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Envisioning Real Utopias, Erik Olin Wright, London: Verso, 2010

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[AbstractIn this review, I argue that Erik Olin Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias is necessary reading for anyone interested in thinking through the possibilities of creating noncapitalist ways of organising economic and social life in the world today. However, I also raise questions about Wright’s deterministic interpretation of Marx’s critique of political economy, his relative neglect of class-analysis, and his non-Gramscian conception of the relationship between the state, economy, and civil society., Abstract In this review, I argue that Erik Olin Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias is necessary reading for anyone interested in thinking through the possibilities of creating noncapitalist ways of organising economic and social life in the world today. However, I also raise questions about Wright’s deterministic interpretation of Marx’s critique of political economy, his relative neglect of class-analysis, and his non-Gramscian conception of the relationship between the state, economy, and civil society.]

1. Buttigieg Joseph A."‘The Contemporary Discourse on Civil Society: A Gramscian Critique’" Boundary 2 2005Vol 32 33 52
2. Callari Antonio, Ruccio David F."‘Rethinking Socialism: Community, Democracy, and Social Agency’" Rethinking Marxism 2010Vol 22 3 403 419
3. Gibson-Graham J.K. A Postcapitalist Politics 2006 Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press
4. Jones Owen, Grove Samuel"‘From Salt of the Earth to Scum on the Streets (Part 2)’" 2011 available at: <>
5. Laclau Ernesto, Mouffe Chantal Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics 2001 Second Edition London Verso
6. Negri Antonio Thomas Peter Goodbye Mr Socialism 2008 New York Seven Stories
7. Resnick Stephen A., Wolff Richard D. Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy 1987 Chicago University of Chicago Press
8. Ruccio David F. Development and Globalization: A Marxian Class Analysis 2010 London Routledge
9. Ruccio David F."‘Cooperatives, Surplus, and the Social’" Rethinking Marxism 2011Vol 23 3 334 340
10. Wright Erik Olin Envisioning Real Utopias 2010 London Verso
11. FN11. I prepared the first version of this review for the 2010 Left Forum, for a session on Wright’s book that was organised by the publisher. I want to thank the conference-organisers, especially Seth Adler, for inviting me to participate in that session – and, especially, for giving me the opportunity to read the book. (It is one of the ironies of being an academic that, while our jobs are predicated on scholarly work, between teaching, administrative work, and our own research, we do not find enough time to read the work of other contemporary scholars.) I also want to thank Peter Thomas for his encouragement and helpful comments on earlier versions of this essay.
12. FN22. As of this writing (in July 2011), both the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the National Commission on Offshore Drilling have issued their final reports. The fire in the Upper Big Branch mine continues to be investigated by various federal, state, and trade-union commissions, although the Mine Safety and Health Administration recently informed the families of the 29 dead miners that the disaster was ‘preventable’.
13. FN33. I understand full well that various governments and political movements are, right now, using the ongoing crises to make a similar argument about diminished expectations in calling for fiscal austerity. In this sense, the task of the Left, in identifying and spelling-out alternatives to capitalist disasters, has become even more urgent.
14. FN44. Laclau and Mouffe 2001.
15. FN55. Gibson-Graham 2006.
16. FN66. Negri 2008.
17. FN77. I present my own views on how socialism can be retained and, at the same time, needs to be rethought, in a recent article with Antonio Callari (Callari and Ruccio 2010).
18. FN88. Jones and Grove 2011.
19. FN99. That is what I try to do in a recent article on worker-cooperatives (Ruccio 2011).
20. FN1010. The Marxian definition of class in terms of surplus-labour was first elaborated by Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff (Resnick and Wolff 1987). It is the notion of class I utilise in my most recent book (Ruccio 2010).
21. FN1111. Buttigieg 2005, pp. 36–7.
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/content/journals/10.1163/156920611x611759
2011-01-01
2015-08-31

Affiliations: 1: University of Notre DameDavid.F.Ruccio.1@nd.edu

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