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Let's move beyond all this "Marxism is dead" stuff. Let's also forget about the regular announcements that "Marxism is alive!" The reality is that Marxism has retreated from the summits of intellectual and actual power ...

Introduction: What is being discussed?


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Before we come to scientific socialism itself it is useful to trace its formation back to the ideas and social changes that had occurred before Marx and Engels even put pen to paper. The world in the days before the French ...

Chapter 1: The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment

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The connection between Obama and Kant is the subject of a forthcoming book by a right wing conspiracist... probably When the philosophy professor Immanuel Kant in Germany published an essay in 1784 titled What is ...

Chapter 2: The breakthrough in philosophy

The Breakthrough in Philosophy

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"The True is the Whole" Hegel Whilst Kant took key aspects of philosophy forward with his arguments, to some they felt he also left many other questions unanswered. His philosophy formed an important bedrock to ideas ...

Chapter 3: Hegel and the completion of German idealist philosophy

Hegel: The completion of German Philosophy

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"Can one be communist without Marx?" Antonio Negri   ...

Chapter 4: The early utopian socialists

The Utopian Socialists

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The beginnings of scientific socialism - when Freddy met Charlie The year 1843 was the end of the Left Hegelians as a distinct intellectual current. Feuerbach, Bauer and Karl Marx all diverged along different paths, only ...

Chapter 5: The beginnings of scientific socialism

The beginnings of scientific socialism - When Freddy met Charlie

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We can begin as we did with Hegel, on the general approach or method which provided the underpinnings of Marx and Engel's method. Marx explained in the preface to Capital: Volume 1, published several decades later, that he ...

Chapter 6: The materialist dialectic

The Materialist Dialectic

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As part of turning Hegel back on his head, Marx takes Hegel's rough outline of the philosophy of history but elaborates it from a materialist perspective. The notion that history had some kind of progression was one of the ...

Chapter 7: Historical Materialism

Historical Materialism

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These different levels of abstraction make up the scientific method of Marxism. It is worth clarifying what is meant by that because the tyranny of English can lead you to believe that if something is abstract then it is not ...

Chapter 8: The method of abstraction


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"Without alienation, there can be no politics." Arthur Miller   The concept of alienation in capitalist society is used by Marx to explain the real conditions of not just the proletariat, but humanity in ...

Chapter 9: Alienation


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Whilst Marx and Engels did not generally write extensively on what would later became known as social oppression, they were opposed to racism and sexism as being divisive in the working class struggle. Whilst class is always ...

Chapter 10: Social Oppression

Social Oppression

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As Marx and Engels explain in the opening lines of The Communist Manifesto, all human history is the history of exploiting classes and the exploited classes battling it out for control of the surplus that is generated. ...

Chapter 11: Surplus value, the working class and ideology

Surplus value the working class and ideology

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Due to the way that it accumulates capital, Capitalism is a crisis ridden system. It is impossible for it to maintain itself as a peaceful system of class equilibrium on a global or usually even a national level for any ...

Chapter 12: Boom and bust and the limits of capitalism

Boom and bust and the limits of capitalism

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Revolutionary crises under capitalism This phenomenon of capitalism points to the chronic instability of the system caused by the anarchy of production, but it is usually not itself enough to generate a revolutionary ...

Chapter 13: Revolutionary crises under capitalism

Revolutionary Crises Under Capitalism

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That is the political side of socialism as Marx and Engels understood it, but there is another level of their analysis which in many ways is the bedrock of the scientific aspects of socialism. It is this aspect, most fully ...

Methodology I: Scientific Socialism as a World-view

Methodology I: Scientific socialism as a world-view

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The claim that Marxism 'reduces everything to the economy', is like the much repeated accusation that Freud was 'only interested in sex', both are lazy, over simplifications which don't deal with the substance of the ...

Methodology II: Marxism and determinism

Methodology II: Marxism and determinism

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Earlier we saw how Marx had rejected Hegel's notion that the (Prussian) state was the culmination of rational thought or some kind of neutral mediator of civil society. If we see society from the perspective of classes and ...

Chapter 14: The capitalist state, workers state, socialism and communism (the riddle of history solved)

socialism and communism

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"Obviously the development of scientific socialism is not yet finished." Georgi Plekhanov Georgi Plekhanov, known as the father of Russian Marxism and Rosa Luxemburg, senior leader in the German Social Democrat ...

Chapter 15: The Second International

The Second International

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From 1890 onwards, there was a debate among various key thinkers in the International over the question of Historical Materialism, sometimes this debate was understood as being about Marxist philosophy, but it was a deeper ...

Chapter 16: The debates over historical materialism

The debates over historical materialism

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Beatrice Webb with husband Sidney (who both founded the London School of Economics) and George Bernard Shaw, playwright and regular lover As a mass organisation, the Second International contained both revolutionary and ...

Chapter 17: Fabianism in Britain

Fabianism in Britain

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Eduard Bernstein, chief architect of reformist socialism The creation of mass working class parties across the developed capitalist world at this time inevitably saw debates over programme and strategy, from both right ...

Chapter 18: Revisionist controversy in Germany

The revisionist debate in Germany

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"Ideas travel in human boots" Enrico Ferri The growing tensions in Europe before 1914 indicated to many that a war was coming. The era of colonialism had led to a surge in militarism and constructions of navies and ...

Chapter 19: Reform or revolution 1914-1919

Reform or revolution 1914-1919

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The "Great War" had seen slaughter on a previously unknown scale. Europe and west Asia emerged from the fighting into a new world. The remnants of the Ottoman empire was torn up by the imperialists, with new colonies grabbed ...

Part Four – The struggle for the soul of Marxism

The struggle for the soul of Marxism

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  The Comintern in its healthy period was a place of serious and deep methodological debate over revolutionary strategy and tactics. The problem facing the emerging revolutionary forces was that many countries were in ...

Chapter 20: Ultra leftism and the Third International

Ultra leftism and the Third International

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  The Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukács became a Marxist after the Russian revolution, joining the Hungarian Communist party in 1918. His earlier career involved literary criticism and questions of culture, not politics. ...

Chapter 21: Hegelian Marxism, Lukács and Korsch

Hegelian Marxism, Lukács and Korsch

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  The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci remains hugely popular today across the left as well as in academic circles where a neo-Gramscian school of though crosses disciplines and generations. His most referred to works are ...

Chapter 22: Antonio Gramsci – theories of hegemony, civil society and revolution

Gramsci and hegemony

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The philosophical underpinnings of Stalinism are threadbare, it was more of a practice that was later turned into a theory (as Bernstein had done with reformism a couple of decades before, indeed this is the natural law of ...

Chapter 23: Soviet philosophy

Soviet Philosophy

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During the 1930s a number of dissident communists arose in opposition to Stalin. Some were on the left and some on the right of the General Secretary, all were defeated. In the 1920s the method of struggle involved ...

Chapter 24: Leon Trotsky and the fight for the International

Leon Trotsky and the fight for the International

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"We cannot too soon make children understand that Socialism means happiness." Eleanor Marx After 1945 the world changes significantly. The US during and after the war emerges as a hegemonic power, building ...

Part Five – The post war world

Part V

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“But is it really so desirable, this revolution?" Max Horkheimer in the 1960s The Frankfurt school refers to the writings of a number of academics who were members of the Institute for Social Research. Although the ...

Chapter 25: The Frankfurt School and critical theory

Hegel: The completion of German Philosophy, The Frankfurt school and critical theory

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On the surface there seems to be a world of difference between the trends of development in the western world and the rise of Maoist inspired revolutionary movements across Asia and beyond. In fact both represented, under ...

Chapter 26: Maoism in East and West

Maoism in East and West

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  "Ce n'est qu'un début" [This is just the beginning]  Slogan from France 1968 [caption id="attachment_713" align="alignleft" width="201"] Barricades in Paris, 1968[/caption]   To make reference to a "new ...

Chapter 27: The New Left

The New Left

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"When a worker, somewhere in the world, approaches a tank with his bare fists and cries out that he’s not a slave, what are we if we remain indifferent?" Albert Camus   There was a brief period in the 1950s ...

Chapter 28: Existentialism: “a philosophy of reality”

Existentialism: "a philosophy of reality"

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  "Marx founded a new science, the science of History"[ref] Althusser 1976a, p. 151.[/ref] By the late 1950s the terrain of debate for Marxist theory had shifted quite dramatically. The long boom and the introduction ...

Chapter 30: Structuralist Marxism

Structuralist Marxism

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Nicos Poulantzas, writing from 1968 until his untimely death in 1979, was considered by some as a continuator of Althusserian thought in Europe. However, Poulantzas' ideas on the nature of the state and class struggle exist ...

Chapter 31: Poulantzas and Eurocommunism

Poulantzas and Eurocommunism

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"When the development of capital's interests in the factory is blocked, then the functioning of society seizes up: the way is then open for overthrowing and destroying the very basis of capital's power" Mario Tronti ...

Chapter 32: The Autonomy of the political – Operaismo and Autonomism

Operaismo and Autonomism

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"'Reality', finally, is a historical construct" Richard Markley Postmodernism emerged as one of the most powerful cultural trends in the advanced capitalist countries in the post war period. The cause of its rise were ...

Chapter 33: What is truth? The rise and fall of postmodernism

What is truth? The rise and fall of postmodernism

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Lukács once wrote that Marxism was all about method, and that even if "recent research had disproven once and for all every one one of Marx's individual theses"[ref] Lukács, 1971 p. 1[/ref] then it would still be valid. ...

Chapter 34: Analytical Marxism

Analytical Marxism

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"We should ask the feminist questions, but try to come up with some Marxist answers" Juliet Mitchell "If you don't know how women are exploited, you can never really know how men are." Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma ...

Chapter 35: Unity or contradiction? The struggle for a socialist feminism

Unity or contradiction? The struggle for a socialist feminism, Unity or contradiction? The struggle for a Socialist-Feminism

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Habermas was a gifted and promising student of Heidegger at university – who rebelled against his teacher in 1953 as a result of Heidegger's connections with the Nazi party. He studied at the Institut für Sozialforschung ...

Chapter 36: Habermas – the last Marxist?

Habermas – the last Marxist?

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Post-Marxism (A) "A so-called 'going beyond' Marxism will be at worst only a return to pre-Marxism; at best, only the rediscovery of a thought already contained in the philosophy which one believes he has gone beyond. Jean ...

Chapter 37: Post-Marxism (A) – Laclau and Mouffe

Post-Marxism (A) - Laclau and Mouffe

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"For you can tie me up if you wish / but there is nothing more useless than an organ. / When you will have made him a body without organs / then you will have delivered him from all his automatic / reactions and restored ...

Chapter 38: Post-Marxism (B) – Guattari and Deleuze – ‘Communists like us’

Post-Marxism (B) - Guattari and Deleuze - 'Communists like us'

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"Neoliberalism... is the most successful ideology in world history" Perry Anderson   On 9 November 1989 the sight of young men and women surrounding the "anti fascist security wall" running through Berlin - unafraid of ...

Part 6 – The fall of the Berlin Wall

Part VI

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  "And in the struggles against capitalist exploitation, the rule of property, and the destroyers of the common through public and private control, we will suffer terribly, but still we laugh with joy. They will be buried ...

Chaper 39: Post Marxism (C) – Hardt and Negri – theorists of Empire

Post Marxism (C) - Hardt and Negri - theorists of Empire

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To summarise our excursion into post-Marxism, in what way are Deleuze and Guattari, Hardt and Negri or Laclau and Mouffe still part of the Marxist tradition? Or rather, why are they considered post Marxist rather than, for ...

Chaper 40: Post-Marxism, an interim conclusion


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  Since the mid 1990s Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has risen to prominence across Europe and beyond as one of the leading left intellectuals currently alive. As a prolific writer he has produced a mountain of ...

Chapter 41: Slavoj Žižek – using Lacan as a machine to read Hegel

Slavoj Žižek - using Lacan as a machine to read Hegel

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Alain Badiou was a leader of the Maoist group UCFML (L'Union des Communistes de France Marxiste-Leniniste) in the 1960s and 70s. The author of several books on philosophy and a regular polemicist with other intellectuals, ...

Chapter 42: Alain Badiou – the Philosophy of the Event

Alain Badiou - the Philosophy of the Event

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  "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. " Samuel Beckett In London during 2009 a sell out conference called the Idea of Communism (repeated a ...

Chapter 43: The Idea of Communism

The Idea of Communism

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It is difficult to conclude a project like this, but here are some thoughts on what it all means.  "A world gorged with the clamours of the end of history, the American century, and the failure of communism is now going ...