The History of the Left from Marx to the Present: Theoretical Perspectives
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There are many ways of presenting the history of the left. In this concise and cogent survey, Darrow Schecter avoids trivializing struggles of the last 150 years, focusing on Marx's theories and the diverse struggles for human emancipation that have characterized European and world history since the French Revolution.
Each chapter in the book builds on the previous one, analysing the emergence and development of a specifically left wing understanding of the relation between knowledge, left politics, and emancipation. Schecter explores the crucial question of how to institutionalize the relation between humanity and nature in a free society of fully humanized individuals. Including discussions of Marxism, the Frankfurt School, Critical Theory, Anarchism, Surrealism, and Global Anti-Capitalism, The History of the Left from Marx to the Present is a valuable tool for understanding the theories that have helped shape our present-day political world.
to a radi cal reorganisation of the institutions that encourage people to under stand the real, material problems in their lives in abstractly philosophical terms. This line of argument is pursued further in On the Jewish Question, in which Marx turns his attention to that particular aspect of Hegel's phi losophy that fascinates him most in 1843-45. This is Hegel's marked departure from the social contract theorists and his corresponding theo ries of the state and civil society. Following
political representatives of capital and political reaction to reorganise the relations between capital and labour on their own terms and through passive revolutions. This means that political initiatives from key figures and institutions within the superstructure to overhaul the base are every bit as important as develop ments within the base itself, if not more so. If there is no direct or imme diately causal relation between economic crisis and consciousness and revolution, all the
are briefly outlined below, beginning with his view of trade unions. Cole maintains that if unions are at times capable of limiting the power of capital to direct the labour process, their power is largely a nega tive one limited to the contestation of abuses and excesses. Within the private enterprise system they have little power to make a positive contri bution to the organisation of production. The result is often a stalemate between capital and labour with disastrous consequences for the
from discovering their more complex and creative impulses. By con fining people to repetitive and for the most part unchallenging tasks, the division of labour helps reinforce the stultifying effects of the wage sys tem. The division of labour accustoms people to accept the separation between necessarily dull work during the week, compensated by necessar 132 BUILDING NETWORKS INSTEAD OF PYRAMIDS ily fleeting relief in largely commodified forms of entertainment at the weekend. The words
wage system and therefore an anathema. But compromises had to be made in the face of the hardships imposed by the conflict with Franco.48 134 BUILDING NETWORKS INSTEAD OF PYRAMIDS At the outbreak of the war, a Central Labour Bank and an Economic Council were created to help plan production, provide credit on favourable terms and facilitate transactions between co-operatives. The fact that some workers had saved more money than others was com pounded by the reality that workers with families