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Views of Marx

G.A. Cohen, 15 May 1980

Marxism and Class Theory: A Bourgeois Critique 
by Frank Parkin.
Tavistock, 217 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 0 422 76790 5
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Karl Marx 
edited by Tom Bottomore.
Blackwell, 194 pp., £9.95, September 1979, 0 631 10961 7
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... do not offer generalising theory. As Tom Bottomore says in his excellent introduction to the Karl Marx collection, ‘Marxist sociology has still to be constructed.’ Unlike Parkin, he is agnostic about the prospects of success. My own attitude is one of (perhaps incurable) optimism. I expect good general theory which is responsive to (among other ...

A Human Being

Jenny Diski: Karl Marx, 25 November 1999

Karl Marx 
by Francis Wheen.
Fourth Estate, 441 pp., £20, October 1999, 1 85702 637 3
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Adventures in Marxism 
by Marshall Berman.
Verso, 160 pp., £17, September 1999, 9781859847343
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... prime ministers and presidents we deserve. Now, it looks as if each generation is going to get the Karl Marx it deserves. There are advantages in watching the process of a Marx revived again and again according to the perceptions of social pundits: with each recasting and each self-appointed recaster of ...

Was she Julia?

Stephen Spender, 7 July 1983

Code Name ‘Mary’: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground 
by Muriel Gardiner.
Yale, 200 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 300 02940 3
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... is also being psychoanalysed and looking after her child. At the time of the bombardment of the Karl Marx Hof, a block of workers’ tenements, by police and soldiers of Chancellor Dollfuss’s Fascist government, she becomes a very active member of the anti-Fascist resistance in Austria. Apart from the fact that Julia comes to a tragic end, the ...

They were less depressed in the Middle Ages

John Bossy: Suicide, 11 November 1999

Marx on Suicide 
edited by Eric Plaut and Kevin Anderson, translated by Gabrielle Edgcomb.
Northwestern, 152 pp., £11.20, May 1999, 0 8101 1632 4
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Suicide in the Middle Ages, Vol I: The Violent Against Themselves 
by Alexander Murray.
Oxford, 510 pp., £30, January 1999, 0 19 820539 2
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A History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Johns Hopkins, 420 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 8018 5919 0
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... In 1846 Karl Marx published a version of a chapter about suicide which had recently appeared in a book by one Jacques Peuchet entitled Mémoires tirées des archives de la police. Peuchet had been an encyclopedist and statistician of some distinction, and is said to have invented the term ‘bureaucracy’. He had survived the Revolution, and under the restored Bourbons had become archivist of the police records of Paris and hence a benefactor of Richard Cobb and readers of his Death in Paris (1978 ...

Communism and Shamanism

Maurice Bloch, 15 September 1983

Karl Marx Collective: Economy, Society and Religion in a Siberian Collective Farm 
by Caroline Humphrey.
Cambridge, 522 pp., £30, July 1983, 0 521 24456 0
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... reality, we are surprised to find it peopled by ordinary human beings. Caroline Humphrey’s book, Karl Marx Collective, tells us what we want to know: what is the relation between theory and practice, what is the relation of the state and the party to the local unit – in this case collective farms – how much are individuals constrained in their lives ...


A.J.P. Taylor: Habits, 1 March 1984

... some pleasure, though I had read it often before. What has really delighted me is The Daughters of Karl Marx, their family correspondence between 1866 and 1898. Their letters are full of hardship but also of gaiety. From afar, Karl Marx seems a formidable figure. He is transformed into something quite different ...

History’s Postman

Tom Nairn: The Jewishness of Karl Marx, 26 January 2006

Karl Marx ou l’esprit du monde 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 549 pp., €23, May 2005, 2 213 62491 7
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... in a Radio 4 poll who they thought was the most important philosopher for today’s world replied Karl Marx – he was easily the winner, ahead of Hume, Plato, Karl Popper and others. Asked to comment, Eric Hobsbawm said he thought that the fall of Soviet Communism had at last allowed people to disentangle Marxism from ...


Ronald Hutton, 5 August 1982

Fenland Riots and the English Revolution 
by Keith Lindley.
Heinemann, 259 pp., £16.50, March 1982, 0 435 32535 3
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Commonwealth to Protectorate 
by Austin Woolrych.
Oxford, 433 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 19 822659 4
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... In the past few generations the division has tended to be drawn instead between the followers of Karl Marx and those of Samuel Gardiner, between those who see political action as an expression of tensions within society as a whole and those who see the vital political events as occurring at the centre and echoing in the provinces. The two latest books ...

Walter Scott’s Post-War Europe

Marilyn Butler, 7 February 1980

Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination 
by David Brown.
Routledge, 239 pp., £9.75, August 1980, 0 7100 0301 3
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... the historical process, the first portrayer of society in terms that Adam Smith might and Karl Marx did approve. David Brown makes the academic case admirably. He begins by modestly disclaiming originality: he is developing insights put forward by others in recent years, and only applying them more carefully to a selection of the major ...

Statue of Liberty

Norman Stone, 7 July 1983

The Crisis of the Old Order in Russia: Gentry and Government 
by Roberta Thompson Manning.
Princeton, 555 pp., £35.30, February 1983, 0 691 05349 9
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Mikhail Bakunin: A Study in the Psychology and Politics of Utopianism 
by Aileen Kelly.
Oxford, 320 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 0 19 827244 8
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... his company quite entrancing: but they had to have a strong stomach for the first person singular. Karl Marx did not have such a strong stomach, and he eventually broke with Bakunin in bitter rivalry as to the shape of the First International, which Bakunin tried to capture. Bakunin responded by attacking Marx as a Jew ...

Short Cuts

Matthew Beaumont: The route to Tyburn Tree, 20 June 2013

... of a civil disturbance. During the demonstration against the Sunday Trading Bill in 1855 – which Karl Marx excitedly identified as the beginning of the English Revolution– a detachment of police leaped out from between the legs of the arch and ambushed the protesters. During the Reform League’s demonstrations for universal male suffrage in 1866, it ...

Can Marxism be rescued?

Alan Ryan, 17 September 1987

An Introduction to Karl Marx 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge, 220 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 521 32922 1
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Making sense of Marx 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge, 556 pp., £32.50, May 1985, 0 521 22896 4
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Analytical Marxism 
edited by John Roemer.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 521 30025 8
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... of the real world in the same relationship as masturbation stands to real sexual love,’ said Marx himself. Was this a dismissal of all forms of philosophy, or only of the overblown Idealism of Hegel? Would he have been equally dismissive of pragmatism or empiricism; would Pierce or Mill have received the same short shrift? ...

Find the Method

Timothy Shenk: Loyalty to Marx, 29 June 2017

Karl MarxGreatness and Illusion 
by Gareth Stedman Jones.
Penguin, 768 pp., £14.99, May 2017, 978 0 14 102480 6
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... young, almost in its infancy,’ Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in 1957, more than seventy years after Karl Marx’s death. Sartre had first read Marx three decades earlier when he, too, was still very young. At the time, the author of Capital had seemed a figure of merely historical interest. ‘Here are the conceptions of ...

Some must get rich first

Colin Legum, 15 March 1984

The Heart of the Dragon 
by Alasdair Clayre.
Harvill, 281 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 00 272115 5
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The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. Vol. II: The Great Leap Forward 1958-1960 
by Roderick MacFarquhar.
Oxford, 470 pp., £22.50, June 1983, 0 19 214996 2
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Son of the Revolution 
by Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro.
Chatto, 301 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2751 1
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by William Hinton.
Secker, 789 pp., £15.95, November 1983, 0 436 19630 1
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The Messiah and the Mandarins 
by Dennis Bloodworth.
Weidenfeld, 331 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 297 78054 9
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The Cambridge History of China. Vol. XII: Republican China 1912-1949, Part I 
edited by John Fairbank.
Cambridge, 1002 pp., £50, October 1983, 0 521 23541 3
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The Middle Kingdom: Inside China Today 
by Erwin Wickert.
Harvill, 397 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 00 272113 9
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... their distinctive identity mainly at the cost of delaying the modernisation of their society. Even Karl Marx was given a Chinese face when he was introduced by the Communists. Erwin Wickert, a former West German Ambassador to Beijing, with experience of the country going back to his student days, records in The Middle Kingdom that when Hua Guofeng made a ...


Judith Shklar, 9 October 1986

The Body in Pain 
by Elaine Scarry.
Oxford, 385 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 19 503601 8
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... revision, however, it is all one story – which finds its completion in the writings of Karl Marx, who in an unintended parallel offers the same account of how the bodily pain of work creates our ‘world’. The point of this improbable tale is that the ‘troubling’ inflictions of pain that God in his rages visits upon human bodies are ...

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