Democracy Against the State: Marx and the Machiavellian Movement

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In the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, the young Marx elliptically alludes to a true democracy whose advent would go hand in hand with the disappearance of the state. Miguel Abensour s rigorous interpretation of this seminal text reveals an unknown Marx who undermines the identification of democracy with the state and defends a historically occluded form of politics. True democracy does not entail the political and economic power of the state, but it does not dream of a post-political society either. On the contrary, the battle of democracy is waged by a demos that invents a public sphere of permanent struggles, a politics that counters political bureaucracy and representation. Democracy is won by a people forewarned that any dissolution of the political realm in its independence, any subordination to the state, is tantamount to annihilating the site for gaining and regaining a genuinely human existence. In this explicitly heterodox reading of Marx, Miguel Abensour proposes a theory of insurgent democracy that makes political liberty synonymous with a living critique of domination.