9 March 2011

Don't write a premature obituary for Marxism

I wouldn’t write the obituary of Marxism too soon. The thoughts of the old man and his successors have a stubborn habit of re-appearing. In our age when class inequality is soaring and the future of the young has been trashed in education and employment, the allure of Marxian analysis should not be underestimated.

The peak sales of Eric Hobsbawm’s recent offering “How to Change the World, Marx and Marxism, 1840-2011” plus the recent gobbling up of re-issued Marxist tracts in Germany must at least demonstrate a growing interest outside a sclerotic academia.

Of course the younger generation will adapt Marxism in new ways. In the 60s and 70s Freudianism, libertarianism and linguistic structuralism was interweaved into historical materialism to embed the theory into academia. The young today will make new syntheses – and all the older generation can do is watch and perhaps try to prevent the repetition of old mistakes.

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