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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

From the 1920s through the 1970s, leading Marxist philosophers seldom subjected Marx's positions to intensive scrutiny, even as they invoked his authority in behalf of their own contentions. Because their views were fraught with political significance in circumstances in which Marx's authority mattered, and because they gravitated toward “continental” styles of argument that were grandiose and programmatic, they approached Marxism, as it were, from the outside—without engaging Marx's arguments the way philosophers characteristically do, from within. At a time when increasingly frequent and severe capitalist crises are creating conditions favorable for putting socialism and perhaps Marxism back on the agenda, it is important to view the situation from the outside so as to assess better where we are and where it is still possible to go. This article tells the story of analytical Marxism, a movement that is now in eclipse and that may never come back. But it is a story worth telling because, in several key respects, any revival of socialist or Marxist theory in the years ahead will have to resume where analytical Marxism left off.

Keywords: analytical Marxism, socialism, Marxist theory, Marxist philosophers, socialist theory

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