Reconstructing Marxism

Reconstructing Marxism: Essays on Explanation and the Theory of History, by Erik Olin Wright, Andrew Levine and Elliott Sober, Verso 2010

Reconstructing Marxism explores fundamental questions about the structure of Marxist theory and its prospects for the future. The authors maintain that the disintegration of the old theoretical unity of classical Marxism is in part responsible for what is commonly called the ‘crisis of Marxism’. Only a reconstructed Marxist can come to terms with this disintegration.

Addressing a range of problems in historical materialism and class analysis, the authors compare historical materialism with Darwinian evolutionary theory, and identify what is distinctively ‘historical’ in Marx’s theory of history. Through an evaluation of G.A. Cohen’s defence and Anthony Giddens’ critique of historical materialism they suggest what a plausible, yet still Marxist, theory of history might be. They analyze the relationship of micro-analysis to macro theory and the assignment of causal primacy in explanations, and present a general assessment of the current state of Marxist theory and the prospects for its analytical reconstruction.

Distinguished by the clarity of its presentation, the analytical rigor of its argument and its concern with fundamental philosophical and sociological issues, Reconstructing Marxism advances a challenging new research program.

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Chapter 1. Marxism: Crisis or Renewal?

Part I: The Theory of History

Chapter 2. Classical Historical Materialism

Chapter 3. What is Historical about Historical Materialism?

Chapter 4. Historical Trajectories

Chapter 5. Toward a Reconstructed Historical Materialism

Part II: Explanation

Chapter 6. Marxism and Methodological Individualism

Chapter 7. Causal Asymmetries

Part III: Conclusion

Chapter 8. Prospects for the Marxist Agenda

Bibliography / Index