Since 1989, there have been many claims that Marxist approaches to history are out of date. As the challenge of more recent events shows, however, history has not stopped and historical change continues to need explanation. There is still plenty of space for structural analysis of how history in all periods develops, and a Marxism un-linked to the Soviet past offers to manSince 1989, there have been many claims that Marxist approaches to history are out of date. As the challenge of more recent events shows, however, history has not stopped and historical change continues to need explanation. There is still plenty of space for structural analysis of how history in all periods develops, and a Marxism un-linked to the Soviet past offers to many the most rigorous of these approaches. This volume explores from a wide variety of perspectives what Marxism has done for history-writing and what it can, or cannot, still do. Eight prominent historians and social scientists give their perspectives, both from Marxist and from non-Marxist positions, on the current state of history and what role Marxist analysis has in it. The volume is an important contribution to current historical debates, and will be of essential interest to historians and social scientists, and all those interested in how to explain history and politics....
|Title||:||Marxist History-Writing for the Twenty-First Century|
|Number of Pages||:||187 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Marxist History-Writing for the Twenty-First Century Reviews
This is a useful and intriguing collection of papers from a conference organised by the British Academy in 2004 that draws together Marxist and non-Marxist historians and others to explore the relevance and shape of Marxist and Marx-influenced history writing in the current era. There are three forms of paper – some explicitly historiographical looking at developments in Marxist historiography of (Roman) antiquity, medieval Europe, and the 20th Century; two papers consider challenges to Marxist writing (Catherine Hall's close reading of key developments in British politics in the late 1820s and early 1830s as needing more than class as explanatory tools is a potent peice of friendly criticism); and one by Robert Brenner that looks again at what we used to call the transition debate (from feudalism to capitalism) to provide a model of comparative history, and to significantly challenge many received wisdoms of contemporary economic history. His work in the 1970s caused us to look again at a big block of economic history, and extended many of the then understood and accepted Marxist explanations for the transition: this long essay issues new challenges and is worth buying the book for by itself. But, Marxist approaches have often presented challenges for historians and, as the non-Marxist historical sociologist W G Runicman points out in the opening essay, there is a tension between Marx the diagnostician and teleological Marxism – that is, between Marx the analyst of 19th century capitalism, and Marx the visionary. Runciman, like many other, favours discarding the visionary and retaining the dianostician – but alas that means abandoning the third Marx – the political activist and social transformer. I'm not convinced that we can have one without the other: Marxism as an academic model is all well and good, but it becomes Marxism without politics, Marxism without struggle, and ultimately Marxism without relevance. That said, the need to step beyond crude interpretations of Marx's teleological view is vital – if history is only understood by where it is projected to be leading to (or where it has got us to) then we fail to understand how and why history's actors made the decisions they did.In an aside, Wickham (the editor) adds to Marx's observations in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon when he suggests, given the contemporary trend to nostalgia and kitsch, that the "great events and characters of world history occur ... three times: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce, the third as shopping". Many a true word slips into a footnote.
The Brenner (and Wickham) essay(s) is worth the price of entry alone. The Callinicos and Hobsbawm essays are okay but nothing special. But the Hall and Stedman-Jones essays (and Runciman's smug introduction) are truly diabolical, emblematic of the morass of post-structuralist academia in their wordiness and meaningless, and - as a collection of essays assembled for the British Academy - are indicative of the definitive shift of the locus of serious Marxian scholarship across the Atlantic in the 21st century.