The road to St Paul’s

Scott Hamilton

in The Crisis of Theory

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084355
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702338 | DOI:
The road to St Paul’s

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This chapter describes how Edward Palmer Thompson's problems with the left would grow worse and worse as the 1970s went on, and this would prompt him first to modify and then abandon the complicated commitment to Marxism-as-tradition that he had made in ‘An Open Letter to Leszek Kolakowski’. Thompson was certainly unsuccessful in provoking a productive discussion with his old comrade Leszek Kolakowski. It also tries to show that Thompson's experiences in India, at the end of 1976 and beginning of 1977, did much to darken his political perspectives. Thompson cites India and Cambodia to illustrate the depths of the crisis of Marxism. Thompson decides that Althusserianism is not a severe but isolated deformation of Marxism, so much as a manifestation of a more general crisis on the left. St Paul's would be the last time Thompson made a public statement of any length about Marxist ideas.

Keywords: Edward Palmer Thompson; St Paul; Leszek Kolakowski; India; Cambodia; Marxism; Althusserianism

Chapter.  11389 words. 

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