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3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven essays in Marxian apologetics, 3 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism (Hardcover)
The author who is a Professor at SOAS introduces in four brief uneven essays a Marxian perspective on religion, politics and orientalism influenced by the French Marxists Althusser and Maxime Rodinson. Of note Academic Marxism refuses to expire despite its theoretical inadequacies in explaining most of the recent historical events but our author believes that "Marxian thought is armed with self-correcting methodology and displays an incomparable regenerating capability".This can only lead to the preposterous conclusion that it has a similar status to the Natural Sciences that self correct and progress with new findings!

In the first essay he uses a metaphor borrowed from chemistry and biology namely "selective affinity" which he uses as a conceptual tool to contrast Liberation theology in Latin America and Islamic fundamentalism.The contrast is a bit contrived as he ignores the American Christian Right.He asserts that a selective affinity exists between Ultra Orthodox Islam and medieval reactionary Utopianism whereas there is a selective affinity between original Christianity and communistic Utopianism , the inspiration of the left leaning liberation theology.This is surprisingly more of a "Weberian"insight than a 'Marxian'one.Nevertheless he believes quite rightly that modern Islamic fundamentalism rather than being a protest vehicle for demands of socio economic justice and political liberation is no more than a reactionary movement. It uses religion as an ideological tool for oppressive class and gender domination while stoking the fires of hatred against sectarian and religious minorities.

He develops this theme in the second essay criticising some new trends in French Orientalism which he aptly calls "Orientalism in reverse".He denounces those French orientalists who deluded by their past leftist sympathies naively believe that "Islamism" is a progressive nationalist movement of liberation reacting to Western cultural and political domination.In fact they avoid coining the word "fundamentalism" to describe these movements and choose to paste over the repressive and reactionary anti humanistic aspects of "Political Islam".

The third essay is an apologetics for Marxism in response to the attacks of the late Edward Said and followers that accused it of being part and parcel of the dominant Orientalist paradigm.The author provides a weak defence trying to show that the Marx of the" Asiatic mode of production " and champion of the civilising effects of the European colonial enterprise was not a' genuine complete Marx' but a Hegelian Marx still to evolve and change his denigrating views about the retarded course of non western history!

The last is a rambling essay on the changing Marxist attitudes towards the concept of "Cosmopolitanism" which to my mind is an ambiguous concept with many meanings and not a particularly helpful one to shed light on the present issues of Globalisation,multiculturalism, mass immigration of labour from poor countries and the dilemmas of adopting a universalistic valid approach to human rights.I found it the least stimulating essay! Overall a collection of essays not particularly original, for those following the remarkable metamorphoses and analytical convolutions of Marxism in the Academic world of today.
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Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism
Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism by Gilbert Achcar (Hardcover - 19 Aug 2013)
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