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New Left Review 2, March-April 2000


Responding to Callinicos’s critique of Giddens and Bourdieu, Jeffrey Isaac attacks the idea that it is possible to reject capitalism today. Alex Callinicos doubts that world history has thrown in its hand so quickly.

JEFFREY C. ISAAC

INTELLECTUALS, MARXISM AND POLITICS

I read with great interest Alex Callinicos’s critique of Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu in NLR 236. It is a provocative essay whose ambition and logic epitomizes what is wrong, and what is right, with a certain kind of ‘Marxist’ critique. Most of what is wrong with it stems from its reductionism and stubborn refusal to interrogate canonical categories. Callinicos does not want to learn from his interlocutors, because he already knows the truth; so his essay is predictable—never an intellectual virtue. On the other hand, armed with his particular truth, Callinicos is incisive and relentless in a critique that rightly identifies the limits of his interlocutors’ arguments, but unfortunately stops short before his own.

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Jeffrey Isaac, ‘Intellectuals, Marxism and Politics’, NLR 2: £3
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