Leaving Marxism: Studies in the Dissolution of an Ideology
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An introductory chapter surveys an earlier stage of that disenchantment by examining the appeal of Nietzsche and his concept of the superman to Marxist intellectuals in each of the major European socialist movements, focusing particularly on those who have lost confidence in the redemptive historical role of the proletariat. In studying the ideological trajectory of De Man, Horkheimer, and Kolakowski, the author identifies the common dilemmas they faced in their efforts to advance the Marxist cause. Those dilemmas arose in large part out of the clash between their bourgeois ethical sensibilities and the materialistic and deterministic outlook of orthodox Marxism. This clash provides a connecting link between the three generations of Marxist intellectuals dealt with in the study.
The author also discusses the aftermath of these three versions of ideological disenchantment—the attempts of each of these intellectuals to reconstruct a view of the world following the dissolution of his Marxist faith. The book concludes by placing Marxism in a broad historical context, and raises questions about its place—and that of the utopian imagination in general—within Western civilization.
favor of an emphasis on subjective and volitional qualities of individuals would continue to characterize Horkheimer's Marxism. 91 92 Case Studies By the end of the 19205 Horkheimer had found in Marxism a compelling explanation of the moral failings and social deficiencies that he had described in From Puberty. Something of the hold of his Marxist faith can be gauged from the way he defended it against the attempt of Karl Mannheim to subject Marxist theory to the kind of critique that Marx
Marx's claim that philosophy had come to an end, he reaffirmed the role of the philosopher in his effort to recover the revolutionary subject.132 In the essays that followed he set out to reconstruct Marx's materialistic philosophy in a way that made room for his moral commitments and, at the same time, restored the human will. 95 96 Case Studies The two essays published in 1933, "Materialism and Metaphysics" and "Materialism and Morality," developed the conception of materialism he had
that "the end of the world was imminent"150 Given the nearness of the apocalypse, "all earthly realities" had lost their meaning and independent value. What mattered most to Kolakowski was the moral teaching of Jesus, at the center of which was the gospel of love. Even though this teaching, and the new emphasis on the inner life of the spirit, were born of apocalyptic prophesies, they remained alive in the European tradition. To the New Testament's abolition of contract, or law, "in favor of
his position as the party's chief ideologist.179 The treatment of Schaff also reflected a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Poland, directed in part against the sympathy that Jewish intellectuals had shown for the Zionist cause. For Polish cultural life in general the damage was severe. The only recourse for many of the country's intellectuals and artists was inner or outer migration. Kolakowski chose the latter. He left Poland in 1969. V His criticism of Stalinism had won for Kolakowski admiration
continuing ties to his bourgeois origins. But his conception of the myth also separated him from the working class. For the effectiveness of the myth of the general strike presupposed the absence of the kind of awareness possessed by Sorel himself. Only if the myth evoked "instinctively all of the sentiments ... which correspond ... to the war waged by socialism against modern society" could it generate mass energies.73 Intellectuals like Sorel, by virtue of their understanding of the