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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to the Marxist tradition,
This review is from: Marxism After Marx (Paperback)
David McLellan is always good for solid, well-researched books on Marxist thought, and this celebrated introductory overview is no exception. In "Marxism After Marx", McLellan surveys the development of Marxist thought since the death of Marx himsel. It is arranged on a chapter-by-chapter basis where each chapter consists of a short introductory text on a given movement or school of thought, followed by an extensive bibliography. Indeed the bibliographical appendices in this book are perhaps the best thing about it, as they are very thorough, very up-to-date, and very well-chosen.
McLellan does his best, as might be expected, to give a fair and objective overview of each of the given movements and ideas in the Marxist tradition so far, although he obviously has his own views which sometimes shine through (the general tendency is rather anti-Leninist). His range is very broad, from the theoretical disputes between Trotsky, Stalin and Bukharin to Existentialist Marxism and Liberation Theology. Nonetheless, it must be noted that he stays within the range of political philosophy and theory; modern Marxist economics is not significantly included, except in the form of a few references to people like Baran, Brenner, and Roemer. The bibliographies occasionally contain more on this, including some works by Ben Fine.
This book is eminently suited for people who are wondering what 20th Century Marxism actually was about, as well as those who have a basic idea but are looking for books to expand their knowledge on more specific topics. McLellan's own commentary and selection is solid and trustworthy, making this book a great resource.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marxism After Marx: By David McLellan.,
This review is from: Marxism after Marx: An Introduction (Paperback)
This book is well written and logically presented. It is highly engaging and accessible. McLellan creates a lively and articulate narrative concerning the definition and development of the thinking of Karl Marx (1818-1883), from its inception in the mid-1800's, up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. McLellan firmly states that the Soviet Union was in fact State Capitalist, and imperialistic under Stalin. He also clarifies that Marxist thinking, (although advocating Socialism and Communism) does not necessarily equate with contrived notions of Communism, and that the terms 'Marxism' and 'Communism' often have fluid interpretations. Marx did not consider his observations to be 'philosophy', and indeed criticises philosophy as an academic subject. This book is enhanced by nuggets of wisdom such as Castro's (Cuba) revolution had absolutely nothing to do with Soviet-style Socialism, until after the failed US invasion (Bay of Pigs). Mao Zedong owed as much to classical Confucianist and Daoist philosophy, as he did the observations of Marx and Lenin, and Adorno (of the Frankfurt School), declared jazz music the most commodity driven form of music, as it reconciled the individual to his lot in Capitalist society.
The paperback (1998) edition contains 395 pages and consists of an Introduction, and five distinct parts, with each part containing a number of chapters:
Preface to the First (1979) Edition.
Preface to the Third (1998) Edition.
Part One: The German Social Democrats.
Part Two: Russian Marxism.
Part Three: European Marxism Between The Wars.
Part Four: China and the Third World.
Part Five: Contemporary Marxism in Europe and the United States.
A Marxist Genealogy.
David McLellan - Professor of Political Theory at the University of Kent (UK), presents Marxist thinking as a continuously unfolding event, that can not be limited to any particular manifestation of it. Karl Marx, with a startling insight that spanned many decades of study, (much of it spent in the British Library), saw the exploitative nature of free market capitalism, and how the middle-classes (the 'bourgeoisie'), eventually developed the wealth (and social influence) to take power from the upper-classes (the 'aristocracy'), and speculated that the working-class (the 'proletariat'), would eventually develop a similar power and transform society by transforming it into a Socialist society, which would, in time, evolve into a Communist society - a concept beyond any current notion of society developed through the exploitative logic created by the Capitalist system. Marx did not exactly define what a Communist society would be - other than infinitely fairer, and more advanced than any other social system.
The copious works of Karl Marx are essentially the study of the history of political economy,and his considered conclusions. He studied the philosophy of the philosopher Hegel when young, and was of the opinion that historical dialectics drove change in the world, and not a single person could be free of the economic situation he/she found themselves living within. Although Marx did not view his work as 'philosophy' as such, nevertheless, philosophers have seen a philosophy of sorts within its essence. The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, for instance, developed a rich tradition of Marxian analysis, which includes a study of human psychology, and at one point, music. The French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, developed a philosophy of 'Existenialism', and Jacques Derrida developed the notion of 'Deconstruction'. Antonion Gramsci developed a theory of revolution from the inside, where the social agencies of power are taken over slowly, and without haste, and simply re-defined in their out-put to support a Socialist society, rather than oppose it. Of course, McLellan covers the Marxist revolutionary thinkers such as Engels, Plekhonov, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky, Stalin, Lukacs, Korsch, Mao Zedong, and Castro, etc. There is a very interesting chapter on Marxism in the United States, that considering the general and natural rightwing bent of the US system, turns out to be quite lively and far more poignant than one would be inclined to think. This is an intelligent presentation of a very intellectual subject - superb.
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Marxism After Marx by David McLellan (Paperback - 1 April 2007)