By Perry Anderson
This synoptic essay considers the character and evolution of the Marxist thought that constructed in Western Europe, after the defeat of the proletarian rebellions within the West and the isolation of the Russian Revolution within the East within the early Twenties. It focuses quite at the paintings of Lukács, Korsch and Gramsci; Adorno, Marcuse and Benjamin; Sartre and Althusser; and Della Volpe and Colletti, including different figures inside Western Marxism from 1920 to 1975. The theoretical construction of every of those thinkers is expounded at the same time to the sensible destiny of working-class struggles and to the cultural mutations of bourgeois inspiration of their time. The philosophical antecedents of some of the university inside of this tradition—Lukácsian, Gramscian, Frankfurt, Sartrean, Althusserian and Della Volpean—are in comparison, and the categorical suggestions in their respective structures surveyed. The structural harmony of 'Western Marxism', past the variety of its person thinkers, is then assessed, in a balance-sheet that contrasts its history with the culture of 'classical' Marxism that preceded it, and with the commanding difficulties so one can confront any ancient materialism to prevail it.
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Extra info for Considerations on Western Marxism
Marxismus in Italien, Frankfurt 1 970, pp. 21 -4. The Advent of Western Marxism 4l after the Second World War represented a reaction against the whole philosophical filiation from Labriola to Gramsci. The founder of the new school was Galvano Della Volpe, a philo sopher who joined the P CI in 1944 and produced a series of influential works from 1947 to 1960. Della Volpe, like the majority of Italian academic intellectuals in the pre-war epoch, had compromised with fascism. Formally absolved from this past by his adherence to the PCI after the Badoglio coup, his record nonetheless disqualified him from acquiring any political authority within the party; while the same personal traits which had once led him to accept and j ustify the corporate State, subsequently inclined him towards consistent con formity to the policies of the leadership of the P CI.
The publication of his most important work, Dialectical Materialism, delayed for three years after its composition, was greeted by official suspicion; u in tone and concern, it can be situated some where between the earlier directness of Lukacs, with its explicit appeals to 'historyt, and the contemporary evasiveness of Horkheimer, with its increasingly elusive appeals to 'critical theoryt. Lefebvre, although 11 For the background of this group, see Henri Lefebvre, La Somme et Le Resu, Paris 1 9 5 9, pp .
The ambiguity and strain inherent in this type of bond were no less evident: particularly so in the case of Althusser, because of the lack of coercive constraints operative in the P C F in France. 11 Althusser's two maj or works, within a Pour Marx and Lir Le Capital, appeared few months of each other in 1 96 5 . The extraordinary scale and speed of the diffusion of Marxism in Italy after the Liberation, covering not only the growth of the P C I but also of the P S I and of wide unorganized sectors of the intelligentsia as well, had no comparison in any other European country.
Considerations on Western Marxism by Perry Anderson