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Ethical Marxism

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ISBN 0-8126-9628-X
ISBN-13 978-0-8126-9628-8


490 pages

(Spring 2008)

Ethical Marxism

The Categorical Imperative of Liberation

Bill Martin
Volume 1 in the Creative Marxism series

Ethical Marxism is a daring attempt to reinvigorate the theoretical program of the radical left, anti-imperialist movement of the twenty-first century. Bill Martin draws upon the accomplishments of such thinkers as Sartre, Adorno, and Derrida, to rethink Marxism in a way that takes ethics—instead of political economy and historical 'science'—as its core.

A full understanding of capitalism's globalizing transformations cannot be achieved only with the tools of economics and politics. Most Marxists now recognize that Marxist thought has to purge itself of its 'inevitabilism'. In the most controversial part of his argument, Professor Martin maintains that Mao Zedong's understanding of Marxism is rooted in ethical imperatives.

"We do not need to be Marxists to admit that our current way of life is practically unsustainable. In this sparkling and engaging book, Bill Martin draws from Marxism (with some help from Kant) a theory of justice that makes the ethical case for transition to a post-imperialist age. His insistence on addressing the fate of non-human animals as central to a systemic critique of our present arrangements is especially welcome, taking Derrida's Specters of Marx to another level."

—David Wood, author of The Step Back: Ethics and Politics after Deconstruction

"In the grim post-9/11 era of intense political repression and academic quietism, Bill Martin digs deep into the heart of Marxist theory—set in the philosophical tradition that stretches from Kant to Derrida—in order to recover its emancipatory heart and soul. Martin brilliantly reminds us that Marxism is not just about class but also about ethics, justice, and freedom. The most important aspect of Martin's project is to take Marxism beyond the limits of humanism, to directly engage the profound importance of vegetarianism and animal rights for these troubled times of species extinction, biological meltdown, and social and ecological crisis. Ethical Marxism is a theoretical tour de force, and a giant leap on the path of rethinking everything of worth in Marxism."

—Steven Best, author of The Politics of Historical Vision

"Despite my disagreement with some of Martin's arguments, this is a breathtaking read, spanning the gamut from Aristotle to Rawls, Kant to Marx, Sartre to Mao, bringing together continental and analytic philosophy, and paying serious attention to Christianity and rural perspectives, all with an unwavering grounding in the joined traditions of Marx and Derrida."

—Eleanor Kaufman, author of The Delirium of Praise

Bill Martin is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. He is author of many books including Avant Rock: Experimental Music from the Beatles to Björk (2002), The Radical Project: Sartrean Investigations (2000), Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock (1998), and Humanism and Its Aftermath (1995). With Bob Avakian he wrote Marxism and the Call of the Future (2005).

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