History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Why Marx was right–and wrong

April 11th, 2011 · 1 Comment

A quick review of Eagleton’s book on Marx. More tommorrow.

By John C. Landon “nemonemini” (New York City) – See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
The current economic madhouse has led to a lot of discussion of the aptness of the thinking of Karl Marx. This is a valuable application of history to the mystifications of the current system, so well propagandized. But perhaps Eagleton takes the Marx factor too far, leaving the critique exposed to the critiques–of Marx, of which they are a multitude, and aginst which Eagleton’s eloquent defense offers little defense. I think that the over-focus on Marx as infallible is a disservice to the needs of the present where the entire set of questions raised by the French Socialists and packaged by Marx/Engels needs to be recast for another age. Marx’ Capital was a mess that its author abandoned finally after decades of writer’s block. The result is a brilliant symbolism, enough, but not much of a theory. Historical materialism is a waste time at this point. Why set up leftists beginners to the gleeful attacks of the right here?
We cannot easily exempt Marx from the calamities of the Leninist then Stalinist distortions of his thought, nor can we simply negate a century of critique of Marx (cf. Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism) with enthusiastic preaching to the converted. Marx’s basic contribution is classic and legendary, a legend. But much of it is muddled, unclear, and contradictory. We should do what Marx/Engels did to their predecessors: recast the issues in a new and more coherent form, one that disassociates from the millstone around the neck of all leftists who try to forget what the Tea Partiers et al will reminder them: that the world once took Marx completely seriously and ended up in Bolshevik world madness. The way past that requires a basic pressing of the reset button. Much of the real value of Marx will resurface at that point. But the endless effort to prove that Marx was right is pointless at this point of no return. We should recall the momentum of Marxism in the roaring tide of the left at the end of the nineteenth century. That momentum is not present now to those who chant the Marx mantra. What is needed is a simple restatement of the issues of democracy, socialism, and the more distant goes of Communism in a form that need not even reference Mars. It is an illusion to think you get a second chance after the calamity of Bolshevism. What does get a second chance is the real legacy predating Marx/Engels and a part of the common heritage of the left since the French Revolution. That somewhat confused legacy of socialism was not finally clarified by Marx/Engels. So we should learn from them and yet move on. We have run out of time, and are still twenty years after the fall of Bolshevism trying to press the Marx catechism on those who simply won’t buy it, a second time.

For a critique of historical materialism and a view of the left that can substitute consider:
World History And the Eonic Effect: Civilization, Darwinism, and Theories of Evolution Fourth Edition

Tags: Critique of Evolutionary Economy

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