributions that have been constructed by a philosophical position itself at the limits of self-contradiction. Maybe it will have to be a myth so as to tell of its birth—but this myth already exists, it is the philosophy or form of the thought-world. However, our non-Marxist task is also, identically, to find the internal law of this apparently poorly implemented assemblage. Its condition is this and only this: Marxism is not recognized but cognized: it is discovered rather than rediscovered. There will be effects of recognition and reappropriation (Marxism as the assumed “anticipation,” “germ,” etc., of non-Marxism), but these are objective appearances produced necessarily by the resistance of the thought-world.
The Identity-(of)-Marxism is only given as if it were in the mode of an objective appearance from its beginning, through the laborious and “intersected” conditions of its birth. Now that we know the ruses and strengths of philosophy even better after Hegel, as sufficient-for-the-Real and not only as a doctrine and particular thought, we can better appreciate its theoretical specificity and deliver ourselves from this objective misunderstanding, to various degrees that are more or less subtle: a relation of Marxism to philosophy that would be essential, whatever the sense of causality, albeit only for Marxism over philosophy. Non-Marxism can make an occasion, a symptom, and model from the thousand imaginary, paleo-, neo-Marxisms, and those Marxisms yet to be born. The identity of a real base foreclosed to the existing and nonexistant Marxisms is postulated by non-Marxism under precise theoretical conditions. As if the “infrastructure” was radically foreclosed to every action of the “superstructure,” from which we posited the conditions and have drawn all the effects. At bottom it is a matter of dismantling the Principle of Sufficient Marxism not through history, capital, and philosophy altogether but, on the contrary, through a non-sufficient conception of the real base and infrastructure, which we will explain, is an ontological non-sufficiency which does not contradict its being-foreclosed to the superstructure, to the contrary. Aporias, suffering, desire and resentment, the entire game of the impossibility of history must be eradicated, at least from its real conditions, and expelled from history itself and from the thought-world. So for non-Marxism it is not a question of claiming to install itself at the heart of the same impossible “identity” that Marxism wanted, it is not a question of believing itself to be capable of defying its failure and finally realizing what it had intended to do and where it had failed. This is why it is not its failure that motivates us and makes us think in this way and through this style. This is only an occasion and a conjuncture and, Marxism being definitively lost for history, it would no longer have more to it than being a function of the World’s object and material for a thought coming from elsewhere than history.
Non-Marxism assumes then the abandonment of several philosophically minded operations upon the most general postulates: deconstruction, reconstruction, renovation, neoMarxisms, dialectization, the crossbreeding with the human sciences, etc. All of these projects are of course possible but prolong the same transcendental illusion so long as they are not themselves ordered by a Real and by a uni-versality of the non-Marxist type. To reconstruct, to deconstruct, to reform, etc., Historical Materialism, in particular by conserving the same philosophical presuppositions of materialism and the dialectic, are attempts at disguising destined to return a second time, in a comic role, the hero now free from a tragic history. Projected from their foreclosure, the discovery of the Real and the syntax that accompanies it, the specificity of its theoretical style, does not redivide it, nuance it, displace its decisions, or complexify its axioms. The classic question from the neo-Hegelians to Althusser—how do we break with Hegel?—must be formalized and universalized by nonMarxism: how do we break with Philosophy-with-a-capital-P itself as sufficiency rather than as a particular doctrine (be it no more distinctive than that of Hegel)? Even this question is still too philosophical; it does not make Marxism a solvable and “scientific” kind of problem. Marxism still presents itself as an interminable question rather than as that which deduces itself from axioms: be it the Real or radical immanence, as a presupposed that is not confused with organic labor power or subjectivity, what then results for Marxism, what will become possible out of Marxism for the “stranger-Subject” (the real core of the “proletariat”)? The real presupposed must be as capable of giving Marxism itself in an immanent way as a theoretico-political formation that originally has something of the thought-world’s nature.
But what should be understood by the radical being-given of Marxism? That it is precisely a simple occasion uncovered or emerging from the being-manifest or being-given (meaning radical or without-an-operation-of-givenness) (of) the “last instance.”
excerpt from the book: INTRODUCTION TO NON-MARXISM by François Laruelle
Translated by Anthony Paul Smith/Univocal
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