Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marxism is still alive...thanks God!
An excellent book from Eagleton. Easily accessible and with a pungent sense of humour( as Marx himself had in his books),it covers the different aspects of Marx's thought. It gives a new light to what socialism really means. The author enlightens the reader on the perils of capitalism and give them an exhaustive argumentation on how the capitalist society into which we...
Published 19 months ago by Orlando Innamorato

versus
21 of 25 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


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marxism is still alive...thanks God!, 6 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent book from Eagleton. Easily accessible and with a pungent sense of humour( as Marx himself had in his books),it covers the different aspects of Marx's thought. It gives a new light to what socialism really means. The author enlightens the reader on the perils of capitalism and give them an exhaustive argumentation on how the capitalist society into which we live, needs a dramatic change, if we want to be rid of the injustices and inequalities brought upon us by capitalism. The author, as Marx and the good Engels themselves in their time, does not deny the need for society to pass through the stage of capitalism in order to maximize the amount of wealth needed to create the 'superstructure' or that high category of art, literature and science, which enables modern society to progress. However, Eagleton makes it clear that we need to move on, if the 'base', the productive forces that make possible to professors, artists, journalists and TV presenters ( although I am not quite sure about the last one) to work and give to us the culture that we so much enjoy.
Socialism, or communism if you prefer, is not egalitarian. Capitalism it is. It has taken us to a magnificent and unique level of equality: that of profit and money for the sake of it.
Eagleton might not have the depth of Eric Hobsbawn, when it comes to cast a light to some aspects on Marxist theories and analysis of Marx's literary production, although is a far more enjoyable reading than the dear professor's books.
Capitalism is not fair, especially when in half an hour time you have to dash off for a menial job paid with minimum wage....as it is the case for myself! I have the honour of seeing with my own eyes and feel with my own thick skin what exploitation means.
One last advice to the undoubtedly intelligent potential reader of this little, beautiful jewel created by the mind which has also given us very interesting insights into literary criticism: take a good look at the bibliography, as Eagleton cites very interesting sources.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and provocative, 22 Feb. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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 off as a sympathiser or not. Demonstrates Eagleton's lucid and engaging style to its best advantage. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 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
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


105 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes - he's still right..., 15 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timely Rehabilitation, 9 Sept. 2012
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Marx Was Right: By Terry Eagleton., 11 Oct. 2011
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 30 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
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 25 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars An Insightful Account, 13 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
In his Preface to Why Marx Was Right, Terry Eagleton states that the book 'had its origin in a single, striking thought: What if all the most familiar objections to Marx's work are mistaken?' (ix). But there was still the question of how to proceed, because such a topic could easily expand into a monstrous project of explication and rebuttal. So, with this mind, Eagleton decided to take 'ten of the most standard criticisms of Marx...and...refute them one by one' (x). What follows, then, is an insightful and idiosyncratic account of Marx's work and Eagleton's own interpretation of Marxism as a whole. It also doubles as the 'clear, [and] accessible introduction' (ibid) Eagleton wanted it to be, for it's the perfect gateway for 'those unfamiliar with...[Marx's] work' (ibid). But, most importantly of all, it adds a little common sense and humour to a subject that's been pilfered by the arcane world of academia, a world completely detached from the proletariat it (theoretically) yearns to emancipate. And this approach, contrary to the methods of his tenured colleagues, illuminates Eagleton's finest gift - explaining Marx to the inquisitive layman.

So what are, in Eagleton's view, the top ten criticisms aimed at Marx? In order, we have the idea that Marxism is: 1) irrelevant in the post-industrial societies of the West; 2) given to bloodshed and grey tyranny; 3) a shackling form of historical determinism; 4) based on a credulous and naive dream of utopia; 5) built on a monochromatic and rigid idea of economic determinism; 6) mired in insentient materialism; 7) based on an outdated conception of class; 8) carried out by violent advocates of revolution and armed insurrection; 9) geared to state-driven dictatorships; 10) being sidelined by new political movements and discourses, such as environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, etc, etc. So these, in short, are the various myths and inaccuracies Eagleton casually dismantles in the next two-hundred-and-fifty pages. But, as the book's title makes clear, the numerous outcomes have been decided well in advance.

There can be no doubt that, as Eagleton mentions, 'Marxists want nothing more than to stop being Marxists' (p.1). In fact, that 'there is a life after Marxism is the whole point of Marxism' (p.2), because only by 'superannuating its opponent can it superannuate itself' (ibid). Unfortunately, though, the capitalist mode of production doesn't work like that. But why is this? Well, because capitalism will always 'behave antisocially if it is profitable for it to do so' (p.8). And then there's the dialectical aspect of capitalism to contend with. How do we begin to explain something that is both good and bad at the same time? The contradiction present in this once oppositional relationship was not lost on Marx. And it's certainly not lost on Eagleton, who echoes Marx's words in The Communist Manifesto and Capital when he says that although capitalism 'brings in its wake new possibilities of emancipation' (p.45) it 'also arrives coated in blood' (ibid). So what, or where, are the alternatives? Eagleton discusses the various proposals that have been put forward to counteract this perennially immovable system but they all carry the pong of fantasy. And this reiterates the point recently made by Benjamin Kunkel in Utopia or Bust: 'Marxism seems better prepared to interpret the world than to change it'. And Eagleton is guilty of this pernicious drift in Marxist thought, as he has no original blueprint for change in a post-emancipated world. This is a major failing. As a diagnostician, he is wonderful at detailing the crimes of capital, but he falters at putting forward his own alternative. He advocates socialism, certainly, but just how would he go about it? That is the great unanswered question.

Moving on, and without sounding like a stroppy teenager, Eagleton begins to explore the ways in which capitalism is propped up by ideology. As Eagleton remarks, 'Human beings...are political animals by their very nature' (p.82), and it's this political jockeying for supremacy which has caused no end of trouble, because the way humans 'produce their material existence has so far involved exploitation and inequality' (ibid). Here, then, we see the birth of those political systems which look to quell the tumultuous array of opposing forces and their 'resulting conflicts' (ibid). Marx, however, clearly understood how such frameworks could be abused by the rich and powerful for their own benefit. Yes, massive inroads were made by the multifarious working-class movements fighting for universal suffrage, but this ability to vote was merely an illusion of freedom, and one which only served to mask the 'real inequalities of wealth and class' (p.103). And this, with a few modifications, is the rut Eagleton thinks we're still in. Does the realisation of this democratic impotence explain the political apathy prevailing today? There can be no doubt that many people feel any trip to the ballot box is a vote for mediocrity. Furthermore, they distrust a process that provides a mandate for the ruling elites to carve up parliament and play politics with people's futures. Yet Marx, in one of his more dialectical moods, still supported 'reformist measures such as the extension of the franchise' (p.192), because the realistic alternatives were bleak. As he saw it, the working-class vote, for all its failings, was the easiest way of destroying the oligopolistic stranglehold of the ruling classes - to misuse it, or discard its power, was an utter waste.

Yet, as Eagleton says, 'There seems to be something in humanity which will not bow meekly to the insolence of power' (p.100), whether it's been elected or not. And it's this idea, this ever-lasting optimism, which underpins everything in Eagleton's book. History may've been a tale of 'scarcity, hard labour, violence and exploitation' (p.111-2), but it doesn't have to continue in that way. Eagleton is right when he says that 'Marx's work is all about human enjoyment' (p.126). To some, this may seem like a bizarre thought; to others, it will strike a note of truth. By detailing the pitfalls of the capitalist mode of production, and by making an exhaustive inventory of its exploitative methods, Marx showed how wealth was (is) created in such abundance. But once these means of production passed into the hands of the associated producers, they would no longer be making wealth and leisure for the few but for the many - and here the greedy urge to accumulate capital ends. This may seem a bit utopian, but Eagleton is quick to note that the Marxist alternative will never eradicate 'road accidents, wretchedly bad novels, lethal jealousies, [and] overweening ambitions' (p.101). Nevertheless, it can, by excising the structural scarcity built into capital's self-propagation, remove the root cause of all the 'violence, fear, greed, anxiety, possessiveness, domination and deadly antagonism' (p.92) that blights the modern world. Only then will the key issues begin to be addressed. Whether the reader finds Eagleton's argument persuasive is up to them, but it's hard not to drawn in by its simplistic and hopeful message.

Eagleton makes some very pertinent points and some very pointed quips. For instance, he is entirely correct when he notes how Marx's works were 'penned (unlike most of his disciples) with a meticulous attention to style' (p.123). He's also correct when he mentions that 'In its brief but bloody career, Marxism has involved a hideous amount of violence' (p.184). But Eagleton's at his sharpest when he's exposing the contradictions of capital. So, yes, the rule of capital may have provided 'a resolute opposition to political tyranny, a massive accumulation of wealth which brought with it the prospect of universal prosperity, respect for the individual, civil liberties, democratic rights, a truly international community and so on' (p.164), but still its continued to sully its potential as an 'emancipatory force' (ibid) by being a frequently 'catastrophic one' (ibid). Such passages are a frequent pleasure in this book. Anyhow, for those that worry about imbibing the words of a doctrinaire Marxist firebrand, Eagleton is nothing of the sort anymore. If anything, he comes across as a wise and frank raconteur, and one whose chatter is thankfully devoid of the Marxist fundamentalism that hampers the tomes of his Marxist chums. No, Eagleton is happy to the let the reader think for themselves and to 'select whatever ideas in...[Marx's] work seem most plausible' (p.52) and adapt them to their own ends. This approach is similar to that of David Harvey, who encourages this freedom of interpretation for two reasons: 1) to move away from a narrow and doctrinal Marxism and 2) to help Marxism adapt to the twenty-first century. Whether that project is a success remains to be seen, but Eagleton's book is a welcome base from which to start rebuilding.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Why Marx Was Right
Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton (Paperback - 3 Jan. 2012)
£8.91
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews