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Author: Paul Blackledge

The recent emergence of global anti-capitalist and anti-war movements have created a space within which Marxism can flourish in a way as it has not been able to for a generation. This book shows that by disassociating Marxism from the legacy of Stalinism, Marxist historiography need not retreat before the criticisms from theorists and historians. It also shows that, once rid of this incubus, Marx's theory of history can be shown to be sophisticated, powerful and vibrant. The book argues that Marxism offers a unique basis to carry out a historical research, one that differentiates it from the twin failures of the traditional empiricist and the post-modernist approaches to historiography. It outlines Marx and Engels' theory of history and some of their attempts to actualise that approach in their historical studies. The book also offers a critical survey of debates on the application of Marx's concepts of 'mode of production' and 'relations of production' in an attempt to periodise history. Marxist debates on the perennial issue of structure and agency are considered in the book. Finally, the book discusses competing Marxist attempts to periodise the contemporary post-modern conjuncture, paying attention to the suggestion that the post-modern world is one that is characterised by the defeat of the socialist alternative to capitalism.

Paul Blackledge

some of those earlier transitions. In his Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx commented that with the socialist solution to the contradictions between capitalist forces and relations of production, ‘the prehistory of human society . . . closes’. Earlier in that text he had sketched humanity’s prehistory as including, ‘in broad outline, the Asiatic, ancient, feudal and modern bourgeois modes of production’.2 As this schema was but one of many outlined by Marx and Engels throughout their lifetimes, Chris 96 Marxist theory of history

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
From the Second to the Third International
Paul Blackledge

unfortunate, for at the turn of the 54 Marxist theory of history twentieth century Marxists operating within the International did produce some fascinating and influential historical works that repay re-reading today.3 A more interesting approach to the Second International was suggested by Raphael Samuel, who made the simple but compelling point that this tendency in Marxism was far from homogenous.4 Samuel is right: the Second International was an arena of contestation, where fierce political debates were informed by competing interpretations of history. Furthermore

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Marxism and post-modernity
Paul Blackledge

of theorists who have engaged in the debate over the 202 Marxist theory of history nature of post-modernism. According to Jameson, the power of the argument that we inhabit a new post-modern era ‘depends on the hypothesis of some radical break or coupure, generally traced back to the end of the 1950s or the early 1960s’.9 While he predicates his own analysis of the transition from modernism to post-modernism, and previously the transition from realism to modernism, on Ernest Mandel’s periodisation of capitalism, through its market, monopoly and multinational

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Abstract only
Paul Blackledge

suggest that Marxism as a political and intellectual movement has suffered a number of setbacks 2 Marxist theory of history over the period since the 1970s, it would be a mistake to equate Marxism with the Soviet system. As I have elsewhere criticised the theoretical weaknesses of the elision involved in the move from a critique of Stalinism to a rejection of Marx’s political project,2 and as I return to this criticism in the conclusion to this volume, at this stage of my argument I merely note that throughout the twentieth century there have emerged a number of

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Paul Blackledge

human agency in Sartre’s interpretation of historical materialism, and attempted to replace it 154 Marxist theory of history with a form of Marxist structuralism, according to which history was understood to be a process without a subject. Meanwhile, a parallel process was unfolding across the Channel. In the decade after the war, a regime of benign neglect within the British Communist Party helped facilitate the emergence of a libertarian strand of Marxism within the Communist Party Historians’ Group. In the context of the events of 1956 – Khrushchev’s ‘secret

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Paul Blackledge

’s 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy at the centre of this reconstruction of Marxism. Unfortunately, while this is a fundamentally important text, it was written with an eye to the censor and correspondingly tends to downplay the active side of Marx’s thought.10 While this would be unproblematical if the Preface were read in the context of Marx’s revolutionary practice, Cohen fails to do this and defends, as I argue in chapter 5, an interpretation of historical materialism which is systematically 22 Marxist theory of history

in Reflections on the Marxist theory of history
Abstract only
Kimberly Hutchings

reinforced that critique.10 Of these, the failure of uprisings in 1968 carried particular weight in discrediting Hegelian and Marxist theories of history for a generation of French intellectuals of the left that included Derrida and Deleuze. In response to this, both thinkers sought to articulate an alternative account of time and politics that avoided the traps of philosophy of history.11 In his essay ‘Force of Law: The “Mystical Foundation of Authority”’, Derrida engages directly with an early essay of Benjamin’s, ‘Critique of Violence’ (1978: 277–300). The aim of

in Time and world politics
Renate Günther

subordinate their ideas and aesthetic concerns to the Leninist view that all art must reflect the Marxist theory of history as class struggle. Writers like Gide, Sartre and Camus, for instance, were condemned as petit bourgeois by the party. During her early years in the PCF Duras herself concealed the fact that she was a writer for fear of being denounced as a traitor. She also later recalled that she and other members were under

in Marguerite Duras
Iain R. Smith

presuppositions loosely derived from a Marxist theory of history. Personal ideological positions have often been closely involved in the debate about theories of imperialism which has continued throughout the twentieth century. Marxists and neo-Marxists have been determined to salvage something from the wreckage of their theories, while anti-Marxists have sometimes seemed to imply that any

in The South African War reappraised