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Abstract

This article examines the relationship between Sylvia Wynter’s sociogenic principle and the question of “social form” in the critique of political economy. Despite their diverging emphases (the symbolic over the material, the slave over the laborer, sociogeny over social form), both Wynter and Marx pursue theoretical modes of inquiry that account for how empty reality principles reside over the reproduction of historical content and consciousness. In turning to the disavowed terms that heterodox Marxism, from value-form to world-systems theory, seeks to resuscitate, Wynter retains elements of Marxism’s interest in social forms reimagines the terms through which Marx’s critique can be made legible. Wynter does not just pluralize Marxist categories; she posits a new totality (the plantation paradigm) that begins and stays with negation as the liminal condition blackness incarnates. Her indeterminate break from Marxism, and its English feudal and industrial centers of gravity, thus opens political thought through a sustained agnostic interest in the transcendental horizon of “being” and “non-being” as such, exploring how “being” presents to us its own conditions for understanding its political, historical, and material form.

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