Man is a Werewolf to Man: Capital and the Limits of Political Anthropology

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University of Canterbury
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Read, Jason

In the nineteen sixties and seventies the question of Marx's humanism, his attachment to an idea of human nature, was hotly debated. In the years since that debate has subsided the question of Marx and the human has emerged in multiple sectors. The dominance of neoliberalism as policy has revived the notion of capitalism as human nature. At the same time the anti-humanism of poststructuralism has been replaced with posthumanism. There has also been a revival of the question of humanity in light of the anthropocene. Given all of these developments its seems worth posing the question of the human in Marx again. Taking its cue from the Sixth Thesis on Feuerbach which argues that the human essence is the ensemble of social relations, this essay examines the way in which labor constructs and destroys the generic figure of humanity. Ultimately, it argues that Marx can be understood as making a unique contribution to philosophical anthropology, not one that argues about any fixed essence, cooperative or competitive, but understands history to be the generation and corruption of different essences, of constituting the basis for solidarity and antagonism.

General Intellect, Etienne Balibar, Paolo Virno, philosophical anthropology, labour, Capital, Marx
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