Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism by Russell Jacoby

By Russell Jacoby

Looking at that for either revolutionaries and capitalists, not anything succeeds like good fortune, Russell Jacoby asks us to reexamine a loser of Marxism: the unorthodox Marxism of Western Europe. the writer starts off with a polemical assault on 'conformist' or orthodox Marxism, within which he comprises structuralist faculties. He argues cult of luck and technological know-how tired this Marxism of its serious impulse and that the successes of the Russian and chinese language revolutions inspired a mechanical and fruitless mimicry. He then turns to a Western substitute that neither succumbed to the spell of good fortune nor obliterated the person within the identify of technological know-how. within the 19th century, this Western Marxism already diverged from Russian Marxism in its interpretation of Hegel and its evaluate of Engels' orthodox Marxism. the writer follows the evolution of this minority culture and its competition to authoritarian types of political idea and perform.

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55 As object and method, Hegel's Wissenschaft is saturated with history; this finally constitutes Hegel's protest against the positive and empirical sciences. They are historically blind and treat truth as formal and static. "56 History is a means and an end. "The harmoniousness of childhood is a gift from the hand of nature; the second harmony must spring from the labour and culture of the spirit"57 from the historical process. These teachings of Hegel were neither well received nor well preserved.

55 Marx's books were his only means, and even these were difficult to find. 56 His letters to Engels often complained of the dearth of Marx's texts in Italy. The timbre of Labriola's Marxism resounded in his vocabulary; his terms testified to his efforts to distance himself from positivism and vulgar Marxism. "57 He wrote to Engels of his misgivings about the terms "science" and Wissenschaft; for Engels, Wissenschaft implied a "more profound, more organic, more complex" meaning than the "science of the positivists," which supplanted it in Italy.

Modern industry . . " 72 From The Communist Manifesto to Capital, the same dialectical vision informed Marx's analysis of modern industry. Marx never doubted that the drive for profits constantly impelled the bourgeoisie to revolutionize the instruments of production. "Modern industry never views or treats the existing form of production process as the definitive one. " 73 If the terms are clear enough, the substance is not. That it has taken countless scholars to determine exactly what Marx was saying only suggests the difficulty of Marxists faced with political options and choices.

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