[The Tupinambas; Image from wikimedia] In his provocative Society Against the State, Pierre Clastres draws from his ethnographic work to provide a theory of a society that, rather than developing into the state, operates directly against it. By ‘operating against’ I mean, following Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s reading of Clastres in A Thousand
[Some of the PhD programs I applied to wanted to know more about my person and how it has shaped the kind of work that I do. This is the statement of “personal history and philosophy” I wrote in addition to the “purpose of study.”] I was born in cosmopolitan Manila, capital of the Philippines,
Karl Marx (with Friedrich Engels) lays out his method of revolutionary critique in The German Ideology. Not a professional philosopher (like Kant and Hegel, or Feuerbach) and more like an intellectual journalist absorbed in political economy committed to the Revolution, Marx, drawing from the philosophical currents of his day (Hegel’s idealism and Feuerbach’s materialism), nonetheless
[Peter-Paul Rubens' The Prophet Elijah Receiving Bread and Water from an Angel] In From Hegel to Marx, Sidney Hook traces the intellectual development of Karl Marx within the context of the dominant Hegelian philosophy of his day. While Karl Marx was indeed highly influenced by the systematic, totalizing, and absolute philosophy of Hegel, in the
I have just passed my comprehensive exam for my MA in Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University. The area of focus is critical theory, specifically Marxism, psychoanalysis, and Foucault and Deleuze. I thought I would pose my responses to the first two parts of the exam (the third and last part being the oral defense).
[Alexander at the Battle of Issos; from a mosaic in Pompeii] Antonio Gramsci (as is apparent in this collection of his writings) makes more nuanced and dynamic the base-superstructure model described by Karl Marx (and Friedrich Engels) in The German Ideology and the Preface to A Critique of Political Economy. In doing this, he turns
Georg Lukács begins History and Class Consciousness with the question, “What is orthodox Marxism?” In what does orthodox Marxism consist? What does it mean to be an orthodox Marxist? Rather than shy away from the designation—at a time when it was “fashionable to greet any profession of faith in Marxism with ironical disdain”— Lukács asserts
In his early works (as interpreted by Hardt), Deleuze proposes a (against Hegel) nondialectical, (against Kant) total, (against Plato) materialist critique. “Without first conducting a broad destructive operation” that “draws the total horizon into question and destabilizes previously existing powers” (pars destruens), Deleuze argues, “there is not the space nor the terms for [a] constructive project” (pars construens).
The Base-Superstructure model is basically a theoretical framework, a schema, a blueprint, charting the different parts of society, how these elements interact, and how they form a coherent social structure, i.e. the particular shape that society takes at a given moment (hence it is a historical model). The model has two main elements: the base and the superstructure, both of which can be divided further into two parts.