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“Marxism after Marxism”

Clara Heyworth 3 January 2010

In a new review for Mediations, Imre Szeman says Göran Therborn's From Marxism to Post-Marxism? "might allow Left thought to better understand its past, present, and future."

What comes next for Marxism? This is the question animating Göran Therborn's From Marxism to Post-Marxism?, which considers the future of Marxist theory in the context of the new political, economic, and social circumstances of the twenty-first century. Perhaps more than any other theoretical tradition, Marxism has been especially attentive to the circumstances in which it operates; a meta-awareness of its own conditions of possibility is an essential characteristic for a mode of thought in which history plays a constitutive role and ideas are of necessity anchored in the stuff of life. Marxism originated and developed in circumstances starkly different than our own. In what ways has it changed or does it need to change to remain relevant in this new era?


Have we moved from Marxism to post-Marxism? The title is posed as a question; the book leaves little doubt about the necessity of such a move, whether it has actually happened as yet. "Post-Marxism" need not be seen as abandonment of the insights of Marx and the Marxist tradition into the operations of capitalism or the ongoing dialectic of modernity, so much as a shift from older historical problematics to a direct confrontation with our bad new days. As the book makes clear, this is already happening. From Marxism to Post-Marxism? is less a rallying cry for new approaches and for braving theoretical and political paths not taken, than a ground-clearing exercise that might allow Left thought to better understand its past, present, and future. Therborn writes that the book makes "no claim to being an intellectual history or a history of ideas, and may be seen rather as a traveller's notebook, unpretentious notes jotted down after a long, arduous journey through the climb, passes, descents and dead ends of twentieth- and early twenty-first-century Marxism." One could not hope for a better guide for the arduous journey still to come.

Visit Mediations to read the review in full.

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