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Professor and CRC Leo Panitch on renewed interest in Karl Marx

Professor and CRC Leo Panitch on renewed interest in Karl Marx

With the West suffering from the after-effects of the financial crisis and revolution in the air in parts of the world, could it possibly be springtime for Marx? wrote The Globe and Mail March 26:

"I'm optimistic about the explosion that's happened in Wisconsin," says Leo Panitch, a political science professor at York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies]. "For the first time in a long time, the Canadian left is looking south, rather than the other way."

But he's loath to make too many claims for a new dawn rising: "The craziness and mindlessness of so much of what is going on in the American right may – and I'm very cautious about this – it may lead to the same kind of sensibilities that produced a radical new left in the sixties."

Says Panitch, "It's much more complicated now. It's not easy to organize these days when you don't have masses of workers brought together in a big factory and they aren't living in the same part of the city. A lot of people now who are exploited and poorly paid are working in funky areas like producing software or advertising."

Two years ago, he wrote a piece for Foreign Policy magazine titled “Thoroughly Modern Marx” about how the post-crash world might possibly (though by no means inevitably) see a rebirth in radical thinking. That, of course, has not happened – in fact, the political left has suffered setbacks and since 2008, centre-right parties have gained power in Europe.

Panitch is the Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and a Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin