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Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton
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Why Marx Was Right (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Terry Eagleton

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205957,211 (3.46)3
Member:georgematt
Title:Why Marx Was Right
Authors:Terry Eagleton
Info:Yale University Press (2011), Edition: 1St Edition, Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, Read in 2012
Rating:****
Tags:Anti-Capitalism, Marxism, Philosophy, Political Theory, Socialism, Society

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Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The most refreshing and legitimately optimistic book I’ve probably ever read. Eagleton deftly rescues Marx from the dustbin to which right-wingers, postmodernists, silly liberals and capitalist triumphalists have consigned him. And he does it in such a chummy, cant-free style, while thoroughly answering one attack after another, that it’s like the lamplight from a cottage window on a foggy night. While this will always be contentious, he makes a strong case for the fallacy of blaming Marx’s thought for 20th century totalitarianism (any more, in my view, than you would blame Adam Smith for King Leopold, Bhopal, or the genocide of the plains Indians). And frees him from the cultish or clannish behavior of some Marxists as well. In the process, you get a good tour of what the man actually wrote, and why, for as long as capitalism exists, whether it is finally superseded by “socialism or barbarism,” Marx’s critique will be one of the best tools we have not for predicting the future, but for understanding the present.

And I'm particularly grateful to him for citing Oscar Wilde: "The problem with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings." ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Once I got over Eagleton's annoyingly medieval church apologist's technique of starting each chapter with a straw man argument to tear down, the book “Why Marx was Right” by Terry Eagleton was a good read, with strong arguments. He does not sugercoat the bad things that have been done in the name of Marx, nor ignore the errors within Marxism. He simply puts these within the context of real life and Marx's actual thoughts.

I was somewhat unhappy that he would quote people without naming them. I especially wanted to know who said ' climate change [is] 'the greatest market failure in history.'”' This was written as “One eminent Western economist has described climate change as 'the greatest market failure in history.'” on p. 15 (chapter 2). The note is [quoted in Slavoj Žižek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (London, 2009) p. 91]. I went online to find it was said by [Sir Nicholas Stern in 2007 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/nov/29/climatechange.carbonemissions . It should have been in the notes. At least the economist's name should have been there. ( )
  Bidwell-Glaze | Sep 10, 2013 |
An excellent defense of Marxist thought and its relevance in the modern world. ( )
  chaosmogony | Apr 27, 2013 |
Useful overview of the main criticisms of Marxist ideas, with Eagleton's take on why Marx still has something to tell us in the 21st century. Some of the arguments are more convincing than others: there seems to be a general progression from "He never said X" via "He did say X, but on another occasion he also said Y" to "He may have said X, but we have to understand Y". Sometimes the literary critic is every bit as slippery as the barrister. Even if one doesn't agree with everything in the book, Eagleton's touch is light enough to make the game amusing for the reader, and it is good to get the occasional reminder that we shouldn't take the "victory of capital" for granted. ( )
  thorold | Aug 6, 2012 |
In a word Marx is wrong. He and the author fall into the same trap, they blame capitalism for all the ills in the world. When capitalism is nothing more than an economic system base on private property and the individual that efficiently produces goods and services the market demands. Governments, political systems, control how the goods and services are used. Capitalism will efficiently produce plough shears or nuclear weapons. You decide.

Marx also errors when he envisions 'democracy' in the hands of the workers managing the means of production. An 18th century politician postulated that democracy is simply the tyranny of the majority, any smoker who's the target of an Initiative, Referendum or constitutional amendment knows of what I speak.

Marx's greatest failure is to understand what the 'means of production' is. It is not the factories and mines, farms etc., but capital in the form of currency (a unit of value). What good is it for the 'workers' to own a factory that manufactures typewriters for instance? What workers need are the means to accumulate capital from the value of their labor. Marx's failure to understand capital, how it is produced, moves and is consumed invalidates his arguments.

Mr. Eagleton tome is bereft, as is Marx, of any logic. He makes unsubstantiated claims, provides no empirical evidence to support his hypothesis and his use of ad hominem attacks are undeserving of the educated. Mr. Eagleton fails to prove his contention.

Read the book, but don't let the title mislead you. ( )
  4bonasa | May 10, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Eagleton offers bizarre exculpations, as when he avers that the brutal East German police state had excellent child-care facilities. I nearly stopped reading on page 17 when he noted that the internationalist orientation of Marxism is necessary because no country acting alone could “abolish scarcity.” Such a statement indicates either that Eagleton does not know what “scarcity” means or that he does not know what “abolish” means. The former, I suspect.

It is perplexing to find such glaring weaknesses of argument issue from the pen of an august figure like Terry Eagleton.
 
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That Marxism is finished would be music to the ears of Marxists everywhere.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300169434, Hardcover)

In this combative, controversial book, Terry Eagleton takes issue with the prejudice that Marxism is dead and done with. Taking ten of the most common objections to Marxism—that it leads to political tyranny, that it reduces everything to the economic, that it is a form of historical determinism, and so on—he demonstrates in each case what a woeful travesty of Marx's own thought these assumptions are. In a world in which capitalism has been shaken to its roots by some major crises, Why Marx Was Right is as urgent and timely as it is brave and candid. Written with Eagleton's familiar wit, humor, and clarity, it will attract an audience far beyond the confines of academia.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In this combative and controversial book, Terry Eagleton takes issue with the prejudice that Marxism is dead and done with. Taking ten of the most common objections to Marxism--that it leads to political tyranny, that it reduces everything to the economic, that it is a form of historical deterinism, and so on--he demonstrates in each case what a woeful travesty of Marx's own thought these assumptions are. In a world in which capitalism has been shaken to its roots by some major crises, Why Marx was right is as urgent and timely as it is brave and candid. Written with Eagleton's familiar wit, humor, and clarity, it will attract an audience far beyond the confines of academia." -- Book jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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