Thursday, October 14, 2010

Marxism, Human Nature and Social Change

Sean Sayers, Marxism and Human Nature
(London: Routledge, 1998), 203pp., paperback

A review by Martha Gimenez
MRZine, December 1999

At a time when politicians, academics, and media pundits celebrate the demise of Marxism as a credible school of thought, and hegemonic "postisms" (e.g., poststructuralism, postfeminism, post-Marxism) have succeeded in producing a generation of young academics for whom everything (themselves included) is "socially constructed" and open to "deconstruction," in an endless game of shifting identities and "stories," a book about Marxism and human nature seems hopelessly outdated.

It is, however, precisely at this time that this book should be welcome, not only because it is full of illuminating insights that dispel many common stereotypes about Marx and Marxism, but also (and most importantly) because it demonstrates how Marx's theory of human nature, and its social and moral implications, offer a necessary alternative to the current "antinomies of bourgeois thought" (e.g., essentialism vs. anti-essentialism; humanism vs. antihumanism; determinism vs. social constructionism). (I have borrowed this phrase from Georg Lukacs in History and Class Consciousness.)

Sayers' aim is to present and defend an historical account of human nature, its conditions of emergence, development, and fulfillment, and its moral and social implications.

Read more HERE.

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