Review: Introduction au non-marxisme

Hugues Choplin, trans. Sylvia

Introduction au non-marxisme, by François Laruelle, Paris: PUF, 2000, 149 pp.

            After having experimented on “objects” such as psychoanalysis or ethics, François Laruelle here invests the problematic of non-philosophy (elaborated in Principes de la non-philosophie) in Marxism. Non-Marxism precisely constitutes the result of this investment. It envelops a “neo-Marxism” (p. 125) exactly insofar as the non-Marxist concepts—the infrastructure, the proletarian, capital—mobilize Marxist vocabulary. Non-Marxism therefore indeed has the color of Marxism. And however, it is not Marxism! Since Laruelle is affranchised from the philosophizing that still structures Marxism. Respectively designating and coloring non-philosophy’s three principal instances—namely: the One, thought, and philosophy—, the infrastructure, the proletarian, and capital are no longer determined reciprocally or bilaterally according to the structure of philosophizing: the mixed (or the blend of two contraries, of the infra- and the super-structure for example). A one-way [à sens unique] vector goes from the infrastructure to capital by passing through the proletarian. As if proletarian thought relayed the infrastructure of the One to unilaterally exploit capital, namely henceforth philosophy itself!

            The proletarian is therefore deprived of the formal armature of philosophizing but not of philosophy (or its language): to be disconcerting in the eyes of the philosopher, Laruelle’s conceptual elaboration designates less a contestation of philosophy and Marxism than an invitation to think and practice them in a “new” (p. 20), unilateral manner. This is not without posing questions. Free just as much in the choice of philosophical object (Marxism, psychoanalysis, ethics, etc.) as in the use of this object to attest non-philosophical dimensions (for example, nothing obligates one to describe the One precisely as the real infrastructure), isn’t the proletarian non-philosopher the subject of a new form of consummation—of philosophy itself (as Gilles Grelet[1] has already suggested)? Perhaps. And it is de jure possible and desirable [souhaitable] to consume Marxism in order to define non-Marxisms proposing concepts other than those forged by Laruelle. But these future doctrines will have to be submitted to non-philosophy’s law: the unilaterality that “articulates” the One, thought, and philosophy—an articulation that is rigorous since it is trenchant on the mixed circles of philosophizing.

            Finally, determined by a liberty but also and above all an unprecedented rigor, non-Marxism seems to raise a style less “capitalist” than theoretical. Doesn’t non-philosophy constitute a free theory of philosophy itself?


[1] Cahiers de la Torpille, no 4, Kimé, March 2000. [trans.]: See “That’s the Theory!,” interview with Cahiers de la Torpille with an introductory note by Gilles Grelet, trans. Jeremy R Smith.