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New Left Review I/49, May-June 1968


New Left Review

Introduction to Glucksmann

Engels was a military historian; in August 1917 Lenin took Clausewitz’s On War with him into hiding; Mao Tse-tung and Vo Nguyen Giap are famed for their military writings. But in the twentieth century West, Marxists have largely ignored military strategy, and have remained obstinately oblivious of recent developments and extensions of strategic theory, particularly in the usa. This is doubly surprising. From Machiavelli onwards, social theory and philosophy in general in the West has always regarded war as one of its major themes. Moreover strategy, established as a true science by Carl von Clausewitz, is a product of the same generation of German thinkers as the Hegelian philosophy from which Marxism began. But there is another cause for surprise, recently underlined by André Glucksmann in his book Le Discours de la Guerre: ‘War is doubly important, 1. through the place it occupies in reality: it is the “highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, or political groups” (Mao Tse-tung); 2. through its intelligibility; as forces do not confront one another blindly in it, there is an understanding of war which provides the theory of struggle (contradiction) in general with valuable examples’ (p. 295).

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