The immediate post-war years had seen Korsch closely involved with the concrete political problems of the day—first the socialisation movement, then the factory councils. But at the same time he was writing on the basic aspects of Marxism, as they related to such problems, for example in the Quintessenz and the Introduction to the Critique of the Gotha Programme. His next work, Marxism and Philosophy1 seems to mark a departure. At first sight, the relation indicated in the title seems to be only a ‘history of ideas’, and of the most arid variety, tracing the influence of A upon B, and, in the case of Marxism, requiring the painstaking exegesis of fragmentary texts. This might give interesting information about the genesis of Marx’s ideas, and the logic of their development, but it does not seem to have that relevance to practice with which Korsch was always concerned. Yet at the time it was thought that this apparently scholastic question did have a bearing on practical problems of the highest importance; so mulch so that in 1924, the year after Korsch’s Marxism and Philosophy and Lukács’ History and Class Consciousness were published, it became the centre of heated debates in the Communist International. To understand why this was so, the debate has to be seen in its political context. Since this is only partly made explicit in Marxism and Philosophy, a brief sketch will be offered here.
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4 Marxism and Philosophy
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