By Russell Jacoby
Looking at that for either revolutionaries and capitalists, not anything succeeds like good fortune, Russell Jacoby asks us to reexamine a loser of Marxism: the unorthodox Marxism of Western Europe. the writer starts off with a polemical assault on 'conformist' or orthodox Marxism, during which he comprises structuralist colleges. He argues cult of luck and technology tired this Marxism of its severe impulse and that the successes of the Russian and chinese language revolutions inspired a mechanical and fruitless mimicry. He then turns to a Western substitute that neither succumbed to the spell of luck nor obliterated the person within the identify of technology. within the 19th century, this Western Marxism already diverged from Russian Marxism in its interpretation of Hegel and its review of Engels' orthodox Marxism. the writer follows the evolution of this minority culture and its competition to authoritarian kinds of political idea and perform.
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Additional info for Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism
The evil of retrograde social development was met by blessing capitalist development, which would finally issue into a new social order. This evolutionary logic was more than logic; it brought in its train attitudes and beliefs that corroded the theoretical and psychological impulse to subvert capitalism. The evaluation of colonialism by Marx displayed these same features. Brutal robbery and exploitation marked colonialism. Insofar as the material foundations of capitalism were established, however, colonialism progressed willy-nilly toward socialism.
The natural world, and its sciences, knows history only externally; history does not determine structure or method. The difference between the study of the moon and the French Revolution is history. Inquiries of human behavior inspired by the study of the moon or the atom suppress or belittle the historical dimension. "History" does not mean here a chronicle of events but the story of humanity as actor and victim. " 49 Positivist science tends to eliminate history as so much slag or intellectual baggage.
The official proletarian culture of the III International and, most recently, China portrayed only smiling, working, and powerful peasants. Frowns, sickness, betrayals, and defeats were eschewed. Andrei Zhdanov, proponent of Socialist Realism, explained why optimism and heroism were the guiding slogans: "Our [Soviet] literature is impregnated with enthusiasm and the spirit of heroic deeds... "38 This is the open and hidden logic of orthodox Marxism and recent historical studies. The need to stress the victories of the 20 Dialectic of defeat oppressed is deep seated and humanistic, but it maltreats its subject when the objective defeats and surrenders, political and psychological, are whitewashed and remain unrecognized and uncomprehended.