The most stimulating, balanced and sympathetic secular biography of the Prophet of Islam was written by a left-wing French Jewish intellectual in 1961. Maxime Rodinson’s Life of Muhammad was a formative influence on my generation. It seemed to be the first real attempt to come to terms with a culture that could not be understood through sacred texts or works of exegesis alone. Rodinson’s intellectual trajectory was indelibly linked to his personal and political biography.
Who can afford all this? The academic study of marx is another version of vanguardism, and at prices only the bourgeoisie can afford.
Trying ad infinitum to decipher marx has gone on ad finitum and the leftists who will have to create socialism aren’t much the wiser. We need a one page version of all these subjects. Marx’s theories are obscure because in the end they don’t make sense. The same can’t be said of his other writings where he didn’t try so hard: the issue is to be prepared to construct a socialist economy and society and one that is vaster in richness of content than the one-track minds of marxists.
The first installment of Michael Heinrich’s three-volume biography of Karl Marx titled “Karl Marx and the Birth of Modern Society” is now available from Monthly Review Press. In keeping with MR’s long-time tradition as a movement rather than an academic press, the cloth edition is $34.95 and the eBook is only $19.95.