Norman Geras's work on the subject of Karl Marx's antisemitism involved significant dissent from the Marxist tradition in which he located himself, precisely because unvarnished honesty prevented him from glossing over the many troubling ideas and notions that, simply, are there. His Normblog demonstrated how Geras, as a Marxist, took on the shibboleths of the postmodern left, and in particular the relativism whose malign influence he had noted when writing his book on Marx's conception of human nature. 'The principle of self-emancipation', wrote Geras in 1971, 'is central, not incidental, to historical materialism.' This book shows how the materialist usage of 'powers of human nature', 'natural desires', 'natural character' play an important role in the formulation of Marx's theory of history. It explores Richard Rorty's various usages on the question of human nature and the tensions and anomalies as well as then theses on utopia. The book also reviews a fast-growing sector of the current literature on Karl Marx, i.e. whether Marx condemn capitalism in the light of any principle of justice, and the controversy that has fuelled its growth, and distinguishes three meanings (personal, intellectual and socio-political) of 'being a Marxist'. It discusses the significance of the Euston Manifesto, antisemitism on the left anti-Jewish stereotypes, and Marxism before the Holocaust. The book concludes with insights into the 9/11 incident, the principle of humanitarian intervention and international law for military intervention.
an unwavering commitment to the goal of anti-capitalist social transformation, a transparent sense of humanity and a conception of democracy informed by vital liberal assumptions. This is a combination still to be commended, I believe, today.
Norman Geras, 2002 1
In a body of work marked by the meticulous exegesis, scrupulous critique and creative development of the classical Marxisttradition, Norman Geras established himself as the twentieth-century Marxist theoretician we need most in the twenty-first century. Why? Three reasons: few understood
Norman Geras as a general rule. Much of his work involved significant dissent from the Marxisttradition in which he located himself, precisely because unvarnished honesty prevented him from glossing over the many troubling ideas and notions that, simply, are there. This openness, in our view, is one of the key reasons why Geras’s extensive writings should be introduced to a wider audience seeking to understand not just past evolutions of political thought but their relevance to the extraordinary shifts now taking place in the twenty-first century.
Marxisttradition, widely conceived, was that developed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor
Adorno. Their work on antisemitism may usefully be read as an engagement with and
critique of the Marxist orthodoxy. Like the rest of their colleagues in the
Frankfurt School, they were initially reluctant to make antisemitism a central
focus of their research, and even as they deployed new methods of enquiry
– designed to integrate insights from psychoanalysis into a Marxist
German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has written extensively on the European Union.
This is the only in-depth account of his project. Published now in a second
edition to coincide with the celebration of his ninetieth birthday, a new
preface considers Habermas’s writings on the eurozone and refugee crises,
populism and Brexit, and the presidency of Emmanuel Macron. Placing an
emphasis on the conception of the EU that informs Habermas’s political
prescriptions, the book is divided into two main parts. The first considers the
unfolding of 'social modernity' at the level of the EU. Among the
subjects covered are Habermas's concept of juridification, the
latter's affinities with integration theories such as neofunctionalism, and
the application of Habermas's democratic theory to the EU. The second part
addresses 'cultural modernity' in Europe – 'Europessimism'
is argued to be a subset of the broader cultural pessimism that assailed the
project of modernity in the late twentieth century, and with renewed intensity
in the years since 9/11. Interdisciplinary in approach, this book engages
with European/EU studies, critical theory, political theory, international
relations, intellectual history, comparative literature, and philosophy. Concise
and clearly written, it will be of interest to students, scholars and
professionals with an interest in these disciplines, as well as to a broader
readership concerned with the future of Europe
, 1969: 153).
With this context in mind, we begin chapter 9 with a discussion of the
psychohistory literature and how it fits with the Marxisttradition, which has
often been accused of economic determinism in accounting for human behaviour and political change. The chapter argues that this criticism is misplaced,
and that an approach that draws on individuals’ psychology as a factor in their
political decision-making is far from incompatible with the Marxist and structural analyses on which we have drawn so far. Chapter 10 continues with
chapter 9’s application of
As Crouch (1979) notes, social theory in the 1970s accorded increasing attention to the role of the state. Within
Europe, much of this centred on the Marxisttradition
(Table 8.2, column 1). However, within the United States,
while political science accorded little attention to developing a systematic social theory of the state, a few scholars
such as Robert Dahl explored the issue of community power.
Other leading political scientists argued that democratic
, utopian, including in its most influential version to date, namely Marxism. This is despite Marx and Engels’s attempt, in the Communist Manifesto and elsewhere, to take their distance from utopia as mere abstraction or speculation, to ground their own thinking in present tendencies, in an analysis of real historical possibilities and of the social and political agencies for bringing them about. Everyone knows that in this sense the Marxisttradition sought from the beginning to be resolutely, anti- utopian. Re-read the relevant passages from the Manifesto. Of some
The last Muggletonian Marxist: EP Thompson’s paradoxical triumph
Thompson. The decade was crucial because,
in England especially, it was a crucible in which diverse political and
intellectual traditions and tendencies were melted down and synthesised into an ideology that appealed to a generation of intellectuals.
This ideology would guide EP Thompson’s political, scholarly and
literary work for decades.
We noted in chapter 1 how the Popular Front policy which the
Communist Party of Great Britain adopted in the middle of the 1930s
encouraged the mingling of ideas from England’s liberal, Romantic
and Marxisttraditions. Invoking
Register, the annual journal whose early years we described in chapter
3.6 Running to ninety-nine pages, and adroned with quotes from
Wordsworth and Auden as well as Marx and Alasdair MacIntyre,
Thompson’s epistle was a passionate appeal against an old friend’s
rejection of Marxism and the socialist project. Against Kolakowski’s
pessimism about the prospects for Marxism and the possibility of
radical change, Thompson insisted upon the existence of a ‘Marxisttradition’ irreducible to the crimes of Stalin and his successors.
The 1974 issue of the