This seminar will elucidate the fundamental tenets of Marx’s philosophy, as well as their importance for understanding and transforming the contemporary world order. It will begin by explaining key concepts like historical materialism, class struggle, alienation, the labor theory of value, ideology and revolution. It will then briefly discuss a few of the important debates in the deep and broad history of Marxism in order to explore some of the ways that Marx’s work has been interpreted and transformed by subsequent generations. Finally, the course will focus in on what Marxist analysis has to contribute to contemporary debates and struggles by demonstrating how it can help us understand phenomena such as the environmental catastrophe, the increasing social inequality of globalization, the carceral state and its relationship to electoral democracy, the military-industrial-academic complex, institutional racism and gender inequality. Although the course will be directed at a lay audience, it will pedagogically build up its analysis in such a way that it will also serve the interests of those with a working knowledge of Marx and Marxism.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to present an abbreviated version of one of my forthcoming articles at the University of Shanghai on October 13, 2019. The title and abstract are below.
The Myth of ’68 Thought: Historical Commodity Fetishism and Ideological Rollback
This paper critically examines the widespread assumption that there is such a profound connection between French theory and the political events of 68 that the former merits the title of ‘68 thought.’ It begins by a materialist analysis of the historical relationship between the most prominent representatives of French theory—ranging from Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida to Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Lacan—and the actual political events unfolding at the time. After demonstrating their distance from the major political mobilizations, which often included an overt rejection of them, the paper turns to the larger cultural question of the ways in which the myth of 68 thought was produced, as well as to the issue of its social function in the global theory industry. It is in this light that it proposes an analysis of the historical commodity fetichism around 68, before concluding with a critical assessment of how the presumed radicality of “68 thinkers” serves to police the left border of critique.
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to present my research on a counter-history of liberalism and fascism at this conference at UC Santa Cruz on October 10th and 11th:
I’m excited to have the opportunity to participate in this event organized by Michael Lardner for the Marxist Education Project.
Click here (or see below) to watch my lecture at the Critical Theory Workshop‘s spring symposium on Counter-History and Theory at the University of Pennsylvania on April 26, 2019, entitled “From Counter-History to Subterranean History: Soft Power and the Construction of ‘French Theory.'” (discussant: Jennifer Ponce de León).
I was interviewed by Jennifer Ponce de León about my book Counter-History of the Present, and how it relates to genealogy, deconstruction and anticolonial theory. Click here for a link to the interview, and here for a pdf. The title of the interview is “Materialist Deconstruction, Anticolonial Geographies, and the Limits of Genealogy: An Interview on Counter-History of the Present.”
In this wide-ranging interview, Gabriel Rockhill discusses his most recent book, Counter-History of the Present, in the broader context of his research to date on aesthetics, politics and history, as well as its relationship to important interlocutors like Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière, Jacques Derrida, Frantz Fanon and Simone de Beauvoir. He explains the similarities and important differences between genealogy and counter-history, and he elucidates how his work performs a materialist deconstruction that contests the idealist logocentrism operative in purely textualist modes of interpretation. The interview also develops an account of “radical geography” that calls into question culturalist spatial imaginaries, which plague certain forms of decolonial theory that diminish or efface social stratification and class conflict. The discussion thereby contributes to the development of a new model for critical social theory with an internationalist perspective, which seeks to weave these conceptual innovations into a rigorous and radical materialism.