Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Marxism," Trotsky said, "is not an academic science, but a lever of revolutionary action"

Adam Haig responds to Alex Steiner’s burst of outrage 6 January 2009
Adam Haig's essay "
Steiner, Brenner and Neo-Marxism: The Marcusean Component" provoked an angry response from Steiner and Brenner...

Steiner and Brenner's enchantment with Marcuse's libidinal fairy tales in Eros and Civilization prompted me to write "Steiner, Brenner and Neo-Marxism: The Marcusean Component." Steiner, who has no capacity for logical argumentation, brushes off this descriptive title as "pretentious," when it highlights a key figure Steiner and Brenner themselves reveal—through citation and adulation—as a decisive influence in their turn to psychology, sexuality, and Utopia. My paper later addressed Erich Fromm, since Steiner and Brenner also appropriate his ideas. I then touched on the psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek to illustrate the continuity of neo-Marxism and post-Marxism...

There are obvious lines of intellectual descent from neo-Marxism to post-Marxism. "This does not mean neo-Marxism and post-Marxism are synonyms," I said. Fromm, Marcuse, and Zizek represent distinctive but still related experiments by middle-class radical intellectuals to synthesize psychoanalysis and Marxism. Fromm, a practicing psychoanalyst, laid the foundation for Freudo-Marxism at the Frankfurt School. Marcuse, a left-Heideggerian philosopher with no training in psychoanalysis, adopted Freudo-Marxism in opposition to Fromm's rejection of libido/drive theory. Zizek, who has links to Heidegger and Marcuse, is a philosopher in the Freudo-Marxist tradition, specifically, Lacanian-Marxism. What is notable in all three cases is the degeneration of the experiment to synthesize psychoanalysis and Marxism, and its collapse into forms of subjectivism...

Alex Steiner will no doubt be even more outraged when he reads this response. The fact remains that he and Frank Brenner have embraced Herbert Marcuse, Freudo-Marxism, and Utopia. Having done so, it is fairly clear where they will end up. "Marxism," Trotsky said, "is not an academic science, but a lever of revolutionary action." The World Socialist Web Site, the online organ of the world Marxist party, the ICFI, is not the province to entertain the anti-Marxist political views of its bourgeois and petty-bourgeois detractors, but to expose them with the tools of Marxist criticism. That is a necessary task in the socialist political education of workers, intellectuals, students, and youth in the struggle for workers' government and social equality. Adam Haig

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