Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 25, 2008

Introduction to Marxism class

Filed under: socialism — louisproyect @ 6:55 pm

In response to a query about how one gets a “training in Marxism” from a Marxmail subscriber (the mailing list I moderate), I am organizing an Introduction to Marxism class that will operate as a mailing list. Information on the class is at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marxism_class/

Here is an introduction to the class:

This is a proposal for what we might want to cover in this class. Before I suggest any readings, I want to make sure that all of your concerns are being addressed. If you think that something should be added, changed or even deleted, please feel free to speak up. There are only 17 of us here and there is no need to feel shy.

1. Marxist economics: What is a commodity? The labor theory of value? Falling rate of profit? Etc., etc.

2. Marxist philosophy: What is dialectical materialism? Or, perhaps, what is the Marxist method? What are the origins of Marxist philosophy? Is Marxism a science?

3. Historical materialism: How does a Marxist understand history? Does history have some kind of logic? What is the role of the class struggle in history?

4. How are revolutions made? What is a bourgeois revolution? How does it differ from a socialist revolution? What is the role of a revolutionary party? What kinds of strategy and tactics must a revolutionary party develop in order to succeed?

5. Problems of socialism in power. What accounts for the rise of Stalin and the collapse of socialism in the USSR? Was the USSR ruled by a social class?

I think we can spend at least a couple of days in thinking these questions through before we decide on the readings, although I definitely have some things in mind. Also, I encourage to speak up and introduce yourself and to say what you hope to get out of the class. I have already heard from at least one person that their time is limited and that they might not have time to keep up with the readings. Don’t worry. You will definitely learn something just through the discussion, although there is of course no substitute for reading some of the classics that we will be covering.


  1. This sounds like a great idea. Count me in!

    I’m just in the process of finishing up my masters degree, so I probably won’t be able to keep up with much of the readings for the next couple of months. However, I already have a fairly substantial understanding of topics 2, 3 and 4 so I don’t think my schedule will hold me back too much.

    I’m really looking forward to hear what you have to say about topic #5 specifically.



    Comment by paulitics — January 25, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  2. I’d love to take part. Between my full-time job and an impending book deadline, I might not be able to read and contribute as much as I’d like, but I’m sure I can learn a lot.

    Comment by Chris Daniels — January 25, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

  3. Sounds good to me. Looking forward to it.

    Comment by Damian — January 25, 2008 @ 11:38 pm

  4. I’m in too. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and coincidentally started what I intend to be my first beginning-to-end reading of Capital v1 yesterday.

    Comment by Proletarian Dan — January 25, 2008 @ 11:57 pm

  5. Hey, this sounds awesome. I’m in the throes of my last undergrad year of philosophy (damn you Kant!) right now though ;[… I’d like to join just to get the reading list, and maybe participate sporadically in some discussion when I have time. Would this be alright?

    Comment by dksu — January 26, 2008 @ 5:28 am

  6. Sounds like a great idea, one suggestion – cover the role of bourgeois ideology, false consciousness etc…

    Comment by Earl — January 26, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  7. Hello. I would like to participate as well. It has been many years since I last had a class on Marxism and I could use the incentive to read some of the classic works that I missed the last time. Consistent with the suggestion by Earl I have an interest in the role of bourgeois ideology and in particular the work of Gramsci, but this might a subject for another class!

    Comment by Will — January 26, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

  8. I’m down. I’d also like to see a unit on the “Americanization” of marxist ideas that includes the efforts of folks like CLR James and Jimmy Boggs.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux Perez — January 26, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

  9. […] Proyect at The Unrepentant Marxist has an Introduction to Marxism class. Is there any way to rescue Marx from his […]

    Pingback by » A marxism class??? Do Marxists ever study their history? — January 28, 2008 @ 2:43 am

  10. I am also in. But I doubt if i will keep up with the discussions but I will put efforts in so doing. I am currently working from 07h00 to 16h00 and in completion of my BCOM dEGREE NEXT YEAR.

    Comment by Sibusiso MAJOLA — October 27, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

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