Science and Society 63 (2):145 - 172 (1999)

Derrida's treatise on Marxism, Spectres of Marx, sheds light on the politics of Derridean deconstruction. It is worth taking seriously Derrida's efforts to ally his project, both strategically and critically, with a "left," "democratic," even Marxist one, and to advance the debate regarding the status of deconstruction within such a project. Nevertheless, his reading of Marxism and his call for a New International indicate the limitations of deconstructive theory for precisely the kind of strategic and radically democratic project that Derrida advocates. These limitations arise from a number of sources, including: an abiding ambivalence regarding the "materialist" status of his project, the difficulties that arise from his definition of "justice" as différance in application to an analysis of oppression, an oversimplification of debates about the ontological status of class in Marxist theory, confusion regarding the political logic of the radical democratic project, and both inconsistency and vagueness in the theorization of the "present" proposed in deconstructive terms.
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