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A Failed Parricide

Hegel and the Young Marx


Roberto Finelli

According to an established interpretation, the transition from Hegel’s materialism to Marx’s materialism signifies a progressive development from an abstract-idealist theory of becoming, to a theory of the concrete actions of human beings within history. A Failed Parricide by Roberto Finelli offers an innovative reading of the Marx-Hegel relationship, arguing that the young Marx remained structurally subaltern to Hegel’s distinctive conception of the subject that becomes itself in relation to alterity. Marx’s early critique of Hegel is represented as a ‘failed parricide’, relying upon an organicist and spiritualist anthropology derived from Feuerbach’s presumed materialism. Only in Marx’s mature critique of political economy will he be able to return to this ‘primal scene’ and produce a distinctive theory of the role of formal determinations in social and political modernity.

First published in Italian by Bollati Borighieri Editore as Un parricidio mancato. Il rapporto tra Hegel e il giovane Marx, Turin, 2004.

Roberto Finelli


This intervention concerns the different statute of abstraction in Marx's work. By means of a critical confrontation with Chris Arthur's work, Finelli presents his thesis of the presence of a double theory and fuction of abstraction in Marx's work. In the early Marx, until the German Ideology, abstraction is, in accordance with the traditional meaning of this term, a product of the mind, an unreal spectre. More exactly, it consists in negating the common essence belonging to labouring humanity and projecting it, as alienated universal, into the idea of philosophy, into the state of politics and into the money of the market. In the later Marx, the nature of abstraction is, rather than mental, practical. It is directly related to the quantity without quality of capitalist labour, and it is the product of the systemic connection of machines to labour-power. In contrast to Arthur, Finelli maintains that practical abstraction in the Marx of Capital is not located in the zone of exchange and the market, where there is the mediation of money. On the contrary, it is located in the zone of production, which, for Marx, is a social ensemble not mediated by money but by relations of technological domination.