Remaking Marxism in the 1990s
Wald, Alan, Monthly Review
Manning Marable's "Remaking American Marxism" (MR, January 1991) is among the most compelling of recent efforts by theorists and activists to reconceptualize an effective socialist strategy for the 1990s. Manning acknowledges that there are profound changes in the world and national situation. Yet he resists the temptation to embrace the fashionable new slogans of retreat, including the most tragic-comic of them all: "Marxism and Leninism are dead! Long live post-Marxism and post-Leninism!"
Manning cogently argues that to "remake" Marxism is not to categorically reject the components that still render it a superior mode of analysis and guide for practice, especially when one lacks a more convincing alternative. Moreover, Manning outlines a general framework for common socialist regroupment which should elicit agreement from many of those still committed to socialist struggle: (1) Capitalism continues to fail in the United States, and is unlikely to relieve the miseries of the crumbling Stalinist states and the Third World; (2) liberalism and reformism remain inadequate to deal with the systemic causes of oppression; (3) revolutionary socialism as a politics and a vision must be reformulated to provide a workable and progressive amelioration of the horrors of urban poverty, a creative response to the roots of the environmental crisis, a strategic alternative to reliance on electoral politics (and specifically the Democratic Party), a growing collaboration among many political currents on the left, and, ultimately, the creation of a "national formation" that openly and militantly campaigns for socialism.
So many aspects of Manning's commentary are helpful and clarifying that I would like to offer mainly praise and endorsement in the spirit of regroupment and unity. However, given limited space for critical commentary, I think it might advance the discussion more to take up a few areas where his conclusion differ from my own.
(1) Manning's survey of the possible consequences of the upheaval in the USSR seems to me to insufficiently acknowledge certain complicating factors. First, in terms of the consequences for the Third World, I think there is abundant evidence to …
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Publication information: Article title: Remaking Marxism in the 1990s. Contributors: Wald, Alan - Author. Magazine title: Monthly Review. Volume: 43. Issue: 5 Publication date: October 1991. Page number: 58+. © 1999 Monthly Review Foundation, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1991 Gale Group.
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