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Western Marxism is a current of Marxist theory arising from Western and Central Europe in the aftermath of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the ascent of Leninism. The term denotes a loose collection of theorists who advanced an interpretation of Marxism distinct from that codified by the Soviet Union.[1]

The Western Marxists placed more emphasis on Marxism's philosophical and subjective aspects, as well as the origins of Karl Marx's thought in the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (for which reason it is sometimes called Hegelian Marxism),[2] and what they called the "Young Marx" (the more humanistic early works of Marx). Although some early figures such as György Lukács and Antonio Gramsci were prominent in political activities,[3] Western Marxism became primarily the reserve of academia, especially after the Second World War.[4] Prominent figures included Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse.

Since the 1960s, the concept has been closely associated with the New Left. While many of the Western Marxists were adherents of Marxist humanism, the term also encompasses figures and schools of thought that are strongly critical of Hegelianism and humanism.[5]