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New Left Review I/76, November-December 1972

New Left Review

Introduction to Korsch

Interest in the theoretical work of Karl Korsch has grown as part of the wider expansion of interest in Marxist theory that has occurred in the past decade. Often assimilated to Lukács, with whom he has definite theoretical affinities, Korsch in many important ways differs from the Hungarian theorist. The most profound difference is the divergent political choice that the two made in the mid-1920s: Lukács remained in general loyal to the Comintern while Korsch broke with the Communist Party. This difference has also affected the later ‘rediscovery’ of these two theorists’ writings. Lukács continued to write and act as a prominent if controversial member of the Hungarian Party and expressed himself on a variety of theoretical and political issues until his death in 1971. Korsch’s later theoretical and political positions are less available and less direct and it is often hard to chart the course that his thinking took, especially after his emigration to the USA in 1936. This relative obscurity of his later work and his death in 1961 before the revived interest in Korsch have also meant that the intellectual and biographical background to his earlier work has been little explored.

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