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New appraisals

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.

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Paul Blackledge

1 Marxism and history How are we to understand the nature of historical knowledge? The way that historians traditionally have answered this question has come under sustained attack since the 1980s in the wake of what has become known as the ‘cultural’ or ‘linguistic turn’. This shift in perspective can be understood as a reaction to two developments. Negatively, as Bonnell and Hunt have argued, the old positivistic assumption about the nature of history – that it consisted in the accumulation of facts collected by diligent historians – came increasingly to be

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

Although Marxism and even anarchism are sometimes treated as if they are simply varieties of socialism, we consider that they have sufficiently distinctive characteristics to warrant separate treatment. Starting with Marxism, we examine Marx’s theories of history, economics and politics before discussing the controversies within Marx-inspired political organisations in the

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Alan Johnson

better that the core of classical Marxism was its theory of human self-emancipation; few were better able or more willing, none the less, to critique the obstacles to self-emancipation, the footholds for authoritarianism within the very same tradition; and fewer still understood that Marxism needed to negotiate articles of conciliation (not surrender) with liberalism if all those obstacles were to be overcome. A popular and democratic Marxism ‘The principle of self-emancipation’, wrote Geras in 1971, ‘is central, not incidental, to historical materialism.’ Armed

in The Norman Geras Reader
Roger Spalding and Christopher Parker

newer theoretical positions that developed both out of and in opposition to Marxism. Elite social groups occupied, until relatively recently, a disproportionate share of the historical record. This was, no doubt, partly the product of the class orientation of historians, but it was also because such elite groups’ ideas, attitudes and beliefs were much more fully documented than those of other social groups. The study of popular culture, as expressed in customs, songs and festival could and indeed was seen as a corrective to this bias. 4 What, it might be asked

in Historiography
A. J. Muste, Louis Budenz, and an “American approach” before the Popular Front
Leilah Danielson

celebratory terms of The Cultural Front . Still, the question of the meaning of the Americanist theory and culture of the Popular Front era could use more nuance and complexity. For one, efforts to Americanize Marxism and reimagine American national identity as working-class predated both the CP’s Popular Front of 1934–1935 and the CIO by around ten years. Second, in some hands, the “American approach”—as they called it—did indeed devolve into nationalism. In others, it offered an interpretation of the world that centered and validated working-class American experiences

in Marxism and America
W. E. B. Du Bois and Oliver Cromwell Cox as democratic theorists
Paul M. Heideman

The intellectual history of American Marxism’s engagement with race has gone through several distinct and contradictory phases. During the years in which Marxist movements had their greatest impact on American society (roughly from the turn of the twentieth century until the postwar years), race was a question that was debated ceaselessly and in detail. As Philip Foner noted, in the pre-war Socialist Party, “apart from the question of the farmers’ role in the Socialist Party, the Negro question was the most widely debated issue in American socialist circles

in Marxism and America
Kim Moody

The United States appears to be in living contradiction to Marxism. American capitalism represents the world’s most developed and unfettered version of capitalism. It displays all the features of the system described and analyzed by Marx, with its outrageous inequality, its mass of unemployed and underemployed workers (Marx’s “reserve army of labor”), its repeated and often deep crises, and its drive overseas leading to one war after another. But the United States has a political culture overwhelmingly dedicated to capitalism’s survival and expansion. And its

in Marxism and America
Mark Harvey

1 Journeying through Marxism This book is the unlikely product of two people who somehow managed to collaborate across what was historically a yawning sectarian chasm: one with a Trotskyist formation (Norman Geras) and one with a Maoist one (myself ). This by no means exhausts the possible incompatibilities between someone with a long and prolific academic career, and someone with a truncated one; a dedicated political philosopher, and a disciplinary floater between history, political economy and sociology. And yet, close friends from undergraduate days in the

in Inequality and Democratic Egalitarianism
Yasmeen Daifallah

217 9 Marxism and historicism in the thought of Abdullah Laroui Yasmeen Daifallah Like many of his generation of Arab thinkers, the Moroccan historian Abdullah Laroui (b. 1933) is often described as a defector from Marxism. In Laroui’s case, the defection is mostly described as one to liberalism, or to a state-​centred modality of liberalism that Ibrahim Abu Rabi’ calls ‘liberal étatism’.1 This purported change of heart is usually explained in terms of Laroui’s supposed adaptation to the changing tides of Arab politics that, once sympathetic to leftist

in Colonial exchanges