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Kovel, J. (1994). Psychoanalytic-Marxism: Groundwork: Eugene Victor Wolfenstein. New York: Guilford, 1993; and London: Free Association Books, 1993, 468 pp., $40.00 (hardcover), $19.95 (paperback). Psychoanal. Psychol., 11(4):575-581.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 11(4):575-581

Psychoanalytic-Marxism: Groundwork: Eugene Victor Wolfenstein. New York: Guilford, 1993; and London: Free Association Books, 1993, 468 pp., $40.00 (hardcover), $19.95 (paperback)

Review by:
Joel Kovel, M.D.

Ours is a postmodern epoch marked by skepticism toward all master narratives. As the millennium approaches, millenarianism fades. The all-embracing doctrines that succeeded the era of religious faith have been largely superseded, their emancipatory hopes shattered by bitter experience and their theories in tatters. Their successors compose the various technical discourses, including the psychological—each focused on an analytically dissected portion of the universe and all without grand ambitions. The notions that the world can be coherently explained, or that human beings can fully comprehend their existence and even free themselves in the same process, are quite passé in the postmodern scene.

Marxism and psychoanalysis, each the product of a high modernist synthesis, are perhaps the two most prominent examples of decline. The disasters of Soviet Communism, and more basically, the inability to demonstrate any viable alternative to capitalism as a means of organizing industrial societies, have cost the former much of its reputation and influence. Psychoanalysis has superficially fared better in that psychotherapeutic movements retain a real role in the contemporary world. Nonetheless, the original Freudian ambition can scarcely be said to have done better than that of Marxism.

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