Since 1989, many "repentant" leftists have proclaimed Marxism incapable of explaining the new phenomena of the dawning new century. Ernest Mandel reminds us in The Place of Marxism in History that Marxism drew from its very inception on the advances of all the social sciences and emancipation movements of its time. In a survey of the multiple sources of Marx and Engels' theory, he identifies the specific contribution of the two friends in the various disciplines to which they applied themselves: philosophy, political economy, social history, revolutionary organization, self-organization of the working class, emancipation movements, and internationalism. Concluding that Marxism 'constantly learns from perpetually changing reality' and that it is the conscious expression of the real movement of workers towards self-emancipation, Mandel proposes a formula that provides for a dialectical interaction between innovation and the verification of established tenets. This text is based on a series of lectures given at the IIRE.
Ernest Mandel was active in the revolutionary socialist movement from the late 1930s until his death in 1995, and participated in the struggle against the Nazi occupation of Belgium. Successively editor of La Gauche, a member of the economic studies commission of the General Confederation of Labour of Belgium, and a leading figure of the independent radical left, he taught at the Free University of Brussels. He was the author of many books, including Marxist Economic Theory, The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx, Late Capitalism and Long Waves of Capitalist Development, as well as IIRE Notebook no. 17/18, October 1917: Coup d'Etat or Social Revolution?