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Alain Badiou In Praise of Love Translated by Nicolas Truong, Serpents Tail, London, 2012. 256pp., 8.

99 pb ISBN 9781846687792 Reviewed by Fabian Van Onzen In his new book In Praise of Love, Alain Badiou uses the concepts he developed in Being and Event to give a comprehensive theory of love. The book consists of a series of interviews at the yearly Avignon festival with Nicolas Truong, a journalist from Le Monde. Among the topics that Badiou and Truong discuss are the growing disappearance of love in the face of online dating agencies; love as an evental truth procedure; the relationship between love and politics; and love and art. In the book, Badiou discusses the essential properties of love. Badiou thinks that one of the main features of love is an element of risk, for love is an event and every event contains risk and instability. An event is a radical break with the existing state of affairs and is "something that doesn't enter into the immediate order of things" (28). In Being and Event, Badiou showed that one of the defining features of an event is a radical lack of stability and knowledge, for since an event is something entirely new, nothing in the encyclopedia of knowledge can tell one how to practice fidelity to the event. As a result, every decision made in the name of the event will contain an element of risk, for one has no means by which to know whether it is the correct decision. Badiou begins his discussion with Truong by noting how online dating agencies such as Meetic are destroying love, for they remove the element of risk so essential to love. By using perfectmatching software, online dating agencies match the customer with a partner that has all the qualities needed for a stable bourgeois relationship. After answering hundreds of questions, posting pictures, rating photographs of possible lovers, and sharing one's most intimate secrets, the online dating company uses this knowledge to find a perfect match and provide the customer with a love-commodity. Once the online dating agency has found a match, one can go on a 'date', fall in love, and start a safe, bourgeois relationship without any unexpected annoyances. Badiou compares the online dating agency to an arranged marriage, for the online dating relationship is done "in the name of safety of the individuals involved, through advanced agreements, that avoid randomness, chance encounters and in the end, any existential poetry, due to the categorical absence of risks" (8). The love commodity that online dating companies sell is thus not real love, but merely a stable bourgeois relationship that a priori excludes the possibility of anything new. In the book, Badiou tries to save love from its enemies, for online dating agencies are threatening the very existence of love. The main highlight of In Praise of Love is a brilliant analysis of the structure of the love event and its transformation into a truth procedure. This is one of the things about In Praise of Love that makes it an important book, for Badiou has never offered a comprehensive analysis of love in any of his works (except for an essay in Conditions, which is more of a Lacanian analysis of love than a Badiouian one). In Being and Event, Badiou showed that every event begins from within a structured situation that includes an evental site where an event could take place. With respect to the love event, the evental site is not to be found in

dating, but rather in one's everyday relations with others: while one is at work, at school, at a political rally, or simply going on a walk. Badiou thinks the love event takes place when one encounters the Other and can no longer rely on the norms provided by the situation. The Encounter is a sudden random occurrence based entirely on chance, for it is such that one cannot plan for it because it was impossible to imagine. Badiou thinks that on the basis of such a totally random encounter, the lovers can engage in a shared universal project of love. For Badiou, love is defined by the difference of the two lovers and their different viewpoints on the world; this is one of the main reasons why love contains an element of risk. He says that "love involves a separation or disjuncture based on the simple difference between the two people and their infinite subjectivities" (27). It is this recognition of difference that no longer allows one to make one's existence "from the perspective of the One, but from the perspective of the Two" (29). The difference between the two subjects is what makes the love process risky and is what gives it the possibility for creating novelty. In the book, Badiou also offers a very interesting discussion of the passage from the Encounter (Event) to the truth procedure (Love). Badiou claims that the chance encounter is universalized into an evental truth procedure when the lovers declare their love to each other (by saying 'I love you' or something similar). He says that "a declaration of the 'I love you' kind seals the act of the encounter, is central and constitutes a commitment" (36). Badiou is not thinking of fidelity as a simple promise not to sleep with someone else (45), but rather as a commitment to create something unique that does not rely on bourgeois norms and social conventions. Badiou thinks that the element of risk that characterizes love is most marked in the declaration, for in the declaration "huge risks are involved that are dependent on language itself" (42). In making the declaration, there is always the possibility that language will fail or that the Other will flee from the event in horror. Hence, by naming the void that structures the Encounter, one makes oneself totally vulnerable to the Other and risks losing everything. An interesting feature of In Praise of Love is that Badiou makes use of one of his newer categories from Logic of Worlds, namely, the point. Badiou thinks that once the lovers have declared their love and set the truth procedure in motion, the two lovers must construct their love point by point. He says that a point is "a particular moment around which an event establishes itself, where it must be re-played in some way, as if it were returning in a changed, displaced form, but one forcing you to `declare afresh (50). Each point breathes new life into the event and ensures that it will continue to exist, for the point only emerges at a moment when the very existence of the event is in danger. Unfortunately, the only example of such a point that Badiou gives is the birth of a child, for the child is a point that breathes new life into the love event and requires both lovers to reinvent their relationship. Although Badiou acknowledges that this is usually so only in heterosexual relationships (except in adoptions among gay and lesbian couples), he does not provide any example of a point for a homosexual love event. Indeed, one of the main problems of In Praise of Love is that it is heternormative and relies mainly on a heterosexual understanding of sexuality. However, this does not rule out the possibility of a love event amongst gay and lesbian people, for the same structure of encounter leading to declaration, leading to truth, leading to point would be at work. Future Badiou scholarship should take account of this problem and provide a queer interpretation of Badious theory of love.

Having shown the structure of love, Badiou goes on to discuss with Truong the relationship between love and politics. Badiou says that "politics centers on the collective," (53) for "political action tests out the truth of what the collective is capable of" (53). Love, on the other hand, focuses only on individuals and excludes the collective. Because of their different structure, politics being part of collective action and love part of an individual's project, Badiou thinks that politics is a priori excluded from love. It might be the case that two political militants suddenly encounter each other while engaging in revolutionary politics at a rally, march, or demonstration. However, this encounter does not take place because of the structure of the political situation, but rather because the place in which they conduct their political activity provided a chance Encounter. Interestingly Badiou does claim that love is communist, for the real subject of a love is the becoming of the couple and not the mere satisfaction of the individuals that are its component parts (90). Although love itself is not political, it has the same structure as communist politics as far as it concerns the collective rather than the individual. Although it is exciting that Badiou has finally written a book on love, In Praise of Love does have some problems. First, Badiou does not reflect on how ones class position effects ones experience of love. For a working class couple, it is probably not the creation of novelty and newness that structures their love, but their shared solidarity in their struggle against capitalism. A Badiouian love event is more likely to take place in the middle class, for the ability to create novelty and construct something new requires time and money. Two workers who work all day probably do not have time to construct something new or take a vacation and see the world from the perspective of the Two. Their love is more likely to be a momentary antidote to the loneliness and alienation created by capitalism. Second, the encounter is a problematic concept, for Badiou does not really explain what he means by it and uses such idealistic stories as Romeo and Juliet as an example to explain what he means by it. This makes one wonder whether the encounter is not just a romantic concept derived from bourgeois fictions. Third, Badiou entirely ignores feminist writing on open relationships and does not question the monogamous structure of the couple. Instead, Badiou relies on a heternormative conceptualization of sexuality and universalizes the couple. While In Praise of Love has some problems, it is nonetheless an interesting book, especially for those who are already familiar with Badiou's work (in so far as it is Badious first complete evaluation of the love event). Those who have long wondered what Badiou thinks about love and why he includes love as one of the four conditions of truth will find answers here. Socialists who are less familiar with Badious writings, but have long waited for a Marxist thinker to say something about love will also get a lot out of In Praise of Love. In Praise of Love will thus provide interesting insights about love to Badious fans, as well as socialist philosophers.
Fabian Van Onzen teaches philosophy at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, and organizes the Alain Badiou Reading Group of Houston. He is a political activist and very involved in the labor movement in Houston.

Michael Lwy On Changing the World: Essays in Political Philosophy, from Karl Marx to Walter Benjamin Haymarket, Chicago, 2013. $19 pb ISBN 9781608461899 Benjamin Hirst Michael Lwy is part of a lineage of social theorists concerned with restoring the non-orthodox, anti-diamat spirit of Marxist thought, forming an attempt to resist the modernisers and advocates of the Third Way, and affirm instead the hidden romantic moment (xii) which lies within the dark and much maligned history of socialist thought. According to Lwy, such modernisers have tended to throw out the baby of non-capitalist forms of social organisation with the (extremely) dirty water (xi) of Soviet-style communism. As such, the iron laws of history, the reification of labour and technology, and the tendency towards centralised and authoritarian government may have been denigrated as a dangerous ideology, but so too have the hopes for a radically different future. Lwy has therefore consistently and emphatically argued that the totalising and totalitarian projects that defined the Soviet Union were and are antithetical to the true spirit of Marxism; a profound betrayal of its revolutionary-romantic and utopian origins which materialist historiography must restore. In this sense, Lwy undoubtedly has in mind a certain essence of Marx and Marxism, finding common cause with writers such as Leszek Kolakowski, Karl Lwith and more recently David Harvey who, contra the likes of Louis Althusser, maintain that the humanist-utopian strand of thought is a consistent theme throughout Marx and ought not to be simply dismissed through an appeal to the so-called epistemological break. Against the Althusserian tendency, Lwy calls for a focus on the history of Marxism as political philosophy (xii), the essays collected in On Changing the World operating as Lwys ongoing contribution to this project. However, as we are informed, this emphasis on political philosophy should not be confused with politics as it relates to questions of power and the state, but rather to the broad range of issues concerning human common life in the polis (xii). Therefore, although Marxism ought not to be explicitly concerned with questions of government, it must nevertheless have a transformative or redemptive function, thereby following the spirit of Marxs oft-cited eleventh thesis on Ludwig Feuerbach, alluded to in the books title. Written between 1976 and 2010 (although only nine of the essays are dated, the rest presumably demanding some intelligent guess- or Google-work), On Changing the World presents a series of remarkably cogent, well researched and intellectually rigorous essays on the history of Marxist and non-Marxist thought, drawing on the humanist, dialectical and historicist traditions exemplified by a diverse array of thinkers including Georg Lukcs, Antonio Gramsci, Max Weber, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, many of whom are also discussed in greater detail in other books by Lwy, such as Georg Lukcs: From Romanticism to Bolshevism (1979), The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America (1996) and Fire Alarm: reading Walter Benjamins On the concept of history (2005) to name a few. Remaining consistent with the 1993 edition, the essays are arranged in a thematic, rather than a chronological order, with the books form putting into practice the claim that ideas do not always develop in a linear fashion! Unfortunately this is not

the case with the four additional essays, which are merely tacked onto the end of the collection. Nevertheless, although he manages to cover a variety of topics including Lenins turn to Hegel in the 1914 April Theses; the historical-humanist reading of Marxism developed by Gramsci and Lukcs; and the Marxist concept of the nation due to the consistency of Lwys style and thought, and the persistence of certain themes and terms, this doesnt pose much of a problem. Among the conceptual vocabulary deployed by Lwy is elective affinity. Borrowed from the German sociologist Max Weber, it is defined as an active relationship between two social or cultural configurations leading to mutual attraction, mutual influence and mutual reinforcement and is seen by Lwy as one of Webers most fruitful contributions to the sociology of culture (46). In very much the same way that Weber identified a mutual influence between Calvinism and the emergence of modern capitalism in the seventeenth century, the notion of elective affinity allows Lwy to find a number of affinities between, for example, Marxism and liberation theology in Latin America, Marxism and romanticism, revolutionary utopia and religiosity, as well as finding in Walter Benjamin a precursor to modern ecology and anti-nuclear movements. It also allows Lwy to look beyond the usual figures associated with the Marxist tradition in order to make a variety of illuminating comparisons, and therefore explore with greater sophistication the development of the European political and cultural imaginary in the first half of the twentieth century, including its possible uses for the present. One such attempt to bring together two seemingly disparate intellectual traditions can be found in one of the collections new additions: a comparative piece on Max Webers value-free (Wertfrei) analysis of capitalism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and Walter Benjamins explicitly anti-capitalist 1921 fragment, Capitalism as Religion. The essay picks up on a few ideas developed in an earlier essay on Weber and Marx in which Lwy questions the validity of the great gulf that has been produced between the two thinkers. Following the publication of The Protestant Ethic in 1908, conservative writers such as Hans Delbruck had gone to great lengths to find in Weber a refutation of, and alternative theoretical framework to historical materialism. By giving the values of Protestant sects a greater priority over material (economic) forces in the development of capitalism, Weber was seen as putting forward an analysis utterly incompatible with Marxism. This view was also shared on the Left by another one of Lwys targets, Karl Kautsky, who feared that Weber would eventually bring down the historical materialist project entirely. Throughout the twentieth century, this division has been perpetuated further, in particular by the popularisation of Weber in English-speaking countries by Talcott Parsons; an intervention which has influenced the way in which both Weber and Marx have been taught to sociology students for over half a century. For Lwy, however, Marx was not entirely dismissive of religious motivations, nor did Weber entirely overlook the importance of economic developments, and both of course saw the capitalist mode of production as inherently irrational. Yet this is by no means an attempt at synthesis. Focusing in particular on Webers often inaccurate and emotionally charged readings of Benjamin Franklin and his analysis of American capitalism, Lwy concludes that Webers historical sociology 1) fails to give an accurate account of the context of capitalism in America, and 2) gives ideas and values too central a place in the historical process, seeing them as exterior, and not immanent, to capitalism. Therefore Lwy ultimately sides with Marx, who, in the

Grundisse (published in 1939) clearly recognised an affinity between Puritanism and capitalism, specifically concerning the ascetic and self-denying cult of money (52). In this respect, the Weber-Benjamin comparison developed in the later essay is of much interest, as it continues the argument made by Marx that capitalism itself has a religious character. Although taking Weber as a point of departure, Benjamin states that capitalism itself functions as a kind of religious cult, rather than as a system which simply secularises religion. For Benjamin capitalism replaces the laws of God with the laws of Capital or the Market, instantiating guilt and the logic of indebtedness into the minds of both rich and poor alike, producing social exclusion as its apparently necessary and unquestionable by-product. This is undoubtedly a fruitful insight, which owes much to Friedrich Nietzsches On the Genealogy of Morality (2007) and has been developed further within Maurizio Lazzaratos recently translated book The Making of the Indebted Man (2012). The essay also introduces some interesting historiographical research which discusses the way German anti-capitalists in the first decades of the twentieth-century took up certain aspects of Webers analysis of capitalism, for example allowing Ernst Bloch (a sui generis Marxist fascinated by Catholicism 199) to find in Weber a refutation of capitalism and its Protestant origins. Reading through the collection it becomes clear that Benjamin is a major influence on Lwy, with six essays devoted to him in one way or another, and with references scattered throughout the collection. Lwy even goes as far as to suggest that Benjamins `Theses on the Philosophy of History is one of the most path-breaking, and seminal documents of revolutionary thought since Marxs Theses on Feuerbach (159-60), and expresses the burning spiritual flame of his oeuvre: the revolutionary redemption of humanity (160). However, as is often the case with Benjamin, it ought to be asked whether this spiritual flame ever erupts into the fire of revolutionary violence? In a comparative piece on Marcuse and Benjamin, one can find the first and only discussion of violence in the entire collection. Both are said to affirm the absolute negation of the existing social order (139) and the necessity of using violence against the oppressors (139). As Marcuse observed, in the case of Benjamins affirmation of divine violence, he does not mean that the oppressed should murder their oppressors, creating a rupture in the system of oppressor and oppressed, whilst paradoxically reproducing this very opposition. Yet Lwy does not allude to what this other violence may be. The question of violence becomes even more pressing in the case of the possibility of ecological catastrophe, an issue which is clearly close to Lwys heart. In a remarkably Benjaminian quote from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, we read that: We ... have our foot stuck on the accelerator and we are heading towards the abyss (188). Lowys response: will humanity apply the revolutionary brakes? (189) Of course, considering what Lwy sees as being the intrinsically perverse logic of the capitalist system based on unlimited expansion (187) and thus the sheer inability of capitalist institutions to apply the brakes themselves, or to use a phrase cited at various points by Lwy, to cut the fuse before it reaches the dynamite, when it comes to finding a response to global warming and ecological catastrophe, one is forced to ask what is to be done? Lwy is here at his most explicitly messianic, stating, in a style somewhere between Louis-Ferdinand Cline and Walter Benjamin: see what will happen, unless ... if we do not ... The future is still open. Every second is the narrow gate through which salvation may come (189). The question of who will force open this gate, and how, remains an open question.

In keeping with the kind of messianism that characterised thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch and Herbert Marcuse, Lwy only allows the faintest glimmer of light into his vision of the future, instead concentrating on the catastrophe to come if we do not begin to act responsibly towards one another. As such anyone looking to this book for concrete programs for political action will have to look elsewhere. Rather Lwy allows the reader to form his/her own conclusions regarding the possibilities for political and social action that might emerge from historiographical and comparative research. 2 September 2013 References

Lazzarato, Maurizio. (2012). The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e). Lwy, Michael. (1979). Georg Lukcs: From Romanticism to Bolshevism. London: NLB. Lwy, Michael. (1996). The War of Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America. London and New York: Verso. Lwy, Michael. (2005). Fire Alarm: reading Walter Benjamins On the concept of history. London and New York: Verso. Nietzsche, Friedrich. (2007). On the Genealogy of Morality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Benjamin Hirst is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds, UK. His research is broadly concerned with the sociology of art, with a particular focus on alternative art education movements. Jonathan Sperber Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life W.W. Norton, New York, 2013. 512pp., 25 hb ISBN 9780871404671 Reviewed by Hans G Despain Jonathan Sperbers new biography on Marx is interesting, notwithstanding the Introduction, for the first 383 pages. Sperber brilliantly presents Marxs journalistic and political activities, although it can be argued Marxs politics ideas are inadequately developed. Marxs relationships are judiciously portrayed, offering a glimpse of Marxs personality. Sperber addresses several events, including Marxs relationship with his father and mother, the social standing of his wifes family, the beauty of Jenny, Marxs racism, etc., etc., that are at odds with other portrayals of Marx. Sperber sometimes suggests the historical evidence is contrary to popular portrayals, and other times the evidence is inclusive. There is value here in the new accuracy of Marxs personal biography, not much else.

There are numerous reviews of Sperbers book, primarily praiseful. In particular John Gray (New York Review of Books) and David McLellan (Marx and Philosophy Review of Books) provide excellent overviews of book. They praise when due, and provide important criticism. However, each praises an aspect of the book that is an acute flaw. Gray claims [i]n pointing to the formative intellectual role of positivism in the mid-nineteenth century Sperber shows himself to be a surefooted guide to the world of ideas in which Marx moved. I strongly disagree. What Sperber develops is an overly-polarized, consequently misleading, contrast between positivism and Hegelianism. For example, Sperber claims, the Communist Manifesto offers an example that leaps off the page of Marxs transition from Hegelian to positivist forms of representation (391) after 1848. It is not clear what Sperber means by positivism, indeed he never actually defines it. But his use of the term simply indicates evidence, data, science (409), and a teleological belief in progress (397). Sperber quotes a Hegelian passage from Marx, concluding: In this passage, Marx was presenting an intellectual program quite different from the positivist conception of knowledge as empirically obtained through scientific procedures (409). Throughout Sperbers book, Hegelianism is assumed to be non-empirical and opposed to scientific procedures. We might imagine nineteenth-century philosophy and social theory as placed along a line on one end is Hegelianism and its distrust of empirical evidence and on the other end positivism with its priority on scientific method and a scientific form of empiricism (417). According to Sperber, Marx couldnt consistently choose between the two. A rather dull-witted polarization and mischaracterization of Marxs philosophy. More vulgar still is Sperbers treatment of Hegelianism, with Marx interpreted merely another worshiper of the cult of Hegel (52). Sperber asserts Hegelianism is notoriously complex and convoluted (49), arcane, vague, and terribly abstract (51). The reader should beware that Sperber has little if any sympathy for continental philosophy. Less a surefooted guide, Sperber does a hatchet-job on the continental philosophy developed by and informing Marxs scientific investigations. Consider this gem: Marx, one could say, invented the working class for political reasons: to realize the aspirations emerging from his frustrating encounters with authoritarian Prussian rule (126). Sperber here claims that the capitalist working class is not a historical emergent phenomenon, but an invention of Karl Marx to achieve subjective personal aspirations. Let us hope this is a rather unhappy Freudian slip of the keystroke by Sperber, a historian with expertize of the nineteenth century. He also writes in the introduction any attempt to update Marx, to make his ideas more relevant by adding to them or reinterpreting them in light of psychoanalysis, existentialism, structuralism, post-structuralism, or elements of any other intellectual movement are useless pastimes (xvii). Sperber seems to be ignoring the process of scientific development as building from, and in criticism of, past science. Perhaps Sperber believes Marx and/or Marxian social researchers are not carrying out science?

Sperbers commentary on Marxs political economy troubled me even more than his commentary on Marxs philosophy. Further, we have Marxs foremost biographer, David McLellan, praising Sperbers account of the economics of the three volumes of Capital (and the difficulties therein) is one of the best summaries that I have come across. I would like to demonstrate McLellans comment to be overly generous.

Biographers, generally, should be given leeway respecting theorists ideas. Sperber however is claiming that Marxs political economy lacks relevance for the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (actually he even suggests limited relevance for the nineteenth-century). Sperber fails to accomplish this task, in part because he has not fully followed and understood Marxs political economy. Sperbers summary of Marxs (mature) political economy is far too brief, a mere ten pages (42737). Sperber has not interpreted Marx as developing a dynamic theory, but instead claims Marx provides only static snapshots (435) (thus, not understanding the dialectical relationships of, for example, abstract labor, money, credit, expansion, productivity/technology, concentration, centralization, overproduction, disproportionality, uneven growth, crisis, unemployment, etc., etc.). Sperber claims that Marx maintained unemployment caused the business cycle, but the causation on this point was not entirely clear, and it seems more logical to turn cause and effect around (433). To claim the business cycle causes unemployment is radiantly tautological. Marx certainly never claimed unemployment caused the business cycle.

In addition to the ten pages of political economy, Sperber provides eight pages of dates and book titles of Marxs political economy (419-27), eighteen pages addressing the three contemporary issues: (1) the falling rate of profit, (2) the so-called transformation problem, and (3) the issue of ground rent (437-54). The remaining pages address Marxs comments on corporations and service sector workers (454-6), reviews of Capital, comparisons to the Historical School and the 1870s marginal utility theory, concluding with Bhm-Bawerks critique of Marxs system (45663). The economic chapter is pivotal to Sperbers overarching project of the limited relevance of Marx as more usefully understood as a backward looking figure and not the surefooted and foresighted interpreter of historical trends (xiii). While Marxs journalism and political activity are historically embedded and intended for a nineteenth-century audience, Marxs social theory, political economy and philosophy can be, and are, argued to be a different matter. Thus for a thesis that is interested in showing that Marxs relevance is historically limited, the focus on journalism and political activity and the neglect of Marxs understanding of capitalism is peculiar.

Thus, there should be an immediate questioning of why Sperber spends the bulk, more than half of the chapter, on the issues of the falling rate of profit, transformation problem, and ground rent. After all, volume one of Capital is full of historical data suggesting future trends concerning inequality, crisis, concentration and centralization of capital, technological change, struggles over the conditions of work, etc., which Sperber all but ignores. Sperbers justification is that his topics of choice are addressed in an 1868 letter of Marx to Engels as the crucial issues to be developed in later volumes of Capital. The issues are in the letter. However, Sperbers interpretations of these issues demonstrate that he has failed to fully understand the political economy of Marx. Sperbers interpretation of the falling rate of profit (FROP), labor theory of value (LTV), and ground rent is that of Classical Political Economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, not Marx. Marx believed these theories to have important insights, but to be incomplete, and consequently misleading in projecting Smiths steady-state capitalism. Likewise, the Ricardian version of the labor theory of value projected subsistence wages of agricultural workers, zero profits, and massive rents for the most fertile land. Marx believed these to be theoretically wrongheaded. Marxs versions of the FROP, LTV, and ground rent aim to demonstrate this as developed in Capital. All of these ideas are certainly hotly contested within Marxian economics. Sperbers choice of issues has very much depended on post-Marx misinterpretations. I do not know which ones, because Sperber references are almost exclusively to Marx. However, his choice of topics is quite revealing. Instead of developing analysis from a wealth of interesting theoretical insights from Marx, he chooses to develop those that are most often misinterpreted and hence the easiest straw-men within Marxian political economy to critique. This is not an accident, Sperber did not home in on these topics from his own reading of Marx, but contemporary critiques. Thus, Sperber fails on his own mission to understand Marx in his own historical context. It is very difficult and wrongheaded to argue the first three chapters of Capital are concerned with a price theory. Moreover, Marxs theory of exploitation and analysis of the distribution of surplus value do not depend on the so-called labor theory value. I do not have the space in this review to explain the irrelevance of the transformation problem to Marxs historical analysis. But Sperber has a clue to this point when he praises Bhm-Bawerk for pointing out, for Marx, labor time does not determine prices (461). Thus, the question becomes why spend time in a biography on the so-called transformation problem? Prices are not important to Marxs LTV, not even as a first approximation. This was important for Adam Smith, and leads to an internal contradiction within his work. In the pages on distribution Smith says profits and wages are a function of class struggle, and rents are a matter of political power as a function of the historical feudalistic hangovers and enclosures. However, in the pages explaining the prices of other goods, Smith claims price to be a function of the costs of production (wages, rent, profits), Smiths adding-up theory of price. For Marx this is a strange theory, because Smiths theory of distribution is class struggle, but his theory of prices is not. But there is a greater contradiction. Smith argues that overthrowing mercantilist monopoly power and establishing competition will minimize the power of the mercantilist class, whereby class struggle is made benign. Marx argues that capitalist competition will at best shift the class

struggle; otherwise competition intensifies the class struggle. Marx demonstrates this throughout Capital and never does the issue of transformation (value to price) become relevant. In volume three of Capital Marxs analysis of FROP is left incomplete, but does emphasize six countertendencies. However, the primary countertendency to FROP is found in volume one, namely the process of centralization. The theoretical and empirical evidence for FROP is overwhelming. Sperber is simply wrong to say there was no proof of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (443). Indeed it is one of the best established of empirical phenomenon, accepted by both orthodox and heterodox economics. However, Marx is not predicting steady-state capitalism as did Smith. Nor did Marx believe as did Ricardo that the rate of profit in agriculture would tend toward zero and rents absorb all surplus-value. Marxs assumption of a stable rate of surplus value, simply does not hold empirically, nor does Marx maintain a stable rate of surplus value in volume one. Absolute surplus value and relative surplus value are highly variable. There is a strong tendency for FROP, but it does not bear the weight that Classical Political Economy / Sperber place on it. Instead, Marx maintained that FROP determines the structural dynamic toward the concentration and centralization within industries, and an impetus for technological innovation displacing large segments of the labor force and creating unemployment. FROP generates its countertendencies, especially centralization of industries, or the tendency toward oligopolization. What a topical issue in this too-big-to-fail era. Marxs theory of crisis does not rest as heavily on FROP as Sperber suggests. Instead, more important according to Marx are the tendencies toward overextension of credit, overproduction, and the disproportionalities between sectors, due to the anarchy of production. FROP does determine a system dynamic for Marx, but not necessarily crisis. In his early political writings, Marx does often assert economic crisis will generate a revolution. However, as he begins to theorize this more rigorously from the late 1850s forward, he no longer asserts revolution, but a highly problematic macroeconomic dynamic. Finally, regarding ground rents, Sperber concludes, Marx depended on Malthusian arguments and is a backwards looking economist (454). This is impressively obtuse. Sperber claims the number of pages Marx spends on ground rent indicates its importance to him; however, Sperber points out, agricultural economics was rapidly diminishing in importance, even during Marxs lifetime. I agree with Sperber, Marx considered ground rent important, but not because he was a backward looking economist. Lets consider four forward-looking reasons Marx has interest in ground rent. First, it was hopelessly confused between a capitalistic and feudalistic analysis. Marx wanted to establish that agricultural rent could no longer be understood under assumptions of feudalistic institutions. Second, in addition to fertility, and in contrast to Malthus and others, capital productivity/technology could determine differential rents.

Third, under capitalism rent is determined by competition, hence there was/is a tendency for rents to reflect absolutely the fertility of land and capital productivity. However, this Ricardian outcome is hardly the end for Marx. As profits and rent tend toward zero in the least productive land, the result is centralization and monopolization of real estate, neither a Ricardian nor Malthusian outcome, but quite Marxian and real world. Fourth, the lesson hardly ends at agricultural rents. Marx suggests something quite prophetic, with great contemporary relevance. The laws of capitalist production impose a tendency towards what contemporary economists call rent-seeking behavior whenever possible. In Marxs own words: When rent exists, differential rent always appears and always follows the same laws as it does in agriculture. Whenever natural forces can be monopolized and give the industrialist who makes use of them a windfall profit, whether a waterfall, a rich mine, fishing grounds or a well-situated building site monopolization is attempted by means of politics or economics (Marx, Capital, volume III, Chapter 46). In volume one, Marx argues this is hardly unique to natural resources. Centralization is the logical outcome of economic competition itself. In a phrase, competition generates a lack of competition. An internal contradiction of the system. I wonder, would Sperber accept the relevance of rent-seeking behavior to contemporary political economy regarding mergers and acquisitions, political lobbying (U.S.), cronyism (e.g. Russia), or nepotism (e.g. China). Sperbers book is a success regarding Marxs journalism, political activities, personal and family relationships. Unfortunately, Sperber has far less success regarding Marxs philosophy and political economy. Given more space we could also demonstrate the books weaknesses in grasping Marxs sociology and theory of history. Hans G. Despain is Professor of Economics and Department Chair at Nichols College, Massachusetts. He encourages your correspondence: hans.despain@nichols.edu 2 September 2013 Jonathan Sperber Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life W.W. Norton, New York, 2013. 512pp., 25 hb ISBN 9780871404671 Reviewed by David McLellan This big new biography of Marx is good. Its author is a historian of nineteenth century Germany and his aim is to give a detailed account of Marxs life that is firmly embedded in its historical context. Its underlying premise is that the view of Marx as a contemporary whose ideas are shaping the modern world has run its course and it is time for a new understanding of him as a figure of a past historical epoch, one increasingly distant from our own: the age of the French Revolution, of Hegels philosophy, of the early years of English industrialization and the political economy stemming from it. This biography is definitely, as the subtitle says, a nineteenth century life. As such but only as such this book is the best there is.

But why another biography of Marx? There are literally dozens available, Sperber, in his introduction, give us three reasons. First, and most obviously, there is the still on-going MEGA edition which aims to publish everything that Marx and Engels ever wrote. It includes, for example, not just Marxs own letters but those written to him. Sperber asserts that these small details subtly change our picture of him. Second, Sperber claims that recent nineteenth century historical scholarship has downplayed the extent and significance of the industrial revolution and the resulting class conflict and emphasised the influence of eighteenth century political ideas, of religious belief, and of gender relations. Third, Sperber wishes to view Marxs ideas very much in the context of his life. To understand Marx, for him, it is necessary not just to be familiar with his intellectual context but to see his ideas as deeply informed by his private life. All three of these claims have a certain validity. The new material in MEGA does indeed bring to light hundreds of small details. But their combined impact is far too subtle to change our picture of Marx. At best, it does flesh it out a little. Again, pointing out that the upshot of recent historical scholarship has been to delineate an era rather different from our own is a statement of the rather obvious. And viewing Marxs intellectual development in the context of his private life and his political/journalistic activity (which latter Sperber does very well) is not to relativize his ideas. Context does indeed help to understanding of such ideas but it does not prevent their relevance. I will return at the end of this review to this basic question of what Sperber thinks given his approach is the point of reading Marx. But first a few more specific matters where Sperbers account raises questions, many of which are indeed prompted by his enthusiasm for keeping Marx firmly in the nineteenth (and occasionally eighteenth) century. One example would be his claim that Marxs reputation as a prophet of globalization is mis-placed, as the famous sentence beginning All that is solid melts into air is mistranslated. According to Sperber it should read: Everything that firmly exists and all the elements of the society of orders evaporate, everything sacred is deconsecrated and men are finally compelled to regard their position in life and their mutual relations with sober eyes. Sperbers translation is indeed more accurate, but this does not bear the interpretation he puts on it that Marx is here simply talking about the imminent over throw of the Prussian aristocracy by the German bourgeoisie. The surrounding paragraphs have a much wider import. Again, Sperber claims that a number of passages in the Communist Manifesto were taken almost verbatim from the writing of Eduard Gans whose lectures Marx had attended in Berlin ten years earlier. Sperber does quote one passage later on, but this interesting claim lacks specific reference. (Incidentally, Sperber is loath to refer to other treatments of Marx. It would sometimes have been illuminating to know where he differs from them. There is, for example, no mention even in the extensive bibliography to Mary Gabriels recent (2011) double biography of Karl and Jenny Marx. Despite its unpromising title of Love and Capital, it contains a wealth of detail). And his view that the common twentieth and twenty first century situation in which capitalists employ workers to produce services rather than goods was outside Marxs intellectual universe will come as a surprise to those who are acquainted with the considerable literature devoted to Marxs views on unproductive labour. Finally, when discussing employment opportunities open to socialists in the nineteenth century, Sperber says both that by the 1860s, a gradual shift from prominent leftists as authors to left-wing lenders as functionaries of a political party was underway an occupation that, for all its problems, was more secure and better paid than the thankless task of freelance writing and also that, throughout Marxs lifetime

left-wing political parties lacked the dues-paying mass membership to support full-time professional politicians. The reader is left wondering which of these conflicting statements to believe. While excellent on Marxs journalism in the 1850s, Sperber is less good in clarifying Marxs political ideas and activities. He spends what seems to be an inordinate amount of time detailing the intricacies of internecine refugee politics in London, his vendetta with Karl Vogt, his obsession with Palmerston. Ten whole pages are devoted to the 1872 Hague Congress of the International. At the same time he devotes comparatively little space to what Marx actually had to say in works generally recognised to be pivotal: his accounts of the Civil War in France and the Critique of the Gotha Programme are rather thin. Occasionally, this contextualising approach goes rather awry. Sperber does not make it clear enough that one of the reasons indeed the main one for Marxs changing tact in the period 1848-52 is that he was addressing different audiences: as a newspaper editor he was concerned to support the radical wing of the bourgeoisie against the autocratic Prussian government. At the same time, the backbone of the Communist League, for whom Marx was the leading publicist, consisted of artisans. The former wanted, among other things, increased industrialization. But this was anathema to the latter as it would deprive them of their livelihood. This accounts for Marxs undoubtedly ambivalent attitude to communism during this period. This lack of perspective in Sperber can lead to downright errors: when Marx says of communism in 1842 that practical attempts [to introduce communism], even attempts en masse, can be answered with cannon, Sperber comments that Marx was advocating the use of the army to suppress a communist workers uprising. Clearly Marx was advocating no such thing. Sperber seems uneasy with the more philosophical aspects of Marxs thought or possibly he just thinks them largely irrelevant to his enterprise. For example, he gives us a page-long quotation from Marxs classic summation of his materialist conception of history in the preface to his Critique of Political Economy, but little discussion of what it might mean or its validity no mention, for example, of Cohens magisterial and controversial treatment which does not even figure in the (extensive) bibliography. The above comments may sound rather negative. But they should be counterbalanced by the observation that Sperber is very impressive on other writings of Marx. He is excellent in his discussion of Marxs On the Jewish Question and his account of the economics of the three volumes of Capital (and the difficulties therein) is one of the best summaries that I have come across. He is also very insightful in spite of getting the date of their first meeting wrong, 1842 not 1844 on the Marx/Engels relationship, both personal and intellectual. All this raises the fundamental question: what is the point of this book? Sperber himself addresses this question in his Introduction: If Marx was not our contemporary, more a figure of the past than a prophet of the present, why should anyone write a new biography of him, or, once that biography exists, bother reading it? the answer he gives is puzzling. On the one hand, he says that good historical writing (and his own is certainly an example of this) is worthwhile for its own sake. On the other hand, he is clearly not content with this antiquarianism and tells us that it is precisely by perceiving the contrast between [the nineteenth] century and the present that the latter appears in its own distinct light. Seeing Marx in his contemporary context, not ours, helps illuminate our

current situation and is one of the major intellectual virtues of a biography in the early decades of the twenty-first century. This latter is rather sibylline and it is difficult to see how Sperbers book helps illuminate our current situation. All the more curious is that Sperber recently published in the Guardian (18 May 2013) a short article which mentions three ideas of Marx capable of being developed in the present. They are the idea that intellectual conceptions and political movements are closely tied to social structures and economic interests; that ostensibly free and voluntary market changes contain within themselves elements of domination and exploitation; and finally the idea that a capitalist market economy periodically enters periods of self-generated breakdown. If Sperber had managed to include more of this approach in his (in many ways excellent) biography, Marx would appear more relevant than his book would have us believe. David McLellan is Professor of Political Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London 30 July 2013 Hans G. Despain David McLellan worries his commentary of Sperbers book may be rather negative. Frankly, I believe McLellan to be overly praiseworthy. This is not to disagree with McLellans praise of the Sperbers book. It is a very scholarly, well-researched, and very well written biography of Marx. Moreover, McLellans review is excellent and very fair review of the biography by Sperber. As McLellan observes the chapters on Marxs journalistic endeavors are especially impressive. In distinction to McLellan, I also believe Sperber to be excellent on Marxs political activity, but in full agreement with McLellan merely useful for historical context of Marxs political ideas. Sperber is sober and fair illustrating Marxs personality and relationships with colleagues, adversaries, and family. However, Sperber cannot reconcile Marxs personal cultural aspirations for his children (education, great literature, music, aesthetics) with Marxs political condemnation of capitalism. This may reveal more of Sperber than it does of Marx. However, I do take two exceptions concerning McLellans review. First a disagreement. McLellan claims Sperbers account of the economics of the three volumes of Capital (and the difficulties therein) is one of the best summaries that I have come across. Sperbers account is a decent place to start, but I hardly believe it among the best available. The immanent critique of Sperbers summary would unfold the fact that it draws too heavily from post-Marx critiques of his system, which seems to violate Sperbers intention to keep Marx in his own historical context. Moreover, I am not sure Sperber understands the philosophical orientation informing and driving Capital, thus Sperber has a hidden or latent positivistic interpretation of Marx which does violence to Marxs economics (thus, instead of summaries Marx, Sperber summaries critiques of Marxian economics). Sperber would not make my top twenty, indeed I would feel obligated to correct the misinterpretations of Sperber if someone were to begin with

Marxs economics via Sperbers summary (at the end of this comment I provide a list of several alternative sources to mend McLellans overpraise of Sperber summary of Capital). Second, if we can agree with McLellan there is some value placing Marx in historical and personal context, it also simultaneously does violence to Marxs Universalist orientation. Marx believed he was working for something bigger than himself, for example a Universalist history and Universalist social theory. Thus for Sperber to claim we better understand Marx in his own historical context would be analogous to claiming we can better understand the theory of relativity by understanding Einstein in historical context, perhaps we understand how Einstein came to his discoveries, but not necessarily the theory's/science truths and falsehoods. What this reveals is that Sperber does not believe history and political economy to be scientific, in other words he is very much anti-naturalist (perfectly fine position to defend, but clearly not Marx!). It is fine to dismiss Marxian Universalist/Naturalistic aspirations as Kantian/Hegelian hangovers, however, to do so is to fail to place Marx in his historical context, to understand how he would allow his own health and his familys health to suffer for his search for Truth, Emancipation, and Justice. Sperber completely fails to address this aspect of Marx. I suspect this again reveals more about Sperber than of Marx. My feeling of reading Sperber is that the philosophical orientation informing him is some version of pragmatism; nothing wrong with that except it was not Marx. To unconsciously impose pragmatism on Marx is to misunderstand him. The result is to claim that Marxs relevance for contemporary capitalism is highly circumvented. However, Marx himself believed he had understood the hidden secret or depth realism of capitalism as a mode of production. Hence, Marx would have maintained his theories of capitalism would remain relevant as long as capitalism existed as a mode of production. Two phenomena drove Marxs political economy: poverty in the midst of plenty, i.e. socioeconomic inequality, and economic crisis. Marxian economics remain highly relevant today because it is impressively capable of explaining the tendencies of the capitalist mode of production toward inequality and socio-economic (monetary) collapse/crisis. These capacities do not necessarily rest on value theory; falling rate of profit; or the transformation problem, but respectively Marxs theories of exploitation and his Surplus analysis approach to political economy. There are several reasons Sperbers fails to capture this. First, he does not understand Marxs political economy, this is forgivable in a biography. However, more importantly for the biography, he fails to appreciate Marxs philosophical orientation and philosophical realism. Instead Sperber seems to interpret Marx as a pragmatist, and fails to address Marxs Universalist

orientation. He cannot make sense of Marxs economics, nor understand its relevance, second he misunderstands Marxs philosophy, and thirdly cannot reconcile Marxs (and his Wifes and Daughters) personal commitments and life choices because of this neglect of Marxs philosophical commitments. Sperber biography certainly has its merits. However, it does a particular violence to the relevance of Marxian economics and Marxian philosophy. Thus this biography needs serious scrutiny by Marxian scholars. We should praise Sperber's accomplishments, but also underscore his severe and violent shortcomings without apology. McLellan brilliantly underscores this point by contrasting Sperbers Guardian article with his book. Sperbers biography will not be the definitive biography of Marx post-MEGA, and to attempt to reduce Marx to his historical context and personality does violence to the historical, philosophical and scientific accomplishments of Marx. [Now to return to the better sources for an introduction to Marxian economics, here are several other sources, all of which are far more sympathetic to Marx than is Sperber. Duncan Foleys Understanding Capital; Paul Sweezys The Theory of Capitalist Development; Ernst Mandels Marxist Economic Theory, George Catephores An Introduction to Marxist Economics; Meghnad Desais Marxian Economics; and perhaps the best of these longer monographs for an introduction, David Harveys A Companion to Marxs Capital, which can be accompanied with corresponding lectures for every chapter from David Harvey free online (granted these are not mere summaries, but monographs)]. [Some excellent short summaries would include Maurice Dobbs chapter on Marx in his Theories of Value and Distribution since Adam Smith; E. K. Hunts chapter on Marx in his History of Economic Thought; Geert Reutens article Karl Marx: His Work and the Major Changes in its Interpretation in A Companion to The History of Economic Thought; Duncan Foleys chapter three of Adams Fallacy; Ernesto Screpanti and Stefano Zamagnis chapter on Marx in their An Outline of the History of Economic Thought; Alessandro Roncaglias chapter on Marx in his The Wealth of Ideas; Sackrey, Schneider, and Knoedler, chapter 3 of their Introduction to Political Economy; Samuel Hollanders chapter on Marx in Classical Economics; and perhaps the best summary available is from Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick chapter 4 of their Contending Economic Theories (see my review of this book in Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, July 1 2013)]. sarban wrote, on 3 Aug 2013 at 10:26am: Apropos Hans G. Despain's useful comments, Marx's universalism was of a particular kind. We do find in Marx a system of general categories or concepts that can be used in the study of a variety of social formations, but we do not find in him generalisations applicable to all societies. The law of motion of capital that he discovered was true only for societies based on a system of

generalised commodity production and wage-labour; it cannot be extrapolated to other social formations. The key concept in Marx remains the mode of production, which determines the character of a social formation, historical epoch and conjuncture. All generalisations must be restricted to a specific mode of production and the social formation based on it. Marx's analysis of capitalism will hold till this system lasts. Hans G. Despain wrote, on 3 Aug 2013 at 1:08pm: Sarban, you are correct, but overstated. The two most general theories of Marx, namely dialectics and historical materialism are not merely particular to capitalism. Otherwise, I completely accept the principles of Capital are particular to capitalism. My point concerning Sperber's book is that the world today is more capitalistic, not less. It makes little difference to say that it less competitive, or markets are circumvented by powerful corporations. This is because the relationship between producers/workers and their supervisors/managers/capitalists is essentially the same, if not intensified (even in mainstream we have Robert Reich calling contemporary capitalism, "Supercapitalism"). We are still in the world of Marxian economics. Marx cannot be reduced to history of economic thought, it is topical and the explanatory power is strong. Sperber's book wants to deny this. It is offensive to a Marxist, but more important it should be offensive to a social scientist, because it obscures truth and knowledge, but it should also be offensive to those suffering the exploitation of capitalism and its crisis-ridden nature, in other words all human beings. On this account Sperber's book is a disservice. Marx as a man, I think Sperber is correct to point out, was more or less rather ordinary in his daily actions and as a political leader he was leading a rather small segment of radicals. Moreover, as Sperber points out even Marx's leadership was in dispute with others, and his personality quirks often made Marx a rather weak political leader. But even if we accept this, it does not make Marx's theories in political economy, politics, history, sociology, psychology, etc. obsolete. This is the overall flavor or thesis of Sperber's book, which is articulated in the critical comments of McLellan's review (although I believe somewhat understated). This is a fatal flaw of an otherwise impressive biography. It is fatal because the aim to relativize Marx's theories allows Sperber to use Post-Marx critiques of Capital to denounce Capital. How could Sperber have been so sloppy? It reveals more of Sperber, than Marx. Now, returning to dialectics. The movement in Hegelian and Marxian economics is from experience or Singularity, to the Particular or historical events, to Universal. Now we cannot always fully make the movement to Universal. (Hegel is quite brilliant demonstrating in philosophy the movement takes on all kinds of variations S-P-U or U-P-S or P-U-S, Hegel's interest is how human beings tap into Universalism, well this was Kant's interest too, although he ends up denying philosophical and scientific access). However, Marx certainly has both the desire

and attempt to achieve universalism. This does not make capitalism and its movement universal, they are not (and this should be accounted as one of Marx's great achievements, along with the insight that capitalism would not be the "end of history," nor constitute the "last man"). The movements or "laws" of capitalism are always merely particular to a society whereby Surplus Value is created by one group, usurped and distributed by another, and Marx says this is the 'hidden core' of capitalism (by the way this definition makes both former Soviet Union and current China capitalistic, and perhaps more capitalistic than in the U.S./U.K. because U.S./U.K. have small businesses owned by families/employees who usurp and distribute their own Surplus Value). However, Marx's notions of human nature, i.e. the relationship between social institutions and human development are more universal. His belief in Truth, Emancipation, and Justice, also must confront universalism. By the way, Sperber does quote Marx in a letter to Engels complaining that a man living a life for universalism should not have the particular pressures caused by family life. Sperber did not recognize this as a Hegelian comment because Sperber has no understanding of Hegelian philosophy, with the wave of the hand, or the claim it would take another book to explain, Sperber simply skips any attempt to explain the philosophy informing Marx's construction of social theory and political economy. Instead Sperber's focus and strength is on the petty disputes between Marx and his friends and Marx and his adversaries on the one hand, and a rather strong factual explanations of the words and historical events in Marx's more political writings, but Sperber has little understanding of Marx's social theories because it requires some understanding of Marx's philosophy. In any event, even if someone wants to abandon Marx's universalism, this by itself does not make Marx's theories in Capital obsolete. Marx's political economy and Marxian economics both still have remarkable explanatory power as a theory of capitalism, and it still out performs alternatives in many dimensions. sarban wrote, on 4 Aug 2013 at 1:54pm: Thanks Hans. A theory - if it is a theory and not merely an empirical generalisation - is tied to as well as transcends its contextual location. In other words, it is both abstract and concrete. Marxian theory, the materialist conception of history, is of this nature. Marx does offer us a system of general categories in terms of which any social formation can be studied and analysed, but he offers no trans-historical generalisations. He told Vera Zasulich as much. On the other hand, as opposed to empiricism, in the dialectical comprehension of reality the movement is always from the abstract to the concrete and not vice versa. As Jairus Banaji explains in his brilliant paper 'From commodity to capital: Hegel's dialectic in Marx's Capital',

'In the Preface to the first edition (1867) of Capital 1, Marx writes that in the analysis of "economic forms", i.e of social phenomena as such, the "power of abstraction" must replace a directly experimental, hence empirical, relation to the object... The concrete is derived by stages from the abstract.' The paper appears in 'Value: The representation of labour in capitalism' ed. by Diane Elson (CSE Books). Barry Healy wrote, on 20 Aug 2013 at 5:07am: Sperbers book is a curates egg; good in parts, which, renders it bad in total. He is a more than competent researcher, but he is annoying in the way in which he deploys the nuggets that he unearths. Marx and Engels were active in an intense political circle that merged from legality into conspiracy. Personal and political differences abounded. Marx and Engels gossiped outrageously about others in their milieu and others gossiped about them. Sperber has the irritating habit of retailing any derogatory gossip aimed at Marx and Engels as fact while counting instances of their private chatter as proof of their foolishness. His basic argument is that Marxism is a hopelessly nineteenth century philosophical oddity and that Marxism cant be extracted from its historical period. Anyone adhering to Marxism is guilty of anachronistic folly, ignorantly transposing antiquated ideas forward into this century. However, he also claims that Marxs ideas were responsible for all the crimes of Stalin, which is exactly the anachronism of which he accuses others. Slavoj iek Living in the End Times Verso, London and New York, 20101. 481pp., $22.95 / 12.99 pb ISBN 9781844677023 Reviewed by Tony Mckenna Like all ieks books, Living in the End Times is undermined by the methodological inadequacy of ieks particular brand of Post-Marxism. For Post-Marxism, one would better read antiMarxism, and anti-Hegelianism to wit. That might seem perverse, given ieks wellestablished love affair with Hegel, but the Hegel which iek attempts to reformulate through the prism of Lacan has, unfortunately, little in common with the original. What iek actually effects is a dehistoricization of the genuine Hegelian dialectic when he argues that the standard discourse on the Hegelian Spirit which alienates itself, and then recognises itself in its otherness and thus re-appropriates its own content is deeply misleading. (230)

As a result, instead of the conventional logical/historical unfolding by which an abstract moment is sublated in a fuller, more concrete moment, iek absolutises the retroactive role of the dialectical process whereby spirits return-to-itself [and] creates the very dimension to which it returns. (231) A genuinely dialectical progression is increasingly eroded in favour of a static, psychoanalytic based ontology in which the dialectical process is unmoored from the series of historical/logical categories which give to it its content. And by annulling the historicity of the Hegelian dialectic at the level of ontology, the consequences for ieks politics and so-called Marxism are grievous. To elaborate: Marx posed the question of proletarian revolution as a living historical development in which a series of moments are sublated. A process of primitive accumulation, which culminates in the separation of the individual proprietors from ownership of the means of production by the emergent capitalist class, is subsequently superseded when the ownership of the means of production is reasserted but in a fuller more concrete form; particularised, individualised property is re-established in and through a universal form by the social agent (proletariat) which has the capacity to do so as a consequence of its historical formation and collective power. We experience here a Hegelian movement of the classical type indeed Marx even framed it in explicitly Hegelian terms as a negation of negation. But because iek rejects classical Hegelianism the Hegelian Spirit which alienates itself, and then recognises itself in its otherness and thus re-appropriates its own content is deeply misleading it is inevitable that he rejects the very dialectical movement, the negation of negation , which provides the spirit and historical exegesis of Marxs Capital. For iek, the existence of a proletariat which re-appropriates its own content is deeply misleading. The revolutionary act, therefore, is no longer premised on the historical formation of a proletariat which is compelled to reappropriate its alienated labour product by the abolition of private property at the point of production in and through the assertion of working class ownership and control. For iek, communism should no longer be conceived as the subjective (re)appropriation of the alienated substantial content (232). But in as much as iek wishes to maintain (superficially) a revolutionary edge, he must now locate some other social agent which can offer the possibility of some manner of revolutionary resistance and redemption. In abandoning the concept of the proletarian revolution as the culmination of a historical development orientated around the centrality of the productive process and the modes and forms which facilitate it, in eschewing such analysis, iek is forced to circumvent concrete historical development more broadly in his search for the revolutionary agent. And so he alights on the rather romantic notion of slum dwellers. It is these people, he asserts, who will provide a genuinely potent resistance to capitalism in the twenty-first century, and who have the power to fundamentally transform it. They possess this power not because they have been historically constituted as a concrete class which stands in a determinate relation to the means of production within the social totality, they are significant not for the fact they have emerged in and through historical process but, more precisely, because they stand outside it. They represent the singular universality exemplified in those who lack a determined place in the social totality, who are out of place in it and as such directly stand for

the universal dimension the crowds in the slums constitute a large reservoir for political mobilisation (124) To be clear, I am not suggesting that iek is simply wrong; that slum dwellers dont have any type of revolutionary capacity. The point is that the category itself is highly amorphous; it isnt, as I have already emphasised, derived from a consideration of immanent historical and socioeconomic process, but rather involves the external and more cosmetic considerations of a) geological location, and b) relative level of poverty. Within the slum dwellers we have all variety of socio-economic types: wage labourers selling their labour power in the inner city, itinerant labourers doing odd jobs here and there, artisans and market stall owners selling products, speculators, rentiers and, of course, the lumpen, atomised elements which persist on the fringes. It is therefore difficult to imagine why such a disparate grouping might attain the level of shared interest necessary to act in a unified and revolutionary manner simply because they belong to the same geographical space. But on those occasions where there have been genuinely revolutionary upheavals in the slums it is worth noting they are often the product of proletarian movements and community organisations coming together and undercutting the sheer heterogeneity in social composition, as in the case of El Alto in Bolivia, for instance. Given ieks emphasis on slum dwellers as the central agent of twenty-first century revolution, one might expect Living in the End Times to devote space to a consideration of social composition of the slums and the forms of organisation which facilitate revolutionary activity within them. But, on this subject, iek barely utters a word. And so Living In the End Times provides us with the three fold motif of ieks Post-Marxism. First the Hegelian dialectic is nullified at the ontological/methodological level; this then manifests at the political level with the rejection of the proletariat as historical-revolutionary process which, in turn, means that iek is compelled to look for some fashionable but ultimately ahistorical social category (slum dwellers) in order to fill in the revolutionary blank. Having developed a profoundly abstract and ahistorical approach to revolutionary politics, like all Post-Marxists, iek is then compelled to point out just how old-fashioned and dogmatic the tenants of a classically Marxist historicism are. He delivers a vague and meandering critique of the Marxist labour theory of value, for instance, which seems, rather bizarrely, to centre on Venezuela: Venezuela is now unambiguously exploiting other countries: the main source of its wealth, oil, is a natural resource, its price is a rent which doesnot express value (whose sole source is labor). Venezuelans are enjoying a form of collective rent from the developed countries, rent gained by the fact of possessing scarce resources. The only way on can talk about the exploitation of Venezuela here is to abandon Marxs labor theory of value for the neo-classical theory of three factors of production (resources, labor, capital) each of which contributes to the value of the product. (241) The passage combines a series of vague assertions and non-sequiturs such that it is not easy to see what is actually being said. The price of Venezuelas oil is a rent which does not express value. What means rent here? Is iek drawing attention to the rent derived from the more

productive for whatever reason land which yields a greater surplus profit at any given moment than elsewhere given the same or similar capital invested? And is this the reason it does not express value for such a difference is not (immediately) dependent on labour power? But, if this is the case, surely the added value, which appears not as the result of labour power but as an inherent natural product, presents as a temporary occurrence whereby individual price fluctuates above value in a specific instance but only in the context of the overall pool of value produced by the labour power generated by the sector or industry more generally, a total value which might itself be in abeyance. And, furthermore, is this not explicated by the classical Marxist notion of differential rent? Is not ieks refutation of the Marxist labour theory of value here a result of the fact that he simply ignores the schism between value and price more generally? In addition, according to iek, Venezuelans enjoy this collective rent. Strange that, considering so few of them seem to be landowners. The great majority in the Venezuelan oil industry are, of course, those whose labour power converts the oil into its commodity form: i.e. workers so even if one assumes, as iek seems to, that the temporarily substance-less, so called added value generated by an oil-rich terrain in an increasingly oil depleted world economy; even if one assumes that this added value has somehow converted the entire Venezuelan population into a mass collective of rentiers (presumably because they enjoy a higher level of state expenditure on social projects though how this makes them rentiers is beyond me); but even assuming all this, one would still have to acknowledge that the premise of this substance-less added value, would remain the labour power of the Venezuelan working classes extracting the oil in the first place. It is a topsy-turvy inversion, to say the least, to argue that it is the Venezuelan workers who are exploiting developed countries and yet, ultimately, this is precisely the position ieks logic yields. One can see, I think, how ieks abandonment of a class driven historicism of the classical Marxist type, provokes a severe political disorientation on his part. Like most Post-Marxists, iek goes on to emphasise the role of immaterial labour as the fundamental constituent of value in the modern epoch. The paucity of this crude abstraction has, to my mind, been effectively and comprehensively critiqued elsewhere (when has material labour not been embroiled in an immaterial/mental aspect i.e. the thought which is required to structure and accomplish it? And when has this immaterial aspect not been necessarily grounded in materiality? i.e. the materiality of the cells in the brain which stage thought or the materiality of those commodities which the so called immaterial information which is transmitted through a (material) programme like Facebook - is designed to sell?) None of ieks points on the role of immaterial labour or his rather tepid critique of the Marxist labour theory of value are innovative or warrant a great deal of interest. But what is fascinating and simultaneously repellent, are the kind of political conclusions he draws from them. Once iek realises there is no point in workers trying to appropriate their alienated labour product i.e. to take control of the factories and once this knowledge is supplemented by the notion of a nexus of immaterial labour which an (unintellectual) working class is forever sundered from; once these factors are in place, the political conclusions are inevitable, and iek realises how little practical value the traditional forms of working class struggle actually have

striking, for example, where it occurs at all is more a protest act addressed primarily to the general public rather than owners or managers (342). But iek doesnt reserve his disdain only for those working class people who seem to behave in a crudely Marxist fashion by striking; by trying to assure a wage which might improve their living conditions, and by otherwise foolishly engaging in those practises humanity submits to when it has not yet benefited from the wisdom of Slavoj iek. Living in the End Times extends its critique to those protests which are extra-economic: for instance, the huge demonstrations which erupted around the world against the most recent invasion of Iraq. iek describes these protests in a way which would, I think, intrigue anyone who participated in them. The protesters, he graciously explains, saved their beautiful souls not only did the protests do nothing to prevent the (already decided upon) attack on Iraq, paradoxically they even provided an additional legitimization for it. (326) ieks position here is not only morally dense, it is, as well, intellectually so. One might expect, from a supposed connoisseur of Hegel (and if one is a connoisseur of Hegel, then one knows a little Aristotle) some appreciation of the tension between potency and actuality. The spectacle of the two million who flooded the streets in London combined with the fact the government would go on to prosecute a war anyway does not, thereby, suggest that the protestors merely facilitated the will of the government and the ruling class. What iek should have queried in the Aristotelian/Hegelian tradition is what kind of potential reality would have unfolded, had all those people not taken to the streets. The government succeeded in prosecuting the war in Iraq, yes, but if we hadnt made our opposition known en masse then it is very likely we would now be embroiled in conflicts, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Iran as well, for the administration would have felt emboldened to act unimpeded by any possibility of mass resistance. There are, it should be said, some positive aspects to Living in the End Times. ieks account of the historical persecution of the Jews is perspicuous and poignant. His recognition that the ethnic conflicts which have plagued Congo are not the result of a primitive, pre-modern culture, but a direct product of the incursions of global capitalism, provides a worthwhile and necessary tonic to the racist narrative which usually wraps itself around this issue. His analysis of the on-going displacement of the Palestinian people is both astute and humane. But these elements are few and far between. One of the most troubling aspects about Living in the End Times involves the sheer wealth of repetition the same insights which have featured in many of ieks other books his analysis of the same films like Hitchcocks Vertigo for example, or his interpretation of Thucydides history of the Peloponnesian war; these insights crop up over and over, sometimes relayed verbatim. The front cover of Living in the End Times informs us that iek is, The most dangerous philosopher in the West. But on actually reading the book one receives the impression of iek as a minor celebrity desperate to peddle his brand and keep the books churning out. In this book the vein of political conservatism which often teeters into a shock-jock and commercially orientated reactionaryism gives one the distinct suspicion that not only does iek not believe we are living in the end times but also that he is extremely satisfied with the times we are living in. iek is not the most dangerous philosopher in the west but he may well be the most

fashionable one. As for Living in the End Times itself, it brings to mind the witticism attributed to Dr Johnson, for it is both good and original only the part that is good is not very original, and the part that is original is really not all that good. Tony Mckenna is a Hegelian Marxist philosopher whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, ABC Australia, The United Nations, New Internationalist, NewStatesman, The Progressive, Open Democracy, Counterpunch, Monthly Review, Znet, Liberal Conspiracy, The Philosophers Magazine, Ceasefire, New Left Project, Greek Left Review, Counterfire, Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory and Greek televisions TVXS among others. Alain Badiou The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings Translated by Gregory Elliott, Verso, London and New York, 2012. 120pp., $19.95 / 12.99 hb ISBN 9781844678792 Reviewed by Ishay Landa In this short but ambitious and richly argued book, Alain Badiou attempts to distill the philosophical and political import of the popular riots sweeping across the globe, particularly the Arab spring (the French original was published in 2011). The wave of uprisings and mass demonstrations, which has not subsided since the books publication, provides the French thinker with an opportunity to apply his theory of the Event abstractly unfolded in such weighty works as Being and Event and Logic of Worlds to present-day political happenings. It is asked to what extent the global turmoil can be seen, or might potentially develop into, an evental break, a watershed of universal significance. (106) The book comprises ten chapters, brief but typically highly charged, and two appendices, that originally appeared in the French press. The introduction poses the fundamental questions right away: What is going on? Of what are we the half-fascinated, half-devastated witnesses? The continuation, at all costs, of a weary world? A salutary crisis of that world, racked by its victorious expansion? The end of that world? The advent of a different world? What is happening to us in the early years of the century something that would appear not to have any clear name in any accepted language? (1) The books aspiration, however, is not to describe the occurrences; nor can it be said simply to diagnose, explain or even pronounce a judgment on them. The ultimate goal appears to be a philosophico-political intervention, an effort to canalize the disparate and somewhat incongruous events in such a direction as to fuse them into an Event. Badious assumption is that the global revolts are not yet a coherent force. They are, he asserts, as yet blind, naive, scattered, and lacking a powerful concept or durable organization. (5) And the challenge is precisely to furnish them with such a concept. Riots of all kinds are deemed vital, yet insufficient, unless supplemented by a great, ground-breaking Idea. As Badiou affirms, this is precisely my problem: if riots are to signal a reawakening of History, they must indeed accord with an Idea. (21)

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 (I will in due time return to the first chapter which is, I think, of crucial importance for understanding and assessing the book) focus respectively on describing three main forms of riots, starting with the most simple one, immediate riot a more or less impulsive and blind (one cannot really see clearly (26)) spate of protest and street violence against injustice, of the type which was witnessed in London in August 2011. While in sympathy with such protests, Badiou also chastises the corruption of popular subjectivity which they manifest, and describes them adversely as profitable pillaging. (26) From there one ascends to the more opaque category of the latent riot which refers to comparably more restrained mass protests and strikes, especially in Western, affluent society. The highest category of such revolts, finally, are the historical riots, of the kind that have erupted in a number of Arab countries. Such revolts are uplifting in their unprecedented reach, zeal and determination, yet they too are limited and do not of necessity facilitate a breakthrough to a new order. An historical riot is [] a riot which is neither (below it) an immediate riot, nor (beyond it) the large-scale advent of a new politics. (27) While, like immediate riots, they are not political, historical riots can at least claim to be pre-political, for they bring us to the threshold of the political properly speaking. (33) To cross such threshold however, what is obligatory is the empowerment which comes from the sharing of an Idea. (40) Without such an ideological foundation, riots, no matter how heartfelt and spectacular, must remain essentially negative. The masses know what it is they do not want say, Mubarak but not what they are positively striving for. In Chapter 5, however, titled Riots and the West, Badiou gives the impression that there actually is an element of positive longing in the Arab riot, yet he rigorously warns against such wish. The aspiration in question is the desire to join the West, attain its way of life, its diverse freedoms, enjoy its affluence and so on and so forth. Here there is a certain ambiguity in Badious description. On the one hand, such aspirations are reduced to outward Western projections and hegemonic attempts to ideologically co-opt the riots and nip in the bud their truly radical potential: Basically, our rulers and our dominant media have suggested a simple interpretation of the riots in the Arab world: what is expressed in them is what might be called a desire for the West, a desire to enjoy everything that we, the drowsy, satiated inhabitants of the affluent countries, already enjoy. (48) Badiou argues that such Western signification of the events is infinitely [] debatable. (49) Yet shortly thereafter he is forced to concede that this is not a mere misinterpretation, and that the Egyptian masses are genuinely tempted by such vision. This fills him with apprehension. Who, he asks, will protect us from the all too real subjective power of the desire for the West? (54) For him, everything hinges on moving away from the hated Western model: a phenomenon of Western inclusion cannot be regarded as genuine change. What would be a genuine change would be an exit from the West, a deWesternization. (52) Such Western temptation, in truth, appears to be so powerful, and to pose such a lethal threat to the merely embryonic prospect of genuine change, described as a necessary daydream, that the next two chapters (6, 7) are dedicated to explaining the need to protect this delicate sprout by recourse to consciously minoritarian, indeed even authoritarian politics. Here Badiou draws on his critique of democracy found in many of his earlier works as the sheer rule of numbers, a rule of interpellated opinion, posing a nearly insurmountable obstacle to the realization of

Truths. Drawing on his own sobering experience during the May 1968 uprising which the ensuing general elections put the lid on, he contrasts the radical passion of the truly revolutionary Egyptian subjects, filling the streets and plazas, with the apathetic majority at home, which given parliamentarian mass democracy is ultimately going to decide the fate of the events, in what would signify a guaranteed fiasco for the revolution. The radical movement, he asserts, is always utterly minoritarian. (58) The only possible remedy is to substitute popular dictatorship for democracy. Whereas the latter is a mere instrument of the state, the former is the only means to shield the nascent political truth and avert the falling into Western ways: It emerges this truth on the edge of an historical riot, which extricates it from the laws of the world (in our case from the pressure of the desire for the west) in the form of a new, previously unknown possibility. And the assertion (and then [] the organization) of this new political possibility is presented in an explicitly authoritarian form: the authority of truth, the authority of reason. (60-1) In positive terms, the Idea put forward by Badiou and which he regards as germinating on the historical riots edge, is a social order transcending all present particularisms and identitarian forms, infused with universal egalitarianism. What is involved, he clarifies, is the organization not of real democracy, but of the authority of the True, or of an unconditional idea of justice. (97) Chapter 8, on State and Politics: Identity and Genericity, contains a penetrating attack on the hegemonic-cum-exclusionary function of the modern state, mainly via the example of France, and a deconstruction of the national claim to represent fixed identities. In the penultimate chapter, Doctrinal Summary, this universality is again posited as the positive content which must be attained: Truths but of what? Truths of what is actually the collective presentation of humanity as such (the communal of communism). Or: the truth of the fact that, over and above their vital interests, human animals are capable of bringing into being justice, equality and universality. (87) What are we to make of such propositions and prescriptions? This brief summary of the books core arguments already brings to light, I think, some of its weaknesses. The pitfalls of the authoritarian solutions are only too obvious, both in themselves can a viable future communism really represent the convictions of a minority, however massive? and in the space they open up for pernicious appropriation at the hands of diverse identitarian movements, be they racists, religious fundamentalists, or neo-fascists, wishing to impose their own truths on the dead numbers. Let us, therefore, not be so quick in dismissing the silent majority, or in assuming its automatic support for reaction or the status quo. Yet beyond this identitarian danger which Badiou excels at analyzing and denouncing, even as he recommends dubious methods of obviating it the main weakness of Badious book, and perhaps of his political thought more generally, is the way in which it raises up against another universalism, which it un-dialectically denigrates. Paradoxically, in the final account Badious principal nemesis is not any identitarianism, but precisely an alternative universal project, which he refers to, somewhat misleadingly, as the West.

In order to elucidate this point, it is necessary to go back to the first chapter, Capitalism Today, in which Badiou defends himself against those who, like Antonio Negri, criticize his idea of communism on account of its idealistic and non-Marxist nature. In defense of his position, Badiou emphasizes that he is in fact completely rooted in Marxism. Yet he paradoxically proceeds to define it in such a narrowly political way, so as to attest to a far-reaching break with Marxism as traditionally understood: Marxism [. . .] is, let us reiterate, the organized knowledge of the political means required to undo existing society. (8) Many important things are lost when Marxism is thus reduced. Most significant among them, in our context, is the way that Marx envisaged communism not as the simple abolition of the present, but rather as its dialectical sublation. Marx expressly disowned the notion that communism aims to reshape reality in agreement with some lofty idea or moral injunction; his goal was rather to facilitate the revolutionary transformation which is already in the offing, under our very eyes. (The Communist Manifesto) For Marx, communism was maturing in the womb of capitalist society, predicated on its contradictions, its shortcomings as well as its historical achievements. Communism was conceived as the product of history giving birth. For Badiou, in stark contrast, communism is conceived as a rebirth of history, as opposed to the pure and simple repetition of the worst. (5) Thus, notwithstanding the introductory avowal of allegiance to Marxism, The Rebirth of History reads very much like a protracted, if never explicit, series of refutations of Marxist contentions. To start with, Badious very notion of the Event as a supra- and anti-historical rupture has little to do with Marx and is much more indebted to Nietzsche and Heidegger, the former wishing to break the history of the world in two, the latter protesting against profane historicality and striving to reconnect with the ontological bedrock. Badious communism must therefore look beyond history. History, he stresses, does not contain within itself a solution to the problems it places on the agenda. (42) For Badiou, (a minoritarian) commitment to truths has a much greater role to play in a revolutionary transformation than the (majoritarian) defense of their material interests on the part of the human animals, a materialism which is construed as the very mainstay of the status quo. He ironically represents the establishments point-of-view: Our rule remains: my standard of living first and foremost. Were not really resigned to seeing this principle undermined by the flea-ridden of the world finally rallying to speak the truth. (119) For Marx it is rather the structural inability of capitalism to satisfy the masses material needs and aspirations which will trigger the eventual collapse of the system. Hence it is fundamentally a fight for keeping (and improving) ones standard of living which drives the masses onto the streets from Cairo, to Athens, to Rio de Janeiro (while certainly encompassing aspirations for a more just, humane and fulfilling order). Similarly, the way Badiou considers immediate riots inferior on account of their non-political and avaricious nature, appears to reproduce the very complaints voiced in 1844 by the youngHegelian Arnold Ruge against the Silesian weavers rebellion, which he considered deficient in terms of political understanding. For Marx, on the contrary, defending the weavers, political understanding is not a pre-condition of revolution but a luxury:

It is entirely false that social need produces political understanding. Indeed, it is rather the truth to say that political understanding is produced by social well-being. Political understanding is something spiritual, that is given to him that hath, to the man who is already sitting on velvet. A neat illustration of the objective discrepancy between Badiou and Marx, is the formers sweeping denigration of the modern world. Badiou dismisses with contempt the notion that modern technology has played any significant role in inciting the revolts. He pooh-poohs those who have dared to link the Arab riots to the use of Facebook or other vacuities of alleged technological innovation in the postmodern age. (22) In the next page he scoffs at todays sheep-like electronics. This compares unfavorably with the way that Marx and Engels have shown themselves keenly aware of the subversive potential of new technologies, and have done so more than 150 years ago, in the Manifesto: The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. And this is just a sample of the objective disagreements between communism and communism. Ultimately, Badious bid to rebuff the desire for the West seems to confuse the entirely justified rejection of Western imperialism and its attendant repressive and hypocritical institutions, with the much more problematic negation of western civilization qua mass society. And after all is not the communist idea organically interlinked with the West, as well, as opposed to representing merely the East Wind? (119) And when Badiou claims that the plot of the rulers is to incorporate the Arabs into the West, is this not a simplification? Was/is not the Western powers support for Mubarak and his ilk meant, precisely, to thwart the universal spreading of the Western model of mass democracy and the welfare state? To keep the standard of living in third-world countries artificially below that of the West? In short, not to westernize the Arab world, but to keep it under the Western thumb? While we are entitled to question the workings of parliamentary democracy and envision improvements, nay alternatives, it would be hazardous to forget the popular struggles which alone enabled that model to materialize, and to ignore the numerous democracies throughout the world which the West has helped undermine. Badious project of communism as envisaged in the book has strong merit. It keeps alive an inspiring utopian belief in absolute beginnings, in a realm of freedom which transcends the systemic catastrophic logic of capitalism. And the book has many brilliant and sometimes even moving passages. But, as in much of Badiou, alongside the vital contributions, is also a more problematic aspect, where a progressive critique of the ills of capitalism is obscured by an essentially Nietzschean aloofness, an attitude which Georg Lukcs once aptly characterized as the primary alienation of bourgeois ideologists from the progressiveness of history, from a recognition of the progressive tendencies and perspectives in the present. Ishay Landa is Senior Lecturer in History at the Israeli Open University. He has published on Nietzscheanism, Marxism, political theory and popular culture (ishayla@openu.ac.il ).