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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 21 months ago by Larry Butler

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly turgid
As the blurb on the back of the book says with "capitalism shaken to its roots by major crisis" now is the right time for a clear minded reappraisal of Marx. Unfortunately this isn't it, in fact reading the glowing reviews on the back of the book and here I am left wondering if they are about a different book.

Firstly the book doesn't directly address...
Published 5 months ago by Lendrick


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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx for everyone, 6 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
For those who don't have the time nor the commintment to read the complete Marx works, there is this one, easy to understand, somethimes funny wich makes it easy to absorb, but written with great knowledge of the original works.Prof. Eagleton did a really great job and for those in doubt, this is a serious work for wich the prof, did a lot of research and it shows. Strongly recommended ,specially for those who are not really familiar with his work and want to look behind the label as Marx name was not exactly blessed with the misuse of his work by several despots in the 20th century.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars got it, 29 Mar 2014
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av not read it, am sure its not a bad read as the book is in good condition and am sure my friend will like it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 15 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Hardcover)
A good book
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10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction, 29 July 2012
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Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
Given the failure of Marxism in practice it's surprising that anyone with a scintilla of intelligence could write a book such as "Why Marx Was Right". Marxism is based on a number of principles, developed to meet the challenge of industrial society and designed to reclaim the name "socialism" which was identified with the work of Robert Owen. Those principles include philosophical materialism, dialetics, the materialist conception of history, the class struggle, the revolutionary role of the working class, the theory of surplus value, the state as an instrument of force by the ruling class and a strategy for the tactics of the working class. Eagleton approaches each of these ideas in an effort to prove Marx was right. He subscribes to the idea that The Communist Manifesto is an important political document, rather than the trashy novel it is, a fiction with no basis in fact and a sociological construct which flatters the intellectual dunderheads who have identified with Marxism from the comfort of their armchairs.

Eagleton's first point is to address the criticism that Marxism is irrelevant to "the increasingly classless, socially mobile, postindustrial Western societies of the present". Eagelton argues that "as long as capitalism is still in business, Marxism must be as well." He relies on the notion that Marx identified different historical forms of capitalism "mercantile, agrarian, insutrial, monopoly, financial, imperial and so on". He argues that globalisation has made capital "more concentrated and predatory than ever". This, he suggests, is a repetition of Victorian conditions in the periphery economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Yet Marx's "historical forms" are divorced from reality and represent theorising which Eagelton fails to analyse. He prefers to claim Marx "viewed capitalist society as awash with fantasy and fetishism, myth and idolatry" - an accurate description of Marxism itself.

Eagleton tries to excuse Marxist practice by asserting capitalist societies were based on "a history of slavery, genocide, violence and exploitation every bit as abhorrent as Mao's China or Stalin's Soviet Union." They were - provided one's critical faculties are suspended. Eagleton falls back on the claim that China and the Soviet Union, "dragged their citizens out of economic backwardness into the modern industrial world, at however horrific a human cost" but shows no real interest in that cost. He argues Maoism and Stalinism were botched versions of Marxism and advocates market socialism as "a welcome advance on a capitalist economy." What he offers is another form of industrial democracy. His conclusion is that "Under capitalism, we are deprived of the power to decide whether we want to produce more hospitals or more breakfast cereals. Under socialism, this freedom would be regularly exercised." All that's missing is "and they all lived happily ever after."

To answer the charge of determinism Eagleton identifies two doctrines at the heart of Marxist theory. These are the primary role of the economic in social life and that of the idea of a succession of modes of production throughout histoiry. The dynamic of the latter came from the class struggle. In essence Marx argues that the social relations of production have priority over the productive forces. Yet Marxist class analysis is artificial, particularly in its definition of liberalism as the ideology of the supposed bourgeoisie. Neither Marx nor Eagleton understand that dogma has failed, and will continue to fail, to dislodge individual values of freedom because human nature insists on it. That is why all communist regimes have imposed their will on society why, ultimately, Marxism fails.

Marx called his version of socialism "scientific" in order to distinguish it from what he called the "utopian socialism" of Owen and others. It's ironic, therefore, that critics argue that Marxism is itself utopian. Eagleton denies this claiming that Marx was more concerned with the political present than a utopian future. Yet he slips easily into the utopian framework claiming that socialism would work,"because the mechanisms which would allow Marx's goal to be approached would actually be built into social institutions." This way self-realisation would enhance everyone else "because of the cooperative, profit-sharing, egalitarian, commonly governed nature of the unit." Never has Eagleton felt so comfortable in his armchair and never has his view of history been so myopic. Move over Charles Darwin, step forward Trofim Lynsenko.

Eagleton makes the same mistake as many Marxists in assuming those who deny the validity of Marxist theory do so purposefully while acting on behalf of neocon or liberal class interests. By framing non-Marxist critiques in Marxist terms Eagleton puts ideological dogma ahead of freedom of thought. Of course, this is understandable for those who deny thought is free but controlled in a variety of ways by the State, but it's still nonsense. For anyone who values such freedom Marx cannot be taken seriously. Marxism does not represent the truth it is a fiction designed to hide the truth. For the British, Marx was irrelevant in his own day, nothing has changed. For Russia, Marxism was dead until Lenin refashioned it by abandoning the idea that the proletariat had the brains to recognise "revolutionary conditions" when they arose.

Marx's economic theory, particularly the notion of surplus value, was discredited within a few years of his death. Karl Popper rightly dismissed Marx's historicism as intellectually indensible and the contradictory nature of Marx's thought lies in the blend of historicism and reductionism which pervades his work. In reality Marx's ideology is a secular form of Christianity based on a rejection of Hegel's spiritual interpretation of Zeitgeist. Margaret Cole's sarcastic comment about D N Pritt that, "he had swallowed it all" applies equally to Eagleton's defence of the indefensible Marx. Hence while he claims, "Marx had a passionate faith in the individual and a deep suspicion of abstract dogma" he refuses to admit that in practice Marxism provided the opposite. Was ever such a fantasist praised? Three stars but only for those who like historical fiction.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great title, shame about the book, 17 Jan 2013
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I so wanted this to be a readable, populist essay I could give to my politically naive teenage kids. Sadly, it's a dry academic treatise - Gen X or Y kids would not get beyond the first few pages - a missed opportunity.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OF COURSE HE WAS, 15 Aug 2013
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Love just the title and very fact of this book. Only dipped into it so far but stimulating. Hope it's well-read. Capitalism can't hang on much longer. Marxism falsely discredited 1989 etc
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars needed for uni, 9 April 2013
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have not had time to read this as yet. have skimmed it and will get time soon to read properly
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1 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kill me now, 11 May 2013
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I couldn't finish this such was the dull writing style. Bearing in mind I once suffered through Moby Dick because I'd pay 50p for it, this tells you all you need to know about this snooze fest.
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1 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry I didn't read it yet, 5 Dec 2011
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Sorry I haven't read it yet. I have hundreds of books to read now here. I use to read with a delay of years. But since it'a mandatory to rate I have rated the minimum sorry
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Why Marx Was Right
Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton (Paperback - 3 Jan 2012)
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