Language and critique : Some anticipations of critical discourse studies in Marx

Jessop, Robert Douglas and Sum, Ngai-Ling (2018) Language and critique : Some anticipations of critical discourse studies in Marx. Critical Discourse Studies, 15 (4). pp. 325-337. ISSN 1740-5904

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We examine Marx’s critiques of language, politics, and capitalist political economy and show how these anticipated critical discourse and argumentation analysis and ‘cultural political economy’. Marx studied philology and rhetoric at university and applied their lessons critically. We illustrate this from three texts. The German Ideology critically explores language as practical consciousness, the division of manual and mental labor, the state, hegemony, intellectuals, and specific ideologies. The Eighteenth Brumaire studies the semantics and pragmatics of political language and how it represents (or misrepresents) the class content of politics and contributes to social transformation. Capital deconstructs the categories of classical political economy and their constitutive role in capitalist social relations. This is one aspect of CPE. Capital also highlights the structural and agential aspects of these relations, their contradictory dynamic, and their crisis-prone character. We comment on this aspect too. This said, Marx held that social transformation is mediated through political imaginaries and highlighted the need for the proletariat to develop a ‘poetry’ of the future. We then consider the misleading ‘base-superstructure’ metaphor and note how, against the thrust of Marx’s work, it tends to reify culture. The article concludes that Marx contributed to the critique of semiotic as well as political economy.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Critical Discourse Studies
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Discourse Studies on 28/03/2018, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? marxcritical discourse analysissemiosishistorical materialismeighteenth brumairedas kapitalgerman ideologyrhetoriclanguage base-superstructure metaphorcapitalist mode of productioncritiquecultural political economyintellectualsphilologysocial sciences(all ??
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Deposited On:
30 Apr 2018 09:00
Last Modified:
17 Dec 2023 01:39