Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
|Published (Last):||27 December 2008|
|PDF File Size:||19.8 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||12.95 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
I was standing on a beach in Siberia when this book was recommended to me. The wavelets of a small artificial ocean made by damming the river Ob were splashing on the sand, and I was wondering out loud about the roots of the Soviet passion for making grand modifications to nature. She was right. I did need to read Kolakowski. His 'Main Currents of Marxism' translated by PS Falla is not only a monumental intellectual history of Marxist thought; it is also one of the world's grandest, most thoroughgoing intellectual demolition jobs.
For nearly pages, the author clambers over the edifice of his subject like an indefatigable spider, laying his charges. By the time he has scrambled up all of Marxism's columns and around all of its cornices, from the sources of the dialectic in the classical philosophy of Plotinus to the pathetic "thought" of Brezhnev, Kim Il-Sung and Elena Ceausescu, nothing is left except rubble.
But he is not unsympathetic to Marxism. He himself began as a leading light of the last Eastern European generation to try to reclaim Marxism as a source of humane idealism. He was the philosophical superstar of the University of Warsaw in the early s, gradually thinking himself into opposition, and compiling 'Main Currents' chiefly from the materials which Communist Poland was obliged to make available for the sake of its own ideological legitimacy.
It wasn't published until he was exiled in the s, and living in the safe Isaiah Berlin-ish setting of All Souls, Oxford. To read it is to witness a lone man with a pencil taking on an orthodoxy as big as a continent, in its own terms. Its own best possible terms, always. Kolakowski always makes the best and most sophisticated case for what he describes.
Partly this is a matter of intellectual honour; partly it is him following Hazlitt's rule that you should attack an enemy where they are strongest. More than either, it is because his own self-emancipation requires him to grapple with the strongest attractions of Marxism as a philosophical system.
He wants to feel he has found the flaws in the most morally persuasive version of it, not that he has given a kicking to a weak cartoon. The result is to make 'Main Currents' one of the few polemics that can be used as a reliable guide to the thing it opposes. Kolakowski does have his weak points. He is dismissive about the Frankfurt School, and the Western Marxism of his own time.
This does not take away from the scrupulous horror of his demonstration that the Stalinised East represented a plausible embodiment of Marx's own logic. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium. It allows our most engaged readers to debate the big issues, share their own experiences, discuss real-world solutions, and more. Our journalists will try to respond by joining the threads when they can to create a true meeting of independent Premium.
The most insightful comments on all subjects will be published daily in dedicated articles. You can also choose to be emailed when someone replies to your comment. The existing Open Comments threads will continue to exist for those who do not subscribe to Independent Premium. Due to the sheer scale of this comment community, we are not able to give each post the same level of attention, but we have preserved this area in the interests of open debate.
Please continue to respect all commenters and create constructive debates. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. Long reads. Coronavirus Advice. Lockdown Guide. UK Politics. Lib Dems. Green Party. Boris Johnson. Jeremy Corbyn. US Politics. Help The Hungry. Shappi Khorsandi. Mary Dejevsky. Robert Fisk. Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter.
John Rentoul. Matthew Norman. Sean O'Grady. Tom Peck. Andrew Grice. Stop the Wildlife Trade. Rugby union. US sports. Miguel Delaney.
Streaming Hub. Geoffrey Macnab. Clarisse Loughrey. Ed Cumming. Royal Family. Tech news. Tech culture. The Competition. Money transfers. Health insurance. Money Deals. Voucher Codes. Just Eat. National Trust. Climate Blogs. UK Edition. US Edition. Log in using your social network account. Please enter a valid password. Keep me logged in. Want an ad-free experience? Subscribe to Independent Premium. View offers. Download the new Independent Premium app Sharing the full story, not just the headlines Download now.
Enter your email address Continue Continue Please enter an email address Email address is invalid Fill out this field Email address is invalid Email already exists. Update newsletter preferences. Comments Share your thoughts and debate the big issues. Join the discussion. Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines. Create a commenting name to join the debate Submit. Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted.
Loading comments Please try again, the name must be unique. Cancel Post. There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. Follow comments Enter your email to follow new comments on this article. Thanks for subscribing! Vote Are you sure you want to submit this vote? Submit vote Cancel. You must be logged in to vote.
Report Comment Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate?
Independent culture newsletter
It was first published in Polish in Paris in , with the English translation appearing in Other reviewers were more critical of his treatment of the Frankfurt School. He describes Marxism as "the greatest fantasy of the twentieth century", a dream of a perfect society which became a foundation for "a monstrous edifice of lies, exploitation and oppression. It also discusses Austromarxism. He also discusses the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown
Martin Jay, Leszek Kolakowski. Translated by P. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in.