Conclusion: The Author Responds

  • Cornel West
Keywords: Marxism, Philosophy


I am deeply grateful to Monthly Review, especially Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, for sponsoring this timely symposium on Marxism and morality. It is fitting that the primary focus be not so much on my essay, The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought, as on the crucial intellectual and existential forms of weaponry we must forge to meet the difficult challenges in reconstructing and reinvigorating the American left. I had absolutely no plans to publish my text until Paul and Harry convinced me that it could contribute to such a reconstruction and reinvigoration. AE, I note in the long autobiographical introduction to the book, we face a threefold challenge—an intellectual, existential, and organizational crisis on the left. Our intellectual challenge is one of preserving the best of those traditions that explain and describe the structural and institutional causes of social misery here and abroad. This means we must keep alive the precious ideals of democracy, freedom, equality, and justice by highlighting why and how it is that so many people do not have access to employment and enjoyment, food and fun, shelter and sanity, health care and leisure time, literacy and land, child care and personal dignity. The existential challenge is energizing and galvanizing our demoralized and depressed selves to believe that fundamental social change is possible—even in a pessimistic and cynical time such as ours.