Copy to Clipboard. Add italics as necessaryCite as: Alex Demirović, ‘The Historicity of Materialism and the Critique of Politics’, in Materialism and Politics, ed. by Bernardo Bianchi, Emilie Filion-Donato, Marlon Miguel, and Ayşe Yuva, Cultural Inquiry, 20 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2021), pp. 313–26 <https:/​/​​10.37050/​ci-20_17>

The Historicity of Materialism and the Critique of PoliticsAlex Demirović


This chapter proposes one definition of critical materialism and a critique of politics based on several authors from Marx to Foucault. This critique occurs in several stages and unfolds as a criticism of universals such as human freedom, general interest, political rationality, or reconciled political community. The decisive materialist-historical question, then, is which of the different materialities is dominant at a certain point of time. I argue that Marx condemns politics as an illusion. He thought of ‘political reason’ as a form of ‘spiritualism’. Hence, critical materialism argues for a move away from the illusion of politics.

Keywords: historical materialism; historical block; material practices; political illusion; materialism (philosophy); critical materialism; political science; Foucault, Michel; Althusser, Louis

In the first part of this chapter, I argue that materialism is not an alternative form of metaphysics and philosophy, but rather it opens up the space for an analysis of concrete historical contexts. Materialism thus moves in opposition to metaphysics, idealism, or spiritualism. It only becomes necessary under certain historical conditions. The tradition of critical theory aims at a concept of social development that renders the necessity of materialist thinking superfluous. In the second part, based on various authors from Karl Marx to Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault, I discuss the ways in which politics should become the object of materialist criticism, which not only (with its contradictions) makes freedom possible, but also blocks it.


Since Marx’s Feuerbach theses, critical theory of society has understood itself as a critical continuation and renewal of the tradition of materialism. This has meant that it criticizes aspects of idealist philosophy including its denial of matter, its claim that matter is unknowable, and the constitutive role of consciousness. Within the context of this tradition, materialism means, first of all, making nature the object of inquiry. Max Horkheimer emphatically emphasized that materialism is not another type of metaphysics or philosophy. It is always — and this is my first thesis — a political-strategic intervention that contests religious and spiritualist explanations of the world because such explanations have always been closely connected to domination and exploitation. Materialism does not aim to create a comprehensive philosophical system of thought, nor is it connected to a body of philosophical texts; instead, it is concerned with praxis and tries to contribute to its further understanding.

However, ever since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries materialism has been predominantly mechanistic and deterministic, and for that reason it has been criticized by critical theory. While it was fitting that materialism was mechanistic and deterministic in the Renaissance and afterwards, such definitions have proven inadequate for more modern phases of social development. Marx criticized the materialist tradition up to the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach for tending to turn materialism into a philosophy. He wrote that sensuousness, when viewed philosophically, was conceived as the form of the object, or of contemplation, rather than as ‘sensuous human activity’, as ‘objective activity’, which is a practice performed by active people.1 In opposition to deterministic materialism, Marx argued that this active side was abstractly developed by idealism. Marx rejected the kind of naturalism according to which society is constituted as it is because it is determined by nature, a perspective which included ideas like: tools as the extension of organs, the genetic determination of individuals, the existing social division of labour between above and below, women and men, the powerful and the subaltern, or all such hierarchies that are given based on the argument that the collective cannot survive unless the many do not subordinate to the command of the few. As the contrary of this position, materialism wants to understand natural and social processes in order to be in a position to push back against the realm of nature as ‘wholly determined’, and in this way make room for freedom.

Against the background of this criticism, materialism — according to Horkheimer and Antonio Gramsci — represents an immanent-philosophical understanding of humans in relation to the world. This means that materialism is not about the reduction of society, of thought and meaning, or of individual or collective action to matter that is ‘out there’. What is important about Marx’s argument here is that he understands human practice and the external world as a unity, or, to use Gramsci’s phrase in the Prison Notebooks, as a ‘historical block’.

Accordingly, nature is not grasped as an ‘object’, that is, as an already-and-always-to-be-found object of rule. Individuals are purposively active towards nature, that is, towards the ‘outside’. This ‘outside’ is the concrete outside of a historically specific ‘inside’ that people appropriate and transform through their terms, theories, technologies, and practices. Indeed, Marx characterizes labour as a ‘process between man and nature’ in which man ‘mediates his metabolism with nature through his own action’ (seinen Stoffwechsel mit der Natur durch seine eigne Tat vermittelt).2 Furthermore, through their activity they also change, to various degrees, themselves, their thinking, their sensual experiences, nature, other people, and, finally, the concrete species itself.

Material practices, it is important to note, include thought and discourse as social activities and not only as physical and neurophysiological processes. The senses, perceptions, experiences, and concepts all represent concrete practices; each are connected with specific aesthetic, discursive, or scientific relations, or with conceptual-theoretical-technical means of production. Because material practices intervene in these relationships, they can also be said to shape them.

Materialism opposes the school of thought that subordinates human practices to metaphysical principles, norms, or universals. It views the practices themselves as being historically specific, which includes the metaphysical and idealist practices and habits of thought that people engage in within concrete historical relationships. There is no search for an origin or a primal position, principles from which everything else can be deduced, or norms that can provide a conclusive reason for morally correct action. Contrary to what even critical materialism and its followers often claim, economics is not a primal reason either. It is itself contingent, something that can appear as conditioned by specific power relationships. Materialism, I argue, does not deal with desires, projections, or value judgments that deny or gloss over reality, but rather with the concrete thinking and acting of concrete people at a particular historical point in time. This kind of materialist immanence is often subjectively experienced as unsettling and difficult to bear because there is no ontological assurance, no foundation, no bottom line in nature and its supposedly eternal laws, no universal truth, and no sense to history or even to individual existence.

Critical Materialism

Above all else, materialism is critical and historical — and this, following Horkheimer, is my second thesis — because what is considered matter changes historically. Materialism refers to the concrete problems and challenges that specific people in specific social relations have to deal with at a certain point in time. This can include the cosmos, the body, the economy, modes of communication, gender, or the environment. The appropriation of nature always takes place within a concrete division of labour among people and the connection of their actions with tools and nature to form a ‘historical block’; one which is, under the conditions of ‘pre-history’, not organized rationally but rather in terms of economic exploitation as well as political or cultural domination. The decisive materialist-historical question is, therefore, which of the different materialities is dominant in a given conjuncture of the circle as a whole: the appropriation of nature, health, science and technology, state power, culture and consensus, gender relations, or racism.

To the extent that property relations rule over human beings it is true to say that they are forced to submit to those who claim ownership of the means of production and, in the name of the self-maintenance of the collective, claim that freedom for all is not yet possible and the majority of people must therefore be led by a minority in order to guarantee the survival and welfare of all. According to this view, sacrifices are expected to maintain the collective. The most recent evidence of this practice can be seen in the appeals from US politicians for workers to return to work even if this poses, in the context of the Sars-CoV-2-pandemic, a threat to their health and life. As President Trump put it, going back to work could hit individuals hard but what mattered was reopening the American economy.

Even under this hegemony of capitalist owners there are elements of freedom in the planning and design of products, in the work process itself, or in the forms of social cooperation. Critical materialism thus raises the question of the order of priority of one practice over another. It criticizes the fact that under conditions of domination the intellectual competencies and practical activities of most people are formed in such a way that enables and sustains the reproduction of domination. Freedom, thought, concepts, and sensory experiences are of secondary importance for many people because they have no control over fundamental relations, and therefore they distance themselves from their own capabilities for critical thinking. Materialism thus criticizes any dependence on the appropriation of nature and argues for an historical change in the order of practices such that people can freely shape the conditions under which they live. Therefore, materialism is transformed into what can be paradoxically called material idealism.


Political philosophy often views politics as the sphere of freedom. Accordingly, politics is not conceived of as a matter of an instrumental disposition over nature, which would involve the creation of objects, but rather a challenging collective discussion of issues concerning living together and the common good. Critical materialism doubts the validity of such an emphatic conception of politics. Horkheimer pointedly formulated an opposing position: politics is the epitome of all the paths that lead to the domination of humans over nature, and of humans over other humans, and the means by which this domination is sustained.3 Critical materialism opposes Hegel’s idea that, at least in the case of the state, there can be an instance of the general and an embodiment of a general will, for according to this tradition there is no overall subject of society or united and reconciled humanity. Under conditions of market competition and the private ownership of the means of production, interests are tied together in multiple ways. Individual self-preservation in the face of possible destruction depends on others being materially worse off and dependent, and staying that way. The policies that the state pursues by means of a multitude of apparatuses are only the result of short or medium-term compromises between powerful individuals and groups; therefore, they can be highly diverse and contradictory. Domination prevents questions concerning the public good from being freely discussed and decided for in favour of the good of all. Private actors, pursuing particular interests, make decisions affecting the public good and the development of society as a whole. In a market, economic freedom is limited to those few who have asserted themselves within the struggle over the surplus product and economic competition.

The numerous discussions of this minority, which the bourgeoisie support within an array of organizations within civil society, represent a pursuit in which individuals attempt to position themselves favourably within the struggle over the surplus product and economic competition; that is, they try to avoid mistakes, anticipate future developments, pre-empt competitors, and structure actors’ expectations. Private actors — such as corporations or owners of capital — determine the resources available to society (for example, machines or raw materials) according to certain paths of development, and compel others to accept this determination or to assert their private interests. In the event of disappointments, action turns into silence, apathy, and political distance, or takes the form of protest, which in turn can be devalued as isolated, and thus inconsequential, events. If all goes according to plan, government policies accompany and coordinate these investment and structuring processes throughout the different areas of society — that is, industry, finance, development of technology, raw materials, transport, production of knowledge, work skills and a work ethic, nutrition, health, housing, and mobility — in order to avoid too much friction or even setbacks in development (such as when a factory cannot find the necessary qualified workforce, cannot transport products, has no legal certainty, cannot count on credit, or faces bankruptcy). Policies and policy makers must be carefully informed, influenced, monitored, tested, and evaluated by society’s dominant actors, because activities within the political sphere are carried out by individuals unilaterally and according to particular interests: income, career, or influence. In such a system, inability, ignorance, inefficiency, corruption, arbitrariness, and conflicts among politicians can affect political decision making and administration.

Marx described the consequences of this chiasma of factors for capitalist-bourgeois society very well: Firstly, at the level of private owners of capital seeking their own benefit, decisions important to society as a whole are constantly being taken at a sub-political level. With the increasing centralization of corporate power, the effects of these decisions constraining the public good continually expand over time: they more greatly affect both nature and people and reach further and further into the future. Secondly, the political community in which man behaves as a communal being in terms of the general public serves only to protect the private interests and needs of citizens as selfish individuals. This also applies to those who act on behalf of the general public. The common good is the subject of private calculations by officials and representatives; it is a practical illusion of the state. In Marx’s words, the state can be considered an ‘illusory general estate’.4 For, under the conditions he outlined, what is supposed to be general is not decided upon on the basis of general considerations, but rather represents a compromise between different powerful groups which is formed under the leadership of one of these groups. The state is the particular social practice that enables such compromises between the individual market players.

Politics is thus bound up with something illusory, something fabricated, and with Marx’s help I would like to explain this idea further. In his analysis of the French Revolution, Marx argues that in revolutionary processes lower classes become political idealists and feel that they are the representatives of general social needs. Because these classes see themselves as representing the generality of each particular historical moment, they shape, in each historical moment, the formulas embodying common goals which mobilize the short-term enthusiasm and agreement of large crowds of people. But the political enthusiasm of the constitutive moment which seizes people, their political slogans and formulas, and their coalitions and alliances immediately disperses in light of the goals and needs of other classes or groups, for whom the common goals turn out, as the political process continues, to be deceptions: women (who do not appear at all), urban workers, the veterans of the revolutionary army, farm workers and small farmers, and colonized people. That is why Marx criticized ‘political reason’ [politischer Verstand, translated by ‘political mind’] in principle.5

The French revolutionaries of 1789 were paradigmatically tied to such ‘political reason’. They believed in political power and political will; therefore, they could not recognize that the source of social deficiencies was to be found in the state, but believed instead that social deficiencies were the source of political evils. They thought they could eliminate these evils through politics by trying to establish equality at the low level and form of a petit-bourgeois equality. This led to politics becoming more and more authoritarian, because revolutionary leaders such as Robespierre suspected individuals of deliberately opposing this politics of equality.

Against this viewpoint, Marx argued that no government in the world can eliminate pauperism — and we can say today that Marx was right.6 And the same can be said for the exploitation of nature: despite many political assurances and treaties, no government in the world will prevent climate change. Therefore, according to Marx, it is wrong to appeal again and again to a political will. Instead, it would be better to analyse the material practices of politics and pursue other practices.

Politics as Illusion

Marx has been critically interpreted in such a way that portrays him as reducing politics to mere appearances and therefore not taking them seriously enough. Along these lines, Slavoj Žižek has accused Marxism of understanding politics merely as shadow theatre, but this kind of criticism is paradoxical and quite contradictory.7 For, when Marx is properly understood according to a critical materialist theory of society, ‘illusions’ and ‘shadow theatre’ must be taken very seriously. They represent their own practices and social realities, which in turn have effects in the real world.

I want to argue that Marx really did condemn politics as an illusion. He thought of ‘political reason’ [‘political understanding’] as ‘spiritualist’,8 and he meant that seriously and critically, for politics consumes a lot of time and produces extensive material effects with its own kind of spiritualism. Marx’s critical point here is that political reason obscures the roots of social distress and falsifies the insights of those who really want to change social reality, because thinking in terms of politics suggests that all surface phenomena are founded on the will of individuals who do not do what they could or should do. Everything is transformed into a will; objective processes are personalized. The remedy for such a situation seems to be the overthrow of certain forms of the state. As I already explained above, the spiritualism of the political does not only act as an obstacle to knowledge but also represents an additional moment in the reproduction of the separation of the general from the particular, in this case, the community from the unique life of the individual. In other words, the very illusion of politics is a material practice; and it poses a problem in that it impairs emancipatory action because it pursues goals that must remain fruitless.

Although, when speaking of illusion, it would seem to make sense to look for the reality behind it, critical materialism asks a different question; what reality requires these illusions and, contra the Enlightenment, always produces them?9 A basic premise of this question is that a certain reality cannot exist without the illusions also found within it. Marx’s own research did not only lead him to hard facts, to economic matters, to nature and work, but instead to another metaphysical, theological, spiritual level of reality: the metaphysics of the value of commodities and money. This is the illusion he was interested in. Marx saw money and value as kinds of religious transubstantiation and also as irrational objects, given his view that human labour has no value and no price. However, it is characteristic of the capitalist appropriation of surplus labour from those subjected to domination that the relations of concrete people — those who perform particular tasks within the division of societal labour as a whole — take the form of value, a created thing, with the expended labour power presenting itself as the value of a commodity. With such a system, people face their own cooperative labour as an objective relation that unfolds following the dynamic of the play of supply and demand of the market. What Marx has discovered has a specific ontological status. For the value of the human capacity for work is something irrational, something non-existent and fictitious which nevertheless determines the actions of people.

To make this insight even clearer, one can turn to Louis Althusser’s explanation of the concept of ideology using the example of religion. If one were to follow the Enlightenment’s critique, one would argue that there is no God. In this case, the expectation is that people will no longer believe in Him because, based on scientific, evidence-based knowledge, one can say that there is no such world above the clouds. However, surprisingly, one finds that people continue to believe in God, in the power of the star constellations or in natural forces. Here it is a matter of how religions are criticized, for according to the Enlightenment’s understanding, belief in God is described in the psychological and philosophical terms of a philosophy of consciousness: it is understood as something that takes place sensibly in the flow of thought of the individual and that refuses to reason and reflect empirically.

From the perspective of critical materialism, one would speak of a false consciousness that should in fact dissolve. But the deeper question is to ask why the belief in God persists, reproduces, and even spreads. This is the starting point of Althusser’s theory of ideology. Its decisive modification in the conception of materialism consists in precisely the sort of analytical shift I have outlined regarding religion. According to his theory of ideology, religious beliefs and attitudes must be taken seriously: God exists simply because He is a worldly practice of individuals and collectives. Practices take place as though He existed: people kneel, fold their hands, sing hymns, kill others in the name of God, or have their children baptized. Althusser carries out a materialist proof of God by showing how He exists in all these practices, rituals, and discourses. Althusser’s theory is useful to show how these processes reproduce certain kinds of subjectivization which, at the same time, subjugate people and make them into the free subjects of their actions, which in turn isolates them from each other and brings them under a collective ‘third term’, whether it be God or nation or gender.

I think a distinction made by Foucault would be helpful here to understand the peculiar ontological distinction between being and consciousness which is at play here. Foucault argues that one has to leave aside universals such as the people, state, or civil society, and start instead with concrete practices. Pursuing this line of thought, he claims that madness, delinquency, and sexuality do not exist as such [as ‘ready-made object’] and yet are nevertheless something.10 He is gesturing toward those ‘interferences’, which make ‘something non-existent still something while remaining non-existent’. Analogously, he also says that the economy and politics do not exist, as they are not existing things, errors, illusions, or ideologies. They are ‘things that do not exist and yet which are inscribed in reality’.11

Politics as Illusion: Two Misunderstandings

According to critical materialism’s understanding of things, politics is really a kind of spiritualism and it is illusory. It does not exist, but with its interferences it is and does something. This point is made with three arguments that I would like now to briefly repeat and expand on.

a) The political community appears as the authority of the general and confirms individuals in their bourgeois, selfish isolation from each other. Individuals experience their social context through money and the state. They only experience their connection — entirely in the religious tradition — through a third, a general, to which they have to submit and over which they have hardly any influence. Individuals always remain particular and face the state as the general, and the state as general confronts them in the form of legal norms or administrative power as a foreign force. This still applies even if you can identify with individual regulations and measures, or if you also enjoy advantages. For just as they can favour an individual or a group in the name of the general public, they can also disadvantage them in the name of the general public.

b) Politics personalizes social processes because everything appears as a result of a will of individuals, their power, their special ability or inability. The general cannot appear directly as a general, but must always take the form of individual actors. This gives the impression that political goals are not being pursued, or are not being pursued adequately, because the wrong person is responsible or is doing the wrong thing and vice versa: if a policy is to be prevented, it appears as if a concrete person is the obstacle and must therefore be pushed out of the political function (‘Merkel must go’).

c) There can be no collective subject and no collective will under capitalist conditions, the general is illusory. Powerful particular forces agree on a compromise on how to divide and use the power of the state.

I would like to now briefly address two possible misunderstandings. The first misunderstanding is that the state is associated with the claim to generality: it is the means through which generally binding rules are created and enforced. However, these rules, which affect many social contexts, always represent compromises that relevant forces can agree upon at a certain point in time. The struggle for the establishment of general rules and their use is an ongoing one, so they are never, in fact, general. The general is constantly being postponed. For example, bureaucracies can undermine it, powerful social actors can ignore a rule, try to enforce new rules, make use of grey areas of existing rules, or use laws to dominate weaker social agents, who then have to fight for new rules but cannot prevail for years or decades. In this way the generality of the law becomes a powerful force against the subaltern.

The second misunderstanding concerns the illusionary general. When using this term, I do not draw upon the Rousseauian expectation of a real, uniform general public, as if there could be a people’s sovereign who was not shaped by many different interests and ways of life. However, I also do not draw on the expectation that discursive decision-making in the public sphere could solve the problem of the illusory character of the general. Rather, from the point of view of critical materialism, we are concerned here with two things. Firstly, new forms of coordination must arise from within the social processes of work, whereby those who do socially performed work also coordinate themselves, and no longer fall under the command and control rights of powerful owners. Secondly, there will be different interests, but these will be coordinated according to the nature of the specific socially performed work to be done by those performing it. Coordination does not take place under the aegis of the (national) state as the general, but is a collective will that is determined by those who take part in decision-making from the perspective of their contribution to overall socially performed work.

The Reality of Ghosts

Critical materialism can be said to be concerned with the reality of ghosts and the undead precisely because the political mind is spiritual, and because the economy is theological and metaphysical, and therefore involves the rule of the dead over the living. The consequences for a materialist relationship to politics is obvious. It is critical of and dismissively hostile to politics as well as the economy. Marx, as well as Althusser and Foucault, all argue against acting politically, for politics represents an imaginary, that is, a metaphysical form of practice, one which has far-reaching consequences for people, especially in its imaginary, metaphysical form. Since Marx, critical materialism has been concerned with not restricting itself to prehistory, but to give space instead to world-opening practices — that is, to a freedom that is no longer restricted by the ‘prehistory’ of the preservation interests of the owners of dead capital.

Foucault argues that criticizing the local power of psychiatric practices and institutions of prisons, or blaming reason in general, is not enough. According to him, one must ask how such power relations are rationalized. Asking this question ‘is the only way to avoid other institutions, with the same objectives and the same effects, from taking their stead’.12 Liberation is achieved only by attacking the roots of political rationality itself.

But for the time being, politics cannot be avoided, as Foucault proved beyond measure with his own engagement. In a similar vein, Adorno argued for a dialectical understanding of the nature of the political. Although politics is ideological and an epiphenomenon, it is in fact covering up what is actually going on: it has, in short, real effects. But politics also has the potential to act on the societal substructure and change it.13 That is why the decisive practice takes the form of politics — but with the aim of abolishing this form.14 It is a Beckett-like situation: even if you cannot go on, you have to go on; so that, paraphrasing Marx,15 once humans [the world] awaken from the dream about themselves that they live in, and with their last rather than their first political act enter into their own, self-created reality, they will become materialists — but this will only be possible if they have moved beyond both idealism and materialism.

Translated by Ron Faust


  1. This is the first thesis on Feuerbach. Cf. Karl Marx, ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, ed. by Friedrich Engels, in MECW [Marx & Engels Collected Works, see abbreviations], v (1976), pp. 6-8 (p. 6); in German: Karl Marx, ‘Thesen über Feuerbach’, in MEW [Marx-Engels-Werke, see abbreviations], iii (1975), pp. 5–7 (p. 5).
  2. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 3 vols (London: Penguin, 1976), i, trans. by Ben Fowkes, p. 283; translation modified.
  3. Max Horkheimer, ‘Anfänge der bürgerlichen Geschichtsphilosophie’, in Gesammelte Schriften, 19 vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1987), ii, pp. 177–268 (p. 183).
  4. Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, in MECW, iii, pp. 3–129 (p. 50).
  5. Karl Marx, ‘Critical Marginal Notes on the Article “The King of Prussia and Social Reform. By a Prussian”’, in MECW, iii, pp. 189–206 (p. 199); ‘Kritische Randglossen zu dem Artikel “Der König von Preußen und die Sozialreform. Von einem Preußen”’, in MEW, i (1981), pp. 392–409 (p. 402).
  6. China confirms this insight once again: The Communist Party continues the Jacobin tradition. However, invoking Communism proves to be in vain if the private or state disposition over living labour is not eliminated; poverty is renewed and returns at a higher level, as it always will in all capitalist societies.
  7. Cf. Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999).
  8. Marx, ‘Critical Marginal Notes’, p. 203.
  9. Cf. Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction, in MECW, iii, pp. 175–87 (p. 176).
  10. Cf. Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78, ed. by Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 118; and Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, ed. by Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 19.
  11. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 20.
  12. Michel Foucault ‘“Omnes et Singulatim”: Toward a Critique of Political Reason’, in Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Power, ed. by Paul Rabinow, James D. Faubion (New York: New Press, 2001), pp. 298–325 (p. 325).
  13. Theodor W. Adorno, Philosophische Elemente einer Theorie der Gesellschaft (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2008 [1964]), footnote, p. 67.
  14. Letter from Adorno to Horkheimer 11 March 1957, in Adorno, Theodor W., and Max Horkheimer, Briefwechsel, 4 vols, in Theodor W. Adorno. Briefe und Briefwechsel, 8vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1994–), iv.4: 1950–1969 (2006), p. 454.
  15. Karl Marx, ‘Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher’, in MECW, iii, pp. 133–45 (p. 144).


  1. Adorno, Theodor W., Philosophische Elemente einer Theorie der Gesellschaft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2008)
  2. Adorno, Theodor W., and Max Horkheimer, Briefwechsel, 4 vols, in Theodor W. Adorno. Briefe und Briefwechsel, 8vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1994–), iv.4: 1950–1969 (2006)
  3. Foucault, Michel, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–79, ed. by Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
  4. ‘“Omnes et Singulatim”: Toward a Critique of Political Reason’, in Essential Works of Foucault 1954–1984: Power, ed. by Paul Rabinow, James D. Faubion (New York: New Press, 2001), pp. 298–325
  5. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78, ed. by Arnold I. Davidson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
  6. Horkheimer, Max, ‘Anfänge der bürgerlichen Geschichtsphilosophie’, in Gesammelte Schriften, 19 vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1987), ii, pp. 177–268
  7. Marx, Karl, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 3 vols (London: Penguin, 1976), i, trans. by Ben Fowkes
  8. Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, in MECW, iii (1975), pp. 3–129
  9. Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction, in MECW, iii (1975), pp. 175–87
  10. ‘Critical Marginal Notes on the Article “The King of Prussia and Social Reform. By a Prussian”’, in MECW, iii (1975), pp. 189–206
  11. ‘Kritische Randglossen zu dem Artikel “Der König von Preußen und die Sozialreform. Von einem Preußen”’, in MEW, i (1981), pp. 392–409
  12. ‘Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher’, in MECW, iii (1975), pp. 133–45
  13. ‘Thesen über Feuerbach’, in MEW, iii (1958), pp. 5–7
  14. ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, ed. by Friedrich Engels, in MECW, v (1976), pp. 6–8
  15. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works, 50 vols (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1975–2004) [=MECW]
  16. Marx-Engels-Werke, 44 vols (Berlin: Dietz, 1956–2018) [=MEW]
  17. Žižek, Slavoj, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999)