Utopias: Future, Present and Concrete in Alasdair MacIntyre and C.L.R. James

Journal article


Blackledge, P (2018). Utopias: Future, Present and Concrete in Alasdair MacIntyre and C.L.R. James. International Critical Thought. 9 (3), pp. 420-435.
AuthorsBlackledge, P
Abstract

Alasdair MacIntyre’s Ethics in the Conflict of Modernity (2016) caps a long engagement with Marx and Marxism. In this most recent engagement, MacIntyre provides a narrative of the life of C. L. R. James, the Trinidadian writer, Marxist, and political activist. For MacIntyre, James fits into his standard interpretation of Marxisms that have failed. This is a doubly interesting point because James influenced MacIntyre’s early Marxism and MacIntyre’s mature critique of Marxism can be understood against the background of his failure to realise a broadly Jamesian political project in the 1960s. Moreover, MacIntyre’s mature concept of a “utopianism of the present” can, in part, be understood as an attempt to overcome the abstract utopian limitations of the politics he embraced in his youth. I argue that MacIntyre was right to reject the interpretation of Marxism he held in the mid-1960s, but that his general criticism of Marxism is less successful because Marxism, at its strongest, can be understood as a form of a utopianism of the present, or, as Ernst Bloch termed it, a concrete utopia. The underlying flaw with the version of Marxism that MacIntyre embraced in the 1960s is not to be found in its abstractly utopian character but rather in its one-sided conception of the relationship between working-class self-activity and socialist consciousness. This is a problem, though inverted, that continues to haunt MacIntyre’s interpretation of Marxism.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in International Critical Thought. It will be available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rict20

Year2018
JournalInternational Critical Thought
Journal citation9 (3), pp. 420-435
PublisherRoutledge
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/21598282.2019.1648185
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21598282.2019.1648185
Publication dates
Print01 Oct 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Jul 2018
Accepted11 Jun 2018
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open
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