On Darren Webb's Marx, Marxism and Utopia

On Darren Webb's Marx, Marxism and Utopia Marx, Marxism and Utopia D ARREN W EBB Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000 Reviewed by S AMUEL R. F RIEDMAN As Webb’s citations attest, a small industry of writers have claimed that the collapse of ‘really existing socialism’ puts the burden on socialists to create a model of what their desired society will look like. The horror show that the first successful workers’ revolution turned into is obvious to many millions of people, including worker activists, in every country. We have all experienced the question from those we were working with politically, ‘But why wouldn’t what happened in Russia happen again? And, in any case, what are you really trying to build?’ The natural response, when faced with such questions, is to roll up our sleeves to figure out what the new society will look like. Webb argues that this response is mistaken. He holds – correctly, in my view – that the essence of Marx’s critique of utopian thought was that it pre-empted the proletariat, putting the right to define the goals of the socialist movement into the pens of one or two thinkers. This is wrong in at least two essential ways. First, because the liberation of the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Historical Materialism Brill

On Darren Webb's Marx, Marxism and Utopia

Historical Materialism, Volume 12 (2): 269 – Jan 1, 2004

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2004 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1465-4466
eISSN
1569-206X
D.O.I.
10.1163/1569206041551654
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Marx, Marxism and Utopia D ARREN W EBB Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000 Reviewed by S AMUEL R. F RIEDMAN As Webb’s citations attest, a small industry of writers have claimed that the collapse of ‘really existing socialism’ puts the burden on socialists to create a model of what their desired society will look like. The horror show that the first successful workers’ revolution turned into is obvious to many millions of people, including worker activists, in every country. We have all experienced the question from those we were working with politically, ‘But why wouldn’t what happened in Russia happen again? And, in any case, what are you really trying to build?’ The natural response, when faced with such questions, is to roll up our sleeves to figure out what the new society will look like. Webb argues that this response is mistaken. He holds – correctly, in my view – that the essence of Marx’s critique of utopian thought was that it pre-empted the proletariat, putting the right to define the goals of the socialist movement into the pens of one or two thinkers. This is wrong in at least two essential ways. First, because the liberation of the

Journal

Historical MaterialismBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2004

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