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The first English translation of August Thalheimer's 1924 review of Karl Korsch's seminal work, Marxism and Philosophy, appears below. The review originally appeared in the Soviet journal Under the Banner of Marxism (Pod Znamenem Marksizma, 4-5 [1924]: 367–373). For an earlier discussion of Korsch’s book, see Chris Cutrone’s review of the 2008 reprint of Marxism and Philosophy released by Monthly Review Press, in Platypus Review 15 (September 2009), and the original translation of Karl Kautsky's review of Korsch that was published in Platypus Review 43 (February 2012).
Karl Kautsky's 1924 review of Karl Korsch’s Marxism and Philosophy appears below in English for the first time. It is hoped that other reviews of Marxism and Philosophy will also be made available in the very near future, not least by leading German communists such as August Thalheimer. Given the highly disputed theoretical legacy of both Kautsky and Korsch, the publication of this review will doubtless add to the debate on the idea of a "coming of age" of Marxism in the late 1860s.
A HISTORICALLY ADEQUATE INTERPRETATION of Lenin’s Marxism must begin with the recognition that Lenin’s legacy is essentially a political application of Marx’s theory of capital as a historically-specific social formation. It required further development in light of experiences under determinate historical circumstances, such as the development of capitalism in Russia, the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crisis of Marxism in 1914, the evolution of imperialism, the October Revolution of 1917, War Communism, and the New Economic Policy.
On the occasion of the launch of a new theoretical journal in 1922, Under the Banner of Marxism (Pod Znamenem Marksizma), Lenin singled out the open letter that Trotsky had written to the editors in the first issue, while expressing the hope that the venture would take the shape of a “society of materialist friends of Hegelian dialectics.” Trotsky himself underscored the importance of the letter in The Stalin School of Falsification (1937), which, in pointing to the difference between the changed conditions of education of the younger members of the party from that of their older comrades, outlined the necessity of a new theoretical approach in order to safeguard the theoretical and political experience accumulated within the party. Despite the importance attributed to the letter by Lenin and Trotsky, Leszek Kolakowski, in his Main Currents of Marxism, considered the letter unexceptional. As the first in an experimental new series of original translations, the Platypus Review is delighted to be publishing the first English translation of this important letter by Trotsky.
This text was written collaboratively and originally published by the anti-Deutsch group, Initiative Sozialistisches Forum (Socialist Initiative Forum) as "Der Kommunismus und Israel" in the collection Furchtbare Antisemiten, ehrbare Antizionisten. Über Israel und die linksdeutsche Ideologie, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, 2002. Translated and reprinted with permission of the authors.