Marx and Marxism

Gregory Claeys

An illuminating history of Marx's thought and intellectual influence from a leading historian of socialism

Why was Marx so successful as a thinker? Did he have a system and if so, what does it consist of? How did Marxism develop in the twentieth century and what does it mean today?

Karl Marx remains the most influential and controversial political thinker in history. The movements associated with his name have lent hope to many victims of tyranny and aggression but have also proven disastrous in practice and resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions. If after the collapse of the Soviet Union his reputation seemed utterly eclipsed, a new generation is reading and discovering Marx in the wake of the recurrent financial crises, growing social inequality and an increasing sense of the injustice and destructiveness of capitalism. Both his critique of capitalism and his vision of the future speak across the centuries to our times, even if the questions he poses are more difficult to answer than ever.

In this wide-ranging account, Gregory Claeys, one of Britain's leading historians of socialism, considers Marx's ideas and their development through the Russian Revolution to the present, showing why Marx and Marxism still matter today.

A New View of Society and Other Writings

Gregory Claeys (and others)

In his early works Owen argues that, since individuals are wholly formed by their environment, education is the crucial factor in transforming them. Later he came to adopt far more radical positions, proposing nothing less than 'the emancipation ofmankind' and the creation of a 'new moral world', a full-scale reorganization of British society, major reforms of working practices and the Poor Laws and the establishment of co-operative model.

A Modern Utopia

H G Wells (and others)

While walking in the Swiss Alps, two English travellers fall into a space-warp, and suddenly find themselves in another world. In many ways the same as our own - even down to the characters that inhabit it - this new planet is still somehow radically different, for the two walkers are now upon a Utopian Earth controlled by a single World Government. Here, as they soon learn, all share a common language, there is sexual, economic and racial equality, and society is ruled by socialist ideals enforced by an austere, voluntary elite: the 'Samurai'. But what will the Utopians make of these new visitors from a less perfect world?


Gregory Claeys is a historian at the University of Royal Holloway, London.