Inheriting Marx

Daniel Bensaïd, Ernst Bloch and the Discordance of Time

In: Historical Materialism

Abstract

This essay traces a Marxist notion of cultural heritage drawing on the work of twentieth-century thinkers Daniel Bensaïd and Ernst Bloch. Both authors, indeed, address the act of inheriting as a way of rethinking Marxism beyond determinist and teleological concepts of history. In particular, Bensaïd’s 1995 Marx for Our Times and a 1972 essay on cultural heritage by Ernst Bloch reimagine the handing-on of cultural inheritance as the political reactivation of untimely and non-synchronous survivals of past social formations. For this reason, the heritage of Marx conveyed by these authors does not result in a nostalgic preservation of the past but in reviving unrealised possibilities of social transformation. In a comparative reading of Bensaïd and Bloch, the act of ‘inheriting Marx’ analysed in this essay hence formulates a de-commodifying conception of cultural heritage set against the violence of capital.

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