In my post a few days ago, I proposed one way of looking at the ideology critique that runs through Marx’s writings – namely, in terms of a synchronic and diachronic grid. At the center of the grid, at the defining source of the synchronic and the diachronic, is an impossible present – which, from the Derridian perspective, joins – and logically can’t join – the synchronic and the diachronic, the modern and the historical. To my mind, this point is defined by revolution. Revolution here is the ground of the possibility of Marx’s own writing – his own thought, his own liberation. Marx is a unique social theorist in as much as his understanding of modernity, while it uses the apparatus of the positivist truth procedure and even offers predictions, such as those having to do with the crises of capitalism, does not stand or fall with the truth procedure, but with this revolutionary moment. Marx recognizes that the political economists are playing a kind of fixed game by presenting us with models that serve as the unquestioned reference points of our truth procedure. They, too, have a problem with the moment that ties together the synchronic and diachronic axes of their interpretation – but their strategy is to get around this moment by adopting infinite deferral, by changing the conversation, by promising to reform and repair a system that their very models mystify. The bourgeoisie have, indeed, made universal history possible – and in this sense have, indeed, operated on a worldwide revolutionary basis – but have done so within a sort of neurosis – to use a very non-Marxian term. The neurosis, or ideology, systematically trivializes its founding discovery – freedom – while encouraging the penetration of an economic system of commodity fetishism into every sphere of our private life. Marx likes to exaggerate this penetration – in fact, almost three hundred years after Adam Smith, altruism and a patchwork of non-fungible economic relationships are still the basis of private life. Prostitution has not replaced marriage; nor has the egotism of the marvelous Sadean fucker replaced the altruism of the harried parental unit.
In this sense, Lukacs is right in History and Class Consciousness:
“Materialist dialectic is a revolutionary dialectic. This definition is so important and altogether so crucial for an understanding of its nature that if the problem is to be approached in the right way this must be fully grasped before we venture upon a discussion of the dialectical method itself. The issue turns on the question of theory and practice. And this not merely in the sense given it by Marx when he says in his first critique of Hegel that “theory becomes a material force when it grips the masses.”  Even more to the point is the need to discover those features and definitions both of the theory and the ways of gripping the masses which convert the theory, the dialectical method, into a vehicle of revolution.”
While, at first glance, one might classify Marx, in Bakhtinian terms, as a great monologist, in actuality he is always pursuing a dialogue. The dialogue is not just with the masses – or rather, it is with the masses in the same way the dialogue of actors in a play take as a dialogue partner the audience that listens to them. Rather, his dialogue partners are very much in the mode of the figures that the Nephew of Rameau parodies in Diderot’s dialogue. Marx is an indefatigable ventriloquist. Like other highly sensitive post-Romantics – Flaubert, Baudelaire, Karl Kraus – he has such sensitive skin that the misuse of language can give him a rash. And so one feels him furiously scratching as he imagines his dialogue partners, from Adam Smith to Bastiat.
Thus, even as he pursues a serious theme, like commodity fetishism, and seeks to demonstrate the ideology that makes the classical economist attribute exchange value to nature, he goes off – like a blister in the sun – to do something more than argue against the ideologue. It is in this sense that he is more dialogic than monologic – by refusing the protocols of turntaking that structure argument, and using, instead, the full register given to him by world literature, that recent event to which he gives special mention in the Communist Manifesto.
Here’s an example of how sense and speech act cannot be separated in Capital:
“Since the commodity form is the most universal and most undeveloped form of bourgeois production – and for that exact reason is the first to emerge – although not in the same dominant, and thus characteristic manner as today – its fetish character seems relatively easy to see through. By concreter forms even this semblence of simplicity itself disappears. From whence stems the illusions of the monetary system? It isn’t in looking at the gold and silver themselves, for they are presented as money for a society’s production relationship, although in the form of natural things with curious social properties. And doesn’t the fetishim become palpable in the modern economist, who with a high and mighty air grins down at the money system, as soon as it is a question of capital? For how long has the physiocratic illusion been dissipated that rents on land grow out of the earth, and not out of society?
But yet in order not to get ahead of ourselves, it is enough here to mention an example with relation to the commodity form itself. If commodities could speak, so they would say, that our use values might concern men – but they don’t concern us as things. What thing-lishly concerns us, is our value. Our own intercourse [Verkehr] as commodity things shows this. We are related only as exchange values with each other. Now listen as the economist speaks out of the soul of the commodity. [Man höre nun, wie der Ökonom aus der Warenseele heraus spricht]
As so often in the first book of Capital, the serious point here is put in terms of a joke, a killing joke, so to speak.
“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears
Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads