From philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, one of the giants of twentieth-century intellectual history, comes this highly infuential study of Marxism. Written in exile, this. I did need to read Kolakowski. His ‘Main Currents of Marxism’ (translated by PS Falla) is not only a monumental intellectual history of Marxist. In some sense, Main Currents of Marxism represents the major life’s work of Leszek Kolakowski and the culmina- tion of the path that began much earlier, in the.

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Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution Volume 1: The Founders Oxford Paperbacks.

Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution Volume 3: The Breakdown Oxford Paperbacks. Customers who bought this item also bought. Main currents of Marxism; its origins, growth and dissolution. Leszeo from the Polish by P. Oxford University Press January 1, Language: I’d like to read this book on Kindle Don’t kolakowzki a Kindle? Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

Showing marxissm 3 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This maiin is not for those who wish a superficial leftist glance at Marxist writings. It is a scholarly worked, well researched and explained in depth. Although there is no biography in any volume of this work, I was able to find out a little about its author, Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, from an encyclopedia, which describes him as a Marxist revisionist.

After being expelled from the Communist Party, he left Poland and began working on his three-volume ‘handbook’ of Marxism: Its Origin, Growth, and Dissolution,” which was completed in the s.

Main Currents of Marxism | W. W. Norton & Company

This volume – the second in the series – traces the development of the doctrine after the deaths of its founders, Marx and Engels. The period covered by this volume roughly corresponds to that of the Second International, from the late nineteenth century through the Kolqkowski World War and Russian Revolution. The first part of this volume is a series of biographies of major figures of European socialism at that time, including Kautsky, Luxemburg, Berstein, Jaures, Labriola and others.

The last few chapters consist of an overview of post-Decembrist Russian socialism, covering Herzen, Chernyshevsky and the Russian Marxists. The final chapter considers the Russian Revolution and the transformation of Bolshevism from a theory of the state to a state ideology.


Kolakowski’s basic premiss is that the period of the Second International represented the ‘golden marsism of Marxism – the period during which a solid base of Marxist theory existed, but there was no sterile dogma enforced on Marxists. Throughout the course of this work, Kolakowski emphasizes that the Marxist doctrine could be and was interpreted in various different and often contradictory ways by different people.

This relative freedom of interpretation was one of the chief features of this period in the development of the Marxist doctrine, lessek was largely lost with the development of Stalinism.

Kolakowski’s purpose in this work is to trace the history of a doctrine, and as a result all three volumes of “Main Currents of Marxism” are quite heavy on philosophy. Although this isn’t exactly surprising – since Kolakowski is himself currens philosopher – I picked up this work out of an historical interest in Marxism and found myself somewhat unprepared for its philosophical aspects.

It made for tough and occasionally frustrating reading for me, since I don’t have marxis, extensive background in philosophy. Due to currens huge amount of material that Kolakowski covers in this volume, he is often forced to skim over some of this material relatively quickly. In many chapters, this only increases the difficulty that beginners will have in assimilating the philosophical discussion.

An additional result is kolaklwski many of his conclusions seems more general and sweeping than the prior discussion would justify. Leezek annoying example is his seemingly out-of-hand condemnation of most anti-Bolshevik movements in the Russian Revolution as hopeless utopianism, with minimal discussion of the actual programs of these movements.

Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown by Leszek KoĊ‚akowski

The edition that I read was also marred by the serious flaw of some 30 missing pages towards the end of the book – I don’t know how common this is, but if possible it may be a good idea to make sure those pages are there before purchasing. A final complaint is that I xurrents have liked Kolakowski to say at least one word about Marxism in America, a subject that is not mentioned crrents this volume.

All in all, “Main Currents of Marxism” is a tough read, especially for those who aren’t philosophically inclined. In the end, however, those who make it through will be rewarded with extensive knowledge of the development of Marxism and the various forms it took in the golden age that followed its founders’ deaths and preceded the advent of Stalinism.

Marxism and the Second International II. Bernstein and Revisionism V. Marxism as a Soteriology VI. Marxism as an Instrument of Sociology X. Plekhanov maln the Codification of Marxism XV. The Fortunes of Leninism: From a Theory of the State to a State Ideology. The second volume of Kolakowski’s magisterial history and analysis of the Marxist tradition covers the period from death of Engels to the Bolshevik Revolution.


This is also approximately the period of the Second International. Kolakowski describes this as the “Golden Age” of Marxist thought, a period characterized by a diversity of Marxist thinkers and continued interaction of Marxists with other intellectual traditions. This volume has all the virtues of Vol. In the the first half of this volume, Kolakowski shows the interesting diversity of the Marxist tradition during this period.

Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown

This includes both a variety of interpretations of Marx and also the interaction of Marxism with other philosophical traditions, such as the Kantian revival of the late 19th century. Kolakowski covers some figures not thought of usually as part of the Marxist mainstream, such as Soral and Jean Jaures, as well as illuminating discussions of the Revisionist and Austro-Marxist movements. The second half of this volume is devoted to the pregnant subject of Russian Marxism.

Kolakowski provides a very nice overview of the relevant Russian intellectual history leading up to a detailed discussion of various Russian Marxists. This concludes with an intensive examination of the work and career of Lenin, who is presented as a mediocre thinker but an extremely successful founder of the cult that founded the Soviet state.

This is gripping scholarship. See all 3 reviews. What other items do customers buy after viewing this item? There’s a problem loading this menu right now.

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