Adventures in Marxism

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Verso, 1999 - Political Science - 273 pages
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A new beginning for Marxism might just be on the horizon of a landscape despoiled by Soviet communism and a now wobbling world capitalism. The attention attracted by the 150th anniversary of The Communist Manifesto included laudatory references to Marx in venues as unexpected as The New York Times and The New Yorker. More predictably, the tributes in such publications focused on the strength of Marx as a critic of capital or a powerful wordsmith, rather than as an advocate of communism. But, if Marxism is to enjoy a rebirth in the coming century, appreciation needs to move beyond its value as a critical tool or a literary pleasure. The emancipatory potential of Marxism, its capacity to configure a world beyond the daily grind of selling one's labor to stay alive, will have to be established anew. No one has made a better start to this task than the esteemed critic and writer Marshall Berman. Berman first read The Communist Manifesto in the same week as Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman while at high school. A few years later, now a student at Columbia University, he was handing out copies of Marx's 1844 Manuscripts, purchased for 50 cents each at the (Soviet) Four Continents Bookstore in New York, as holiday presents for friends and relatives. Here was the beginning of a lifelong engagement with Marxism that, as this volume demonstrates, has been both consistent and refreshing. In these pages are discussions of work on Marx and Marxism by Edmund Wilson, Jerrold Siegel, James Billington, Georg Lukcs, Irving Howe and Isaac Babel. They are brought together in a single embrace by Berman's spirited appreciation of Marxism as expressive, playful, sometimes even a little vulgar, but always an adventure.

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"Benjamin's very modern angel" is such a perfect counterpoint to Lyotard's ideas about the decline of the meta-narrative. Even more powerful when supported by his own statements about how he came up with the idea! See: [garden-as-cemetery]

Selected pages


Caught Up in the Mix Some Adventures in Marxism
Marx The Dancer and the Dance
Freedom and Fetishism
Still Waiting at the Station
Studs Terkel Living in the Mural
The People in Capital
All That Is Solid Melts into Air Marx Modernism and Modernization
The Signs in the Street
From Paris to Gdansk
Georg Lukacss Cosmic Chutzpah
Isaac Babel Waiting for the Barbarians
Meyer Schapiro The Presence of the Subject
Walter Benjamin Angel in the City
Unchained Melody

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About the author (1999)

Marshall Berman is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at City College of New York and CCNY Graduate Center, where he teaches political theory and urban studies. He writes frequently for The Nation and The Village Voice, and serves on the editorial board of Dissent. He is the author of The Politics of Authenticity; All That Is Solid Melts into Air; and On the Town.

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