Ends in Sight: Marx/Fukuyama/Hobsbawm/Anderson

In: Historical Materialism


Gregory Elliott's Ends in Sight (2008) argues that Marxism is no longer a 'real movement' grounded in the historical tendencies of the present, but has retreated into being a utopian idea. Refusing to embrace anti-Marxism, Elliott controversially argues that such a position is the only realistic one that can be held by the Left in the wake of the defeat of historical socialism. In assessing this claim, this review-essay re-traces Elliott's indebtedness to the work of Perry Anderson, and notes the tension Elliott reproduces from Anderson between resignation to defeat and a realism that would scan for new signs of resistance. Elliott's closing embrace of a full-blown pessimism is criticised as inconsistent with the necessity of some consolatory 'illusions' to any radical political mobilisation. The crucial question that Elliott raises concerns the motivational power of Marxism as a political discourse, particularly once shorn of its grounding in the 'tide of history'.

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