Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacques Deridda's Specters of Marx (Radical Thinkers)
Terry Eagleton, Antonio Negri, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson
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With the publication of Specters of Marx in 1993, Jacques Derrida redeemed a longstanding pledge to confront Marx’s texts directly and in detail. His characteristically bravura presentation provided a provocative re-reading of the classics in the Western tradition and posed a series of challenges to Marxism.
In a timely intervention in one of today’s most vital theoretical debates, the contributors to Ghostly Demarcations respond to the distinctive program projected by Specters of Marx. The volume features sympathetic meditations on the relationship between Marxism and deconstruction by Fredric Jameson, Werner Hamacher, Antonio Negri, Warren Montag, and Rastko Möcnik, brief polemical reviews by Terry Eagleton and Pierre Macherey, and sustained political critiques by Tom Lewis and Aijaz Ahmad. The volume concludes with Derrida’s reply to his critics in which he sharpens his views about the vexed relationship between Marxism and deconstruction.
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impulse to express truth in the first place. That this strategy turns language over to a certain terrorism, the practice of the 32 GHOSTLY DEMARCATIONS Althusserians and the Tel quel group can historically testify: Derrideanism, which had its family relations with both, was not exempt either from the impression that when it was merely specifying someone else's position, this last was also in the process of being roundly denounced (none of Derrida's qualifications about the difference between
already - but none can escape entirely the probing questions and searching criticisms put in different ways by these essays. The history of deconstruction's engagement with Marxism is a long way from being at an end. The Specter's Smile Antonio Negri ... for though a mouse depends on God as much as an angel does, and sadness as much as joy, a mouse cannot on that account be a kind of angel, nor sadness a kind of joy.1 - Spinoza, Letter XXIII It happens often that a great philosophy takes a
antagonism internal to Specters (as well as certain of Derrida's other works) exhibited more clearly than in the 74 GHOSTLY DEMARCATIONS very opening of the text where he speaks of 'a trace of which life and death would themselves be but traces and traces of traces, a survival whose possibility in advance comes to disjoin or dis-adjust the identity to itself of the living present as well as of any effectivity' (SM, xx). From this Derrida concludes 'there is then some spirit (SM, xx). The
this notation makes explicit what is entailed in Marx's presentation: that equivalencies amongst specified quantities of items of the (not yet constituted) 'commodityworld' are, at every step, mediated by their equivalence to a specified quantity of the contingent 'initial' ('the same third) commodity. In order to be able to invert the scheme, Marx resorts to two suspicious devices: 1. he frames the 'development of the value-form' in the manner of the Hegelian self-development of the concept:
incapable of answering the demands of our time. 'The time is out of joint': Derrida repeatedly works this line from Hamlet in order to suggest that socialist revolution is impossible because of the meta- TOM LEWIS 161 physical limitations of Marxism.25 Our present rime may indeed be 'out of joint', but it is not so because of bad metaphysics. Greater instabilities in an already crisis-prone system, deepening anger among the world's exploited and oppressed, and sharper divisions both within