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York University

Department of Sociology

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

GS/SOCI 6200 3.00 (F) - M

GS/SPTH 6043 3.00 (F) - M

GS/CMCT 6113 3.00 (F) - M

Contemporary Topics in Social Theory

Rediscovering Marx

Fall 2017

Course Director: Marcello Musto

Class Time: Tuesday 14:30 - 17:30

Class Location: SC 220

Office Hours: Wednesday 18:00 - 19:00

Office Location: Ross Bldg. N833A

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Course Syllabus

Despite the predictions that consigned it to eternal oblivion, Karl Marx’s thought has returned to the limelight in recent years. Faced with a deep new crisis of capitalism, many are again looking to an author who in the past was often wrongly associated with the Soviet Union, and who was too hastily dismissed after 1989. After the waning of interest in the 1980s and the “conspiracy of silence” in the 1990s, new or republished editions of his work have become available almost everywhere. The literature dealing with Marx, which all but dried up twenty-five years ago, is showing signs of revival in many countries.

Marx’s writings are presently being published in German under the auspices of the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA²) project, the critical historical edition of the complete works of Marx and Engels, which resumed serial publication in 1998. The purpose of this course is to reconstruct the stages of Marx’s thought in the light of the textual acquisitions of MEGA², and hence to provide a more exhaustive account of the formation of Marx’s conceptions than has previously been offered.

The great majority of researchers have considered only certain periods, often jumping straight from theEconomic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 to the Grundrisse (1857-58). The study of priceless manuscripts, and of interesting interim results, has remained the preserve of a narrow circle of scholars capable of reading the German-language volumes of MEGA². One of the aims of this course is to make these texts more widely known, and to debate on the genesis and unfinished character of Marx’s works.

Altogether, the Marx that emerges from this examination of his work in the areas of post-Hegelian philosophy, the materialist conception of history, scientific method, alienation and political thought at the time of the International Working Men’s Association is a thinker very different from the one presented for such a long time by his detractors as well as many ostensible followers.

If we bear in mind not only the well-known works, but also the manuscripts and notebooks of extracts in MEGA², the immensity and richness of Marx’s theoretical project appear in a clearer light. The notebooks of excerpts, and the recently published preparatory drafts of Capital, show the huge limitations of the “Marxist-Leninist” account – an ideology that often depicted Marx’s conception as something separate from the studies he conducted, as if it had been magically present in his head from birth – but also of the debate in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, the participants in that debate could not consider the totality of Marx’s texts, and even some of these they treated as thoroughly finished works when that was far from being the case.

At a time when Marx’s ideas have finally been liberated from the chains of Soviet ideology, and when they are again being investigated for the sake of analysing the contemporary world, a more faithful account of the genesis of his thought may not be without important implications for the future – not only for Marx studies, but also for the re-founding of a critical thought that aims to transform the present.

Course Requirements

Class Participation:

This course is taught in weekly seminars lasting 2 hours and 50 minutes. Attendance is obligatory and students are expected to participate actively in seminar discussion.

Presentation (+ Discussant) :

Classes will begin with a student presentation of 30 to 40 minutes. Avoid just reading a paper aloud and get your colleagues involved.

Each student is encouraged to discuss with the course director the main points of her/his presentation at least one week in advance. Presentations will be an essential part of our seminar. You will orientate the discussion toward them and will provide to your colleagues more extended insights concerning the topic of the week. That will be possible on the basis of the additional readings already indicated in the syllabus and/or of further texts that will be suggested by the course director.

In your presentation you should focus on Marx - and much less on secondary sources. After you present his texts and provide its background (a published book, a manuscript, etc.) in about 5 min., you should dedicate enough time (about 20 min.) to expose the most important concepts included in the readings. Then you can discuss the reception and the literature on the topic. Finally you will pose some open questions (at least 3/4) for the debate - to which you will respond in the end, expressing your own point of view.

Example of presentation (Class 2):

1. Tell your colleague what are the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 and why/how were they written?

2. Present Marx's ideas on Alienated Labour, Private Property, Communism, etc.

3. Present the debate on the so-called 'young Marx'.

4. Pose questions.

5. Answer questions from your colleagues, chair the discussion, and provide an aswer to your questions.

In the second part of each class there will also be a 10 minutes contribution from a discussant. She/he should call the attention of other students to a few particular aspects of the topic of the week. The presenter and the discussant should cooperate before class, in order to avoid overlapping with the questions they will pose and with the problematics through which they will stimulate the discussion.

Final Paper Proposal:

The final paper proposal should be 3-4 pages (1.500 to 2.000 words) and include the following information:

- indication of the tentative title and of the sections in which the final paper will be divided;

- preliminary outline of the text;

- 5 keywords concerning the themes and the concepts to be addressed;

- a bibliography of at least 10 sources consulted;

Final paper proposals will be due, in hard copy and by email, and quickly presented in class, on November 7.

Please note that you cannot write the final paper on the same topic(s) you have done your presentation. Exceptions are possible, but very unlikely. In any case, the matter must be discussed in advance.

Final Paper:

Students are free to select their own final paper object among the topics listed below.

Marx on:

Capitalism - Communism - Democracy - Individual Freedom - Work - Proletariat

Class Struggle - Political Organization - Revolution - Ecology - Gender Equality

Nationalism and Ethnicity - Migration - Colonialism - War and International Relations

State - Globalization - Economic Crisis - Time - Materialistic Conception of History - Ideology - Art - Religion - Education - Technology and Science

Marx and/versus:

Hegel, Left Hegelians, Fourier, Owen, Saint-Simon, Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Darwin, Proudhon, Lassalle, Bakunin, French Revolution, 1848, IWMA, Paris Commune, Russian Populism, India, Ireland, etc.

(Other topics can be proposed and discussed in advance with the course director)

The Final Paper, approved through the Final Paper Proposal, will be due by email no later than December 21. It should:

- be a maximum of 6.000 words, including notes and final references;

- be clearly structured and divided into at least 3 or 4 sections;

- have references from hard copy books, with the indication of page numbers (no references from the internet).

Access to Readings

The volume of M. Musto (ed.), Karl Marx's Grundrisse (Routledge, 2008) is available online at and at Scott Library.

Karl Marx, Selected Writings (Oxford, 1977), and Marcello Musto (ed.), Workers Unite! (Bloomsbury, 2014) have been ordered for the bookstore.

Course Evaluation

Class Participation


Presentations (+ Discussant)


Final paper proposal


Final paper


Schedule of Classes and Readings

Sep 12 Introduction

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, 'Letter to his Father'

Additional Readings:

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution 1789-1848, Chapters 1, 2 and maps, pp. 7-52 and 309-320.

Maximilien Rubel – Margaret Manale, Marx Without Myth: A Chronological Study of His Life and Work , Blackwell 1975

David McLellan, Karl Marx: His Life and Thought, Palgrave 2006

Hal Draper, The Marx-Engels Chronicle, Schoken Books 1985

Eric Hobsbawm, 'The Fortunes of Marx's and Engels' Writings'', in idem, ed., The History of Marxism, Volume 1: Marxism in Marx's day, Harvester 1982

Sep 19 The Encounter with Political Economy

With the participation of Prof. Mauro Buccheri (York University)

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, 'The Rediscovery of Karl Marx', International Review of Social History, vol. 52, part 3, 2007: 477-498

Marcello Musto, 'Marx in Paris. Manuscripts and notebooks of 1844', Science & Society, Vol. 73, n. 3 (July 2009): 386-402

Karl Marx, Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts

Marcello Musto, 'The myth of the 'young Marx' in the interpretations of theEconomic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844', Critique, vol. 43 (2015), no. 2: 233-260.

Additional Readings:

Karl Löwith, From Hegel to Nietzsche, Columbia University Press, 1964 [1941] (Chapter 1)

Ernest Mandel, The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx, 1843 to Capital , New York: Monthly Review Press 1971

Louis Althusser, For Marx, Verso 2005 (Chapter 2: 'On the Young Marx')

Herbert Marcuse, Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory, Humanity Books 1999 [1941]

Jean Hyppolite , Studies on Marx and Hegel, Harper & Row, 1969 [1955]

David McLellan, Marx before Marxism, Palgrave Macmillan 1970 (Chapters 1-3)

Sep 26 The Materialist Conception of History

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, 'Theses on Feuerbach'

Terrell Carver “The German Ideology Never Took Place”, History of Political Thought, Vol. 31 (1), pp. 107-127

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology

Karl Marx, 'Letter to Annenkov'

Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy

Additional Readings:

Terrell Carver - Daniel Blank (eds), Marx and Engels's "German Ideology" Manuscripts, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

Terrell Carver and Daniel Blank, A political history of the editions of Marx and Engels's "German ideology manuscripts", New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

Terrell Carver, The Postmodern Marx, Pennstate 1998, pp. 87-118

Oct 3 On Non-Anticapitalist Socialisms

Required Readings:

Carl Landauer, European Socialism, (Chapter I: 'The Three Anticapitalistic Movement', sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) pp. 21-59

Eric Hobsbawm, How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (chapter 2: 'Marx, Engels and Pre-Marxian socialism')

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

Karl Marx, 'Wage-Labour and Capital'

Karl Marx, 'Speech on Free Trade'

Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Additional Readings:

Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction to The Communist Manifesto. A Modern Edition”, London: Verso, 1998, pp. 3-29.

George D.H. Cole, Socialist Thought, Volume I: The Forerunners 1789-1850, (Chapters IV: 'Saint-Simon', VI: 'Fourier and Fourierism', IX: 'Owen and Owenism - Earlier Phases'), pp. 37-50, 62-74 and 86-101

Vincent Geoghegan, Utopianism and Marxism, Peter Lang 2008 [1987]

Gregory Claeys, “Socialism and Utopia”, in Roland Schaer, Gregory Claeys, and Lyman Tower Sargent (eds), Utopia : The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World, New York: The New York Public Library - Oxford University Press 2000, pp. 206–40.

Pamela Pilbeam, French Socialists before Marx: Workers, Women, and the Social Question in France . Teddington: Acumen 2000.

Oct 10 1848 and after

With the participation of Prof. Terrell Carver (University of Bristol)

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, The Class Struggle in France

Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

Additional Readings:

Hal Draper, Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Vol. 1, ch. 15.

Mark Cowling and James Martin (eds.), Marx's 'Eighteenth Brumaire': (post)modern interpretations, London: Pluto Press, 2002.

Oct 17 Crisis and Uprisings: Journalism for the New-York Tribune

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, 'Preface to A Critique of Political Economy'

Marcello Musto, 'The Formation of Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: From the Studies of 1843 to the Grundrisse', Socialism & Democracy, Vol. 24, n. 3 (July 2010), pp. 66-100

Michael Krätke, 'The First World Economic Crisis: Marx as an Economic Journalist', in Marcello Musto (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later, pp. 162-168

Michael Krätke, 'Marx's 'books of crisis' of 1857-8', in Marcello Musto (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later, Routledge 2008, pp. 169-175

Karl Marx, 'Journalism of the 1850s'

Karl Marx, 5 articles for the New-York Tribune:

'Revolution in China and Europe' from MECW 12; 'The Economic Crisis in Europe', 'The Trade Crisis in England', 'The Financial Crisis in Europe' from MECW 15; and 'British Commerce and Finance' from MECW 16

Plus 5 other articles, by choice, among those listed below:

'Pauperism and Free Trade – The Approaching Commercial Crisis' from MECW 11; 'Revolution in China and Europe' and 'Political Movements – Scarcity of Bread in Europe' from MECW 12; 'The Commercial Crisis in Britain' from MECW 13; 'The Crisis in England' from MECW 14; 'The French Crédit Mobilier' (I, II and III), 'The Monetary Crisis in Europe', 'The Causes of the Monetary Crisis in Europe', 'The European Crisis', 'The New French Bank Act', 'The Bank Act of 1844 and the Monetary Crisis in England', 'The Crisis in Europe', 'The French Crisis', 'The Economic Crisis in France' and 'The Financial State of France' from MECW 15; 'The English Bank Act of 1844' and 'Commercial Crises and Currency in Britain' from MECW 16

Karl Marx, 'Letters 1848-1857'

Additional Readings:

Karl Marx, Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism of Karl Marx , New York: Penguin, 2007

Aijaz Ahmad, ‘Marx on India: A Clarification’, in In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. London: Verso 1992, pp. 221-42.

Irfan Habib, ‘Marx’s Perception of India’, in Iqbal Husain (ed.), Karl Marx, on India. New Delhi: Tulika Books 2006, pp. xix-liv.

Prabhat Patnaik, ‘Appreciation: The Other Marx’,in Iqbal Husain (ed.),Karl Marx, on India. New Delhi: Tulika Books 2006, pp. lv-lxviii.

Simon Clarke, Marx’s Theory of Crisis, London: Palgrave 1994.

Oct 24 The Grundrisse

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, 'History, Production and Method in the 1857 Introduction', in idem, ed., Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later, pp. 3-32

Karl Marx, Grundrisse

John Bellamy Foster, Marx's Grundrisse and the Ecological Contradictions of Capitalism', in Marcello Musto (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later, pp. 93-106

Additional Readings:

Paresh Chattopadhyay, 'The Failure of Twentieth-Century Socialism and Marx’s Continuing Relevance', Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 24, n. 3 (2010), pp. 23-45.

Roman Rosdolsky, The Making of Marx’s Capital, Pluto 1977 (Chapters XXVIII and XXIX)

Iring Fetscher, 'Emancipated Individuals in an Emancipated Society: Marx's Sketch of Post-Capitalist Society in the Grundrisse', in Marcello Musto (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later, pp. 107-119

Eric Hobsbawm, Introduction to Karl Marx, Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, International Publishers 1965, pp. 9-65

Ellen Meiksins Wood, Historical Materialism in 'Forms Which Precede Capitalist Production' , in Marcello Musto, ed., Karl Marx's Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later, pp. 79-92

Moishe Postone, "Rethinking Capital in Light of the Grundrisse", in M. Musto (ed.), Karl Marx’s Grundrisse. Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy , pp. 120-137.

Oct 31 Capital I, Unpublished Ch. VI: The Critique of Capitalist Alienation

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, “Revisiting Marx’s Concept of Alienation”, Socialism and Democracy, vol. 24, n. 3 (November 2010): 79-101.

Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value (only from 429 to 432)

Karl Marx, 'Results of the Immediate Process of Production'

Karl Marx, 'The Fetishism of Commodities' (pp. 458-472 from Capital, Vol. I)

Karl Marx, 'Letters 1858-1868'

Additional Readings:

Ernest Mandel, 'Appendix: Results of the Immediate Process of Production: Introduction', in Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, pp. 943-947

Isaak Illich Rubin, Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value, Black & Red 1972

Michael Lebowitz, Beyond Capital, Palgrave 2003 (Chapter 3: 'The Missing Book on Wage-Labour'), pp. 27-50

Kevin Anderson, Marx at the Margins, University of Chicago Press 2010 (Chapter 5: From the Grundrisse to Capital: Multilinear Themes), pp. 151-195

Nov 7 Primitive Accumulation, Capitalism and Surplus Value

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, Capital, A. From Volume I

Additional Readings:

Ernest Mandel, 'Introduction', in Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, pp. 11-86

David Harvey, The Limits to Capital, London: Verso 2006 (Chapter 1: 'Commodities, Values and Class Relation'), pp. 1-38

Ellen Meiksins Wood, Democracy Against Capitalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1995 ('Introduction' and Chapter 1: 'The Separation of the 'Economic' and the 'Political' in Capitalism), pp. 1-48

Enrique Dussel, Towards an unknown Marx: A Commentary on the Manuscritps of 1861-1863, Routledge 2001

Ernest Mandel, 'Marx, Karl Heinrich', in John Eatwell - Murray Milgate - Peter Newman (eds), The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, Volume 3, pp. 367-383

Nov 14 The International

Required Readings:

Marcello Musto, “Introduction”, in Id. (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Editor), London–New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 1-30.

Various Authors, in Marcello Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Parts 1, 2, 4, 11, and 12).

Karl Marx, 'Letters 1863-1881'

Additional Readings:

Fernbach, David, ‘Introduction' in Karl Marx, The First International and After: Political Writings (vol. 3), London: Verso, 2010, pp. 9-71.

Julius Braunthal, History of the International, New York: Praeger, 1967.

Julian P. W. Archer, The First International in France, 1864-1872: Its Origins, Theories, and Impact , Lanham/New York/Oxford: University Press of America, 1997.

Nov 21 The Paris Commune and the Conflict with the Autonomists

Marcello Musto, 'Introduction', in Id. (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later , pp. 31-68.

Various Authors, in Marcello Musto (Ed.), Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Parts 6, 7, 9, 10, and 13).

Karl Marx, On Bakunin's Statism and Anarchy

Additional Materials:

Donny Gluckstein, The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy, Chapter 1: "The Commune's Achievements", pp. 1-42.

Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune, London: Verso, 2015.

Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, History of the Paris Commune of 1871 [1876], London: Verso.

Nov 28 The Last Studies

Required Readings:

Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme

Marcello Musto, 'The Researches of the Late Marx: Anthropology, Colonialism, and Revolution' (forthcoming 2018)

Karl Marx, 'Letter to Mickhailovsky'

Lawrence Krader, 'Introduction', in Karl Marx,The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1972, pp. 1-43.

Karl Marx, 'Letter (and Drafts) to Vera Zasulich'

Karl Marx, 'Preface to The Communist Manifesto'

Additional Readings:

Daniel Bensaid, Marx for Our Times, London: Verso 2002

Kevin Anderson, Marx at the Margins, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2010 (Chapter 5: Late Writings on Non-Western and Precapitalist Societies), pp. 196-236