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Neo-Marxism encompasses 20th-century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, typically by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, or existentialism (in the case of Jean-Paul Sartre).
Marxism is a theory and method of working class self-emancipation. As a theory, it relies on a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Critical theory is the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities. As a term, critical theory has two meanings with different origins and histories: the first originated in sociology and the second originated in literary criticism, whereby it is used and applied as an umbrella term that can describe a theory founded upon critique; thus, the theorist Max Horkheimer described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them."
Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques related to the study of the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental-health disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud and stemmed partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, and by neo-Freudians such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry Stack Sullivan. Freud retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought.
An example of the syncretism in neo-Marxist theory is Erik Olin Wright's theory of contradictory class locations which incorporates Weberian sociology, critical criminology and anarchism.As with many uses of the prefix neo-, some theorists and groups designated as neo-Marxist have attempted to supplement the perceived deficiencies of orthodox Marxism or dialectical materialism. Many prominent neo-Marxists, such as Herbert Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School, have historically been sociologists and psychologists.
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merging or assimilation of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism also occurs commonly in expressions of arts and culture as well as politics.
Erik Olin Wright was an American analytical Marxist sociologist, specializing in social stratification, and in egalitarian alternative futures to capitalism. He was known for diverging from classical Marxism in his breakdown of the working class into subgroups of diversely held power and therefore varying degrees of class consciousness. Wright introduced novel concepts to adapt to this change of perspective including deep democracy and interstitial revolution.
Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
Neo-Marxism comes under the broader framework of the New Left. In a sociological sense, neo-Marxism adds Max Weber's broader understanding of social inequality such as status and power to Marxist philosophy. Examples of neo-Marxism include critical theory, analytical Marxism and French structural Marxism.
The New Left was a broad political movement mainly in the 1960s and 1970s consisting of activists in the Western world who campaigned for a broad range of social issues such as civil and political rights, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, gender roles and drug policy reforms. Some saw the New Left as an oppositional reaction to earlier Marxist and labor union movements for social justice that focused on dialectical materialism and social class, while others who used the term saw the movement as a continuation and revitalization of traditional leftist goals.
Maximilian Karl Emil Weber was a German sociologist, philosopher, jurist, and political economist. His ideas profoundly influenced social theory and social research. Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Weber was a key proponent of methodological anti-positivism, arguing for the study of social action through interpretive means, based on understanding the purpose and meaning that individuals attach to their own actions. Unlike Durkheim, he did not believe in mono-causality and rather proposed that for any outcome there can be multiple causes.
Social inequality occurs when resources in a given society are distributed unevenly, typically through norms of allocation, that engender specific patterns along lines of socially defined categories of persons. It is the differentiation preference of access of social goods in the society brought about by power, religion, kinship, prestige, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and class. The social rights include labor market, the source of income, health care, and freedom of speech, education, political representation, and participation. Social inequality linked to economic inequality, usually described on the basis of the unequal distribution of income or wealth, is a frequently studied type of social inequality. Though the disciplines of economics and sociology generally use different theoretical approaches to examine and explain economic inequality, both fields are actively involved in researching this inequality. However, social and natural resources other than purely economic resources are also unevenly distributed in most societies and may contribute to social status. Norms of allocation can also affect the distribution of rights and privileges, social power, access to public goods such as education or the judicial system, adequate housing, transportation, credit and financial services such as banking and other social goods and services.
Neo-Marxism developed as a result of social and political problems that traditional Marxist theory was unable to sufficiently address. This iteration of thinking tended toward peaceful ideological dissemination, rather than the revolutionary and often violent methods of the past. Economically, neo-Marxist thought leaders moved beyond the era of public outcry over class warfare and attempted to design viable models to solve it. There are many different branches of neo-Marxism often not in agreement with each other and their theories. Following World War I, some neo-Marxists dissented and later formed the Frankfurt School. Toward the end of the 20th century, neo-Marxism and other Marxist theories became anathema in democratic and capitalistic Western cultures and the term attained negative connotations during the Red Scare. For this reason, social theorists of the same ideology since that time have tended to disassociate themselves from the term neo-Marxism. Examples of such thinkers include David Harvey and Jacque Fresco,with some ambiguity surrounding Noam Chomsky, who has been labelled a neo-Marxist by some, but who personally disagrees with such assessments. Some consider libertarian socialism an example of rebranded neo-Marxism.
Class conflict is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society consequent to socio-economic competition among the social classes. In the political and economic philosophies of Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, class struggle is a central tenet and a practical means for effecting radical social and political changes for the social majority.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The Frankfurt School is a school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt. Founded in the Weimar Republic (1918–33), during the European interwar period (1918–39), the Frankfurt School comprised intellectuals, academics, and political dissidents who were ill-fitted to the contemporary socio-economic systems of the 1930s. The Frankfurt theoreticians proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in ostensibly liberal capitalist societies in the 20th century. Critical of capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organisation, the School's critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realising the social development of a society and a nation.
The neo-Marxist approach to development economics is connected with dependency and world systems theories. In these cases, the "exploitation" that classifies it as Marxist is an external one, rather than the normal "internal" exploitation of classical Marxism.
Dependency theory is the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former. It is a central contention of dependency theory that poor states are impoverished and rich ones enriched by the way poor states are integrated into the "world system".
World-systems theory is a multidisciplinary, macro-scale approach to world history and social change which emphasizes the world-system as the primary unit of social analysis.
In industrial economics, the neo-Marxist approach stresses the monopolistic rather than the competitive nature of capitalism. This approach is associated with Michał Kalecki, Paul A. Baran and Paul Sweezy.
Michał Kalecki was a Polish economist. Over the course of his life, Kalecki worked at the London School of Economics, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Warsaw School of Economics and was an economic advisor to the governments of Poland, France, Cuba, Israel, Mexico and India. He also served as the deputy director of the United Nations Economic Department in New York City.
Paul Alexander Baran was an American Marxist economist. In 1951 Baran was promoted to full professor at Stanford University and Baran was the only tenured Marxian economist in the United States until his death in 1964. Baran wrote The Political Economy of Growth in 1957 and co-authored Monopoly Capital with Paul Sweezy.
Paul Marlor Sweezy was a Marxian economist, political activist, publisher, and founding editor of the long-running magazine Monthly Review. He is best remembered for his contributions to economic theory as one of the leading Marxian economists of the second half of the 20th century.
Some portions of Marxist feminism have used the neo-Marxist label.This school of thought that believes that the means of knowledge, culture and pedagogy are part of a privileged epistemology as the absence of injustice and the resultant undue enrichment in terms of production of knowledge. Neo-Marxist feminism relies heavily on critical theory and seeks to apply those theories in psychotherapy as the means of political and cultural change. Teresa McDowell and Rhea Almeida use these theories in a therapy method called "liberation based healing" which, like many other forms of Marxism, uses sample bias in the many interrelated liberties in order to magnify the "critical consciousness" of the participants towards unrest of the status quo.
The Monthly Review, established in 1949, is an independent socialist magazine published monthly in New York City. The publication remains the longest continuously published socialist magazine in the United States. The journal has an impact factor of 0.460, ranking 107th out of 161 journals in the category "Political Science".
Marxist feminism is feminism focused on investigating and explaining the ways in which women are oppressed through systems of capitalism and private property. According to Marxist feminists, women's liberation can only be achieved through a radical restructuring of the current capitalist economy, in which, they contend, much of women's labor is uncompensated.
Marxist and neo-Marxist international relations theories are paradigms which reject the realist/liberal view of state conflict or cooperation, instead focusing on the economic and material aspects. It purports to reveal how the economy trumps other concerns, which allows for the elevation of class as the focus of the study.
The Praxis school was a Marxist humanist philosophical movement, whose members were influenced by Western Marxism. It originated in Zagreb and Belgrade in the SFR Yugoslavia, during the 1960s.
John Bellamy Foster is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and also editor of Monthly Review. He writes about political economy of capitalism and economic crisis, ecology and ecological crisis, and Marxist theory. He has given numerous interviews, talks, and invited lectures, as well as written invited commentary, articles, and books on the subject.
Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order is a book by Paul Sweezy and Paul A. Baran published in 1966 by Monthly Review Press. It made a major contribution to Marxian theory by shifting attention from the assumption of a competitive economy to the monopolistic economy associated with the giant corporations that dominate the modern accumulation process. Their work played a leading role in the intellectual development of the New Left in the 1960s and 1970s. As a review in the American Economic Review stated, it represented “the first serious attempt to extend Marx’s model of competitive capitalism to the new conditions of monopoly capitalism.” It attracted renewed attention following the Great Recession.
Marxist sociology is the study of sociology from a Marxist perspective. Marxism itself can be recognized as both a political philosophy and a sociology, particularly so far as it attempts to remain scientific, systematic, and objective rather than purely normative and prescriptive. Marxist sociology is "a form of conflict theory associated with ... Marxism's objective of developing a positive (empirical) science of capitalist society as part of the mobilization of a revolutionary working class." The American Sociological Association has a section dedicated to the issues of Marxist sociology that is "interested in examining how insights from Marxist methodology and Marxist analysis can help explain the complex dynamics of modern society". Marxist sociology would come to facilitate the developments of critical theory and cultural studies as loosely distinct disciplines.
Andrew Arato is a Professor of Political and Social Theory in the Department of Sociology at The New School, best known for his influential book Civil Society and Political Theory, coauthored with Jean L. Cohen. He is also known for his work on critical theory, constitutions, and was from 1994 to 2014 co-editor of the journal Constellations with Nancy Fraser.
The terms neo-Marxian, post-Marxian and radical political economics were first used to refer to a distinct tradition of economic thought in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of the leading figures were associated with the Monthly Review School.
Marxist humanism is a branch of Marxism that primarily focuses on Marx's earlier writings, especially the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 in which Marx espoused his theory of alienation, as opposed to his later works, which are considered to be concerned more with his structural conception of capitalist society. The Praxis School, which called for radical social change in Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia in the 1960s, was one such Marxist humanist movement.
In Marxism, reification is the process by which social relations are perceived as inherent attributes of the people involved in them, or attributes of some product of the relation, such as a traded commodity.
Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are works in philosophy that are strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory, or works written by Marxists. Marxist philosophy may be broadly divided into Western Marxism, which drew out of various sources, and the official philosophy in the Soviet Union, which enforced a rigid reading of Marx called dialectical materialism, in particular during the 1930s. Marxist philosophy is not a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as varied as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theoretical psychology and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.
Orthodox Marxism is the body of Marxist thought that emerged after the death of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and which became the official philosophy of the socialist movement as represented in the Second International until the First World War in 1914. Orthodox Marxism aims to simplify, codify and systematize Marxist method and theory by clarifying the perceived ambiguities and contradictions of classical Marxism.
Lise Vogel is a feminist sociologist and art historian from the United States. An influential Marxist-feminist theoretician, she is recognised for being one of the main founders of the Social Reproduction Theory. She also participated in the civil rights and the women's liberation movements in organisations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi and Bread & Roses in Boston. In her earlier career as an art historian, she was one of the first to try to develop a feminist perspective on Art History.
Western Marxism is a current of Marxist theory arising from Western and Central Europe in the aftermath of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the ascent of Leninism. The term denotes a loose collection of theorists who advanced an interpretation of Marxism distinct from that codified by the Soviet Union.
Various Marxist authors have focused on Marx's method of analysis and presentation as key factors both in understanding the range and incisiveness of Karl Marx's theoretical writing in general and Das Kapital in particular. One of the clearest and most instructive examples of this is his discussion of the value-form, which acts as a primary guide or key to understanding the logical argument as it develops throughout the volumes of Das Kapital.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Marxism:
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