European Political Thought, 1815-1989

By Spencer M. Di Scala; Salvo Mastellone | Go to book overview

16
THE WEST: MARXISM VERSUS CAPITALISM

Ironically, during the period following World War II, strong criticism of the Western European parliamentary democracies originated not from fascistic ideologies or rightist political tendencies but from a leftist culture imbued with Marxist doctrine. After 1948, beyond the contrast between "Americanism" and the Soviet system, which provided the theoretical basis of the Cold War, constant opposition to Western representative regimes marked European thought. This criticism had its origin in antibourgeois sentiment and Marxist theory.

Marxism is notably a social and economic doctrine, but it is also a philosophical doctrine that analyzes the dialectical processes of society and supports what it considers the dynamic forces that propose new human relationships. With the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, Moscow hoped to coordinate the ideological opposition of the different Communist parties against Western European governments allied with "American imperialism." However, it is important to distinguish between Soviet policy and Marxist movements in the different European countries. Western European Marxist thought has been grounded in ethical considerations, sociological outlooks, and political ideals.

Despite the links between Western Marxists and the various Communist parties of their countries, Marxists in the West did not break with the idealistic and positivistic strands that characterized their cultural and philosophical traditions; indeed, reference to these themes and problems has enriched the quality of their Marxism. In fact, the Soviet government frequently castigated the theoretical autonomy of the European commu

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