Repetition and Revolution: Primal Historicization in Deleuze, Regnault and Harrington


Are there repetitions in history? Are there “historical repetitions”? If so, what is the relation between historical repetition and revolution? In Difference and Repetition Deleuze says that there is a Marxist theory of historical repetition, and locates its source in Marx’s 1852 pamphlet The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:

Marx’s theory of historical repetition, as it appears notably in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, turns on the following principle, which does not seem to have been sufficiently understood by historians: historical repetition is neither a matter of analogy nor a concept produced by the reflection of historians, but above all a condition of historical action itself. Harold Rosenberg illuminates this point in some fine pages: historical actors or agents can create only on condition that they identify themselves with figures from the past. In this sense, history is theatre.


Deleuze says that a kind of “identification” is a condition of historical agency, or of intervention in history. He indicates that he believes Marx’s text on the Eighteenth Brumaire has been misinterpreted.

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