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New Left Review 56, March-April 2009


GEOFF MANN

COLLETTI ON THE CREDIT CRUNCH

A Response to Robin Blackburn

In a 1974 interview with New Left Review, the Italian philosopher Lucio Colletti rued the chasms that had opened between the work of Marxist intellectuals in the West and the practice of workers’ movements:

The only way in which Marxism can be revived is if no more books like [Colletti’s] Marxism and Hegel are published, and instead books like Hilferding’s Finance Capital and Luxemburg’s Accumulation of Capital—or even Lenin’s Imperialism, which was a popular pamphlet—are once again written. In short, either Marxism has the capacity—I certainly do not—to produce at that level, or it will survive as merely the foible of a few university professors. But in that case, it will be well and truly dead, and the professors might as well invent a new name for their clerisy. [1] Lucio Colletti, ‘A Political and Philosophical Interview’, nlr 1/86, July–August 1974, p. 28. That these reflections were steps along a path that led Colletti, at the end of his life, to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is commonly known—and as yet curiously unexamined in English. In contrast to some well-known reactionary ‘conversions’ to conservatism, Colletti clearly and rigorously thought himself out of the Left, all the while as concerned as ever with the political implications of his intellectual practice.

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