"Before all else a revolutionist": Marx and the Question of Strategy

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1586 ... April 12, 2018

"Before all else a revolutionist":
Marx and the Question of Strategy

Michael Brie

The multiple crises of capitalism go hand in hand with the multiple crises of the left. And amidst these crises, we find ourselves commemorating the 200th birthday of Karl Marx and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Capital. But how are we to treat Marx and his works? How important is he for us today -- for our capacity to transform the world in practice?

Reading through the flood of new publications, one cannot help but think that the reception of Marx’s works fails to see the proverbial living forest for all the trees that have been felled. Painting Marx as a lone thinker, seconded by... Frederick Engels at best, they fail to trace the why, the driving forces that shaped Marx’s works. As Wolfgang Schieder writes in one of the few books devoted to Marx as a politician, "his entire thinking was essentially geared toward political praxis.". This political praxis was embedded in a pluralistic and often fragmented, but very dynamic Left. Without reconstructing the debates he was involved in, we simply cannot understand Marx. If we begin listening to the voices of those he conversed with, we can stop seeing Marx as the source of infinite quotes and begin to view him instead as a comrade on a common path -- a path that he walked before us, always in conversation, and often in dispute, with many of his contemporaries.

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