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Challenging New State Spatialities: The Open Marxism of Henri Lefebvre



Abstract:  It is possible to identify a subterranean tradition within Marxism—one in which dialectical thought is harnessed not only to expose the necessarily exploitative and inherently crisis-prone character of capitalism as an actual system of social organisation, but also to critique the very categories that constitute capitalism as a conceptual system. This paper argues that Henri Lefebvre's work can be included within this tradition of “open Marxism”. In demonstrating how Lefebvre's work on everyday life, the production of space and the state derives from his open approach, the paper flags a potential problem of antinomy in an emergent new state spatialities literature that draws upon Lefebvre to supplement its structuralist–regulationist (“closed”) Marxist foundations. A Lefebvre-inspired challenge is therefore established: that is, to develop a critique of space which does not substitute an open theory of the space of political economy with a closed theory of the political economy of the regulation of space.