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Adventures of the SymbolicPost-marxism and Radical Democracy$
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Warren Breckman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143943

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143943.001.0001

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The Fate of the Symbolic from Romantic Socialism to a Marxism in extremis

The Fate of the Symbolic from Romantic Socialism to a Marxism in extremis

(p.57) Chapter Two The Fate of the Symbolic from Romantic Socialism to a Marxism in extremis
Adventures of the Symbolic

Warren Breckman

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the scandal created among Left Hegelians when Pierre Leroux, one of the leading figures of the French left in the 1830s and 1840s, chose to embrace Friedrich Schelling. At the moment when the nascent German left was stridently campaigning against Romanticism, Leroux's socialism was candidly Romantic. At the time when German leftists excluded symbolic modes from their vision of emancipation, Leroux's political project rested on a symbolic sensibility. This chapter examines how Leroux's decision to embrace Schelling opens up a quite different perspective on the political valences of the symbolic. It also traces the fate of the symbolic from pre-Marxist Romantic socialism through Karl Marx and twentieth-century philosophical Marxism up to the threshold of the collapse of French Marxism. It suggests how, at the extreme edge of Marxism's hold on the imagination of French leftist intellectuals, we find a summons to the Romantic socialists of the early nineteenth century.

Keywords:   Left Hegelians, Pierre Leroux, Friedrich Schelling, Romanticism, socialism, symbolic, Karl Marx, Marxism

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