, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 190–209 | Cite as

The Subject, the Real and the question of form: A return to historical materialism

  • Gregory C Flemming
Original Article


What Žižek has dubbed ‘the parallax view’ is here developed with reference to Marx’s labour theory of value and commodity fetishism in an attempt to show that dividing historical materialism into ‘dialectical’ and ‘historical’ camps is at best an analytic distinction, at worst a mechanical and false one. In emphasizing that the Subject is a product of the Symbolic, and yet the Symbolic is the product of the Subject, it can be seen that one cannot do history without simultaneously talking about the forms of consciousness that are in effect the historical, changing face of the Subject itself. This can be seen not only in Capital, but also in Marx’s ‘political works’ – this is argued by turning to Žižek’s discussion of Class Struggles in France. This is contrary to a Lacanian-inspired reading of historical materialism in which the Real is prioritized and taken as a primordial generator of the Symbolic order as well as readings of Žižek’s work that miss the significance of ‘parallax’.


parallax view Žižek Marx historical materialism symbolic order Real 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory C Flemming
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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