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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and provocative
The most readable, well-informed and thought-provoking text on politics I have read for many years. Guaranteed to stimulate your brain, whether you start of as a sympathiser or not. Demonstrates Eagleton's lucid and engaging style to its best advantage. Highly recommended.
Published 16 months ago by Larry Butler

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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity
Perhaps Terry Eagleton was not the right person to write a book arguing why Marx was right in the midst of arguably capitalism's biggest crisis since the 1930s. Instead of focusing on Marx's pioneering insights into financial instability, combined and uneven development, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, the accumulation of debt as the accumulation of capital,...
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by Barry Marshall


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and provocative, 22 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
The most readable, well-informed and thought-provoking text on politics I have read for many years. Guaranteed to stimulate your brain, whether you start of as a sympathiser or not. Demonstrates Eagleton's lucid and engaging style to its best advantage. Highly recommended.
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99 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes - he's still right..., 15 May 2011
By 
Diziet "I Like Toast" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
In his latest book, Eric Hobsbawm suggested that perhaps '[o]nce again, the time has come to take Marx seriously'. In this book, Eagleton does precisely that and, in doing so, demonstrates the continuing relevance and importance of Marx.

Each chapter of the book starts with a common criticism of Marxist thought. So, for example, Chapter 1 begins with:

"Marxism is finished. It might conceivably have had some relevance to a world of factories and food riots... But it certainly has no bearing on the increasingly classless, socially mobile, postindustrial Western societies of the present." (P1)

From here, Eagleton goes on to demonstrate that the 'underlying logic' of capitalism remains the same and thus a Marxist critique is still most certainly relevant. As he points out, to simply accept that:

"some people are destitute while others are prosperous is rather like claiming that the world contains both detectives and criminals. So it does, but this obscures the truth that there are detectives because there are criminals..."(P11)

Other criticisms that Eagleton considers include (Chapter 2) the murderous and tyrannical nature of actually existant socialist societies such as Stalin's Russia and Mao Zedong's China; (Chapter 3) the idea that Marxism is a form of historical determinism and that 'Marx's theory of history is just a secular version of Providence or Destiny' (P30); (Chapter 4) Marxism is utopian and thus unrealistic; (Chapter 5) Marxism reduces everything to the economic and is a form of 'economic determinism'. The final chapter considers whether Marxism has been superseded by later radical movements such as feminism and environmentalism - movements more relevant to our 'postclass, postindustrial world'.

He draws upon a variety of sources besides Marx and Engels themselves - including Raymond Williams, Walter Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno and Habermas, Etienne Balibar et al - but puts them all together in a readily accessible way.

This is not a book using Marx's ideas to criticise the current travails of global capitalism - there are plenty of those around already, such as Chris Harman's excellent Zombie Capitalism. This book is about returning to Marx's basic ideas and trying to draw out the power, subtlety and immediate relevance of his philosophy - taking on post-modernist relativism, free market neoliberalism and even human nature along the way - and it does this really well, not afraid to recognise shortcomings in Marx's ideas but overall amply demonstrating their continuing power. Take Marx seriously again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A service to political reflection, 15 Jan 2013
This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
This book was much needed. The well-read Marxist will probably gain little additional knowledge from it. However, it is a fantastic and enjoyable read, funny, ironic and launching a devastating attack against many of Marx's critics. The book answers to ten of the most common critiques of Marxism. Those who unleash these critiques I am sure will be challenged if they read this book with an open mind. Ultimately, this could be a book for the general reader, the one who would be first helped by an introduction to Marxism and anybody who desires to read to further their limited knowledge of Marxism. I would still recommend reading The Communist Manifesto beforehand. Overall, pick it up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rattling good yarn, 3 Oct 2011
By 
E. Clarke "Cambusken" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
You get the impression Eaglton rattled this off without pausing for breath. This kind of makes you want to hang on and keep reading. There is no denying the lifetime of scholarship that lies behind this achievement though, nor the incisiveness with which he shoots down common (usually ignorant) criticisms of Marx's work and ideas. It is all very, very convincing when it relates to Marx's analysis of (and great admiration for) Capitalism, particularly its instability and its ultimate incompatiblity with a true democacy. Its biggest weakness - which it shares with Marx - is that it offers no alternative that is remotely either plausible or appealing. I wish it did, and and no doubt it is out there, but it is not in this otherwise excellent book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Marx Was Right: By Terry Eagleton., 11 Oct 2011
By 
ShiDaDao Ph.D (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
This is a fascinating book, clearly written and highly accessible. The author - Terry Eagleton - is the Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster and Notre Dame Universities, and lives in Dublin, Ireland. He has written previously upon the subjects of 'God' and 'Evil', and his previous books have received good reviews. This book is essentially written as a counter-argument to what may be viewed as rightwing misconceptions, misapprehensions, deliberate disinformation and misrepresentations of the copious written work of the social philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883).

The hardback (2011) edition contains 258 numbered pages and consists of a Preface, ten chapters and a Notes section. Although the chapters are not named, each chapter deals with a specific misconceptions regarding Marxist theory, and Eagleton uses the chapter itself to deconstruct the misrepresenting 'myth'. Chapter One, for instance, deals with the idea that Marxist thinking is somehow 'out of date', and 'irrelevant' for today's postmodern, internet fuelled modern world. Eagleton shows clearly that Karl Marx not only predicted the contemporary situation, but wrote extensively about it, expressing how things were most likely to economically develop through time. Other chapters deal with determinism, materialism, ethnic rights, gay rights, feminism, oppressive states, political violence, class, economics, and utopia, etc.

Eagleton presents a lucid corrective narrative based upon sound research. The works of Karl Marx are extensive, deeply intellectual, valid and often difficult to understand from a single reading. Ineffect, Marxism is an intellectual tradition that requires time and good guidance if its true essence is to be correctly understood. It is an academic subject that requires a structured approach. Its complexity has opened it to extensive misrepresentation and deliberate distortion by those who find the clarity of Marxian assessment to be 'threatening' in someway, and yet Marx writes with a careful consideration that appears based upon a profound compassion for humankind. Everyone should read this book - simply because Eagleton has produced such a fine piece of work. Superb.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timely Rehabilitation, 9 Sep 2012
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
I was sympathetic to the ideas of Marxism as a student , but following the demise of the Soviet Union ,the subsequent discrediting of the socialist worldview and my own entry into the capitalist workplace,my opinions turned more right wing.However in middle age I have grown to dislike capitalism once again and the way it turns people into money grabbing,acquisitive, selfish clones."Why Marx Was Right" is a courageous attempt to make the writings of Marx fashionable again in a world which treats them mostly with scorn.Each chapter starts off with a little summary of common criticisms of Marx which the writer then goes on to debunk in a stylishly written ,often witty manner, although a lot of it was waffly. I must admit that I would have tended to agree with much of these criticisms prior to reading this book. Eagleton didnt really convince me of his arguments most of which seem to indicate that Marx was misunderstood,but I appreciated the attempt to create an alternative world view to the pro capitalist one that is hegemonic throughout the world today. We desperately need an alternative to capitalism,but all we get are ones that want more of it or ones that want to reform it slightly to make it more acceptable to poorer people (the majority). However I can understand why this is the case as capitalism is so entrenched on a global basis ,so well organised and so willing to use a wide panoply of forms of repression that it seems impossible to fight it regionally,nationally or globally.Defeatism is the order of the day. Eagleton's book gives back Marxism some of its credibility as a critique of capitalism,but doesnt really suggest how it can be applied to the world today. Surely only a global socialist revolution could succeed in todays world-any national revolutions would only lead to isolation of the country involved and more Communist dictatorships surrounded by a sea of hostility. Also I fail to be convinced that the "working class" are going to lead us into the future. This stratum of society are the least educated (most of them dont even know what Marxism is about),the poorest and they are happier following rather than leading, plus capitalism doesnt allow them to fight the system anyway with its repressive labour laws, mind controlling media ,threat of unemployment and blacklisting and culture of conformance. Also capitalism keeps the working class in a standard of living not quite bad enough to make them hostile to it and want to destroy it. So there are a lot of things in this book that I didnt agree with , but I think its important for Marxist ideas to be circulated more widely and its critique of capitalism made more broadly known -for the sake of democracy and pluralism if nothing else- as rapacious capitalist organisations and corporations seem to have no check on their operations any more and just leave ordinary people feeling helpless,powerless and leave them to succumb to their basest desires.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Eagleton has landed, 13 Aug 2011
By 
Kevin Mansell (East London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
I bought this for an old mate's 65th birthday thinking it would be a bit of a laugh for ex student Fabians such as us. It's a surprisingly entertaining wander through Marx's writings which makes you wonder whether there's ever been such a noble spirit so traduced by his "followers" Maybe because of Eagleton's Catholic roots, he places more emphasis on the spiritual meaning of Marx's critique of society, but the breadth of scholarship is impressive, even if the question of applied Marxism in history are given a fairly light touch ( the author would argue Karl was misunderstood). Eagleton is fond of multiple simile and has a kind of tabloid approach at times that is quite diverting. I was left thinking of the tantalising possibility that Marx's prophetic view of capitalist society might still be right, and that if the world does not find some better way of organising itself, it may not be that long before the contradictions overwhelm us into self-extinction.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 15 Aug 2011
This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
Perhaps Terry Eagleton was not the right person to write a book arguing why Marx was right in the midst of arguably capitalism's biggest crisis since the 1930s. Instead of focusing on Marx's pioneering insights into financial instability, combined and uneven development, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, the accumulation of debt as the accumulation of capital, and so on, Eagleton takes a series of well-worn accusations about Marx and Marxism and offers his own defence. Nothing much wrong there, really, and much of Eagleton's analysis, as far as it goes, I agree with, though I think he is too soft on the question of "actually existing socialism" in Eastern Europe and the USSR.

The main problem is that Eagleton takes a broadly "cultural studies" approach to the whole issue and, as other reviewers have commented, he sidelines the "political economy" approach. Thus he offers nothing, for example, to answer the accusation of Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk that Marx's economic theory is internally inconsistent. That is to say, Bohm-Bawerk believed Marx's labour theory of value and his theory of market price formation contradicted each other. Nor is there any discussion of why Marx was right, contra the neo-Ricardians, to assert that the rate of profit falls as the organic composition of capital rises. After all, if a theory were internally inconsistent then one would have to reject it. If Marx was right, as Eagleton asserts, these issues need to be dealt with. Luckily, we have the work of Marxist economists such as Andrew Kliman and Guglielmo Carchedi to provide what seem to me to be plausible answers, based on evidence from Marx's texts, to these more serious accusations.

In any case, it's not a question simply of Marx being correct, but rather a case of how useful the theoretical tools and concepts he developed are to us today. Still, to give Eagleton his due, he does make an amusing aside that those Marxists who would submit everything to "ruthless criticism" struggle to come up with more than a few things to criticize about Marx himself!

Anyone looking for an easy to read and largely jargon-free account of the current crisis of capitalism, but still using Marx's theoretical approach, would do better reading Paul Mattick Jnr's Business as Usual.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx is back!, 20 Jun 2011
This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
Marxism has always suffered from boring writers who know their stuff but at the same time manage to send the reader to sleep. Terry Eagleton is different, a breath of fresh air. Not only is he extraordinarily knowlegable, he has the capacity to write a page turner. Witty, informed and relevant, a Marxist with the ability to bring Marx alive again for a generation anaesthetised by New Labour and ConDem propaganda. I cannot recommend this work highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terry Eagleton is right about Karl Marx, 8 Dec 2013
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This book is tightly argued ,well written and not without a sense of humour.. I read it on kindle ,Amazon you capitalist monster And did not find the incredibly useful index till I finished . I envisage referring back to this book for a long long time.
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Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton (Hardcover - 1 April 2011)
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