Review of Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right


My review of Terry Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right has been published at Bookideas.

Terry Eagleton is a leading literary theorist and one of Britain’s leading intellectuals and writers. His work has often considered the impact of Marxism on contemporary culture and society – his Marxism and Literary Criticism, for example, is a tiny jewel of a book(although I do have a few things to say about his use of punctuation) . Here, according to his preface, he was inspired by this idea: “What if all the most familiar objections to Marx’s work are mistaken? Or at least, if not totally wrongheaded, mostly so (p.ix)?” Over the course of the next 250 plus pages of elegant text that make up my copy of the book, he outlines in ten different chapters ten different areas of criticism and then mostly dismisses them.

Read the full review here.


Marx and East Asian Globalization


My abstract has been accepted for a special issue of the International Journal ( with the first draft due in May.


Although Marx’s concept of the Asiatic Mode of Production is of very limited value in understanding the rapid industrialization of East and Southeast Asia, his analysis of the processes of globalization and the dissolution of all bonds other than those constituted by money are of great use. Capital, the Communist Manifesto and the various political writings contain passages that describe the imperialism of capitalist production in overseas lands and the processes this sets in motion. The history of modern East and Southeast Asia is replete with examples of the arrival of capitalist investment an introduction of accumulation by alienation  and dispossession, with the transformation of societies and social relations as a result. From Japan and the Newly Industrializing Economies of the 1950s and 60s to China, Cambodia and Vietnam today, capitalist investment has unleashed the creative destruction of capitalism and brought about crises and resolutions with the pre-existing political settlements and the elites who protect them. Further, subsequent writers working in the Marxist tradition, from Gramsci to Harvey, have extended the original analysis to provide greater understanding of areas such as the relationships between states in the region to the spatial allocation of particular activities and the management of otherwise unstable situations. This paper first outlines Marx’s work in the area of the globalization of capitalist investment and production, then indicates the ways it has been extended in various important areas, before seeking to show the relevance of these analyses to modern East and Southeast Asian history.

(So, starting a new project before finishing all existing ones – scratch that New Year’s Resolution then.)

Review of David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism

The inequities of globalization have become increasingly evident in recent years: the recklessness and greed of under-regulated banks and finance companies caused the ongoing economic crisis; the gap between rich and poor has increased in all developed countries as salaries for the rich escalate and those for working people decline; right wing politicians backed by cronies in the media force through disastrous policies of austerity aimed at stripping the last vestiges of the welfare state and its protections from the volatilities of capitalism and breaking the right to protest through the extensive use of state violence.

Read the full review here.

Review of Therborn’s From Marxism to Post-Marxism?

Göran Therborn is one of the few leading academics and intellectuals of our times whom I have actually met – he was guest of honour at a workshop held at our university concerning Southeast Asian cities within the context of urban studies more broadly. At close range, despite occasionally having to close his eyes owing to the exigencies of travelling from Cambridge (where he holds his chair and had just been awarded an honorary doctorate) to Bangkok, he was very impressive through the broad range of his knowledge, analytical capacity and ability to draw upon examples and ideas from a diverse selection of fields of study.

Read the full review here.

Sartre: What Is an Intellectual?

According to French philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre, an intellectual is a person who recognizes the contradictions that govern her or his life. An intellectual cannot be a member of the proletariat because such a person would find it impossible to gain access to the kind of education required by an intellectual.

Read the full article here.

Review of Sartre’s Between Existentialism and Marxism

Whereas Marxism locates the individual within an overarching class struggle that defines her consciousness, existentialism locates individuals as specific people who experience being-in-the-universe. This tension (one might be tempted to say ‘contradiction’) informed much of Sartre’s thought and is occasionally touched upon in the essays and interviews collected together in this book. At one stage, the Marxist element takes centre stage and, at others, the existentialist replaces it.

Read the full review here.

Marxist Literary Criticism: Social Realism

Since Marxism is a specifically materialist ideology, it seems sensible to assume that Marxist literary criticism will deal primarily with what is demonstrably material and real. Further, since Marxism is clear on the fact that social conditions determine consciousness, then it would also be logical to assume that the kind of literature that would be preferred from this perspective would focus on the daily lives of the real people of society.

Read the full article here.