Marx et I'invention historique, Syllepse: Paris, 2012, 188 pp:
9782849503300, 10 (pbk)
The thirst for 'post-' theories with a Parisian twist seems unquenchable, and Anglophone readers are faced by a continuous flow of books by Alain Badiou, Jacques Ranciere and the likes. Meanwhile, less remarked and less translated into English but equally interesting, is a new generation of Marx scholars emerging in the French-speaking world. Amongst them, the works of Isabelle Garo--a philosopher and the editor of the Grande edition Marx-Engels (GEME), a new French translation of Marx and Engels' works--are some of the most important and original.
In her previous works, Garo demonstrated a marked interest in the question of 'representation' and its underappreciated importance in the study of Marx's thought. Marx, une critique de la philosophie (Garo 2000) is probably one of the best book-length introductions to Marx published in French, especially as it touches upon the critique of value. It is located within a broader trend of Marxist scholarship dealing with the question of fetishism (see Collin 1996; Tran Hai Hac 2003; Artous 2006; and, earlier, Vincent 1976). In a later work, Lideologie ou la pensee embarquee, Garo (2009) offered an astute discussion of the notion of ideology and its relevance for understanding forms of representation in contemporary capitalist social relations. In particular, she underlined its importance in articulating political struggles. Her more recent book (2011) Foucault, Deleuze, Althusser et Marx can be read as Garo's critical engagement with 'post-modern' philosophies and their relations to Marx. It is a work of great importance, as it analyses in fine-grained detail the work of three major 'French' theorists, their importance and their limits, in their explicit, implicit or even denied relation to Marx.
The book under review draws on these strands of theoretical and political elaboration. The first chapter of Marx et l'invention historique can be read as a discussion, and refutation, of Cornelius Castoriadis's critique of Marx (on which, more below). But the book is about much more than that. 'Open Marxists' (see, for example, Bonefeld et al., 1992) will not be surprised by its claims that Marx's categories are essentially open, that Marx did not use a teleological philosophy of history, or that he did not adhere to an economic determinism (in that, Gero is close to Derek Sayer's perspective--see Sayer...