Marx and Marxism: Utopia, Dystopia, History
The almost perfect coincidence of three anniversaries, 1516 (the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia), 1818 (the birth of Marx) and 1917 (the Russian Revolution), provokes renewed reflection on the nature of the utopian, dystopian, and historical dimensions of Marx and Marxism. This dialogue starts from the Morean (classically utopian) conception of sociability; asks to what degree Marx accepted or built on it; then questions how far Lenin and Bolshevism conformed to or departed from Marx’s ideals. It looks at modern despotisms of all sorts and their ambivalent utopian or downright dystopian dimensions. Finally, it addresses the problem of Marx’s relevance to the 21st century, and concludes that if anything it is the utopian rather than the “scientific” components in Marx which remain pertinent in an era of advancing mechanization and a “post-work” economy.
Gregory Claeys was born in France and educated in Canada and the United Kingdom. He has taught in Germany and the U.S. and since 1992 has been Professor of the History of Political Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of Machinery, Money and the Millennium: From Moral Economy to Socialism (Princeton University Press, 1987), Citizens and Saints: Politics and Anti-Politics in Early British Socialism (Cambridge University Press, 1989), Thomas Paine: Social and Political Thought (Unwin Hyman, 1989); The French Revolution Debate in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), Imperial Skeptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850–1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Searching for Utopia: the History of an Idea (Thames & Hudson, 2011; German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese editions), and Mill and Paternalism (Cambridge University Press, 2013). He has edited The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and (with Gareth Stedman Jones) The Cambridge History of Nineteenth Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2011), as well as some fifty volumes of primary sources and edited essays. His latest book, Dystopia: A Natural History (Oxford University Press) was published in 2016. The next, A Pelican Introduction to Marx and Marxism, will be published in 2018. He is editor of the series, “Palgrave Studies in Utopianism” (Palgrave Macmillan) and is coordinator of the Utopolis project of European utopian bibliography, translation and republication.