Sunday, May 06, 2018

Anniversary

In my youth during the early phases of the Cold War, it was common to identify Marxism with the oppressive Soviet system under Communism, with its offshoots in the satellite countries, not to mention the CPs of Italy, France, and the US, reliable acolytes of Stalinism.

Now with the marking of the 200th birthday of Karl Marx, these issues have resurfaced. During the 196Os there arose a new current of (Neo)Marxist thought in Western Europe that sought to go back to the sources, especially the 1844 Manuscript. Sometimes termed Marxist humanism, this trend was exemplified by such figures as Louis Althusser, Cornelius Castoriadis, and Perry Anderson. These thinkers asserted that "genuine Marxism" had nothing to do with Stalinism. While this claim was improbable, they succeed for a while in placing themselves in an independent position, one that lacked the baggage that increasingly burdened the official Communist Parties.

Still, in the great efforts for social change that peaked in 1968, Marxism in several varieties was part of the mix, as I well remember from participation in vital movements that flourished during that era. We did change the world. This history must not be forgotten.

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