Norman Geras’s Contribution to Marxism
Convenors: David Bates, Mark Cowling, Paul Wetherly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Norman Geras (1943-2013) was a leading scholar of Marx and of Marxism. He was also an important Marxist thinker in his own right. He was well known for the way in which he approached his subjects with analytical rigour and a clarity of prose quite unusual in the arena of political philosophy. Geras’ intellectual output was wide-ranging. Indeed, in the later part of his career, he moved away from expressly Marxist concerns, to explore key moral questions. Geras’s work on Holocaust studies led to further important conceptual work exploring crimes against humanity. In the broad sense Geras’ contribution has been assessed in Stephen de Wijze and Eve Garrard’s (eds) (2012) Thinking Towards Humanity, Manchester University Press.
This panel – and its output – will complement de Wijze and Garrard’s text. The focus will be explicitly on Geras’s contribution to Marx and Marxism scholarship, and engagements with his work from a Marxist perspective. Key themes will include Geras’s critique of Marx on justice, his analysis of Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism; his assessment of Marx’s theory of human nature, his analysis of Rosa Luxemburg, and Louis Althusser, his critique of post-Marxism, and his contribution to the development of theories of socialist democracy. Attention will also be given to Geras’ assessment of the work of G.A. Cohen, set out in a paper given to the Manchester Workshops in Political Theory in 2012 – the title of which was: ‘Staying home: G.A. Cohen and the motivational basis of socialism’.