Baudelaire Contra Benjamin: A Critique of Politicized Aesthetics and Cultural Marxism

Wayne Cristaudo, Beibei Guan

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book offers the first sustained argument against the philosophy of Walter Benjamin and his readings of Charles Baudelaire. More broadly, it is also a critique of politicized aesthetics and cultural Marxism, of which Benjamin is a pioneering and emblematic figure. Cristaudo and Beibei argue that Baudelaire was not mistaken in refusing to subject aesthetics to morality and politics. Baudelaire’s refusal was based on the recognition that existential matters, such as sickness, evil, death, sexual longing, melancholy, and beauty itself—all themes at the center of his poetry—are by nature intrinsically supra-political. By contrast, Benjamin’s faith in political redemption, while breaking with the enlightenment’s faith in progress, nevertheless conforms to another core element of faith of the enlightenment, via faith in the ability of morals and politics to liberate humanity. The authors make the case that Benjamin’s understanding of politics is severely deficient because it is not sufficiently versed in an understanding of economics or the nature of class interests, and that Marx’s own theory of economics is fundamentally deficient and creates an insurmountable problem for those deferring to a future industrial society free from capitalism.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLexington Books
Number of pages234
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4985-9508-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-4985-9507-0
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Publication series

NamePolitics, Literature and Film
ISSN (Print)978149859
ISSN (Electronic)978149859

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