The New Marxishism

Reviewing Benjamin Kunkel’s new book, Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis, Kyle Chayka describes the new flavor of leftist political thinking that Kunkel labels “Marxish”:

The “Marxish” coinage is a good way of referring to this next-generation critical political thought being put into practice by the left, a kind of functional Marxism. Marxish dumps Marx’s difficult teleology in which socialism inevitably triumphs over capitalism, or “capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation.” Instead, thinkers like Kunkel and his subjects are using Marxism as a tool to deconstruct and mitigate the destructive effects of capitalism as we see them occurring in the world today.

The Marxish milieu has come to the fore lately in a collection of journals and magazines widely regarded as the forefront of contemporary intellectual writing in the United States. The thrice-yearly journal n+1, of which Kunkel is a co-founder, provided space for Marxish criticism, produced a broadsheet during the heyday of Occupy, and has served as an incubator for books about the financial crisis, office environments, and hipsters. The magazine also produces posters emblazoned with the suitably tongue-in-cheek-or-is-it slogan “Utopia in our time.”