Making Marxist Pedagogy Magical: From Critique to Imagination, or, How Bookkeepers Set Us Free


  • Derek R. Ford DePauw University



Marxism, Critical Pedagogy, Educational Theory, Pedagogy


Claiming that critical education generally, and marxist education specifically, is stuck in a dead-end of impotent critique, this article seeks to reinvigorate the fields by making marxist pedagogy magical. We have to, in other words, not just engage in productive and revolutionary critique, but more importantly, engage in the magical act of imagining possible futures. Selectively reading the three volumes of Marx's Capital, I demonstrate that Marx figures communism is different ways and with seemingly antagonistic emphases. At heart, then, Marx poses communism as a pedagogical problem and as one that demands magical thinking. Insisting that our history and present be the real concrete stuff of learning, experimenting, and doing, I next make the claim that we have already been post-capitalist (i.e., socialist), and that we have to reclaim the successful history of the international struggle of the dispossessed and exploited. In disavowing this history, we reinforce the neoliberal claim that there is no alternative to the market and democracy. I conclude by offering the U.S.-based Party for Socialism and Liberation as an example of magical marxist educators, calling on their imaginative Party program.

Author Biography

Derek R. Ford, DePauw University

Assistant Professor, Education Studies