In defense of history : Marxism and the postmodern agenda


In defense of history : Marxism and the postmodern agenda

Ellen Meiksins Wood, John Bellamy Foster, editors

Monthly Review Press, c1997



Includes bibliographical references and index



Are we now in an age of "postmodernity"? Even as some on the right have proclaimed the "end of history" or the final triumph of capitalism, we are told by some intellectuals on the left that the "modern" epoch has ended, that the "Enlightenment Project" is dead, that all the old verities and ideologies have lost their relevance, that the old principles of rationality no longer apply, and so on. Yet what is striking about the diagnosis of postmodernity is that it has so much in common with older pronouncements of death, both radical and reactionary versions. What has ended, apparently, is not so much another, different epoch but the same one all over again. In response, today's intellectuals on the left seem to be returning to historical materialism, to class analysis. This collection reflects that move, pinning postmodernism in its place and time. It exposes the erroneous bases of "pro-mo" premises, by identifying the real problems to which the current intellectual fashions offer false - or no - solutions. In so doing, the contributors challenge the limits imposed on action and resistance by those who see liberating "new times" in the contradictions of contemporary capitalism.


  • Part 1 Introduction - what is the "postmodern" agenda? Ellen Meiksins Wood. Part 2 Postmodernism and intellectuals: where do postmodernists come from? Terry Eagleton
  • language, history and class struggle, David McNally
  • the politics of cultural studies, Francis Mulhern
  • culture, nationalism, and the role of intellectuals, Aijaz Ahmad interviewed I
  • old positions/new necessities - history, class and Marxist metanarrative, Bryan D. Palmer
  • against social de(con)struction of science - cautionary tales from the Third World, Meera Nanda. Part 3 Postmodernism and movements: issues of class and culture, Aijaz Ahmad interviewed II
  • the mirror of race - postmodernism and the celebration of difference, Kenan Malik
  • postmodernism, feminism and Marx - notes from the abyss, Carol A. Stabile
  • Marx and the environment, John Bellamy Foster
  • northern intellectuals and the EZLN, Daniel Nugent
  • five thesis on actually existing Marxism, Frederic Jameson. Part 4 Afterword: in defense of history, John Bellamy Foster.

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