Category: Intellectual History

Review: The Permanent Guillotine

Mitchell Abidor, ed. and trans. The Permanent Guillotine: Writings of the Sans-Culottes. Oakland: PM Press, 2018.

Rosa Luxemburg: A Revolutionary Life

Rosa Luxemburg’s legacy is very live, very relevant, and very contested. One of the ways to understand this particular political valence is to see her not only as an exceptional individual, which she surely was, but also as . . .

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Rosa Luxemburg’s Legacy for Feminism

Many people who know something about Rosa Luxemburg would be surprised to hear the name of this talk: They know Luxemburg as the author of the brilliant pamphlets The Mass Strike and Reform or Revolution; they know that she debated . . .

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Rosa Luxemburg and the Necessity of Anti-Imperialism for Revolutionary Socialism

Today prominent political leaders are calling themselves socialists, but even if the terms “socialist” and “democratic socialism” are being used, it is often unclear what exactly is meant by these terms and what kind of political projects they embody. In . . .

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Is a Revolutionary Rupture with Capitalism Possible?

For too long, the radical left has framed debates about reform and revolution in terms bequeathed to us from an era very unlike our own. At the expense of soberly and concretely analyzing the conditions socialists face today in advanced . . .

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“Is the New Deal Socialism?” by Norman Thomas

Norman Thomas was the most prominent spokesperson for the Socialist Party of America in the 1930s and 1940s. He ran six times for president on the SP ballot line. Recently, an article by Seth Ackerman of Jacobin magazine argued that . . .

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Rosa Luxemburg Symposium

Rosa Luxemburg’s Legacy
Rosa Luxemburg was a brilliant Polish/German revolutionary socialist theorist and political activist. Thoroughly committed to socialism from below, she believed in the necessity of radical class struggle principally in order to build the experience and capacities of the working . . .

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To the Arab Readers of “Marx at the Margins”

Published as “Letter to My Arab Readers” for the new translation into Arabic, Cairo: Arweqa Institution for Studies, Translation, and Publishing, 2019, translated by Hisham Rouhana.

Discrediting Charges of Authoritarianism and Violence-Worship in Marx’s Worldview

This blog post is based on a presentation on chapters 2 and 8 of Terry Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right to the Lower Manhattan DSA Branch Political Education meeting, May 14, 2019.
Milton Berle, the 1950s television comic superstar, had a . . .

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Are any of Rosa Luxemburg’s ideas relevant for us today?

One hundred years after the murder of Polish-German revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg, are any of her ideas relevant for people today who want to transform society to achieve social and ecological justice? I believe the answer is yes. In spite . . .

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The Decline and Fall of Neoliberal Hegemony

In his scathing, Sturm und Drang takedown of the 1851 French dictatorial coup, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoléon, Marx remarks that history repeats twice: “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Thus when Luther pit himself . . .

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A Preview of “What is Post-Modern Conservatism?: Essays on Our Hugely Tremendous Times”

What is Post-Modern Conservatism: Essays on Our Hugely Tremendous Times is going to be released later this year by Zero . . .

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Lyndon LaRouche

When Lyndon LaRouche’s disciples began setting up literature tables at American airports in the late 1970s, his conspiracy theories were already in full bloom, though not yet widely known. The same might be said about his claim to the title . . .

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Marx Turns 200: A Mixed Gift

A World to Win: The Life and Works of Karl Marx
By Sven-Eric Liedman
Translated by Jeffrey N. Skinner
Part of the Marx 200 series
Verso Books, 2018, 768 pages, $40 hardcover.
Amid an outpouring of discussion and new works marking the bicentennial of Karl . . .

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Marx and Marxism in Berkeley in 1968

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Berkeley (California) was probably a unique political-cultural milieu in the U.S. in the 1960s, both before and after 1968. It was part of the larger political-cultural scene of the San Francisco Bay Area from 1945 onward. The Bay Area at the time was a relative backwater in the U.S., compared to the East coast. The area had, however, seen one of the biggest general strikes of the 1930s, when the Communist Party-influenced ILWU (International Longshore Workers Union) helped bring San Francisco to a halt in 1934, including mass street battles with the police.

Marx, Our Contemporary

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No one should underestimate the changes in the social world occurring since Marx’s day, or overestimate to what extent we find ready-made answers to contemporary issues in his writings. Nonetheless, Marx’s analysis uncovers essential features and defining tendencies of capitalism far better than alternative frameworks.

Phyllis Jacobson on Norman Podhoretz and Kenneth Tynan

From the New Politics archives

Reprinted from New Politics, Spring 1967, pages 95-97  Image

Making It, by Norman Podhoretz, Random House, New York, 1967. 360 pp. $6.95.

Tynan Left and Right by Kenneth Tynan, Atheneum, New York, 1967. 479 pp. $8.95.

Postmodern Conservatism and Capitalism

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Conservatives today have been deeply critical of what is often called postmodernism.  They have associated it with identity politics, political correctness, social justice warriors, relativistic “cultural Marxism” and a host of other evils.  For some conservatives, post-modernism is signifies everything that is wrong with contemporary society. University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson has characterized it as “dangerous” and “radical” and dismissed important authors like Derrida as “charlatans.” The National Security Council has claimed that “postmodern cultural Marxism” (whatever that means) mobilizes opposition to Donald Trump.  And right wing commentator Ben Shapiro has characterized Barack Obama the first “postmodern” President.

Bolshevism, Real and Imagined: A Reply to Mitchell Cohen

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The greatest flaw of Mitchell Cohen’s “What Lenin’s Critics Got Right” in the most recent Dissent is that it repeats what Lars T. Lih, independent researcher and author of Lenin Rediscovered:‘What Is To Be Done’ In Context (Haymarket, 2008) and a biography of Lenin (Reaktion Books, 2011), calls the “standard textbook interpretation” of Lenin’s thought and, by extension, Bolshevism as a movement.

Marx’s Capital After 150 Years: Revolutionary Reflections

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What does it mean to celebrate and concretize for today Marx’s greatest work, Capital, Vol. I? Such a discussion is terribly important at this juncture, when we are in a new situation where even some sectors of the right have started to attack neoliberalism. The Brexit vote in the UK, the large vote for Le Pen in France despite her eventual defeat by a neoliberal candidate, and above all, the Trump campaign have placed on the agenda a new form of right-wing populism with neofascist overtones that breaks with some key features of neoliberalism, such as free trade pacts, somewhat more open borders, and “humanitarian” intervention.  At the same time, Trump as president has put forth an incoherent agenda that contains major continuities with neoliberal austerity and old-style militarism, above all in the attempt to gut Obamacare. 

Rosa Luxemburg in China: Ninety Years of Ups and Downs

ImageIn recent years, Rosa Luxemburg’s name has gradually become more prominent in Chinese academia. A number of influential academic journals have even opened up research columns paying tribute to the revolutionary theorist, nearly a century after the first discussion of her work in China. This should be regarded as a second revival of the research on her in China. Compared with the other leading figures in the history of the international communist movement, whether worldwide or just in China, the present "Rediscover Luxemburg" phenomenon is unique. Regarding other leading figures, there have not been so many ups and downs.

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