“The Young Republican: Marx’s Political Writings of 1842-43”
Professor Charles Barbour
WHU Philosophy Spring Seminar Series
Thursday 28 June 2018
In his recent, award-winning Marx’s Inferno, William Clare Roberts argues vehemently that Marx’s Capital should be read, less as a work of socialist political economy, than as one of republican political theory. For Roberts, the aim of Capital is to promote, not so much economic equality, but freedom in the republican sense, understood as what Pettit calls ‘non-domination’. According to Roberts, however, Marx’s concern is not with the personal domination of one individual over another, but with what Roberts frequently calls the ‘impersonal domination’ of the market over everyone, or the manner in which capitalism compels all of us to work without any opportunity to deliberate over the purpose of our labour, and to consume without any opportunity to deliberate over the content of our needs. This paper begins with an effort to determine the validity of Roberts’ characterization of Marx’s republicanism by examining, not to Capital alone, as Roberts does, but some of Marx’s earliest works as well, and especially his journalism and manuscripts of 1842-43. I propose that, in these writings, Marx holds firm to a recognizably republican position, especially with respect to a conception of constituent power, popular sovereignty, and the rule of law. This same position sees Marx both draw on and take a distance from his Hegelian contemporaries. The question is to what extent this early position continues to inform Marx’s position after 1843, when his paper the Rheinische Zeitung is suppressed by the Prussian authorities and he moves to Paris.
About the Speaker
Charles Barbour is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Western Sydney University. Along with numerous articles, book chapters, and edited collections, he is the author of The Marx-Machine: Politics, Polemics, Ideology (2012) and Derrida’s Secret: Perjury, Testimony, Oath (2017). His current research involves two topics: the question of the secret in contemporary public life, on the one hand; and that of equality in the work of the young Marx and his contemporaries, on the other.
When and Where
· When: 16:00-17:15
· Where: B214