Paperback, 373 pages
Released: January 1990
Much of Karl Marx’s most important work came out of his critique of other thinkers, including many socialists who differed significantly in their conceptions of socialism. The fourth volume in Hal Draper’s series looks at these critiques to illuminate what Marx’s socialism was, as well as what it was not. Some of these debates are well-known elements in Marx’s work, such as his writings on the anarchists Proudhon and Bakunin. Others are less familiar, such as the writings on “Bismarckian socialism” and “Boulangism,” but promise to become better known and understood with Draper’s exposition. He also discusses the more general ideological tendencies of “utopian” and “sentimental” socialisms, which took various forms and were ingredients in many different socialist movements.
This series, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, represents an exhaustive and definitive treatment of Marx’s political theory, policy, and practice. Marx and Engels paid continuing attention to a host of problems of revolution, in addition to constructing their “grand theory.” All these political and social analyses are brought together in these volumes, as the author draws not only on the original writings of Marx and Engels but also on the sources that they used in formulating their ideas and the many commentaries on their published work.
Draper’s series is a massive and immensely valuable scholarly undertaking. The bibliography alone will stand as a rich resource for years to come. Yet despite the scholarly treatment, the writing is direct, forceful, and unpedantic throughout, and will appeal to the beginning student as much as the advanced reader.
An extraordinarily stunning work written in a fresh, open, often amusing style, which comes as a welcome relief after the turgidities of so much Marx writing. Despite its length and heavy reliance on citation, the easy prose and the intrinsic importance and interest of the subject matter make this volume pleasant and quick to read.
This is a work of Marxology in the best sense of the term. I am convinced that it is and will remain an indispensable source for all serious students of Marxian ideas in the broad field of politics and political science. There is nothing in the existing literature which is even remotely comparable to it.