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Photo, Bibliography of Marxist Philosophy, notes, glossary, index...
Photo, Bibliography of Marxist Philosophy, notes, glossary, index
Posted June 20, 2004
George Novack stands out as a Harvard-educated intellectual whose embrace of the class struggle enabled his theoretical development as the most consistent and systematic defender of the theoretical contributions of Marx and Engels in the sphere of philosophy (as well as many other questions) up to the time of his death in 1992. Ever since the 1930s he worked tirelessly to educate and build a revolutionary party, the Socialist Workers Party--which, under the right conditions--could provide the leadership necessary to close the gap between America?s advanced productive and material level and the backwardness of its ideas and the low level of its politics. His work (16 volumes of history, philosophy and party-building works) has been preserved by Pathfinder to challenge and enlighten new generations of fighters who want to understand the consistent, revolutionary, and universal world outlook known as dialectical materialism--and the necessary forms of organization and action it demands. In this gem of a book, he explains that, ?A polemic is a militant reply, in the form of reasoned arguments, to attacks upon a position of proposition worthy of defense. What is decisive is not the manner but the gist of the matter. Have the pros and cons of the question been trenchantly set forth so that the issues at stake become clarified by the confrontation of opposing views?? I believe the thirteen essays in this book are masterful examples of the polemical form?making some of the most complex ideas in the history of human thought accessible to any reader willing to work at thinking over what Novack has to say. These polemics are fair to opposing points of view as well as eloquent in explaining why the various debates are so important to workers and farmers struggling for a more just society. Novack polemicizes with the existentialists, the Frankfurt School, and the perversion of Marxist philosophy into a state religion by the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe and China. He also takes on those fighters against Stalinism who accept its pretensions of being the genuine heir to Marx and Engels, and in the process, reject the revolutionary content of the founders of scientific socialism?s ideas. In this time of outcry over revelations of torture by U.S. forces in Iraq (only the most recent of a whole string of these going back to the Korean War, at least), Novack?s discussion of the Marxist approach to morality will prove particularly interesting to his readers: ?Historical materialism teaches that morality is a product of social development?in civilized society it serves not all persons equally, but class interests; that these interests are contradictory, since what benefits one class injures another. The worth of conflicting moral values and judgments has to be objectively evaluated according to the roles the contending class forces play in blocking or promoting social progress and the relations of the individual to them. Clearly the moral views and values of the slave will clash with those of the master. Although the class relations are more complex under capitalism, the moral situation is not essentially different. ?Thus the choice of one line of conduct over another concretely flows not so much from the common concerns of all members of the human family, but from the divergent and conflicting interests of the component classes to which people belong.? As one expects from Pathfinder?s books, this one features an excellent glossary and bibliography that help guide even a reader quite unfamiliar with the basic trends and history of philosophy a good foundation for following the discussion and going deeper into these important matters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 10, 2004
The Twentieth Century saw a legion of so-called 'Marxist' philosophers who had no relationship with the real Marxist movement: the fight to build a revolutionary communist movement launched by Marx and Engels continued by Lenin and Trotsky enriched by Cuban revolutionary leaders like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. In various ways, Luckacs, the Frankfurt School, Althusser, and others like are frequently mistaken for Marxists in part because many of them were affiliated with the Stalinist Communist Parties or with the social democracy. The late George Novack was a leader of the Socialist Workers Party who Leon Trotsky implored to deepen and defend real Marxist philosophy back in the late 1930s. In this book, originally written in the 1970s, Novack takes on these contrasts these Marxists with the genuine teachings of Marxism. Novack also shows that basic ideas of dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marx and Engels, are directly useful tools for working people to try to understand the world and figure how to take hold of the world from the capitalist class. He explains how revolutionary theory is one of the sharpest tools that can be used in revolutionary practice. Like everything George Novack writes about philosophy he is objective and precise in describing those he debates, so that his work is both a useful survey of the basic ideas of these so-called 'Western Marxists,' as well as a defense of real Marxism from them. For any kind of philosophical work, Novack is very readable, not boring, and always clear. This book is an excellent book for a course on Marxist philosophy, on 'Western Marxism,' and on how serious intellectuals debate differences. When the growing resistance of working people, farmers, youth, and the countries calls out for the tools of genuine Marxism to guide their fight, this book will become a classic, a major tool in their fight to clearly understand the world.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.