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Anderson, Perry


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1938–) Marxist political historian and theorist. One of the foremost contemporary Marxist thinkers, Perry Anderson has been centrally concerned with defining the unity, limitations, and prospects (in his own words, the “historical balance sheet”) of Western M arxism . As editor of the New Left Review , Anderson has spearheaded a project attempting to remedy the deficiency, identified in his essay “Components of a national culture” (1968), of a tradition of Marxism in his native England. This and other issues were to generate a sustained polemic between E.P. T hompson and Anderson, documented in their respective volumes The Poverty of Theory (1978) and Arguments Within English Marxism (1980). Anderson has equally been concerned to investigate, from a historical materialist perspective, both the proximate and remote antecedents of capitalist society. His earlier works, Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (1974a) and Lineages of the Absolutist State (1974b), attempt respectively to trace two neglected historical connections: between the classical world and feudalism, and between feudalism and the absolutist state. Passages explains the emergence of feudalism from the “convergent collapse” of two preceding but mutually distinct modes of production, the slave mode which had characterized the Greek and Roman worlds, and the “primitive-communal” modes of the Germanic invaders ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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