British Marxism

Richard Norman

  • Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence by G.A. Cohen
    Oxford, 369 pp, £10.50, December 1978, ISBN 0 19 827196 4
  • Marxism After Marx: An Introduction by David Macmillan
    McLellan, 355 pp, £8.95, December 1980, ISBN 0 333 72208 6

Is there a British Marxism? David McLellan’s new book offers, implicitly, an answer. In his comprehensive survey of ‘Marxism after Marx’, one of the 24 chapters is devoted to British Marxism – and it is almost the shortest in the book. After a brief history of the British Left, he mentions the good work of some Marxist historians and economists. But the implication is that there has been no distinctive Marxist tradition in this country, drawing on the particular features of the national culture. And that, I think, would be correct. Since the editors of New Left Review, some years ago, bemoaned the absence of a British Marxism, neither they nor anyoné else have been able to do much more than fill the gap with importations.

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