Friday, October 18, 2013

The New American Marxists

I wish I could say the youthful "idealism" were harmless and it's sad that often these are the same people who consider themselves to be "intellectuals" (Tabletmag):

So, they’re hungry for a theory that offers a thoroughgoing critique of the system, not just a way to ameliorate its excesses. “[F]or at least a generation now, not only the broad public but many radical themselves have felt uncertain that the left possessed a basic analysis of contemporary capitalism, let alone a program for its replacement,” Kunkel writes in the introduction to Utopia or Bust. Reaching back into the canon, he and others have found, at least, the former.

As for the latter? In the absence of a clear programmatic goal, never mind a party or organization, the new Marxism has a certain weightlessness. No one seems to have even a wisp of an answer to the perennial question: What is to be done? That very openness, though, gives new energy to the work of young thinkers and writers who feel themselves on yet another hinge of history. For intellectuals, this has always been a consolation of crisis: It frees one from the sort of existential lassitude Kunkel described in Indecision, making ideas feel urgent and important.

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