Historical materialism at its strongest has always been defined by its supersession of the antithesis between Romanticism and Utilitarianism which News from Nowhere, for all its splendour, reiterates. Marx wrote in the Grundrisse: "It is as ridiculous to yearn for a return to an original fullness as it is to believe that with this present emptiness history has come to a standstill. The bourgeois viewpoint has never advanced beyond this antithesis between itself and the romantic viewpoint and therefore the latter will accompany it as its legitimate antithesis up to its blessed end." This sense of the dialectical complementarity of Utilitarianism and Romanticism is what distinguishes classical Marxism from the many attempts by socialists at one time or another to construct an opposition to capitalism from either standpoint: denunciation of its irrationality or inhumanity alone. For each is capable of either progressive or reactionary "derivations" — Mill or Zola can be set against Carlyle or Barres, just as much as Shelley or Ruskin can be set against Ure or Spencer. There is no one "logic" of either tradition, each of which has proved capable of a rainbow of political metamorphoses. The duty of socialists today is not to pit one against the other yet again, but to set both intellectually in their changing historical settings and to prepare practically the conditions for the long-awaited blessing of their mutual end.
40% off all our books by Perry Anderson, including The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci, The H-Word and American Foreign Policy. Ends June 4 at midnight UTC.
Jeremy Corbyn has, once again, emerged victorioius from a Labour leadership contest, but in the weeks since a number of his decisions have risked alienating his support-base.
What do the confusions over his policies on immigration and his recent decision to speak at the Stand Up To Racism event say for the future of Corbynism as a social movement? In this essay Nick Srnicek, co-author of Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, analyses Corbyn's leadership not, as most have, with an eye to his critics on the right, but from the left.
Since storming to victory on September 14th 2015 with 59.5% of the vote in Labour's leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn has faced many challenges; including from within his own party.
On Saturday he dealt with the most significant threat to his leadership to date. He increased his win to 61.8% in the leadership election, an unarguable mandate from his party members. The results of this weekend will have an overwhelming effect on the landscape of British politics. But will the PLP now unify behind their leader?
In the build up to the Labour Party Conference, the Leadership Election 2016, as well as the World Transformed festival (hosted by a coalition of grassroots groups and powered by Momentum), Verso has put together an essential reading list. Download our free eBook on Corbyn and the Future of Labour to get 40% off all of the books below until September 30th (click on the discount link within the ebook).
In the most recent issue of the London Review of Books, Thomas Meaney reviews Perry Anderson's recently published analysis of the ways in which the creation of the US state and its imperial ambitions have interacted, American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers. Read an extract from the review below.