Western Marxism | Wikipedia audio article

Western Marxism | Wikipedia audio article


Western Marxism is a current of Marxist theory
arising from Western and Central Europe in the aftermath of the 1917 October Revolution
in Russia and the ascent of Leninism. The term denotes a loose collection of theorists
who advanced an interpretation of Marxism distinct from that codified by the Soviet
Union.The Western Marxists placed more emphasis on Marxism’s philosophical and sociological
aspects, and its origins in the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (for which
reason it is sometimes called Hegelian Marxism) and what they called “Young Marx” (i.e. the
more humanistic early works of Marx). Although some early figures such as György
Lukács and Antonio Gramsci had been prominent in political activities, Western Marxism became
primarily the reserve of the academia especially after World War II. Prominent figures included Walter Benjamin,
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Since the 1960s, the concept has been closely
associated with the New Left. While many of the Western Marxists were adherents
of Marxist humanism, the term also encompasses their critics in the form of the structural
Marxism of Louis Althusser.==Terminology==
The phrase “Western Marxism” was coined in 1953 by Maurice Merleau-Ponty. While it is often contrasted with the Marxism
of the Soviet Union, Western Marxists have been divided in their opinion of it and other
Marxist-Leninist states.==History and distinctive elements==
Although there have been many schools of Marxist thought that are sharply distinguished from
Marxism–Leninism, such as Austromarxism or the Left Communism of Antonie Pannekoek,
the theorists who downplay the primacy of economic analysis are considered Western Marxists,
as they focus on areas such as culture, philosophy and art.György Lukács’s History and Class
Consciousness and Karl Korsch’s Marxism and Philosophy, published in 1923, are the works
that inaugurated Western Marxism. In these books, Lukács and Korsch proffer
a Marxism that emphasises the Hegelian components of Karl Marx’s thought. Marxism is not simply an improved theory of
political economy, nor is it a scientific sociology, akin to the natural sciences. Marxism is primarily a critique, a self-conscious
transformation of society. Marxism does not make philosophy obsolete,
as vulgar Marxism believes; Marxism preserves the truths of philosophy until their revolutionary
transformation into reality.While their work was greeted with hostility by the Third International,
which saw Marxism as a universal science of history and nature, this style of Marxism
would be taken up by Germany’s Frankfurt School, founded that same year. The writings of Italian Communist Antonio
Gramsci, produced during this period but not published until much later, are also classified
as belonging to Western Marxism.After World War 2, a number of thinkers such as Lucien
Goldmann, Henri Lefebvre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre would constitute a French
Western Marxism.Western Marxism often emphasises the importance of the study of culture, class
consciousness and subjectivity for an adequate Marxist understanding of society. Western Marxists have thus tended to stress
Marx’s theories of commodity fetishism, ideology and alienation and have elaborated these with
new concepts such as false consciousness, reification and cultural hegemony.Western
Marxism also focuses on the works of the Young Marx, where his encounters with Hegel, the
Young Hegelians and Feuerbach reveal what many Western Marxists see as the humanist
philosophical core of Marxism. However, the Structural Marxism of Louis Althusser,
which attempts to purge Marxism of Hegelianism and humanism, has also been said to belong
to Western Marxism.==Political commitments==
Western Marxists have held a wide variety of political commitments: Lukács and Gramsci
were members of Soviet-aligned parties; Korsch, Marcuse and Debord were highly critical of
Soviet communism and instead advocated council communism; Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Althusser
and Lefebvre were, at different periods, supporters of the Soviet-aligned Communist Party of France,
but all would later become disillusioned with it; Bloch lived in and supported the Eastern
Bloc, but lost faith in Soviet Communism towards the end of his life. Maoism and Trotskyism also influenced Western
Marxism. Nicos Poulantzas, a later Western Marxist,
was an advocate for Eurocommunism.==List of Western Marxists==
Louis Althusser Walter Benjamin
Marshall Berman Ernst Bloch
Bertolt Brecht Cornelius Castoriadis
Lucio Colletti Guy Debord
Galvano Della Volpe Frankfurt School
Theodor Adorno Erich Fromm
Max Horkheimer Herbert Marcuse
Joseph Gabel Lucien Goldmann
Antonio Gramsci Jürgen Habermas
Franz Jakubowski Fredric Jameson
Alexandre Kojève Leszek Kołakowski
Karl Korsch Karel Kosík
Henri Lefebvre Georg Lukács
Maurice Merleau-Ponty Antonio Negri
Moishe Postone Nicos Poulantzas
Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez Jean-Paul Sartre==See also==
Analytical Marxism Budapest School (Lukács)
Critical social theory Cultural studies
Eurocommunism Freudo-Marxism
Hegelian Marxism Marxist humanism
New Left Neo-Marxism
Praxis school Situationist International
Postmodernism==References=====Footnotes======Bibliography=====External links==
Douglas Kellner, “Western Marxism” “Western And Heterodox Marxism”

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