Orthodox Marxism  

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 +""'''Vulgar Marxism'''" (or codified [[dialectical materialism]]) was seen as little other than a variety of [[economic determinism]], with the alleged determination of the [[ideology|ideological]] [[superstructure]] by the economical [[infrastructure]]. This [[positivism|positivist]] reading, which mostly based itself on [[Friedrich Engels|Engels]]' latter writings in an attempt to theorize "[[scientific socialism]]" (an expression coined by Engels) has been challenged by Marxist theorists, such as [[Lukacs]], [[Gramsci]], [[Althusser]] or, more recently, [[Etienne Balibar]]." --Sholem Stein
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-'''''One-Dimensional Man''''' is a work by [[Herbert Marcuse]], first published in [[1964]].+'''Orthodox Marxism''' is the term used to describe the version of [[Marxism]] which emerged after the death of [[Karl Marx]] and acted as the official philosophy of the [[Second International]] up to the [[First World War]] and of the [[Third International]] thereafter. Orthodox Marxism seeks to simplify, codify and systematise Marxist thought, ironing out perceived ambiguities and contradictions in [[Classical Marxism]].
-''One-Dimensional Man'' offers the reader a wide-ranging critique of both contemporary [[capitalism]] and the [[Soviet]] model of [[communism]], documenting the parallel rise of new forms of social repression (both public and personal) in both these societies as well as the decline of revolutionary potential in the West. He argued that "advanced industrial society" created [[False consciousness|false needs]], which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought. This results in a "one-dimensional" universe of thought and behaviour in which aptitude and ability for critical thought and oppositional behaviour wither away. Against this prevailing climate, Marcuse promotes the "great refusal" (described at length in the book) as the only adequate opposition to all-encompassing methods of control. Much of the book is a defense of "negative thinking" as a disrupting force against the prevailing positivism. +The emergence of orthodox Marxism can be associated with the late works of [[Friedrich Engels]], such as ''[[Dialectics of Nature]]'' and ''[[Socialism: Utopian and Scientific]]'', which were efforts to popularise Marx's work, make it more systematic, and apply it to the fundamental questions of philosophy. [[Daniel De Leon]], one of the early American socialist leaders, contributed much during the last years of the 19th century and early 20th century. Orthodox Marxism was further developed during the Second International by thinkers such as [[George Plekhanov]] and [[Karl Kautsky]]. Kautsky, and to a lesser extent, Plekhanov, were in turn major influences on [[Vladimir Lenin]], whose version of orthodox Marxism was known as [[Leninism]] by its contemporaries. The official ideology of the [[Third International]] was based in Orthodox Marxism. The terms [[dialectical materialism]] and [[historical materialism]] are associated with this phase of orthodox Marxism.
-Marcuse also analyzed the integration of the industrial [[working class]] into capitalist society and new forms of capitalist stabilization, thus questioning the [[Marxism|Marxian]] postulates of the revolutionary proletariat and inevitability of capitalist crisis. In contrast to [[orthodox Marxism]], Marcuse championed non-integrated forces of minorities, outsiders, and radical intelligentsia, attempting to nourish oppositional thought and behavior through promoting radical thinking and opposition. He considered the trends towards bureaucracy in supposedly-Marxist countries to be as oppositional to freedom as those in the Capitalist west. Considered by some to be the most subversive book of the twentieth century, it was severely criticized by both orthodox Marxists and academic theorists of various political and theoretical commitments. Despite its pessimism, it influenced many in the [[New Left]] as it articulated their growing dissatisfaction with both capitalist societies and Soviet communist societies.+Some characteristics of orthodox Marxism are:
 +* A strong version of the theory that the economic base determines the cultural and political [[Superstructure#Marxist concept|superstructure]] (see also [[economic determinism]], [[economism]] and [[vulgar materialism]]).
 +* The claim that Marxism is a science.
 +* The attempt to make Marxism a total system, adapting it to changes within the realm of current events and knowledge.
 +* An understanding of [[ideology]] in terms of [[false consciousness]].
 +* That every open class struggle is a political struggle, as opposed to economist claims.
 +* A pre-crisis emphasis on organizing an independent, mass workers' movement (in the form of welfare, recreational, educational, and cultural organizations) and especially its political party, combining reform struggles and mass strikes without overreliance on either.
 +* The socialist revolution is necessarily the act of the majority.
-In this work Marcuse describes the idea of ''[[repressive desublimation]]''.+==Critics of orthodox Marxism==
-==Consumerism as a form of social control==+There have been a number of criticisms of orthodox Marxism from within the Marxist movement. During the Second International, [[Eduard Bernstein]] and others developed a position known as [[Marxist revisionism|revisionism]], which sought to revise Marx's views based on the idea that the progressive development of capitalism and the extension of democracy meant that peaceful, parliamentary reform could achieve socialism. This view was contested by orthodox Marxists such as Kautsky and [[Rosa Luxemburg]]. (See [[anti-revisionism]].)
-Herbert Marcuse strongly criticizes [[consumerism]], arguing consumerism is a form of [[social control]]. He suggests that the system we live in may claim to be democratic, but it is actually authoritarian in that the few individuals are dictating our perceptions of freedom by only allowing us choices to buy for happiness. in which consumers act irrationally by working more than they are required to fulfill actual basic needs, ignoring the psychologically destructive effects, ignoring the waste and environmental damage it causes, and also by searching for social connection through material items. +
-It is even more irrational in the sense that the creation of new products, calling for the disposal of old products, fuels the economy and encourages the increased need to work more to buy more. An individual loses his or her humanity and becomes a tool to the industrial machine and a cog in the consumer machine. Additionally advertising sustains consumerism, which disintegrates societal demeanor, delivered in bulk and informing the masses that happiness can be bought, an idea that is psychologically damaging.+[[Western Marxism]], the intellectual Marxism which developed in Western Europe from the 1920s onwards, sought to make Marxism more sophisticated, open and flexible, examining issues like culture that were outside the field of orthodox Marxism. Western Marxists, such as [[Georg Lukács]], [[Karl Korsch]], [[Antonio Gramsci]] and the [[Frankfurt School]], have tended to be open to influences orthodox Marxists consider [[bourgeois]], such as [[psychoanalysis]] and the [[sociology]] of [[Max Weber]]. In parallel to this, [[Cedric Robinson]] has identified a Black Marxist tradition, including people like [[C.L.R. James]] and [[W. E. B. Du Bois]], who have opened Marxism to the study of race.
-There are other alternatives to counter the consumer lifestyle. [[Anti-consumerism]]: a lifestyle that demotes any unnecessary consumption, and with that, demotes unnecessary extra work, extra waste, etc. But even this alternative is complicated with the extreme penetration of advertising and commodification because everything is a commodity, even the things that are actual needs.+In the postwar period, the [[New Left]] and [[new social movements]] gave rise to intellectual and political currents which challenged orthodox Marxism. These include Italian [[autonomism]], French [[Situationist International|Situationism]], the Yugoslavian [[Praxis School]], British [[cultural studies]], [[Marxist feminism]], [[Marxist humanism]], [[analytical Marxism]] and [[critical realism]].
==See also== ==See also==
-* [[Totalitarian democracy]]+*[[Classical Marxism]]
-* [[J. L. Talmon]]+ 
-* ''[[Drux Flux]]'', an animated short inspired by ''One-Dimensional Man''.{{GFDL}}+ 
 +{{GFDL}}

Current revision

""Vulgar Marxism" (or codified dialectical materialism) was seen as little other than a variety of economic determinism, with the alleged determination of the ideological superstructure by the economical infrastructure. This positivist reading, which mostly based itself on Engels' latter writings in an attempt to theorize "scientific socialism" (an expression coined by Engels) has been challenged by Marxist theorists, such as Lukacs, Gramsci, Althusser or, more recently, Etienne Balibar." --Sholem Stein

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Orthodox Marxism is the term used to describe the version of Marxism which emerged after the death of Karl Marx and acted as the official philosophy of the Second International up to the First World War and of the Third International thereafter. Orthodox Marxism seeks to simplify, codify and systematise Marxist thought, ironing out perceived ambiguities and contradictions in Classical Marxism.

The emergence of orthodox Marxism can be associated with the late works of Friedrich Engels, such as Dialectics of Nature and Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, which were efforts to popularise Marx's work, make it more systematic, and apply it to the fundamental questions of philosophy. Daniel De Leon, one of the early American socialist leaders, contributed much during the last years of the 19th century and early 20th century. Orthodox Marxism was further developed during the Second International by thinkers such as George Plekhanov and Karl Kautsky. Kautsky, and to a lesser extent, Plekhanov, were in turn major influences on Vladimir Lenin, whose version of orthodox Marxism was known as Leninism by its contemporaries. The official ideology of the Third International was based in Orthodox Marxism. The terms dialectical materialism and historical materialism are associated with this phase of orthodox Marxism.

Some characteristics of orthodox Marxism are:

  • A strong version of the theory that the economic base determines the cultural and political superstructure (see also economic determinism, economism and vulgar materialism).
  • The claim that Marxism is a science.
  • The attempt to make Marxism a total system, adapting it to changes within the realm of current events and knowledge.
  • An understanding of ideology in terms of false consciousness.
  • That every open class struggle is a political struggle, as opposed to economist claims.
  • A pre-crisis emphasis on organizing an independent, mass workers' movement (in the form of welfare, recreational, educational, and cultural organizations) and especially its political party, combining reform struggles and mass strikes without overreliance on either.
  • The socialist revolution is necessarily the act of the majority.

Critics of orthodox Marxism

There have been a number of criticisms of orthodox Marxism from within the Marxist movement. During the Second International, Eduard Bernstein and others developed a position known as revisionism, which sought to revise Marx's views based on the idea that the progressive development of capitalism and the extension of democracy meant that peaceful, parliamentary reform could achieve socialism. This view was contested by orthodox Marxists such as Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg. (See anti-revisionism.)

Western Marxism, the intellectual Marxism which developed in Western Europe from the 1920s onwards, sought to make Marxism more sophisticated, open and flexible, examining issues like culture that were outside the field of orthodox Marxism. Western Marxists, such as Georg Lukács, Karl Korsch, Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School, have tended to be open to influences orthodox Marxists consider bourgeois, such as psychoanalysis and the sociology of Max Weber. In parallel to this, Cedric Robinson has identified a Black Marxist tradition, including people like C.L.R. James and W. E. B. Du Bois, who have opened Marxism to the study of race.

In the postwar period, the New Left and new social movements gave rise to intellectual and political currents which challenged orthodox Marxism. These include Italian autonomism, French Situationism, the Yugoslavian Praxis School, British cultural studies, Marxist feminism, Marxist humanism, analytical Marxism and critical realism.

See also





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