A Critique of Neo-Malthusian Marxism: Society, Nature, and Population

In: Historical Materialism
Paul Burkett
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Recent decades have seen a rethinking and renewal of Marxism on various levels, beginning in the 1950s and 1960s when New-Left movements in the developed capitalist countries combined with Maoist, Guevarist, and other Third-World liberation struggles to challenge the ossified theory and practice of Soviet-style communism and traditional social democracy. More recently, the rethinking of Marxism has been driven largely by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its official Marxist ideology, and by the movement toward neoliberal ‘free market’ policies on a global scale, which together have brought forth a tidal wave of frankly pro-capitalist as well as ‘postmodern’ left varieties of ‘end of history'-type thinking. The contemporary challenge to Marxism, however, also has a positive side in the form of popular revolts against the neoliberalisation of the global economy – the Chiapas rebellion in Mexico, the December 1995 public sector upheavals in France, and many others, not to mention the heroic struggle of the Cuban people against the threat of recolonisation by US and global capital. Here the challenge is to incorporate the changing forms of working-class movement, and their new prefigurations of post-capitalist society, into the theory and practice of Marxian communism.

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