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On Equality, Right, and Identity: Rethinking the Contract through Hobbes and Marx

Rahul Govind’s “Equality, Right, and Identity: Rethinking the Contract through Hobbes and Marx” appears in Telos 154 (Spring 2011). Read the full version at TELOS Online website.

The following essay is an investigation into the nature of the contract, the way in which the contract indexes “right” and equality, and the textual and historical expressions—as well as echoes—that this has taken from Thomas Hobbes to Karl Marx. The opening set of conceptual remarks lead to a reading of Hobbes’s Leviathan and Marx’s “On the Jewish Question,” arguing that both texts were concerned with theoretically explicating the relationship between right and equality, germane to which was the problematic of the “nation”/community, which was itself conceived via the “Jewish question.” The essay argues that only an attention to Marx’s reformulation of the older problematic, as found in Hobbes, will help us understand the significance of his critique of the (post–)French Revolutionary theory of abstract right, and thereby the need for the development and critique of the field of political economy. Through this exposition of the thread between the conceptualization of the political and political economy, it seeks to reconfigure the canonical texts of Hobbes and Marx in rethinking the interrelations between right, equality, and community within a historico-philosophical horizon.

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