Holding Fast to an Image of the Past: Explorations in the Marxist Tradition

Holding Fast to an Image of the Past: Explorations in the Marxist Tradition

Neil Davidson

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1608463338

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this wide-ranging book of essays, Deutscher prize-winning author Neil Davidson offers theoretical reinterpretations and appraisals of key thinkers and themes of interest to contemporary radicals. Throughout Davidson demonstrates the enduring explanatory power of the Marxist understanding of history. Topics include Adam Smith, Eric Hobsbawm, Antonio Gramsci, Naomi Klein, and Marx and Engels' views on the Scottish Highlands

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generation of British Marxist historians born in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. The roll-call of those who have predeceased him gives some indication of the extraordinary range of talent involved: George Rudé and Edward Thompson (both died 1993), Geoffrey de Ste. Croix (2000), Rodney Hilton (2002), Christopher Hill (2003), Brian Manning (2004), Victor Kiernan and John Saville (both 2009).2 Yet, remarkably for someone born in the same year as the Russian Revolution,

paragraphs are based on information and–in the case of the first–analysis contained in Alex Callinicos and Mike Simons, The Great Strike, International Socialism 2:27/28 (Spring/Summer 1985), 84–92, and Keith Aitken, The Bairns O’ Adam: The Story of the STUC (Edinburgh: Polygon Books, 1997), 273–281. The latter is a semiofficial history of the Scottish TUC. 80. Quoted in Miners 1984–1994: A Decade of Endurance, edited by Joe Owens (Edinburgh: Polygon Books, 1994), 91. The editor and the

Harper Perennial, 2002). 9. Naomi Klein and Neil Smith, “ The Shock Doctrine: A Discussion,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26, no. 4 (August 2008), 589–90. 10. Klein, The Shock Doctrine, 14–15. See also ibid., 253. 11. Neoconservatism is often wrongly regarded simply as a US foreign policy doctrine based on military intervention. In fact, it is the inescapable domestic complement to neoliberalism across the capitalist world, in the sense that the social division and

Connolly had been truer to Marx’s notion of political movement of the working class arising in the “transition . . . from the trade union movement concerned with purely isolated economic issues to the trade union movement concerned with the political issue of class power.”92 Here MacIntyre retreats from his own earlier insights in “Freedom and Revolution.” The party cannot be an expression of the class because the class itself is uneven in terms of consciousness; instead, it is a political

aspects of human society features that are particular to capitalism. MacIntyre adopted this version of the argument as the sixties drew to a close: “It would be inconsistent with Marxism itself to view Marxism in any other way: in particular, what we cannot do is judge and understand Marxist theory as it has really existed with all its vicissitudes in the light of some ideal version of Marxism. It follows that by the present time to be faithful to Marxism we have to cease to be Marxists; and

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