The Enlightenment Promise and its Remains: Derrida and Benjamin on the Classless Society

Fritsch, Matthias
July 2002
Human Studies;2002, Vol. 25 Issue 3, p289
Academic Journal
In this article the author focuses on the question of enlightenment and the classless society. Here the author wants to consider these questions by reading Walter Benjamin's and Jacques Derrida's renegotiations of Karl Marx's promise for the classless society, a promise that is perhaps not as far from Immanuel Kant's promise as one might think. The history of Marxism proves a particular case here not only because its promise assumed such a ghostly and therefore question-begging quality after the fall of the wall and the demise of the Soviet Union, but also because this history is entrenched in the most painful violence of the last century, in part committed in the name of Marx's promise. The author argues that both Benjamin and Derrida respond in mutually illuminating ways to the task of inheriting a promise while not forgetting its victims of the past. In two brief sections, the author follows their re-inscriptions of the very notion of the promise such that it takes up a dimension of a mournful and mindful memory.


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