CHAPTER 2
Can French Intellectuals Escape Marxism?

Although the title of this chapter poses a question, and its analysis will be descriptive, the conclusion is prescriptive. I will offer an argument that explains historically, sociologically, and philosophically the attraction of Marxism in France, the intellectual options that choice entails for those whom I broadly term “communist” (following Marx's own description in The Communist Manifesto), and the strength and weaknesses of their position. 1 Finally, I will point to some indices of the emergence of another intellectual style, one that I find more attractive and have labeled elsewhere a “politics of judgment,” 2 to which I will return later in this volume. Although I begin with a comparison of the American and French intellectual, I am not concerned here with the American case, in part because the left/right split in the United States has been supplanted by debates between the center and the right and in part because the intellectual in American political life has been marginalized as a result of the cultural effects of the cold war. I present my arguments in the form of eleven theses—the parody on Marx's Theses on Feuerbach is of course intended. Unintended but unavoidable is the technique so well applied by old-style Marxist intellectuals: the amalgam. I am paint-

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