||This is not so much a movement or a theoretical position as a reference point for the various efforts over the last two decades to overcome what are seen by some as the debilitating limitations of \'conventional\', \'traditional\' or \'classical\' Marxism as social theory, as politics, and as practice (see Marxian economics; Marxist geography). This \'crisis of Marxism\' was thrown into relief by the waning role of organized revolutionary parties in continental Europe in the 1970s and by the rise of Eurocommunism, and more recently by the collapse of state socialisms in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. On a theoretical plane, various post-structuralisms associated with the work of Michel Foucault, Ernesto Laclau and Jacques Derrida â€” and more generally with the ascendancy of cultural studies and feminisms of many hues (Brantlinger, 1990) â€” have been critical of Marxism for its grand vision (its \'totalizing discourse\'), for its crude economic determinism, and its class reductionism. In this sense, the identity politics and new social movements of the 1980s, the rise of discourse theory and what Perry Anderson (1983) called the absolutization of language, and the genesis of debates within the political Left over Marxist practice (reflected, for example, in the appearance of the journal Marxism Today in Britain and the debate over \'New Times\' and \'new true socialisms\') are all part and parcel of what some see as post-Marxism and hence of a crisis of Marxism itself.
Post-Marxism is a loose, portmanteau term typically used to refer to wide-ranging debates over causality, determinism, human agency and power from a variety of often incompatible theoretical positions (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985; Geras, 1987). A fundamental line of post-Marxist critique points to the inherent deficiencies of identifying capitalism\'s logic or \'laws of motion\'; it is, in short, a rationalist and evolutionary discourse steeped in late nineteenth-century concepts and teleology. Marxism is thus mechanistic â€” history is simply a succession of stages and modes of production â€” and suffers from an enormous overdose of what Laclau and Mouffe (1985) call economism and class reduction. In this view, Marxism reduces the polity directly and unequivocally to the economy; Hindess and Hirst (1977) call this the \'economic monist causality of Marxism\'. Booth (1985) and Corbridge (1989), for example, have launched similar critiques of Marxism and neo-Marxism as they have addressed Third World development and development geography, emphasizing what they see as the pitfalls of capital-logic reasoning and of the epistemological weaknesses of \'rationalism and structural causality\'. Efforts during the 1970s to upgrade Marxism theoretically â€” the project of Althusser and Balibar (1970), for example â€” are seen as interesting failures (see structural Marxism).
Post-Marxist theory has developed in several (non-unitary) directions. First are the efforts by John Roemer, John Elster, Adam Przeworski, Pranab Bardhan and others (see Roemer, 1986; Carling, 1986) to make the philosophical and methodological basis of Marxism more rigorous scientifically (so-called analytical Marxism), a project which endeavours to fuse Marxism with rational choice and methodological individualism (see analytical Marxism, geography and). Second, Barry Hindess and Paul Hirst (1977), Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau (1985), Stuart Hall (1988) and others emphasize the fact that there is no necessary correspondence between economics and politics, and hence between the working class and socialism. The relative autonomy of the political and ideological planes produces a concern with a multiplicity of popular struggles around universal human goals and an attendant concern with discourse and non-class practices (for example, identity politics â€” sexuality, the environment, race; cf. sexuality, geography and; environmentalism). This post-Marxism rests, then, on a different notion of causality and on a presumption that capitalism requires conditions of existence that are not simply determined by the relations of production. A third approach is associated with the so-called Regulation school which attempts to avoid teleology and essentialism by focusing on meso-level concepts, and in particular on the historically specific institutional configurations of capital, labour and the state which give rise to distinctive, but unstable, regimes of accumulation (Lipietz, 1987). A confluence between regulation theory â€” and its concerns with forms of institutional compromise â€” and convention theory (Boltanski and Thevenot, 1991) has produced some interesting post-Marxist explorations in the field of industrial and economic organization (Boyer and Allaire, 1995; Salais and Storper, 1997).
Corbridge (1989) has, with a very substantial number of caveats, attempted to outline the lineaments of post-Marxism. It shares with classical Marxism a \'materialist ontology\', a commitment to causal analysis and to a concept of determination. But it departs from this tradition insofar as it rejects the idea of exclusivism, in other words that Marxism is epistemologically privileged and that primacy must be lent to the economic. Opposed to functionalist accounts of power, the state and civil society, post-Marxism draws insights from non-Marxism (feminism, discourse theory, neo-Weberianism) and wishes to advance Marxism in terms of a compelling scientific methodology.
The \'crisis of Marxism\' approach has naturally produced an enormous, wideranging and at times abusive debate. For Geras (1987), Anderson (1983), and Wood (1986), the post-Marxism of Laclau and Mouffe represents a vast misreading of the textured and open-ended tradition of Marxist theory, and installs in its place a world of contingent discourses, slippery causality, in short a social science without necessity or reason. A post-Marxist world rests, as Perry Anderson (1983) put it, on a foundation without a vantage point. In much of the acrimonious debate, there has often been a great deal of heat but little light and a tendency to vastly simplify and caricature both classical Marxism and post-Marxisms. What needs to be emphasized is the following:
First, the so-called crisis of Marxism, for better or worse, is part of a larger intellectual landscape of the crisis of Grand Theory â€” \'a crisis of representation\' â€” which speaks to the rise more generally of a postmodern sensibility (Harvey, 1989). The crisis of Marxism in this view, like other grand theories, is deeply flawed by its totalizing framework, its dogma and its canonic terminology (Fischer and Marcus, 1986).
Second, to the extent that post-Marxism is a catch-all for the important debates, in- and outside of Marxism, over causality, epistemology, determination and so on, one should be very wary of assuming that post-Marxism has any theoretical unity whatsoever (or indeed that it signifies the end of anything).
Third, and most crucially, the \'crisis talk\' is not a recent phenomenon in Marxism but, as Althusser noted long ago, the very history of Marxism is a long succession of crises and transformations. Indeed, one of the strengths of Marxism is that it can be seen historically as a research enterprise which has expanded and deepened its core theoretical postulates through successive problem-solving innovations driven by the anomalies and practical problems it has been compelled to address. The tradition of theorizing from Marx to Luxemburg to Lenin to Trotsky to Gramsci represents a series of \'crises\' in which post-Marxisms have arisen from the debates of specific historical conjunctures (Watts, 1988). crisis does not mean collapse and death but signals the liberation of something vital and alive. Almost a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the devastation wrought by two decades of high neo-liberalism, there are signs of some sort of rejuvenation of Marxism which has witnessed none other than Jacques Derrida (1997) â€” the high guru of deconstructionism â€” call for the centrality of Marx in social theory (see also Gibson-Graham, 1996).
References Althusser, L. and Balibar, E. 1970: Reading capital. London: Verso.Â Anderson, P. 1983: In the tracks of historical materialism. London: Verso.Â Aronson, D. 1996: After Marxism. New York: Guilford.Â Boltanski, L. and Thevenot, L. 1991: De la justification. Paris: Gallimard.Â Booth, D. 1985: Marxism and development sociology: interpreting the impasse. World Development 13: 761-87.Â Boyer, R. and Allaire, G., eds, 1995: La grande transformation. Paris: Institute Nationale de Recherche Agronomique (INRA).Â Brantlinger, P. 1990: Crusoe\'s footprints: cultural studies in Britain and America. London: Routledge.Â Carling, A. 1986: Rational choice Marxism. New Left Review 160: 24-62.Â Corbridge, S. 1989: Marxism, post-Marxism and the geography of development. In R. Peet and N. Thrift, eds, New models in geography, volume 1. London: Unwin Hyman, 224-56.Â Derrida, J. 1997: Specters of Marx. London: Routledge.Â Fischer, M. and Marcus, G. 1986: Anthropology as cultural critique: an experimental moment in the human sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Â Geras, N. 1987: Post-Marxism? New Left Review 163: 40-82.Â Gibson-Graham, K. 1996: The end of capitalism (as we knew it).Oxford: Blackwell.Â Hall, S.1985:Authoritarian populism. New Left Review 151: 110-25.Â Hall, S. 1988: The toad in the garden. In C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, eds, Marxism and the interpretation of culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 35-7.Â Harvey, D. 1989: The condition of postmodernity.Oxford: Blackwell.Â Hindess, B. and Hirst, P. 1977: Mode of production and social formation. London: Macmillan.Â Laclau, E. and Mouffe, C. 1985: Hegemony and socialist strategy. London: Verso.Â Lipietz, A. 1987: Mirages and miracles: the crisis of global Fordism. London: Verso.Â Roemer, J., ed., 1986: Analytical Marxism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Salais, M. and Storper, M. 1997: Worlds of production. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Â Watts, M. 1988: Deconstructing determinism. Antipode 20/2: 142-68.Â Wood, E. 1986: The retreat from class: a new \'true\' socialism. London: Verso.
Suggested Reading Aronson (1996) Callinicos, A. 1989: Against postmodernism: a Marxist critique. Cambridge: Polity Press.Â Elliot, G. 1987: Althusser: the detour of theory. London: Verso.Â Jameson, F. 1990: Late Marxism. London: Verso.Â McCarney, J. 1990: Social theory and the crisis of Marxism. London: Verso.