In this classic study, which won the Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize, Ellen Wood provides a critical survey of influential trends in “post-Marxist” theory. Challenging their dissociation of politics from class, she elaborates her own original conception of the complex relations between class, ideology and politics. In the process, Wood explores the links between socialism and democracy and reinterprets the relationship between liberal and socialist democracy.
In a new introduction, Wood discusses the relevance of The Retreat from Class in a post-Soviet world. She traces the connections between post-Marxism and current academic trends such as postmodernism and argues that a re-examination of class politics is a necessary counter to the current cynical acceptance of capitalism.
Ellen Meiksins Wood (1942-2016) was a leading political theorist and one of the world's most influential historians. Her wide-ranging and original work, covering topics which range from examinations of Athenian democracy to contemporary American imperialism, has, alongside Robert Brenner, inaugurated the 'Political Marxist' approach to history. Political Marxism is founded upon a critique of the teleology and formalism of many forms of Marxism in an attempt at rehistoricising and repoliticising the Marxist project. The influence of Ellen's distinctive work can be seen across the social sciences and has influenced generations of scholars.
To celebrate her work, we are making available one of her most influential essays, "The Separation of the Economic and the Political in Capitalism", originally published in NLR 1/127 (1981).
Ellen Meiksins Wood (1942-2016) was a Marxist historian and political thinker of enormous significance. We are proud to publish many of her books and, in order to encourage readers to engage with her work more broadly, we have collected the following list of articles and interviews currently in the public domain. With the kind permission of her publishers a number of the pieces are being made freely available for the first time.