neo-marxism?

Jay Moore research at SPAMneravt.com
Sun May 21 12:04:05 MDT 2000


Neo-Marxism, a term that emerged in the last couple of decades, is not
really, as I understand it, any distinct school of Marxism but rather a
loose collection of thinkers (and thoughts) who have attempted, with varying
degrees of success, to marry traditional Marxist concerns about class and
class struggle with other theories about domination and identity politics,
etc.  One example of a neo-Marxist -- and someone who actually uses the term
for himself -- would be the radical political economist who teaches at UC,
Santa Cruz, Jim O'Connor.  O'Connor's "big book" (actually rather thin in
size but huge conceptually) written in the early 1970s was "The Fiscal
Crisis of the State" in which he sought to demonstrate that the (then)
welfare state and contests over "entitlements" rather than the factory had
become the main locus of the class struggle in advanced capitalist
societies.  In developing this theory, O'Connor drew inter alis from
Weberian-type theories of the state and bureaucracy, which focus on the
state more as an entity in its own terms with it owns "laws of motion" than
more or less simply -- in the at least more "orthodox Marxist" sense -- as a
instrument of the rule of a particular class at the particular historical
stage.  In recent years, O'Connor has become interested in ecology and is
one of the main proponents of "socialist ecology" -- an attempt both to
recover lost ecological elements within Marx and Engels as well as to
assimilate where possible ecological and Green thinking from diverse other
sources.  The journal, "Capitalism, Nature, Socialism" (CNS) edited by
O'Connor is trying to be a center for these theories.

There are also "post-Marxists" -- not only those who have rejected Marxism
altogether and "gone beyond" it  in the sense of really going back to
liberalism or something but people who use this term and believe that new
left theories are required, subsuming perhaps some insights from Marx and
Marxism, but really having much less relationship, if any, with theories of
class and class struggle.  One example, at the end of his life (he told me
so himself) was the great British historian, author of "The Making of the
English Working Class", E.P Thompson.

I hope this is helpful.  I remember my own introduction to Marxist thought
and how confusing it all could be with the "Marxisms".  If I were you, I
would try to get a good grounding first in what Marx himself said and
thought.  Maximillien Rubel's books are a good, reliable source, separating
Marx himself from subsequent "Marxists".

best,
jay
http://www.neravt.com/left/






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