Marx: Deconsecrate the State

From Miguel Abensour’s analysis of Marx in Democracy Against the State, pp. 32-33:

Marx denounces the repetition of religious alienation in a profane form, such that the product (the State) withdraws from its producers (human beings) and turns against them by establishing itself as a foreign power. Lodging itself in the place the criticism of religion left unoccupied (the place of theos) the State engenders a veritable self-idolatry. Reclaiming the human powers wasted in the heaven of politics; deconsecrating the State; reorienting emancipation with the help of the Copernican turn again, so that humankind no longer revolves around the illusory sun of the State and at last revolves around itself: these are the directions opened by this new phase of Marx’s criticism [beginning in 1843].

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2 thoughts on “Marx: Deconsecrate the State

  1. Lovely. It reminds me of the last section of Society Must Be Defended (Lecture 10), where Foucault outlines the emergence of a liberalism that transforms history into a self-justifying discourse (224-25).

    I wonder how this works within that context, however? Foucault notes a few pages later that this time was the ‘birth of the dialectic’ and combines it with an earlier discussion of the liberal reason of state which analyzes government according to function/apparatus (e.g. capacity rather than right to rule). Certainly Agamben would beg to differ, but doesn’t the bourgeoise revolution already deconsecrate the state? Or does function/apparatus not fully displace the focus onto humanity as per Abensour’s characterization of Marx?

    • Intersting…the liberal State may be deconsecrated w/r/t the State of the ancien regime. There may be a process of deconsecration, in Locke for example, especially in his right of rebellion. But of course that deconsecration is a way of freeing up civil society so that private property can reign, which is Marx’s strong point in OJQ. So perhaps there is a will to deconsecrate there (maybe encapsulated in the tension between Hobbes and Locke), one that can be harnessed and augmented and mobilized in the project to build a political community without transcendent authority, without foundational givens, without sacred texts, without, as Marx says, a power that is separated and alienated from people…

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