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Adventures in Marxism
ISBN 1859843093 / 9781859843093 / 1-85984-309-3
Publisher Verso Books
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"Marxism has been part of me for all my life," says Marshall Berman. "Late in my fifties, I'm still learning and sorting out how." The essays in Adventures in Marxism, which span from a portion of Berman's 1963 Oxford thesis (supervised by Isaiah Berlin) to a reconsideration of the Communist Manifesto on its sesquicentennial in 1998, are a splendid presentation of that "learning and sorting." The book's not only about Marx, mind you--Berman also considers those who have followed in Marx's footsteps, including Edmund Wilson, Georg Lukacs, Meyer Schapiro, and Walter Benjamin (as well as an interesting chapter on Studs Terkel's Working). And, too, there are marvelous passages in which Berman writes about the workers around him in the streets of New York. But none of this, perhaps, would have been possible if a young Berman hadn't tracked down a copy of Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, a collection of spirited essays that for years influenced him far more than the Manifesto or Capital. (Though he would eventually rediscover the power of the Manifesto, which "helped me see how the bad things and the good things in the world could spring from the same place, how suffering could be a source of growth and joy, how radical thought could escape doldrums and dualisms and gather vision and energy for better times.") Berman's essays show how the collapse of communist tyrannies does not negate the potential for "Marxist humanism" to offer a progressive response to globalization; his enthusiasm for such a project makes the essays as delightful to read as they are informative. [via]