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International Socialism, Summer 1962


John Ashdown



From International Socialism (1st series), No.9, Summer 1962, p.31.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Edited by L. Labedz
Library of International Studies. Allen and Unwin. 37s 6d.

There is, despite the title, hardly a common theme amongst these twenty-seven essays. They range from discussions of the early fathers of Marxism (Plekhanov, Bogdanov, Luxembourg, Trotsky) and revisionism (Bernstein), through the twenties (Bukharin, M.N. Roy, Deborin, Bauer), to contemporary philosophy (Lukacs, Bloch) and discussions of the post-1956 cracks in Stalinism, including the heterogenous basket of Titoism, Kolakowski (his essay on Truth is usefully reprinted) and the New Left. Of necessity the focus varies widely according to the writer, and the emphasis in the later period is more on changes in philosophy (1844 and all that) than the broader Marxist tradition. Most of the pieces have already been published in Survey, and little new is added.

That these disparate essays have been drawn together, and, even more, that the respective bibliographies are united is a useful service. However, the lack of a common theme (‘Revisionism’ as here is almost meaningless) gives the volume something of a dilettante air. This should not detract from its parts, many of which are excellent when considered separately. But a more systematic exposition would perhaps have illuminated the continuity of alternatives to Stalinism. Once one has enunciated this as an aim, then the volume necessarily has to be shaped to include reference to, among other things, the various branches of Trotyskyism – both orthodox and the Schachtman, Cliff, Ricci, Dunayaveskaya, etc., alternatives. A book has been the aim, rather than a book about something (thus, for no very good reasons, a light-weight essay on current trends among Indian intellectuals which has scarcely any relationship to the rest of the book or contemporary revisionism, is included in the section on the New Left).

However, regardless of the overall faults, Mr. Labedz has provided a very readable collection which is a useful and informative introduction.

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Last updated on 11 March 2010