Chris Goldie


Enzo Traverso explores the melancholic dimension of left-wing culture both historically and as a form of understanding the present. His aim is to rethink the history of socialism and Marxism in order to recover hidden traces of “communist melancholy” (48). It is argued that communism was once lived through images of the fallen and memories of catastrophe, but within a dialectic encompassing both past defeat and hope for a future utopia; In the current era, however, this dialectic has been shattered and a socialist future has become unimaginable. Traverso argues that such a future can only be recovered through deeper forms of melancholy, an argument supported through the ideas of heterodox Marxists writing in the interwar period. The key argument is Walter Benjamin’s: that a melancholic embrace of “dead objects” is needed in order for the past to be redeemed and a future restored.