Simon Choat, Marx Through Post-Structuralism: Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze (London: Continuum, 2012)

Jamie Melrose
2015 Foucault Studies  
REVIEW Simon Choat, Marx Through Post-Structuralism: Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze (London: Continuum, 2012), ISBN: 978-1-4411-8508-2 Michel Foucault left hints as to Karl Marx's significance to himself and to his work. One recollects his put-down in The Order of Things: "Marxism exists in nineteenth century thought like a fish in water...unable to breathe anywhere else." 1 On the other hand, Foucault remarked once that he was prone to "quote Marx without saying so." 2 Potentially
more » ... Potentially ambiguous, such mixed messages are for Foucault unproblematic: being "faithful or unfaithful" 3 to canonical authorial appropriation, a matter of supreme indifference. In Marx Through Post-Structuralism, Simon Choat details the intriguing relationship between Marx and four paragons of French post-structuralist thought: Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze. Choat's thesis is that these men "pursue a materialist philosophy" (171). Simply put, the post-structuralists embrace the "good" Marx -alert to praxis; aleatory; deconstructionist -and cold shoulder the "bad" Marx -teleological; determinist; reductionist. More precisely, Choat argues that the post-structuralists are sympathetic to a critical materialist bent in Marxian thought, while rejecting idealist implications in Marxist theory. Whereas idealists posit the realisation of ultimate goals or ontologically-given proto-sources to justify their critique of social relations, critical materialists fixate on the concrete transformation of the social realm. Material relations are rejiggable endogenously. For the post-structuralists "certain dangers...in Marx's work" such as "the faith that the future can be pre-programmed or that critique can be grounded in the pure essence of some natural given" need exorcising or ignoring (92-93). Foucault's connexion with Marx is indicative of how post-structuralists have related, overtly or tacitly, to Marx. Synergies are palpable when Marx is at his most "antiteleological and non-totalizing" and "politically committed" (107), most interested in demonstrating that subjects are historically effected -Foucault and Marx had no truck with the eternal Cartesian cognito. For example, Choat highlights (119) how in Capital Marx delineates the making of the working-class, specifying its coming-to-be through dynamic capitalist regulation. This is akin to Foucault's celebrated account of penitential subject creation in Discipline and Punish. By and large, Foucault and Marx (and Nietzsche
doi:10.22439/fs.v0i19.4837 fatcat:745h6xsf7baivo2lkg4mbgqiuu