[Marxism] A reply to Göran Therborn

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Feb 22 13:34:25 MST 2007


As many of you know, the January-February 2000 issue of New Left Review 
carried an article by Editor Perry Anderson titled “Renewals” that 
basically set a new direction for the journal. He characterized the period 
as one of diminished political expectations:

"Ten years after the collapse of Communism, however, the world has moved 
on, and a condition of re-launching the review is some distinctive and 
systematic approach to its state today. What is the principal aspect of the 
past decade? Put briefly, it can be defined as the virtually uncontested 
consolidation, and universal diffusion, of neo-liberalism."

Given such objective conditions, it was necessary for NLR to downsize its 
politics as well:

"What kind of stance should NLR adopt in this new situation? Its general 
approach, I believe, should be an uncompromising realism. Uncompromising in 
both senses: refusing any accommodation with the ruling system, and 
rejecting every piety and euphemism that would understate its power. No 
sterile maximalism follows. The journal should always be in sympathy with 
strivings for a better life, no matter how modest their scope. But it can 
support any local movements or limited reforms, without pretending that 
they alter the nature of the system."

Although I haven’t paid that much attention to NLR since it made this turn, 
I have continued to admire the work that Tariq Ali has done in challenging 
American imperialism. Additionally, the journal did seem to pull back a bit 
from Anderson’s pessimism and has always had at least one or two articles 
worth reading in the past 7 years, even if they haven’t had any direct 
relevance to struggles that the organized (or disorganized) left was 
involved with.

In the latest issue, however, there is a long article (unfortunately, it 
can only be read by subscribers or people like myself with university 
access) by Göran Therborn “After Dialectics Radical Social Theory in a 
Post-Communist World” that practically cries out for a response, especially 
from a troglodyte Unrepentant Marxist like myself.

Like many of his colleagues at NLR, Therborn is a big-time academician who 
is currently serving as a director at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced 
Studies. He has been writing books about Marxism for 30 years, but I have 
the strong suspicion that he has never written a leaflet or organized a 
demonstration. That in itself does not condemn him. I would only suggest a 
bit more modesty on the good professor’s part when it comes to issuing 
directives to ’sans culottes’ like us.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/a-reply-to-goran-therborn/

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