The Spirit of Marx

anup dhar

Marxism has conventionally found itself on the side of ‘materialism’; there has been a hyper-separation (as against the overdetermination) of ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ in much of Marxian praxis. How does one make sense of this hyper-separation, of the conventional bar, which is also the ‘bar of convention’, between Marxism and the spiritual? Can one carefully work one’s way towards an ‘and’ between Marxian questions and spiritual quests, even if it is an uneasy ‘and’?

Does the setting up of  a dialogue between For Marx (a la Althusser) and Of Spirit (a la Derrida) offer us a way to work towards the ‘and’?

Does the Althusser-Lacan Correspondence (letters exchanged [1963-1969] between Althusser and Lacan) offer us a clue as to the nature of a possible ‘and’?

The ‘and’ between Marxism and spirituality could perhaps be marked in terms of a connection between a rethought materialism (overdetermined by what Foucault calls the asketic) and a rethought spiritualism (overdetermined by what Heidegger calls phronesis).

In its attempt at working through the uneasy ‘and’ between Marxism and spirituality (including the question: why at all do we need an ‘and’), one would possibly need to depart from the ‘cognitive notion of truth’ and arrive at two other notions of truth – the practical-social in Marx and the experiential-affective-ethical-aesthetic in Gandhi-Tagore.

One would perhaps get a glimpse of the cusp of Marxism and spirituality in the dialogue between the two.

Praxis at the cusp would also inaugurate the possibility of an ‘anti-Oedipal’ future for Marxism and a this-worldly present for spirituality.

The curious byproduct of the spiritualization of Marxism or the Marxization of spirituality is a somewhat secret communion that gets set up with a rethought psychoanalysis: psychoanalysis-as-asketic-and-phronetic.