Daniel Bensaïd between Marx and Benjamin

in Historical Materialism
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Daniel Bensaïd (1946–2010) was a leading figure of May ’68, a Marxist thinker and an influential French public intellectual. His theoretical and political trajectory is divided into two distinct periods separated by the historical turn of 1989: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the ussr. This also coincided with an existential turn due to his contracting aids, which brought him close to death. After this turn, he played the role of a ‘border-crosser’ between generations, intellectual currents and geopolitical areas within the radical left. In the 1990s, he began a critical rereading of Marx and tried to transcend Trotskyism, confronting its legacy with other currents of critical thought, notably the Frankfurt School. Since this pivotal moment, his writings reveal a permanent and intense dialogue with the work of Walter Benjamin, which he reinterpreted in a contemporary, political perspective, rethinking the political dilemmas of the twenty-first century through a Messianic vision of history. This article emphasises the affinities between two historical constellations – 1939 and 1989 – which, in spite of their obvious differences, were equally shaped by a feeling of defeat, and allowed a fruitful ‘encounter’ between French and German philosophers.

Daniel Bensaïd between Marx and Benjamin

in Historical Materialism

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References

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  • 1

    Anderson 1983p. 32.

  • 2

    Bensaïd 2004p. 451.

  • 3

    Bensaïd 1989.

  • 4

    Bensaïd 1991.

  • 5

    Bensaïd 2002.

  • 6

    Anderson 1976.

  • 7

    Bensaïd 2004p. 361.

  • 8

    Bensaïd 2004p. 449.

  • 9

    Bensaïd 2005 and 2008b.

  • 10

    Bensaïd 2004p. 69.

  • 11

    Bensaïd 2004p. 449.

  • 12

    Bensaïd and Weber 1968.

  • 13

    Bensaïd 1995a.

  • 14

    Bensaïd 1995ap. 110. See also Gramsci 1975 p. 1403.

  • 15

    Bensaïd 1995bp. 187.

  • 16

    Koselleck 1985pp. 267–88.

  • 17

    Bensaïd 2009Chapter 5.

  • 18

    Bensaïd 1990 and 2010. According to the dates ending the book it had been written in Paris between March and June 1990.

  • 20

    Bensaïd 2010p. 7.

  • 21

    Benjamin 2007ap. 242.

  • 23

    Arendt 1973p. 168.

  • 24

    Bensaïd 2004p. 364. On Mandel see Stutje 2009.

  • 25

    Bensaïd 2010p. 124.

  • 26

    Bensaïd 2010p. 39.

  • 27

    Bensaïd 1989p. 230.

  • 28

    Bensaïd 1989p. 231.

  • 29

    Bensaïd 1989p. 230. On the debates raised by this commemoration see Kaplan 1995.

  • 30

    Benjamin 1979p. 80.

  • 31

    Benjamin 1999ap. 460.

  • 32

    Bensaïd 2001pp. 15–16.

  • 33

    Fuld 1979.

  • 34

    Bensaïd 2010p. 36.

  • 35

    Benjamin 1986 and Benjamin 2003.

  • 36

    Benjamin 2005. On Benjamin and Trotsky see Kraft 1972 p. 69; Traverso 1997; and Leslie 2000 pp. 228–34.

  • 37

    Scholem 1971p. 12.

  • 38

    Marcuse 1975pp. 26–7.

  • 39

    Benjamin 2007bp. 255.

  • 40

    Benjamin 2007bp. 257.

  • 41

    Benjamin 1999b.

  • 42

    Bensaïd 1995ap. 13.

  • 43

    Bensaïd 2010p. 182.

  • 45

    Bensaïd 2010p. 169; Benjamin 1999a pp. 388–9.

  • 46

    Benjamin 2007bp. 264.

  • 48

    Benjamin 1996.

  • 49

    Benjamin 2002.

  • 50

    Moses 2009.

  • 51

    Deutscher 1968.

  • 52

    Bensaïd 2010p. 155.

  • 53

    Bensaïd 2010p. 275.

  • 54

    Bensaïd 2010p. 230.

  • 55

    Bensaïd 2010p. 249.

  • 56

    Bensaïd 1995bp. 208.

  • 57

    Scholem 1971pp. 13–14.

  • 58

    Benjamin 2006pp. 33–4.

  • 59

    Benjamin 2007bp. 255.

  • 60

    Moses 2009p. 108.

  • 61

    Marx and Engels 2012p. 74.

  • 62

    Bensaïd 2010p. 97.

  • 63

    Benjamin 2007bp. 260.

  • 64

    Bensaïd 1997 and Goldmann 1964.

  • 65

    Bensaïd 1997p. 290.

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