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The Two Marxisms: Contradictions and Anomalies in the Development of Theory Paperback – March 11, 1982

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From the back cover: In The Two Marxisms sociology and Marxism complement and confront one another in a book that provides for Marxist theory what The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology did for contemporary sociological theory - a severe but constructive critique. This final volume of his trilogy, "The Dark Side of Dialectic", analyzes the tensions between "scientific Marxism" with its search for lawful determinism and "critical Marxism" with its philosophy of practice and its art of critique. It charts the evolution of Marxist theory, particularly as it developed within its founders' own lifetime, offering a new appreciation of Engels and an original analysis of the differences between him and Marx. Finally, Gouldner brings into focus the contradiction between Marsixm's reliance on a centralized state and its quest for human emancipation.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1St Edition edition (March 11, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195030664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195030662
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,036,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By not a natural on May 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
The influential 20th century sociologist Alvin Gouldner divided contemporary Marxists into two camps, humanistic and scientific. Gouldner's dichotomy is certainly not the only way to clarify distinctions among Marxist thinkers, activists, and revolutionaries, but it corresponds closely to the better known classification scheme that characterizes Marxists as either humanists or determinists.

Consistent with Gouldner's categories, the humanists are interested in philosophical issues such as alienation, the perversion of human beings' near-infinite capacity for development and self-acutalization by an alien context fraught with oppression and self-defeating ideology. The humanists take great interest in Marx's early writings, especially the Economic and Philosophic Manuscsripts of 1844. This document provided an important point of departure for the critical philosopher Herbert Marcus, author of the oft-cited classic One Dimensional Man.

Though a humanist, Marcuse's focus was on a social system that was structured to trick people into believing they were free by providing a seemingly endless list of choices in the form of opportunities for consumption. Rather than enabling people to realize their near-infinite potential for development, for self-realization, for transcending the status quo, technology-intensive productivity and readily available credit created a kind of person who was incapable of going beyond things as they were.

Freedom, in this view, was nothing more than freedom to participate in a pre-determined way that maintains late capitalism. The trap of repressive desublimation -- undisciplined material and sexual consumption in the guise of freedom -- provides a conceptual link between freedom and determinism.
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