Axelos, Castoriadis, Papaioannou and Marx: towards an anti-critique

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The intellectual ferment that emerged in postwar France was marked by the renaissance of Hegel’s thought and the focus on Marx's early writings. In a parallel way, the death of Stalin, the uprising of 1953 in East Germany and the revolts in Hungary and Poland in 1956 provoked a thorough critique against the theory and practice of orthodox Marxism. The relationship between Marx and Marxism or the issue about the philosophical foundations of Marx’s thinking became the subject of long-standing controversy and gave rise to several interpretations of Marx’s work. These debates were decisively fostered by the foreign intellectuals and refugees who arrived in France after the end of the Second World War; inter alia, a generation of young Greek intellectuals that included the prominent figures of Kostas Axelos, Cornelius Castoriadis and Kostas Papaioannou. This article focuses on Axelos’, Castoriadis’ and Papaioannou’s critique of Marx and provides an anti-critique of their intellectual endeavour. It outlines the common basis of their critical confrontation with the Marxian theorizing and argues that they interpreted Marx’s thought in a manner similar to orthodox Marxism. Despite the undoubted merits of their critique, they did not take it to all its theoretical and political conclusions. As a result, the horizons they opened lack radicalism and their dialogue with Marx was left open to being misunderstood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1047
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy & Social Criticism
Issue number10
Early online date20 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


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