Karl Korsch pp 114-135 | Cite as

The Materialist Conception of History

  • Patrick Goode


In 1928 Korsch’s mandate to the Reichstag expired (he did not stand again) and the Kommunistische Politik group dissolved itself.1 During this period, Korsch concentrated on literary activity. Up to the time of writing Karl Marx (1936onwards), the two most important works were Die materialistische Geschichtsauffassung (The Materialist Conception of History) in 1929 and the Anti-Critique to Marxism and Philosophy in 1930. The sure touch which he had shown in earlier writings had temporarily deserted him. In fact, in these years, Korsch was looking for a direction. For example, he later considered writing a long introduction to a German edition of the works of Antonio Labriola. In his opinion Labriola was ‘the best interpreter of the Marxist method and in particular of its methodological … foundations; at the same time a fundamental Hegelian’.2 There were two other reasons for his interest in Labriola. First, Labriola stood at a turning point: after him came the syndicalists in France and the revisionists in Germany. Secondly, the significance of Labriola for the development of Marxism in the West is a striking parallel to the meaning of Plekhanov for the development of Marxism in the East.3 However, this remained an unrealised project and The Materialist Conception of History was the only book he wrote; his Anti-Critique to Marxism and Philosophy is only an extended essay.


Philosophical Question Historical Materialism Class Struggle Marxist Theory Materialist Conception 
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  1. 2.
    Korsch, ‘Gutachten über Antonio Labriola’, IISG MS. (1929), p. 2.Google Scholar
  2. 39.
    Kautsky, Ethik und materialistische Geschichtsauffassung. Reviewed by O. Bauer, ‘Marxismus und Ethik’. Die neue Zeit (1906), pp. 485–99.Google Scholar
  3. 57.
    N. Krupskaya, Memories of Lenin (London, 1932) vol. 2, pp. 28, 29.Google Scholar
  4. 62.
    Korsch, ‘Lenin’s Philosophy’, Living Marxism (1938), p. 141.Google Scholar
  5. 68.
    N. Bukharin, Theory of Historical Materialism (New York, 1925), p. 56.Google Scholar
  6. 81.
    Korsch, ‘The Marxist Ideology in Russia’, Living Marxism (1938), p. 45.Google Scholar
  7. 82.
    K. Korsch, ‘Thesen zur Kritik des faschistischen Staatsbegriffs’, Gegner (1932), p. 20.Google Scholar
  8. 90.
    Korsch, ‘Marxism and the Present Task of the Proletarian Class Struggle’, Living Marxism (1938), p. 118.Google Scholar
  9. 99.
    L. Ceppa, ‘Korsch’s Marxism’, Telos (Winter-Spring 1975/76), p. 99.Google Scholar

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© Patrick Goode 1979

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  • Patrick Goode

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