Perry Anderson: The Merciless Laboratory of History
The man whom Terry Eagleton has called "Britain's most brilliant Marxist intellectual", Perry Anderson, longtime editor of New Left Review, is perhaps the English-speaking world's most influential proponent of Marxism. This book is the first comprehensive study of his work.
Gregory Elliott gives a dramatic view of the emergence of New Left theory in response to the degeneration of social democracy in the West and Communism in the East. As he traces the evolution of Anderson's thought -- arguably the most brilliantly original and ambitiously wide-ranging body of Marxist historical revision produced in a generation -- Elliott also sketches the collective career of New Left Review, itself one of the most influential international journals of the postwar period.
Drawing on a wealth of material, Elliott identifies the enduring influence on Anderson of such figures as Isaac Deutscher and Antonio Gramsci. He also provides a detailed exposition and critique of Anderson's writings on politics and culture -- whether English exceptionalism or European Marxism, Louis Althusser or E. P. Thompson, Gramsci or Francis Fukayama, the fate of Communism or the future of capitalism.
This first full reconstruction of Anderson's distinguished career provides an overview of the evolution of the British New Left since 1956 and reveals a great deal about the vicissitudes of Marxist theory and political practice in the era of post-Stalinist Communism. Elliott ultimately argues that, notwithstanding significant discontinuities in his intellectual development, Anderson remains a critically engaged thinker of the intransigent Left -- a contemporary historian whose commitment to the long view renders him anindispensable commentator on our times.