In light of the recent economic crisis, Marxist theory has enjoyed a resurgence of interest. This most recent is the last of many returns to Marx’s work throughout the 20th century. Still, the question poses itself: Why return to Marx, yet again? What does this move tell us about our contemporary situation? Most important, what do previous returns to Marx tell us about capitalism and those who have self-consciously struggled against it? Why Marxism—and what must Marxism become? On February 19, 2010, Ian Morrison of Platypus spoke with Leo Panitch, author and professor of Political Science at York University, about these and other topics. Below is an edited transcript of their public interview and of the audience Q & A that followed.
Uli vom Hagen’s response to my article on the current state of the German Left engages in a remarkable apology for its nationalism, which results from its near complete failure to digest the dangerous policies of the German KPD of the 1920s and 30s. With his focus on the events of 1923 and his excitement for “National Bolshevism,” vom Hagen presents a highly symptomatic position informed by a gross conflation of nationalism and romantic-regressive anti-capitalism, which experienced its peak with the rise of European fascism and National Socialism in Germany.
The ominously titled 2007 PBS documentary Silence of the Bees begins with a montage of the streets of a major U.S. city that had grown silent because its inhabitants vanished. The empty city, we are told, is not unlike the beehives afflicted by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a commercial honey bee syndrome that has resulted in massive apian losses. A few minutes into the documentary, however, we are informed that the metaphor should be considered more literally, as “the bees’ disappearance could have colossal repercussions for humans.”