Russell Jacoby's Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism is the subject this week and C Derick Varn is the guest. Varn is a poet, teacher, theorist and a reader at Zero Books. This is the second time we've spoken about Jacoby's book. We're taking it one chapter at a time.
Russell Jacoby asks us to reexamine a loser of Marxism: the unorthodox Marxism of Western Europe. The author begins with a polemical attack on 'conformist' or orthodox Marxism, in which he includes structuralist schools. He argues that a cult of success and science drained this Marxism of its critical impulse and that the successes of the Russian and Chinese revolutions encouraged a mechanical and fruitless mimicry. He then turns to a Western alternative that neither succumbed to the spell of success nor obliterated the individual in the name of science. In the nineteenth century, this Western Marxism already diverged from Russian Marxism in its interpretation of Hegel and its evaluation of Engels' orthodox Marxism. The author follows the evolution of this minority tradition and its opposition to authoritarian forms of political theory and practice.
In this episode you'll here a list of moder political philosophers set to Life is a Rock by Reunion, Frederic Jameson set to music from the Manson Family Opera, an excerpt from an old episode of Diet Soap wherein I discuss Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit with my son Benjamin, and Glenn Gould playing Bach's Partita #2.