Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Soviet Marxism reconsidered: Dialectical method in the thought of Lev Vygotsky
by Artinian, Arto, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2013, 267; 3561203
Abstract (Summary)

While intellectual engagement with the legacy of the Soviet experiment continues, objective and critical engagement with Soviet Marxist theory remains a barely-studied and marginal area of political theory. A commonly-held view suggests that little of political theoretical substance has been produced in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. Marxist theory in this context is often portrayed as dogmatic pseudo-Marxism, burdened by the heavy hand of Stalinist authoritarianism and handicapped by the execution and prosecution of creative Marxists living in the USSR. I will argue that this is an incomplete and distorted picture of Soviet Marxism. I propose that the work of Lev Vygotsky forms an alternative and highly original tradition of Soviet Marxist dialectics. As a thinker writing in the immediate aftermath of the October Revolution, his work is an attempt to apply Marxist dialectical method to the unique challenges of post-1917 Soviet society. Whereas most students of Vygotsky focus on his fundamental contributions to psychology, I argue that Vygotsky's work on dialectical method represents an original and significant contribution to Marxist dialectics, in both continuing the work of Gyorgy Lukacs and anticipating contemporary theories developed by Bertell Ollman and Roy Bhaskar. I will conclude by briefly engaging with Gilles Deleuze's "Difference and Repetition", which I want to argue can be read as a work of Marxist dialectics, struggling to make sense of the crisis of 1968 in France. Contrary to readings of this work as "moving away from Hegel and Marx and toward Nietzsche and Freud" (as stated on the back cover of 1994 English translation) I will argue that Deleuze was in fact moving beyond, but not outside Marx.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jacobs, Jack
Commitee: Clough, Patricia, Cole, Alyson
School: City University of New York
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science
Keywords: Dialectical method, Marxism, Materialist dialectics, Political theory, Soviet intellectual history
Publication Number: 3561203
ISBN: 978-1-303-08158-3
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