Dunja Larise, review of Marx for Today, Political Studies Review, 2013.
The aim of this collection of essays is to offer new interpretations of Marx’s writings by showing his distance from the dogmatic and economistic streams of Marxism of the twentieth century, as well as to suggest the usefulness of his theoretical work for the contemporary world. The first part of the volume assembles texts that focus on the re-reading and reinterpretation of Marx’s work from an interdisciplinary and contemporary perspective. The second part deals with the global reception of Marx after 1990.
The first contributions examine the crucial points of liberal, post-colonial, feminist and ecological criticism of Marx by setting them against novel readings of Marx’s writings. In this vein Kevin Anderson challenges the post-colonial criticism of Marx, notably by Edward Said who, according to Anderson, ignores Marx’s early writings, and accuses Marx of adopting a unilinear and Eurocentric mode of development, thereby failing to incorporate race, ethnicity and gender in his theory. Anderson offers numerous passages of Marx’s writings on India, China, Poland and Ireland to refute this accusation.
Similarly, Paresh Chattopadhyay corrects some deep reaching misunderstandings about Marx’s visions of socialism and communism, showing that the concept of real existing socialism, conceived as a transition from capitalism to communism, is Lenin’s invention, and has nothing in common with Marx’s idea of socialism as the free and equal association of individuals. Michael Lebowitz reinterprets the Marxian idea of the inherent tendency of capitalism to transgress all barriers in the context of climate change, whereas Georg Comninel re-reads Marx’s theory of emancipation.
Musto, Craver and Wallis reassess Marx from the perspective of political philosophy, while Rick Wolf approaches Marx’s writings from an economic perspective. He traces Marx’s theories of crisis, focusing not only on contradictions inherent in the cyclic nature of capitalist modes of production, but also elaborating possible Marxian solutions to its recurrent crises. Elen Meiskins Wood assesses the actuality of Marx’s writings from a historical perspective.
The second part of the work offers valuable insights concerning the reception of Marx and Marxism in different parts of the world after 1990. The articles introduce the main actors, theories and difficulties for the new and critical perception of Marx after 1990 in Europe, Latin America, the anglophone world and Asia.
Marx for Today is a valuable and a highly commendable book for all those who wish to understand the value and the actuality of Marx’s theories for the present time, as well as for those who do not wish stereotypes and prejudices to inform their opinion of one of the most important thinkers of our times.