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New Left Review I/215, January-February 1996


Justin Rosenberg

Isaac Deutscher and the Lost History of International Relations

I would like to express my thanks to the Deutscher Committee for the great honour of this award. [1] This is the text of the Isaac Deutscher Memorial lecture delivered in the New Theatre, London School of Economics and Political Science, on 21 November 1995. I would like to thank Chris Boyle, Simon Bromley, Gregory Elliott, Beate Jahn and Ellen Wood for stimulating discussions and helpful suggestions during the preparation of this lecture. The Isaac and Tamara Deutscher memorial prize is a uniquely valuable institution in many ways but the most valuable aspect is surely the legacy of Deutscher himself. For Isaac Deutscher was not just another Marxist. He was one of the most eloquent of those who kept alive the critical spirit of classical Marxism at a time when in different ways that spirit was being stifled on both sides in the Cold War. For this alone the present generation of socialists is indebted to him. But Deutscher also did this with real personal and intellectual flair. And for that reason, his memorial lecture, by recalling the spirit of the man, also presents a great annual opportunity—to restate, in the confident tones of Deutscher himself the enormous, enduring strengths of the Marxist understanding of the contemporary world. And it is this opportunity which I would like to take up tonight by discussing my own field—namely the theory of international relations—for which, as I will argue, the legacy of Deutscher has a special relevance.

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