Leigh Claire La BergeJan 5, 2024
Marx for Cats
A Radical Bestiary
Duke University Press 2023
At the outset of Marx for Cats: A Radical Bestiary (Duke UP, 2023), Leigh Claire La Berge declares that “all history is the history of cat struggle.” Revising the medieval bestiary form to meet Marxist critique, La Berge follows feline footprints through Western economic history to reveal an animality at the heart of Marxism. She draws on a twelve-hundred-year arc spanning capitalism’s feudal prehistory, its colonialist and imperialist ages, the bourgeois revolutions that supported capitalism, and the communist revolutions that opposed it to outline how cats have long been understood as creatures of economic critique and liberatory possibility. By attending to the repeated archival appearance of lions, tigers, wildcats, and “sabo-tabbies,” La Berge argues that felines are central to how Marxists have imagined the economy, and by asking what humans and animals owe each other in a moment of ecological crisis, La Berge joins current debates about the need for and possibility of eco-socialism. In this playful and generously illustrated radical bestiary, La Berge demonstrates that class struggle is ultimately an interspecies collaboration.
Arya Rani is a PhD candidate in Film Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.