Etienne Balibar

Étienne Balibar (born April 23, 1942 in Avallon, Bourgogne, France) is a French Marxist philosopher. After the death of his teacher Louis Althusser, Balibar quickly became the leading exponent of French Marxist philosophy.

Life and work

Balibar first rose to prominence as one of Althusser's pupils at the École Normale Supérieure. Balibar was a participant in Althusser's seminar on Karl Marx's Das Kapital. This seminar resulted in the book entitled Reading Capital, coauthored by Althusser and his students, among whom Althusser considered Balibar's contribution the foremost. Balibar currently teaches philosophy and political theory at Paris X Nanterre and University of California, Irvine.

In Masses, Classes and Ideas, Balibar argues that in Das Kapital, the theory of historical materialism comes into conflict with the critical theory that Marx begins to develop, particularly in his analysis of the category of labor, which in capitalism, becomes a form of property. This conflict involves two distinct uses of the term "labor": labor as the revolutionary class subject (i.e., the "proletariat") and labor as an objective condition for the reproduction of capitalism (the "working class"). In The German Ideology, Marx conflates these two meanings of labor, and treats labor as, in Balibar’s words, the “veritable site of truth as well as the place from which the world is changed..." In Capital, however, the disparity between these two senses of labor becomes apparent. One manifestation of this is the virtual disappearance in the text of the term "proletariat." As Balibar points out, the term appears only twice in the first edition of Capital, published in 1867: in the dedication to Wilhelm Wolff and in the two final sections on the "General Law of Capitalist Accumulation". For Balibar, what this problem implies is that "the emergence of a revolutionary form of subjectivity (or identity... is never a specific property of nature, and therefore brings with it no guarantees, but obliges us to search for the conditions in a conjuncture that can precipitate class struggles into mass movements...". Moreover, "[t]here is no proof… that these forms are always and eternally the same (for example, the party-form, or the trade union)."

Balibar's daughter is the actress Jeanne Balibar.

Bibliography

Works in French

  • 1965: Lire le Capital. With Louis Althusser et al.
  • 1974: Cinq Etudes du Matérialisme Historique.
  • 1985: Spinoza et la politique.
  • 1988: Race, Nation, Classe. With Immanuel Wallerstein.
  • 1991: Écrits pour Althusser.
  • 1997: La crainte des masses.
  • 1998: Droit de cité. Culture et politique en démocratie.
  • 1999: Sans-papiers: l’archaïsme fatal.
  • 2001: Nous, citoyens d’Europe? Les frontières, l’État, le peuple.
  • 2003: L'Europe, l'Amérique, la Guerre. Réflexions sur la médiation européenne.
  • 2005: Europe, Constitution, Frontière.

Selected translations

  • 1970: Reading Capital (London: NLB). With Louis Althusser. Trans. Ben Brewster.
  • 1991: Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London & New York: Verso). With Immanuel Wallerstein. Trans. Chris Turner.
  • 1994: Masses, Classes, Ideas: Studies on Politics and Philosophy Before and After Marx (New York & London: Routledge). Trans. James Swenson.
  • 1995: The Philosophy of Marx (London & New York: Verso). Trans. Chris Turner.
  • 1998: Spinoza and Politics (London & New York: Verso). Trans. Peter Snowdon.
  • 2002: Politics and the Other Scene (London & New York: Verso). Trans. Christine Jones, James Swenson & Chris Turner.
  • 2004: We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press). Trans. James Swenson.

Online texts

External links

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Motto
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Marxism is both the theory and the political practice (that is, the praxis) derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Any political practice or theory that is based on an interpretation of the works of Marx and Engels may be called Marxism; this includes
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Louis Pierre Althusser (Pronunciation: altuˡseʁ) (October 16, 1918 – October 22, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy.
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See also Marxian economics, Marxism


Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are terms which cover work in philosophy which is strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory or which is written by Marxists.
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École normale supérieure (also known as Normale Sup', Normale, ENS, ENS-Paris, ENS-Ulm or Ulm) is a prestigious French grande école, possibly the most prestigious.
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Das Kapital (IPA: [das kapiˈtaːl]) (Capital, in the English translation) is an extensive treatise on political economy written by Karl Marx in German.
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Reading Capital (Lire le Capital) is a 1965 work of Marxist philosophy and theory. The book collects essays developed by Louis Althusser and his students in a seminar on Karl Marx's Das Kapital which took place earlier in 1965.
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University of California, Irvine is a public coeducational research university situated in Irvine, California. Founded in 1965, it is the second-youngest University of California campus and is widely known as UCI or UC Irvine.
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Historical materialism is the methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history which was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx himself never used the term but referred to his approach as "the materialist conception of history".
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In the humanities and social sciences, critical theory has two quite different meanings with different origins and histories, one originating in social theory and the other in literary criticism.
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labour (or labor) is a measure of the work done by human beings. It is conventionally contrasted with such other factors of production as land and capital. There are theories which have created a concept called human capital (referring to the skills that workers possess, not
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Working class is a term used in academic sociology and in ordinary conversation.

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The German Ideology (1845) was a book written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels around April or early May 1845. Marx and Engels didn't find a publisher. However, the work was later retrieved and published for the first time in 1932 by David Riazanov through the Marx-Engels
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Wilhelm Wolff (June 21 1809 - May 9 1864) was a Silesian schoolmaster. In 1831 he became active as a radical student organization member, something he was imprisoned for between 1834 and 1838.
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A trade union or labour union is an organization of workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members ("rank and file" members) and negotiates labor contracts with employers.
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Jeanne Balibar (born April 13, 1968) is a French actress.

She was born in Paris. She began her acting career on the stage, in "Don Juan" at the Festival d'Avignon. Her first film role was in Arnaud Desplechin's 1992 film The Sentinel.
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Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein (born 28 September 1930, New York City) is a U.S. sociologist by credentials, but a historical social scientist, or world-systems analyst by trade. His monthly commentaries on world affairs are syndicated by Agence Global .
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Reading Capital (Lire le Capital) is a 1965 work of Marxist philosophy and theory. The book collects essays developed by Louis Althusser and his students in a seminar on Karl Marx's Das Kapital which took place earlier in 1965.
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