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By Perry Anderson

This synoptic essay considers the character and evolution of the Marxist thought that constructed in Western Europe, after the defeat of the proletarian rebellions within the West and the isolation of the Russian Revolution within the East within the early Twenties. It focuses rather at the paintings of Lukács, Korsch and Gramsci; Adorno, Marcuse and Benjamin; Sartre and Althusser; and Della Volpe and Colletti, including different figures inside Western Marxism from 1920 to 1975. The theoretical creation of every of those thinkers is said concurrently to the sensible destiny of working-class struggles and to the cultural mutations of bourgeois concept of their time. The philosophical antecedents of a few of the institution inside this tradition—Lukácsian, Gramscian, Frankfurt, Sartrean, Althusserian and Della Volpean—are in comparison, and the categorical suggestions in their respective structures surveyed. The structural cohesion of 'Western Marxism', past the range of its person thinkers, is then assessed, in a balance-sheet that contrasts its background with the culture of 'classical' Marxism that preceded it, and with the commanding difficulties in an effort to confront any ancient materialism to prevail it.

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The pronounced moderatism of Western Communism in the sixties, in fact, achieved its most developed expression in the party's programme for an 'advanced democracy' in France; while internationally the P C F distinguished itself by the degree of its hostility towards China and espousal of Russian positions in the Sino-Soviet conflict. Althusser's work, by contrast, defined itself as explicitly anti-humanist at a time when the official French party doctrine extol led the virtues of humanism as a common bond between contractual partners (communists, socialists, catholics) in the building of an advanced democracy, and the Soviet party was proclaiming 'Everything for Man' as a mass slogan; while his sympathies for China were thinly veiled.

The failure of the socialist revolution to spread outside Russia, cause and consequence of its corruption inside Russia, is the common background to the entire theoretical tradition of this period. Its major works were, without exception, produced in situations of political isolation and despair. ), Marxumo e Filosofia in Italia, Bari 1 973, pp. 7-8, 1 4- 1 9, 1 80- 1 . This volume includes the texts of the major theoretical debates within the P C I in the fifties and sixties, including the controversy of 1 962referred to below.

Della Volpe forms a in tervals, obviously: the problem is to know where to locate the relevant historical breaks within the biological continuum of lives in any epoch. There i s no room to explore the subject adequately here. The critical lines of division in this case, however, are fairly clearly drawn by the successive political upheavals of the time. chronological exception that nevertheless confirms the generational­ political pattern: in age-group a member of the first generation, he remained completely untouched by the First World War, was later compromised by Italian fascism, and only belatedly moved in the direction of Marxism in 1944-5 at the end of the Second World War, when he was in his late forties.

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