In his 1969 text On Marx, Louis Althusser argued that the 1840s represented an ‘epistemological break’ in Karl Marx’s political philosophy. Situating The Communist Manifesto(1848) within this tradition, this article contends that the period in question might best be seen as representing an ontological break. By reading the text through the lens of gender, the manifesto is shown to exemplify this transition, with Marx foregoing the earlier notion of a ‘species being’ and instead emphasising the socially constituted nature of self: not so much a species being as a species becoming. Recent scholarship on Marx’s ecological thought is then examined, offering an account of The Communist Manifesto that situates the text within the material conditions of the 1840s. Through the concept of a metabolic rift, the intersection between ontology, ecology and capital accumulation is developed, offering a set of novel resources for conceptualising political subjectivity within the Marxist tradition today.
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