Diedrich Diederichsen: Is Marxism a Correlationism?
Is Marxism a Correlationism?
(S. 209 – 220)

“is x-ism a y-ism”

Diedrich Diederichsen

Is Marxism a Correlationism?

PDF, 12 Seiten

The title of this text poses what at first appears to be an irritating, if not completely insane question, that I myself couldn’t have imagined posing a year ago. For one thing, it’s because one of the important terms in this question was totally unknown to me, and for another, I probably would have affirmed it outright had I known what this word meant.

The question is: Is Marxism a correlationism? The rhetoric of this formulation – “is x-ism a y-ism” – borrows from the title of a famous essay by Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (1946). In those days it was also a matter of setting a new philosophical fashion in relation to a major cornerstone of orientation – to humanism. Today the question appears to be reversed: Is Marxism – which is now the cornerstone, the old orientation – a correlationism? The correlationism isn’t the new fashion, but rather the name of the adversary that the “new style,” at least a part of the new materialist discourse, speaks against – but more on that later.

Why does this question present itself? What does it mean? Why does it interest me? I concern myself here with three complexes that I usually gravitate towards: questions of the visual arts, questions of fashion and the diagnosis of the present, and questions of philosophy, in particular aesthetics and other legitimating discourses that philosophy brings to the fore, which are important in the field of visual art.

Particularly in the debates about art and politics, on one hand, and art and economy on the other, it’s important to me to adopt a perspective that combines the constellations of each problematic and to locate a hard and, as it were, material web of reasons and resistances in the economic situation of artists in general, especially visual artists, that might explain what is political about contemporary artistic practice in the sense of the politics of its economy, and how that relates to what comprises that artistic practice economically - for example, certain living and working conditions, a highly-specific type of self-exploitation, but also a highly-specific new production apparatus that harnesses leisure activity, audience mobilisation, and eventually self-realisation reflexes as economic resources.

Two discourses have recently emerged from other discursive fields that were already known, or at least underway, in the conversations amongst the art milieu and have left behind a string of debates,...

  • Anthropologie
  • materialist turn
  • Materialästhetik
  • Materialität
  • Spekulativer Realismus
  • Ding

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Diedrich Diederichsen

Diedrich Diederichsen

war in den 80er Jahren Redakteur und Herausgeber von Musikzeitschriften, in den 90er Hochschullehrer u.a. in Frankfurt, Pasadena, Gießen, Weimar, Wien, St. Louis, Köln, Los Angeles und Gainesville. 1998–2006 Professor für Ästhetische Theorie / Kulturwissenschaften an der Merz-Akademie, Stuttgart, seit 2006 Professor für Theorie, Praxis und Vermittlung von Gegenwartskunst am Institut für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften der Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Wien.

Weitere Texte von Diedrich Diederichsen bei DIAPHANES
Kerstin Stakemeier (Hg.), Susanne Witzgall (Hg.): Power of Material – Politics of Materiality

In the last years a new focus on material phenomena has become increasingly oberservable in the arts and sciences. Most diverse disciplines are stressing the momentum and the agency of matter, material and things and underline their status as agents within the web of relationships of culture and nature. The book "Power of Material / Politics of Materiality“ deepens this current discourse and for the time brings materialist tendencies within the arts, design and architecture into a direct dialogue with a range of scientific approaches from a "New Materialism“ within the humanities and social sciences.


This publication is the result of the first year of program at the newly established cx centre for interdisciplinary studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich.