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Revisiting Existential Marxism

A Reply to Alfred Betschart

Ronald Aronson

Alfred Betschart has claimed that the project of existential Marxism is a contradiction in terms, but this argument, even when supported by many experts and quotes from Sartre's 1975 interview, misses the point of my Boston Review article, “The

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David Schweikart

terrorism” of Marxism. But what, specifically, was so wrong with The Rebel ? The book purports to explicate the tragic consequences of rebellion turning to revolution. With the “death of God,” the history of which he analyzes in detail, the universal

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Marxism and Christianity

Dependencies and Differences in Alasdair MacIntyre's Critical Social Thought

Peter McMylor

Alasdair MacIntyre, a leading moral philosopher in the English speaking world, was from his earliest intellectual formation influenced profoundly both by Christianity and Marxism. MacIntyre argues that Marxism has religious roots, in that it gains its vision of the good life of peace and reconciliation from Christianity, mediated by Hegel, but makes this life historically concrete. The article views MacIntyre's early intellectual career as a case study in the productive tension generated by an analysis of the connections between Christianity and Marxism. It is suggested that by examining the similarities and differences of these two traditions, MacIntyre points to the sources of radicalism that lie at the apparently conservative heart of western culture and reveals aspects of the continuing significance of this culture's religious background. He also points to the difficulties both traditions have in engaging with modern liberal culture.

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Walter Benjamin

The Consolation of History in a Paris Exile

Patrick H. Hutton

Walter Benjamin, a Jewish German literary critic of modest reputation during the interwar years, has become an intellectual celebrity in our times. In flight from Nazi Germany, he took refuge in Paris during the 1930s before dying in 1940 in a vain effort to escape to America. In this essay, I analyze his ideas as conceived in his Paris exile, with particular attention to his turn to the topics of memory and of history and of the relationship between them. I close with some thoughts on how his ideas about memory's redeeming power played into the humanist Marxism of the intellectuals of the 1960s and subsequently the preoccupation with memory in late twentieth-century scholarship.

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Palliative Marxism or Imminent Critique

Włodzimierz Brus and the Limits to Classical Marxist Political Economy

Stephen Louw

In 1956 communists North of the Limpopo discovered, to their horror, that ‘he who had been the leader of progressive humanity, the inspiration of the world, the father of the Soviet people, the master of science and learning, the supreme military genius, and altogether the greatest genius in history was in reality a paranoiac torturer, a mass murderer, and a military ignoramus who had brought the Soviet state to the verge of disaster’ (Kol˜akowski 1978:450). The decade which followed was to witness an important although inconclusive challenge to the orthodoxy and authority of the once omniscient Soviet Union; a development characterised by increasingly heterogenous relations within Comecon, and by a series of bold but ultimately unsuccessful attempts at economic reform (Swain & Swain 1993:127).

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Talking History

E. P. Thompson, C. L. R. James, and the Afterlives of Internationalism

Utathya Chattopadhyaya

In 1983, H. O. Nazareth directed a film called Talking History, which brought together E. P. Thompson and C. L. R. James in conversation. The soundtrack was composed by Spartacus R, former bassist for the Black Rock band, Osibisa. Over the twenty years since the publication of The Making of the English Working Class in 1963, Thompson had confronted several questions around colonialism, law, and constitutionalism that had not found emphasis in The Making. Talking History marks a unique point in the trajectory of Thompson's engagement with some of those questions, while simultaneously revealing the limits of that engagement. In addition to being a useful window into the political worldview of James and Thompson in the early 1980s, the film is also demonstrative of the afterlives of internationalism in the twentieth century. This article argues that revisiting internationalism, as a practice of political activism and critical dialogue, with its possibilities and limits, allows us to carefully rethink some of our contemporary political and intellectual practices.

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Alfred Betschart

Marxism has seen a revival in recent years with preeminent works such as Slavoj Žižek's The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto (2019), Terry Eagleton's Why Marx Was Right (2011), and Alain Badiou's The Communist Hypothesis (2009/2010). In

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Maria Antonietta Perna

The present paper aims to explore the Spinozean notion ‘multitude’ as it is used in texts by Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno, although I shall only touch upon the latter’s work to the extent that it appears to agree with Negri’s theses. Doing so will bring up an issue which, in my view, impinges on the articulation of the praxis of liberation envisioned by the above philosophers. In particular, although their analyses adopt ontology as a point of departure, and this is a core methodological tenet in their thought, they fall short of offering an account of the ontological structures of agency which would be adequate to ground the motivation for the appointed ethico-political task.

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The Weight of Absence

Rick Turner and the End of the Durban Moment

Billy Keniston

Left developed. The Irony or the Tragedy The kind of gutter Marxism (mechanistic Marxism) which emerged in South Africa provided a very easy answer to the new circumstances in the country after 1973. I became a Marxist at just that time, and it was

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Joseph L. Walsh

In discussing Sartre’s contribution to a Marxist ethics of revolution, it is important first to note that it is the ethics of revolution that is under consideration and not the broader question of Marxism and morality. Much has been written in recent years on the question of morality in Marxism, focusing generally on moral theory and justice, for example, Rodney Peffer’s wonderful summation of discussions about Marxism’s moral vision regarding human action and social organization.