Chart for Marxism and Postmodernism

Marxism and Postmodernism   Socialism 2011   Dana Cloud

  1. Postmodernism defined: “the contemporary movement of thought which rejects totalities, universal values, grand historical narratives, solid foundations to human existence and the possibility of objective knowledge. Postmodernism is skeptical of truth, unity, and progress, opposes what it sees as elitism in culture, tends toward cultural relativism, and celebrates pluralism, discontinuity and heterogeneity” (Terry Eagleton, After Theory, 13). Postmodernism sees the “world as contingent, ungrounded, diverse, unstable, indeterminate, a set of disunified cultures or interpretations which breed a degree of skepticism about the objectivity of truth, history and norms, the givenness of natures and the coherence of identities” (Eagleton, Illusions of Postmodernism, vii).

François Lyotard: “incredulity toward metanarratives”

Baudrillard: simulacra, hyper-reality

  1. Origins (understood in materialist terms): post-WWII capitalism, history of Stalinism, 1968, history of defeats
  1. The “big 5” (minus deconstruction)
Camp Thinker Key concepts Implications
Poststructuralism Foucault Discourse, governmentality, biopower, biopolitics Anti-humanism



No explanatory theory

Micropolitics Deleuze Difference, lines of flight, deterritorialization, capitalism as set of “axioms” Freedom is matter of thinking differently. Resignation to status quo
Post-Marxism Laclau and Mouffe Hegemony, populism No fundamental class interests; relativism
Autonomism Negri Empire, Multitude, cognitive capitalism, immaterial labor Celebration of disorganization, refusal of grounded militancy
Queer theory Butler Performativity of gender, abjection Rejection of rights language and organizing around identities
  1. Marxist critique
    1. Idealism: Revolt against the rule of thoughts will not make reality collapse.
    2. Utopianism: One cannot conjure up a new society. Postmodernism as neoliberal utopia
    3. Anti-organization
    4. Relativism and resignation: “Lie back and think of Nike” (Wood)
    5. A world to win or Deleuze (thanks to Katie Feyh)

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