On April 21st and 22nd I shall be heading north from Chapel Hill to give two lectures. At Brown, I shall be offering the last in a series of Political Theory workshops that have been taking place every second week throughout the year. Then on the 22nd, I shall speak to a faculty study group at MIT organized by a young Political Scientist there. On both occasions, my topic will be the work I have done over forty years on the thought of Karl Marx. My theme, I am a trifle embarrassed to say, is rather self-congratulatory. I shall be arguing that my work on Marx is quite literally unique. I am unaware of anyone else who has ever attempted to do what I have done. Indeed, I am unaware of anyone who has even conceived the idea of doing what I have done, namely, merging a philosophical and literary critical analysis and interpretation of Capital with a mathematical reconstruction of the economic theory set forth in that text, thereby producing not simply several disparate interpretations side by side but a unified, integrated literary/mathematical understanding of Marx’s reading of bourgeois capitalism.
There is a deeper and broader thesis underlying this work, viz. that because society is inevitably and unavoidably ideologically encoded and mystified, all fully satisfactory social theory must be written in an ironic voice that acknowledges and communicates that mystification, all the while seeking to penetrate and supersede it. One of the secondary implications of this thesis, incidentally, is that successful works of social theory, like great works of fiction, cannot be redacted in textbooks but must be read in the original authorial voice. That is why we read Capital itself even though we can quite well acquaint ourselves with Chemistry without reading Lavoisier.
The MIT folks have promised to read the brief 25,000 word summary of my work that I posted on this blog under the title “A Unified Reading of Marx.” [I sent it to them as an email attachment seven months ago.] The Brown group, alas, have not made that commitment, so I shall have to try to communicate in thirty minutes some elements of what it would take me two hours or more to summarize.
I shall report on my success or failure.