Against a closing world: Introduction

Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, Alfonso Garcia Vela, Edith gonzalez

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This volume continues the work initiated by open Marxism in the 1990s. Its aims are no different from the previous three volumes: to (re)think how to break the descent into barbarism; to break capital by venturing through a theoretical exploration to free the critique of capi- talist labour economy from economic dogmas (see Bonefeld’s Foreword); to open up to the movement of struggle and to understand itself as part of that movement. That, for us, is the project of open Marxism, and is why we are presenting this collection of essays as the fourth volume of Open Marxism. We regard Marxism as an emancipatory theory, a theory of struggle, rather than as an objective analysis of capitalist domination. As John Holloway highlights elsewhere, ‘to speak of struggle is to speak of the openness of social development; to think of Marxism as a theory of struggle is to think of Marxist categories as open categories, categories which conceptualise the openness of society’ (1993: 76). To Marx, ‘[t]he critique of social forms ... amounts to a critique of economic categories on a human basis and it does so by returning the constituted forms of the economic categories to “relations between humans”’ (Bonefeld in Bieler et al. 2006: 178). We endorse what the editors of Open Marxism 2 two expressed in their introduction:
the openness of categories – an openness on to practice – obtains as a reflexive critique of ideologies and social phenomena, which, for their part, exist as moments of historically asserted forms of class struggle ... Open Marxism insists on the antagonistic nature of social existence. This being so, the Marxist understanding of a unity of theory and praxis entails not the theoretical suppression of class struggle, but the invocation of class struggle as the movement of the contradiction in which capital, itself, consists. (Bonefeld, Gunn and Psychopedis 1992b: xi and xii)
Openness means openness of categories, of debates, of our hearts, of spaces for critique, of fronts of political possibility (Amsler 2016; Diner- stein, in this volume).
This fourth volume of Open Marxism gives fresh impetus to the inter- twining of theoretical discussion and radical, anticapitalist practice with a selection of authors that we consciously sought to include: not only the established names associated with open Marxism but also a new wave or second generation of open Marxists. The fact that this new gener- ation includes a high proportion of women and Latin Americans says much about the way that rebellion and rebellious thought have been moving in recent years. Our aim is that open Marxism should be open to the changing flows of struggle, although it must be admitted that the reference lists of the various chapters remain heavily dominated by white men.
The contributions to this volume were inspired by the broad idea of ‘open Marxism against a closing world’, but the authors were left free to decide how to contribute to it. This editorial decision responds to the aim to discover and present to the reader some of the open Marxists’ the- oretical developments and political concerns of the past two decades. We have grouped the eleven chapters that follow around three main subjects: open Marxism and critical theory (Part I); global capital, the nation state and the capitalist crisis (Part II); and democracy, revolution and eman- cipation (Part III).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOpen Marxism 4
Subtitle of host publicationAgainst a Closing World
EditorsAlfonso Garcia Vela, Edith Gonzalez
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPluto Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781786805423
ISBN (Print)ISBN: 9780745340258
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Alfonso García Vela is Professor and researcher at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico. In 2017, he was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of History at the University of Chicago. His fields of research. and teaching are sociology, theories of the state, Frankfurt School critical theory, modern social theory and Western Marxism.

Edith González is a Lecturer at the Universidad de Oriente, Puebla, Mexico. She has a PhD in Sociology from the Benemérita Universi- dad Autónoma de Puebla. Her research investigates democracy, social movements and emancipation from a critical perspective.

Ana Cecilia Dinerstein is a Reader in Sociology. She studied at the University of Buenos Aires, and the University of Warwick, where she received her doctorate. She teaches critical theory at the University of Bath. Her research on the global politics of hope connects critical theory with movements’ autonomous praxis. Her publications include The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)


  • open Marxism
  • critical theory


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