Marx or Tarde

In a post over at Bogost’s blog there’s an interesting discussion of Marx. I think it is correct to say one is not a Marxist if by that one means that Latour is not a Marxist. Latour is explicit on this point in his recent book, The Science of Passionate Interests, where he wonders how the 20th century might have unfolded had Tarde’s approach to understanding capitalism been more influential than Marx’s. Latour’s critique of Marx is much the same as his critique of Durkheim (you could substitute Durkheim for Marx in the previous sentence). Rather than presuppose the existence of class and society, Tarde examines the myriad ways in which society is composed. Latour follows a similar approach, of course, and in an essay he wrote with Shirley Strum, ‘redefining the social,’ he explicitly claims that society is not a given but needs to be composed, and composed by way of things – i.e., our human/nonhuman interactions. I develop this argument extensively in Deleuze’s Hume. Thanks to Robert and Ian for bringing my attention to Latour’s unpublished “Compositionist Manifesto.”