Paperback, 368 pages
$19.95 / £12.99
Part of the Marx's Political Writings series
Stuart Jeffries gives an overview of the mainstreaming of Marx in today's Guardian, featuring Verso authors Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, Owen Jones and Slavoj Žižek as well as the new edition of The Communist Manifesto.
Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: "What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."...
Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support.
Jeffries interviews Jacques Rancière, philosopher, radical social historian (and Ségolène Royal's favourite thinker) to shed light on the 'new Marxism':
Aren't Marx's venerable ideas as useful to us as the hand loom would be to shoring up Apple's reputation for innovation? Isn't the dream of socialist revolution and communist society an irrelevance in 2012? After all, I suggest to Rancière, the bourgeoisie has failed to produce its own gravediggers. Rancière refuses to be downbeat: "The bourgeoisie has learned to make the exploited pay for its crisis and to use them to disarm its adversaries.
The Guardian's Peter Thompson has been writing a multi-part series on Karl Marx. Asking whether Marxism "still has any explanatory power today, in a new age of revolutionary upheaval, or whether we have, in Hegel's and Fukuyama's terms, reached The End of History," Thompson addresses Marx's relationship to religion, socialist thinking, history, power, economics, alienation and modernity. Focusing on how the "process of economic alienation feeds through into religion and ideology and the means by which people manage to cope with being mere playthings of larger forces;" Thompson investigates "how a sense of autonomy, faith and hope are maintained in an apparently constrained, rationalistic and futureless world."
The final article focuses on Marx's relationship to modernity, particularly looking to post-Marxist thought to elucidate theories of the Arab Spring as an example of the eternal desire for human liberation.
Where Alain Badiou talks today of an almost ahistorical "communist hypothesis", Ernst Bloch spoke about an "invariant of direction", a mood of an eternal desire for human liberation that breaks out at certain historical points where the objective conditions allow it. The Arab spring would be an example today, whereas 40 and 20 years ago respectively it was the Prague spring and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Drawing parallels with Europe in 1848, Tariq Ali, writing for the Guardian, remarks that like those European rebels, the
Arab people are fighting against foreign domination (82% of Egyptians, a recent opinion poll revealed, have a "negative view of the US"); against the violation of their democratic rights; against an elite blinded by its own illegitimate wealth - and in favour of economic justice.