Georges Sorel: Jansenist Marxist

Georges Sorel: Jansenist Marxist

In what sense is Georges Sorel’s writing part of the history of Marxism? Sorel did not participate in any political movement that laid claim to Marx’s inheritance. He involved himself, to be sure, in all the great theoretical polemics of his age, but he did so from the outside, and the guardians of orthodoxy paid him scant polemical attention. He remained aloof from political quarrels and party strife. Sorel did not consider himself an orthodox believer, and he was not sparing in his critical remarks, when he considered them important, both with regard to Marxists and Marx himself. He did not write any treatises on historical materialism. He left behind him a vague trace of associations with Italian fascism, which for a time–through Mussolini and other ideologists of the movement–declared him its prophet. In the evolution of the doctrine he could pass as an accidental extravagance. He began his literary career at a time when he had nothing in common with Marxism. In the later histories of the doctrine his name is hardly mentioned.

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