Class, Surplus and Exploitation. The Laclau- Mouffean Interpretation of Marxism

Pléyade 1 (29):107-125 (2022)
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The post-Marxist stance against class politics unearths significant political demands often neglected by Marxism. However, in Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s approach, this step forward is followed by two steps back. They deny that class struggle against capitalist exploitation has any political significance for the masses or any essential link with the socialist-democratic project. But they do so at the cost of misrepresenting Marxian theory and underestimating the global phenomenon of labour exploitation. This faux pas is due to two misconceptions at the core of the Laclau-Mouffean critique: an ambiguity in the use they make of the economic concept of surplus, and an incorrect identification of working-class and productive workers. With Laclau and Mouffe, I share the firm conviction in the necessity of a post-Marxian theory. Nevertheless, post-Marxism will be just as robust as our Marxist bedrocks.

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