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Specters of Marx (Routledge Classics) Paperback – 1 May 2006
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"Its importance within the Derridean canon cannot be overemphasized ... The text that scholars turn to ... to understand the politics of deconstruction." – Southern Humanities Review
"One of Derrida's best books." – New Statesman and Society
About the Author
Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was born in Algeria. He drew on psychoanalysis, Marxist theory, and Heidegger's philosophy to become a central figure in intellectual life in the latter part of the twentieth century.
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Top Customer Reviews
Derrida tells us that deconstruction follows a 'certain spirit of marxism'. There are many different aspects of Marx's thought which various 'marxisms' have picked up on and use as a critique/tool of analysis for modern political issues. Derrida draws upon Marx's notion of 'spectrality'. What is spectrality? It is 'a non-living present in a living present'. This sounds complex, so lets unpack what this meant to Marx, and then to Derrida...
For Marx, capitalism has transformed the nature of objects, they are no longer determined by their use value. Rather, we identify ourselves with commodities, they become a part of our identity, they dictate who we wish to be. Think today of how advertising is used to sell products - through the use of models, sexual imagery and so forth. The product is more than an object to use, it is seen as a means of transforming oneself into something ideal (but something that we can never, in reality become). Spectrality is thus what is never there, but not strictly speaking simply absent either. It haunts the present.
But for Derrida, Marx is mistaken that, through abandoning capitalism, we can shake off these specters. The specters are always there, every 'self-same' is haunted by its 'other', nothing is quite as simply, sharply determined as it may seem.Read more ›
The paperback (2006) edition contains 258 numbered pages, and is separated into five distinct chapters:
Editor's Introduction (Bernd Magnus & Stephern Cullenberg).
Notes on the Text.
1) Injunctions of Marx.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Importantly, the book begins with a scene from Hamlet. The old king is giving an injunction to do responsibility to his memory. Importantly, Hamlet has the pivotal line, "Time is out of joint." Precisely. We have a responsibility to READ Marx, not X, Y, or Z's interpretation of Marx. What does Marx say? We must clear the debris of both scholars and killers from his name and work. What did Marx have to do with the Gulag, the Soviet Union in any way what so ever? Nothing, of course. Nonetheless, Whether from the right or the left his name has been associated with so much perversity or promise during the 20th Cenhttp://www.amazon.com/review/create-review/ref=cm_cr_dp_wr_but_right?ie=UTF8&nodeID=283155&asin=0415389577&store=books tury that we can see him only as a ghostly demarcation, and it is certainly no wonder that his message is not a kingly imperative.
Part of the debt of mourning we owe to those who bequeathed us their ideas is to take the responsibility to rediscover their works, the material that can be held in one's hand, precisely as their works. And make no mistake, this is a sacred responsibility. One to be upheld, in part at least, to combat the sort of bombastic "The King is dead. Long live the King!" shouting represented by, say, Francis Fukuyama's stunning book, The End of History and the Last Man. This vision--Hegel in triumph having been turned back upright to see the Reign of the Spirit of Capitalism and Christianity--would be the title's "New International." Fukahaha had no doubt that History has finally culminated in the victory and immanent universalization of the free-market economy lead by it's Christian soldiers. (For the sake of fairness, Fukuyama had the intellectual integrity to repudiate most of this earlier work in a critique of his fellow Neo-Cons and their continued certainties, which one may lead right into Iraq 2003). Derrida, generally mild even in the process of eviscerating a particular point of view, took off the gloves here. He knocked Fukuyama on his ass in 1993. I have noted that he had the guts and integrity to stand back up 10 years later, in the midst of what else but the global catastrophe wrought by...guess. Yes, the very free market cum New International, which had crowed far before the dawn of a catastrophe the longest shadows of which we more than likely still await.
Specters of Marx is one of Derrida's more broadly important texts and deserves as what it is, not as what many who have reviewed it here thus far think it ought to be. Indeed, Derrida had now joined those intellectual forefathers to whom we owe so much. If he is read responsibly, and if he has taught us to read others with a sense of the honor due their legacy, then, love him or hate him, one must admire the way in which he improves our own work, our own time.
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