Karl Marx: Not Infallible
The French Marxist philosopher Étienne Balibar, a pupil of Louis Althuser, published in 1993 The Philosophy of Marx. This text is now, after twenty years, republished. In a new introduction, he asks”: what is the purpose of the re-published book? Balibar says ‘in order to understand Marx in the 21st century he should be read, not as a monument to the past, but like an actual author.’
Balibar assumes that the actuality corresponds to the fact, that the questions posed by Marx rest in fundamental value to the philosophy and concepts he develops. The importance of his philosophy is greater than ever, declares Balibar. I doubt that highly. Par example it is not surprising that one hears repeatedly, that a new Marx would have to stand up. This is not surprising because Karl Marx proved to be fallible in many ways.
The thing which disturbs me is that Balibar, in his text from 1993, highlights the discomfort of Marx on the anarchists like Stirner and Proudhon, without commenting on it (which I was not expecting him to do, but after twenty years reconsidering nothing is impossible…). Apparently Balibar still requires pushing Marx in that way to show his superiority. In his criticism, especially of anarchists, Marx has the self-styled aura of infallibility, while he worriedly sneered about them. He indeed called the individualist anarchist Max Stirner (1806-1856) ‘Saint Max’. Did he read him? Presumably. From this assumption, it can be concluded that he was in bad faith where he spoke about him as ‘Saint Max’. If there is somebody who has dismantled religion, it is Stirner. Continue reading