Abstract

This article stages a new encounter between rhetorical studies and the thought of Karl Marx. We examine one of Marx's central writings on French history, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, arguing that Marx's text enacts a philosophy of rhetorical trope that facilitates new and productive connections between philosophy, rhetoric, and theories of social change. Focusing on Marx's use of metonymy and chiasmus to structure his narrative, we argue that these figures function as rhetorical machines—textual devices that render legible the causal logics which led to Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew Louis being crowned emperor of France following an 1851 coup d'état. In addition, our diagram of Marx's tropological machines highlight points of unspent potential for resistance within and against such causal logics. We thus establish Marx as a resource for materialist theories of rhetorical trope, demonstrating the value of his concepts for accessing the political surplus of the present.

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