Susan Ruddick teaches in the Geography department at the University of Toronto, and has recently completed a translation of Pierre Macherey’s book Hegel ou Spinoza, forthcoming as Hegel or Spinoza with University of Minnesota Press later this year. We were pleased to be able to include an excerpt from the book and a version of Sue’s introduction in the new issue of Society and Space. You can read the full interview here.
Stuart Elden: Thanks for talking to us Sue. Could you say a little about Pierre Macherey?
Susan Ruddick: Pierre Macherey is best known to an Anglo audience for A Theory of Literary Production, but he is a leading authority on Spinoza and his 5-volume corpus on Spinoza’s Ethics is an amazing guide to a very difficult text. He was part of Althusser’s Cercle d’Ulm in the 1960s, and one of the French contributors to the book Lire le capital, which was translated as Reading Capital, but unfortunately without Macherey’s part. He was also a member and vocal critic of the French Communist Party—in particular its humanism and its support of Stalin. Curiously there are key points of agreement between Macherey and E.P. Thompson (especially the critique of the dialectic) but instead of turning to humanism as Thompson did, Macherey used Spinoza to think past the Hegelian moment in Marx. Macherey is a brilliant thinker and there is something old-school about his approach, which I really value: in Hegel or Spinoza for example he inhabits Hegel’s position in order to uncover its weaknesses, its contradictions. He doesn’t engage in theatrics or simplistic castigation of his opponents.
(continue reading here)