Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | February 16, 2010

Marxism is radically antifoundationalist–Terry Eagleton


Marx saw that self-determination had only to be socialized for the aesthetic to be shifted from the realm of utopia to the register of actuality. Once men and women could achieve that collective form of self-determination known as socialist democracy, they could prize themselves free for the most part from the dead hand of instrumental reason and produce simply for need, enjoyment, and the new literary history delight of self-realization rather than for profit.
Marx’s political goal was,in the broadest sense, an aestheticist or autotelic one: to construct the material conditions in which the selfrealization of men and women would be no longer primarily instrumental, but for the sake of their own flourishing and self-delight.Through communism, history would become for the first time self-grounding. Antifoundationalism was now a political project to be achieved rather than a philosophical case to be defended. The torch of autotelism, which had been first brandished by theology and then slipped somewhat furtively to aesthetics, was thus finally passed on to politics. History, as opposed to pre-history, would be inaugurated once production was free from the goad of necessity, and the realization of human powers and capacities had become its own foundation, rather than anxiously awaiting its justification at some higher tribunal of History, Utility, Duty, Geist,
or Reason. Or, to put it another way, once exchange value, which is ineluctably instrumental, has yielded its abstract sway to the sensuous particularity of use-value, in which the product can be enjoyed in itself, for its specific properties. As Marx himself puts it in the

Grundrisse: true wealth involves “the absolute working-out of creative potentialities, with no presupposition other than the previous historical development,
which makes this totality of development, i.e. the development of all human powers as such the end in itself, not as measured on a predetermined yardstick.”

And to this extent, one might claim, Marxism is radically antifoundationalist.

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