Marxism Reading Group: What is Historical Materialism?

The Marxism Reading Group will begin its semester by looking at historical materialism, one of Marx's most influential ideas.


September 09, 2020 at 7:00pm - 9pm

Karl Marx boldly proclaimed that human history could be retold as a history of class struggles. The Marxism Reading Group will begin its semester by looking at historical materialism, the concept undergirding this weighty claim. Probably his most influential idea, materialism has also been one of his most enduringly controversial. In order to understand why, we'll explore a number of key concepts, including Marx's infamous base-superstructure theory of society. We'll also consider the value of these notions for contemporary socialists, asking about what is living and what is dead in the Marxist theory of history.

Suggested Additional Readings

  • Wright, Levine, & Sober, Reconstructing Marxism
  • Brenner, “The Social Basis of Economic Development
  • Carling, “Analytical Marxism & Historical Materialism
  • Thompson, The Poverty of Theory

Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 994 9945 0800

About the Series

Philly DSA's Marxism Reading Group explores a range of topics in Marxist theory. Sessions will focus on big picture ideas, unpacking fundamental concepts of historical, political, and economic analysis, as well as more specific debates focused on issues such as class, the State, gender, imperialism, colonialism, hegemony, and history. Along the way, we'll read some of the most influential writers in the Marxist tradition, including David Harvey, Angela Davis, GA Cohen, CLR James, EP Thompson, and Rosa Luxemburg. Whether you’re curious about Marxism, a longtime activist, or an expert Marxologist, please join us!


September 9: What is Historical Materialism?
September 23: Class I: Formation vs. Location
October 7: Class II: The Professional-Managerial Class
October 21: Imperialism I: Early Theories of Imperialism
November 4: Imperialism II: Underdevelopment & the New Imperialism
November 18: Imperialism III: Colonialism & The Post-Colony
December 02: Social Reproduction Theory


Jarek Ervin ·

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