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By Warren Breckman

Marxism's cave in within the 20th century profoundly altered the fashion and substance of Western eu radical concept. to construct a stronger kind of democratic thought and motion, favourite theorists moved to reject revolution, abandon type for extra fragmented types of social motion, and bring up the political over the social. Acknowledging the constructedness of society and politics, they selected the "symbolic" as an idea robust adequate to reinvent leftist notion open air a Marxist framework. Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Adventures of the Dialectic, which reassessed philosophical Marxism at mid century, Warren Breckman severely revisits those exciting experiments within the aftermath of Marxism.

The post-Marxist suggestion of the symbolic is dynamic and intricate, uncannily echoing the early German Romantics, who first complicated a contemporary perception of symbolism and the symbolic. Hegel and Marx denounced the Romantics for his or her otherworldly and nebulous posture, but post-Marxist thinkers favored the wealthy capability of the ambiguities and paradoxes the Romantics first famous. Mapping assorted principles of the symbolic between modern thinkers, Breckman strains a desirable mirrored image of Romantic subject matters and resonances, and he explores extensive the trouble to reconcile a thorough and democratic political schedule with a politics that doesn't privilege materialist understandings of the social. attractive with the paintings of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Marcel Gauchet, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and Slavoj Žižek, Breckman uniquely situates those very important theorists inside of 200 years of eu idea and extends their profound relevance to today's political activism.

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Additional info for Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-marxism and Radical Democracy

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To explore these, this chapter will discuss the divergent tracks taken by Bruno Bauer and Ludwig Feuerbach. Bauer’s philosophy of self-consciousness radicalized Hegel’s emphasis on the potential transparency of language and meaning, thereby tying the emancipatory project to a radical process of desymbolization. Feuerbach’s position was more conflicted. Although he developed a radical hermeneutic that had a tremendous impact on the development of left-wing thought, Feuerbach’s naturalism led him toward a stance in which the Hegelian schema of the subject’s appropriation of meaning contended with a resistant natural kernel that called for the reintroduction of symbolic representation as the only mode of signification appropriate for this unsayable and unmasterable element.

One of Saussure’s inaugural gestures, let us not forget, was to separate the symbol from the sign, and what is really meant when mid-twentiethcentury structuralism speaks of the Symbolic is the system of signs. So in fact structuralism is not so much Romanticism’s distant heir as its overcoming, achieved, ironically, by resurrecting the eighteenth-century association of the symbol with the conventional sign. When we turn to what is known—somewhat problematically—as postmodern or poststructural thought, the connection to Romanticism looks more promising.

He tied the enlightened drive toward desymbolization directly to the epochal task of secularizing the world. Communism was to be the last act in the secularization of humanity. In the light of Marx’s critique of the commodity, it is not particularly surprising that the Hegelian left sharpened its blades for combat with Romanticism; nor, given our discussion thus far, should it come as a surprise that the Left Hegelians attacked Romantic concepts of symbolic form. Just as the Romantic ideal of the symbol was anchored in the desire to present the unpresentable, so too was the Left Hegelian rejection of the symbolic deeply implicated in their campaign against religion.

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Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-marxism and Radical Democracy by Warren Breckman


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