Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Haunting the Future - Marx at 200

On Saturday next, May 5 2018, we will arrive at the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx, who remains, to my view, the essential thinker.  No other intellectual has been as influential over the last two centuries, no other writer has provided such rich resources for his successors and inheritors to understand their past, to think their present and to agitate for their future.

Going back to the writings of Marx's youth is always a salutary and deeply inspiring experience, and all the more so in our confused and chaotic present.  From his student days, he understood and gave dramatic and hopeful expression to the need of the intellectual to respond to her moment, to her 'situation' (as Sartre and Beauvoir would later put it).  Here he is, writing, from university, to his father:
Every metamorphosis is partly a swan song and partly the overture to a great new poem which, in a medley of blurred though brilliant colours, is still struggling to emerge as form.
Marx's grasp of the 'conjuncture' (Althusser's term), as an historical context to be understood and a political opportunity to be seized, is already fully formed.

A team of sociologists, anthropologists and English scholars, including myself, Colin Coulter, Sinead Kennedy, Fergal Finnegan, Chandana Mathur, and Laurence Cox, have prepared a conference at Maynooth University on Friday May 4 and Saturday May 5 to mark this epochal anniversary - .the most substantial conference on leftwing thought and action in Ireland for some time.   We have speakers addressing every facet of Marx's work and the Marxist tradition, from all corners of the globe.  We have as headline speakers Antonio Negri, the most important Italian Marxist since Gramsci and one of the most radical leftwing thinkers active today; and Jodi Dean, the brilliant American political theorist, philosopher of Occupy, advocate of 'the communist horizon'

I published a short article on the relevance of Marx today, on the excellent site of the Dublin Review of Books, often mentioned and admired on this blog.  My warmest thanks go to Maurice Earls, owner of Books Upstairs and co-editor of the DRB, for taking on this work.  The essay has also been reposted by the distinguished American Marxist journal, Monthly Review.

Here is my article -

At the DRB:

Why Marx? Why now? -

At Monthly Review Online:

Here is the conference's website/blog:

Anyone and everyone will be welcome - there are preferential rates for students and the unwaged.

We have a world to win!


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