In Marxism and America: New appraisals, an accomplished group of scholars reconsiders the relationship of the history, political culture, and political economy of the United States to the theoretical tradition derived from Karl Marx. A dozen essays (an introduction and eleven chapters) offer fresh considerations arcing from the nineteenth century, when Marx wrote for American newspapers, to the present, when a millennial socialism has emerged inspired by the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Contributors take up topics ranging from memory of the Civil War to feminist debates over sexuality and pornography. Along the way, they clarify the relationship of race and democracy, the promise and perils of the American political tradition, and the prospects for class politics in the twenty-first century. Marxism and America sheds new light on old questions, helping to explain why socialism has been so difficult to establish in the United States even as it has exerted a notable influence in American thought.
Capital in the years following the 2008 financial crisis made it all the way through the book, stopped short by its notoriously turgid opening chapters, a new generation on the left has grown comfortable with Marx and Marxism.
American interest in Marxism reciprocates the intense interest in the United States evinced by Karl Marx and FriedrichEngels. Despite residing for their whole lives in Germany, France, and England, Marx and Engels wrote for the New York Tribune , exchanged letters with Americans, and provided analyses of American events for European audiences
Marx and FriedrichEngels gave some thought to how Irish nationalism might help to bring about socialism. In an 1882 letter to Karl
Kautsky, reflecting on the revolutions of 1848, Engels wrote that it was
‘historically impossible for a great people’ to seriously address their
internal circumstances ‘so long as national independence is lacking’.
FANNING 9781784993221 PRINT.indd 20
In defence of methodological nationalism
Engels had come to believe that socialism could only be realised through
nation-states. He argued the
socialist FriedrichEngels called ‘social murder’.13
Engels used the term in his classic text The Condition of the
Working Class in England in 1844, to capture the mass immisera
tion and premature deaths of the industrial working class from
starvation, disease and injury at the hands of unsafe working con
ditions and insanitary slum housing provided by private landlords.
Social murder, he argued, was the result of unregulated private
greed, in which a capitalist class knowingly forced people to work
and live in deadly conditions and ignored all calls to improve those
Modern merchant princes and the origins of the Manchester Dante Society
Stephen J. Milner
within the same eternal cycle of damnation as Dante’s sinners:
Wolff and Savage, Culture in Manchester.indd 66
M a n u fa c t u r i n g t h e R e n a i s s a n c e
Inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the
same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same
work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and
every year the counterpart of the last and the next.21
The most famous chronicler of life amongst the city’s poor, however, was
War in Germany, p. 22.
134 Ibid., pp. 18, 155.
135 Ibid., p. 29.
136 Comninel Rethinking the French Revolution, pp. 46–7; Callinicos ‘Bourgeois
Revolutions and Historical Materialism’.
137 F. Engels (1886) ‘Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German
Philosophy’ in K. Marx and F. Engels Selected Works in One Volume (London,
1968), pp. 563, 583, 587.
138 For a perceptive analysis of Engels’s Peasant War in Germany see E. R. Wolf
‘The Peasant War in Germany: FriedrichEngels as Social Historian’ Science &
Society 51:1, spring 1987. Wolf (p. 85) points out that
book) from the point
of view of a woman who – at some points at least – strongly aligned
herself with the socialist movement. But the novel has also become part
of a much wider debate about literary genres and the politics of modes
of representation that flourished from the 1880s onwards. Throughout
the twentieth century Harkness and her first novel have been kept in a
broader critical perspective thanks to the letter FriedrichEngels wrote
in response to receiving a copy of A City Girl from Harkness’s publisher,
Vizetelly.3 In this much-quoted letter, Engels asserts
The Second International of socialist parties was the undoubted custodian of Marxist 'orthodoxy' from its formation in 1889 until its de facto collapse at the outbreak of the First World War. For the interpretation of historical materialism associated with the sophisticated Second International thinkers in their best works, Karl Kautsky was much more powerful that either Perry Anderson or Steve Rigby. Like Lucio Colletti, Anderson had interpreted the shift from Second to Third International Marxism as including a 'voluntaristic' break with 'fatalistim'. Colletti suggested the evolutionary interpretation of Marxism, which he likened unfavourably to the 'voluntarist' Marxism of the Third International, was born out of Friedrich Engels's crude systemisation of Marx's thought and reached its zenith in Kautsky's theory of history. Kautsky was the dominant intellectual within the Second International, while the works of Georgi Plekhanov and Antonio Labriola informed the best historiography produced by the succeeding generation of Marxists.
A spectre is haunting Europe
– the spectre of direct democracy. It is tempting to paraphrase
Karl Marx and FriedrichEngels’ famous opening bars to the
Communist Manifesto and even to go on, that the
“powers of the old establishment have entered into an unholy
alliance to exorcise this spectre”. Though, confusingly,
sometimes, these self-same “powers” have
… the entrance to hell
realised’.6 By 1843, evidence was brought to the Parliamentary
Select Committee on Smoke Prevention of over 500 industrial
chimneys in Manchester attached to hundreds of cotton mills
across the conurbation, along with row upon row of terraced
housing and their attendant chimneys.7 The city was covered in
soot on every one of its surfaces.
There were many notable chimneys that may well have been
worth retaining. The chimney at Victoria Mill, where a young
FriedrichEngels worked for his family firm, stood in Weaste until
around thirty-five years