Philosophy

IYSSE in US holds successful meetings on postmodernism and identity politics

By our reporters, 10 May 2019

The meetings reviewed the right-wing, subjective idealist roots of the pseudo-left philosophies and politics that dominate college campuses.

Widespread student support for beleaguered professor Peter Boghossian

the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at Portland State University, 17 January 2019

Despite threats of dismissal by Portland State University, Grievance Studies “hoaxer” Peter Boghossian is respected by students for his principled stand against postmodernist philosophy.

David North begins US speaking tour in Michigan to mark 80 years of the Fourth International

By our reporters, 25 October 2018

David North, chairman of the WSWS International Editorial Board, spoke on the lessons of the 20th century, the attack on Marxism and the fight for socialism today.

A discussion with Helen Pluckrose, co-author of “Grievance Studies” hoax article

By Eric London, 18 October 2018

The WSWS spoke to one of the authors of a recent study exposing the charlatanry that dominates postmodern-obsessed academic circles.

The “Grievance Studies” hoax exposes postmodernist charlatans

By Eric London, 13 October 2018

Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian have struck a well-timed blow against postmodernism, a reactionary obstacle to the development of scientific socialist consciousness.

David Harvey’s Jacobin interview on Marx’s Capital

A promotion of the “life-style” politics of the pseudo-left

By Nick Beams, 21 July 2018

As with all of Harvey’s work, the interview does not provide a clarification or guide to Marx but serves to prevent an understanding of his masterwork, seeking to render him suitable to the political and life-style sensibilities of a middle class “left” audience.

The racialist agenda of the “Decolonise Education” movement

By Joe Mount, 24 February 2017

The classification of philosophers based on their skin colour, rather than their place in the historical development of human thought, is combined with an attack on the entire progressive tradition of the Enlightenment.

Slavoj Žižek: From pseudo-left to new right

By Peter Schwarz, 8 February 2016

In an article published in Der Spiegel, Slovenian academic Slavoj Žižek gives free rein to his hatred of the oppressed.

Foreword to The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: A Marxist Critique

Part Three

By David North, 23 July 2015

The polemical essays in this volume examine the complex interaction between history, philosophy and politics. It is vital reading for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of classical Marxism.

Foreword to The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: A Marxist Critique

Part Two

By David North, 22 July 2015

The polemical essays in this volume examine the complex interaction between history, philosophy and politics. It is vital reading for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of classical Marxism.

Foreword to The Frankfurt School, Postmodernism and the Politics of the Pseudo-Left: A Marxist Critique

By David North, 21 July 2015

The polemical essays in this volume examine the complex interaction between history, philosophy and politics. It is vital reading for those who wish to deepen their knowledge of classical Marxism.

The anti-Marxism of Yanis Varoufakis

By Nick Beams, 28 February 2015

Varoufakis completely distorts Marx’s analysis of capitalism in order to justify his program of trying to save capitalism from itself.

A key moment in the prehistory of the Enlightenment

By Tom Carter, 9 August 2014

Greenblatt’s controversial book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and it has also come under attack as an “anti-religious diatribe.”

A further reply on Thomas Kuhn

By William Whitlow, 17 February 2012

The following contribution from William Whitlow extends a discussion that began with his article last fall, Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics, and continued with a response by Philip Guelpa, A friendly response to William Whitlow’s comments on Thomas Kuhn.

A blow against the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification

By Wolfgang Weber, 31 December 2011

The letter of 14 historians to the Suhrkamp publishing house in Germany calling on it to abandon publication of Robert Service’s biography of Leon Trotsky has opened the door for an honest and thorough examination of the role of Trotsky and the rise and fall of Soviet power.

Thomas S. Kuhn, post-modernism and materialist dialectics

By William Whitlow, 28 October 2011

William Whitlow replies to a reader’s inquiry about sociologist Thomas S. Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

The slaughter in Oslo

By Peter Schwarz, 25 July 2011

The murder of at least 92 people in Oslo signals the emergence of fascist terrorist violence animated by a hatred of Marxism and the working class.

Zizek in Manhattan: An intellectual charlatan masquerading as “left”

By Bill Van Auken and Adam Haig, 12 November 2010

The Slovenian academic Slavoj ‌‌Zizek spoke in New York Monday, wandering frenetically between complacent observations about austerity in Europe, warnings of ecological catastrophes and digressions into sado-pornographic facets of popular culture.

Letters on “The Nation, Jonathan Israel and the Enlightenment”

15 June 2010

A selection of letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on a recent essay by Ann Talbot and David North.

The Nation, Jonathan Israel and the Enlightenment

By Ann Talbot and David North, 9 June 2010

On 12 May this year, the Nation magazine published an article entitled “Mind the Enlightenment.” It is an intellectually unprincipled and vindictive attack on Professor Jonathan Israel’s multi-volume history of the development of the Enlightenment and its relationship to social and political radicalism in the century leading up to the outbreak of the French Revolution.

The ghost of Thomas Hobbes

By Ann Talbot, 12 May 2010

A comment on an article by Corey Robin in the Nation magazine that lined up seventeenth century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes alongside the Italian Futurists and Friedrich Nietzsche as a “blender of cultural modernism and political reaction”.

A letter and reply on Theodor Adorno

By Stefan Steinberg, 9 November 2009

This letter was written in response to the article, “German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk defends racist remarks by central banker.” It is followed by a response from the author of the article, Stefan Steinberg.

The “Hegel renaissance” and other questions

A comment on The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

By Alexander Fangmann, 5 November 2009

Last year saw the publication of The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy. The volumes of the Cambridge Companion series contain collections of essays by scholars working on a particular philosopher or subject area.

The “Hegel renaissance” and other questions: Part 2

A comment on The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

By Alexander Fangmann, 4 November 2009

Last year saw the publication of The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy. The volumes of the Cambridge Companion series contain collections of essays by scholars working on a particular philosopher or subject area.

The “Hegel renaissance” and other questions: Part 1

A comment on The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

By Alexander Fangmann, 3 November 2009

Last year saw the publication of The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy. The volumes of the Cambridge Companion series contain collections of essays by scholars working on a particular philosopher or subject area.

Another front in the attack on education

Prominent academic offers modest proposal for reorganizing universities

By Emanuele Saccarelli, 9 June 2009

In an opinion column published in the New York Times, Professor Mark C. Taylor, chairman of the religion department at Columbia University, takes as his point of departure a series of real problems that affect the university system in the United States.

Letters on Steiner, Brenner and Neo-Marxism: The Marcusean Component

9 January 2009

A selection of letters sent to the WSWS on “Steiner, Brenner and Neo-Marxism: The Marcusean Component,” an essay by Adam Haig.

Steiner, Brenner and Neo-Marxism: The Marcusean Component

By Adam Haig, 2 January 2009

As a supporter of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) who has been following the political and philosophical charges of Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, the author of this paper is interested in addressing their embrace of critical theorist Herbert Marcuse.

Letters on “The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism”

8 November 2008

The WSWS received the following letters on “The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism: The Political and Intellectual Odyssey of Alex Steiner” and “Marxism and Science: An addendum to ‘The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism’”

Marxism and Science: An addendum to “The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism”

By Ann Talbot and Chris Talbot, 28 October 2008

This essay supplements “The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism: The Political and Intellectual Odyssey of Alex Steiner” by David North, recently published by the WSWS.

The Political and Intellectual Odyssey of Alex Steiner—Part 3

By David North, 24 October 2008

The following is the final part of a three-part essay. The first part was posted October 23 and the second part was posted October 22. Click here to download PDF versions of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism:

The Political and Intellectual Odyssey of Alex Steiner—Part 2

By David North, 23 October 2008

In the autumn of 1978, as the Workers League was in the final stages of moving its political headquarters from New York to Detroit, Alex Steiner left the party without any explanation. Steiner had previously resigned from the movement in 1973, during a political crisis in the Workers League that culminated in the resignation of its national secretary, Tim Wohlforth. Steiner rejoined the party in the summer of 1974. But his second departure in 1978 brought his career in the revolutionary movement to an end. In his last discussion with me prior to his departure, Steiner said, “Life is very grim.” I often recalled these words, because they articulated not simply the personal dejection of an individual, but also the pessimism and demoralization of the broader milieu of petty-bourgeois radical intellectuals. Nevertheless, I regretted Steiner’s departure from the Workers League. Particularly after he rejoined the Workers League in 1974, we had collaborated on several theoretical projects. However, Steiner’s intellectual abilities were undermined by his extreme emotional volatility, susceptibility to discouragement when confronted with problems, and pessimistic view of life.

The Frankfurt School vs. Marxism:

The Political and Intellectual Odyssey of Alex Steiner

By David North, 22 October 2008

This essay is a continuation of the polemic by David North, on behalf of the International Committee of the Fourth International, with Frank Brenner and Alex Steiner, two former members of the Workers League in the United States, whose criticisms of the ICFI were based largely on and defended the conceptions of the Frankfurt School.

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Parts 20-22

By David North, 10 September 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. It was written in reply to a critique of the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), entitled “Objectivism or Marxism,” by Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, two former members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party).

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Parts 17-19

By David North, 7 September 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. It was written in reply to a critique of the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), entitled “Objectivism or Marxism,” by Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, two former members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party).

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Parts 14-16

By David North, 5 September 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. It was written in reply to a critique of the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), entitled “Objectivism or Marxism,” by Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, two former members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party).

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Parts 11-13

By David North, 31 August 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. It was written in reply to a critique of the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), entitled “Objectivism or Marxism,” by Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, two former members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party).

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Parts 8-10

By David North, 29 August 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. It was written in reply to a critique of the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), entitled “Objectivism or Marxism”, by Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, two former members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party).

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Part 4-7

By David North, 27 August 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. It was written in reply to a critique of the work of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), entitled “Objectivism or Marxism.”, by Alex Steiner and Frank Brenner, two former members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party).

Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness

Parts 1-3

By David North, 24 August 2007

Mehring Books has published a new book by David North, Marxism, History & Socialist Consciousness, which is now available for purchase online. Last Friday, we began publication of the book’s text. The Foreword was posted on August 17, and below we post Parts 1-3.

Atheism in the service of political reaction: A comment on author Sam Harris

By Christie Schaefer, 16 April 2007

In the recent review of Richard Dawkins’ new book, The God Delusion, Joe Kay mentions in passing the author Sam Harris, noting that the idealist standpoint of Harris and some of the other advocates of atheism is often bound up with reactionary political conceptions. (See “Science, religion and society: Richard Dawkins’s God Delusion).

Science, religion and society: Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion

By Joe Kay, 15 March 2007

In his new book, Dawkins has done us a service, if only in making more acceptable the general proposition that religion and science are at odds with each other, and that it is science that should win out.

Hegel, Marx, Engels, and the Origins of Marxism

A review of Marx After Marxism: The Philosophy of Karl Marx by Tom Rockmore

By David North, 3 May 2006

The following is second of a two-part series. The first part can be read here.

Hegel, Marx, Engels, and the Origins of Marxism

A review of Marx After Marxism: The Philosophy of Karl Marx by Tom Rockmore

By David North, 2 May 2006

The following is the first of a two-part series. The second part will be posted tomorrow.

A closer look at Kierkegaard

By Tom Carter, 17 April 2006

Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography, by Joachim Garff, translated by Bruce H. Kirmmse. 867 pages, Princeton University Press, $35

Spinoza Reconsidered

Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 Oxford University Press

By Ann Talbot, 26 August 2003

I last reviewed Jonathan Israel’s Radical Enlightenment on this site in 2001 just after it came out in hardback. Why return to it now? The book itself would justify another review since it is a large and rich work that delves deeply into early Enlightenment history and repays reading and rereading. There is always something more to find in it. A first impression of such a book will inevitably represent a limited judgement and fail to do it complete justice. It is also now out in paperback.

Investigating the foundations of equality

God, Locke and Equality by Jeremy Waldron

By Ann Talbot, 16 June 2003

Professor Jeremy Waldron’s latest book is an examination of the theory of equality put forward by the seventeenth century English philosopher John Locke. This is a subject that is highly relevant today as the widening social gulf between the super rich and the rest of the population increasingly undermines the political institutions that have been based on the maintenance of at least a measure of social and economic equality.

Spinoza revisited

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity1650-1750, by Jonathan I. Israel, Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-820608-9, £30.00

7 August 2001

To talk favourably of the Enlightenment has become something of a taboo in recent years. Some writers deny its existence, while others present it as a reactionary development. It is therefore refreshing to find a serious treatment of the intellectual trends of the late 17th and early 18th century that is not afraid to identify the Enlightenment as a progressive movement, which is associated with the rise of rational thought and a belief in equality and democracy.

An exchange with a reader on postmodernism

4 December 2000

We received the following letter on the article “The post-modernist wonderland: Intellectual Impostures by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont” [http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/jul2000/post-j01.shtml] posted July 1, 2000 on the World Socialist Web Site . A reply by the article's author Stefan Steinberg follows.

Two letters and two replies on "The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi"—Part 2

2 November 2000

On April 3-5, 2000 the WSWS published a three-part series entitled, “The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi.” Today we are posting the second of two letters criticizing the articles, and a reply by the author of the series, Alex Steiner.

Two letters and two replies on "The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi"

1 November 2000

On April 3-5, 2000 the WSWS published a three-part series entitled, “The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi.” Today and tomorrow we will post two letters from readers criticizing the articles, and replies by the author of the series, Alex Steiner.

One hundred years since the death of Friedrich Nietzsche: a review of his ideas and influence—Part 3

By Stefan Steinberg, 23 October 2000

The following is the conclusion of a three-part series.

One hundred years since the death of Friedrich Nietzsche: a review of his ideas and influence—Part 2

By Stefan Steinberg, 21 October 2000

The following is the second of a three-part series. The concluding part will be posted tomorrow.

One hundred years since the death of Friedrich Nietzsche: a review of his ideas and influence—Part 1

By Stefan Steinberg, 20 October 2000

The following is the first of a three-part series. The remaining parts will be posted over the next two days.

The post-modernist wonderland: Intellectual Impostures by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont

By Stefan Steinberg, 1 July 2000

Intellectual Impostures should be read by all those who have an interest in modern ideological trends, in particular, the various somewhat nebulous schools of thought included under the hybrid term “postmodernism”.

A letter on "The Case of Martin Heidegger"

15 April 2000

The following letter was received in response to the series "The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi," which appeared on the WSWS April 3-5.

The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi

Part 3: History, Philosophy and Mythology

By Alex Steiner, 5 April 2000

We are posting today the concluding part of a series on the life and work of twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger.

The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi

Part 2: The Cover-up

By Alex Steiner, 4 April 2000

We continue today a series on the life and work of twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger. The final part will posted tomorrow, April 5.

The Case of Martin Heidegger, Philosopher and Nazi

Part 1: The Record

By Alex Steiner, 3 April 2000

We begin today a three-part series on the life and work of twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Part 2 will be posted on Tuesday, April 4 and Part 3 will appear on Wednesday, April 5.

A postmodernist attack on science

The End of Science, Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age by John Horgan, Little Brown and Company, 1996

By Chris Talbot, 18 May 1999

John Horgan is a science journalist who writes for Scientific American. His book was originally published in 1996, updated in 1997 and recently brought out as a paperback. It is a collection of interviews with dozens of leading scientists, to which Horgan has added also his own reflections and opinions on the state of modern science. Whilst many of the interviews are interesting in their own right, the book's main significance is Horgan's attack on science from a postmodernist standpoint. It is symptomatic of an anti-science trend which has emerged in the last decade or so.

The Jefferson-Hemings controversy

In defense of history

By Helen Halyard and Shannon Jones, 31 December 1998

Substantial debate and controversy have accompanied the science journal Nature's release of genetic test results supporting the claim that Thomas Jefferson fathered children by one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.

Equality, the Rights of Man and the Birth of Socialism

By David North, 24 October 1996

The following is a lecture given by David North, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on 24 October 1996.