From the Critique of the Heavens to the Critique of the Earth: A Contribution to the Reconstruction of Karl Marx’s Unfinished Critique of Political Theology

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This article reconstructs Karl Marx’s unfinished and hitherto unexamined 1843 critique of political theology, i.e., the predominant understanding of the state as a transcendent and sovereign subject. Careful analysis of the text and its intellectual context reveals how contemporary post-Hegelian debates sensitized Marx to the problem of political theology and provided the conceptual resources to overcome it without resorting to abstract negation. Marx showed that it was the social significance of this idea and associated practices that constituted the earthly existence of the modern state and provided a highly original analysis of its structural integration in the capitalist system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory & Event
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)537-571
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Political theology
  • Karl Marx
  • G.W.F. Hegel
  • Ludwig Feuerbach
  • Sovereignty

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