Western Marxism

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Western Marxism is a term used to describe a wide variety of Marxist theoreticians based in Western and Central Europe (and more recently North America), in contrast with philosophy in the Soviet Union. While Georg Lukács's History and Class Consciousness [1] and Karl Korsch's Marxism and Philosophy [2], first published in 1923, are often seen as the works which inaugurated this current, the phrase itself was coined much later by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Its proponents have mostly (but not exclusively) been professional academics. The term is usually applied to thinkers, such as the Marxist humanists, who view Marx as primarily a philosopher and who stress the Hegelian and humanist elements of his thought, but sometimes to "anti-humanist" movements such as Structural Marxism as well. Certain strains of Western Marxism have tended to neglect economic analysis, emphasising instead the importance of the study of culture for an adequate Marxist understanding of society. Western Marxists have thus elaborated often-complex variations on the theories of ideology and superstructure, which are only thinly sketched in the writings of Marx and Engels themselves. On the other hand some schools of thought, such as the capital-logical school of Germany and Scandinavia, ended up in Hegel-influenced Economics through their engagement with Marx's Grundrisse and the Theorien manuscript.

Western Marxists have varied in terms of political commitment: Lukács, Gramsci and Althusser (famous for his supposed "anti-humanism") were all members of Soviet-aligned parties; Karl Korsch was heavily critical of Soviet Marxism, advocating council communism and later becoming increasingly interested in anarchism; the theorists of The Frankfurt School tended towards political quietism, although Herbert Marcuse became known as the 'father of the New Left'; Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and Lefebvre were, at different periods, supporters of the Communist Party of France, but all would later become disillusioned with it; Ernst Bloch lived in and supported the Soviet Union, but lost faith in it towards the end of his life. Maoism and Trotskyism also influenced Western Marxism.

[edit] Western Marxists

Ordered chronologically, based on the period during which each thinker did his main writing.

[edit] See also

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