Capitalism's anxious whole: Fear, capture and escape in the Grundrisse

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Two Hegels inhabit the Grundrisse. The first is conservative of the "selfsame" subject that continuously returns to itself as non-identical identity and propels "history". The other Hegel tarries with the "negative" he (which or variously calls "non-being", "otherness" "difference") to disrupt this plenary subject to Marx's reading of a Hegel who is different-in-himself lends Grundrisse its electric buzz: seizing Hegel's "negative" as the not-value of value, i.e. "labor", Marx explains how capital must continuously enroll labor to its will in order to survive and expand. But this enrollment is never given; hence, despite its emergent structure of necessity, capital's return to itself as "self-animating value" is never free of peril. The most speculative aspect of my argument is that the figure of "labor" in Grundrisse, because of its radically open formulation as not-value, anticipates the elusive subject of difference in postcolonial theory, "the subaltern" - that figure which evades dialectical integration, and is in some ontological way inscrutable to the "master". Unexpectedly, then Grundrisse gives us a way to think beyond the epistemic and geographic power of "Europe".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-878
Number of pages22
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008


  • Geography
  • Hegel
  • Marx
  • Postcoloniality
  • Subaltern
  • Value

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