Res Philosophica

Volume 101, Issue 2, April 2024

Habermas Special Issue

Igor ShoikhedbrodOrcid-ID
Pages 219-244

Still the "Last Marxist"?
Habermas’s Ongoing “Reconstruction” of Historical Materialism

Jürgen Habermas’s recent engagement with Marx in Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie has mostly gone unnoticed by commentators. Habermas is among the few representatives of the Frankfurt School who has consistently stressed the importance of the “Marxian heritage” for a rigorous understanding of critical theory. In this essay, I critically examine two guiding threads in Habermas’s ongoing reconstruction of historical materialism: the relationship between labor and interaction, as well as the emancipatory potential unleashed by the democratic constitutional state. I argue that Habermas’s reconstruction of historical materialism points to several lacunae in Marx’s work, but that it also reveals valuable insights into the latter’s oeuvre that have yet to be adequately addressed by Habermas. I conclude that it is time for Habermas to consciously reclaim the “Marxian heritage.”