Ilya B. Budraitskis

independent researcher, Moscow


The following article examines the metaphor of the “mole” which passed through the history of philosophy of Modernity. This metaphor gained special significance in the Marxist intellectual tradition where it was often identified with revolutionary teleology and inevitability of the birth of a new society from the inherent contradictions of the old one. However, the idea of the “mole” as an internal, “underground” realization of this law of history was explained through its incompatibility with the selfrepresentation of the given epoch, and those classes and individuals acting within it. The very figure of the “mole” — from Shakespeare to Marx — referred to the idea of anachronistic displacement of time, violation of the linear connection between the past and the present, able to give birth to the “specters” and constantly remind us of the incompleteness of the present moment. The metaphor of the “mole” became the “metaphor of the metaphor”, that is a figure representing a shift from the sphere of thought to the sphere of appearances, as well as directly dealing with the materialization, the realization of thought as such. If for Hegel the metaphor of the mole represents thought seeking the truth, for Marx it represents revolution that “does its work methodically”, while for Herzen “historical movement that can’t be stopped”, and for Bataille the matter that confronts the illusionary domination of the spirit, then in our times the mole could be identified with Marxism itself. This tradition exists in between the mobilizing idea and material circumstances, theory and practice, and appears in history each time as a kind of specter that requires recognition. The author, starting from the most well known uses of this metaphor (in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and Marx’s “Eighteenth Brumaire”) examines its transformation in Marxist and Post-Marxist thought.

Keywords: Marxism, metaphore, teleology, revolution, specters, ideology, tragedy, farce