For more than a century, a trend within Western Marxism has been to retreat from endorsing actually existing socialist projects such as the Soviet Union and retheorizing their significance in relation to capitalism. In this context, these scholars have begun to, in effect, reject imperialism as a driving force of capitalism, while obscuring the central regressive role of the US in particular.

Such re-theorization downplays the historical significance of actually existing socialism and especially socialist projects in the Global South, often by reframing them as part of global capitalism or global modernity. Recent versions of Western Marxism often conflate capitalism and modernity. The presentation explores the source of Western Marxism’s antagonism to socialism, especially socialism in the Global South. Our speaker contends that a new shift occurred in the 1980s and 1990s as Western Marxists began to focus on global capitalism and globalization.

Our speaker, Immanuel Ness, is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College (CUNY) and a visiting professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. A trade union organizer in the US and labor activist in the Global South, Immanuel Ness is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Labor and Society. He is chair of the New York Peace Council and of the International Committee of the PSC/CUNY, a labor union representing faculty at CUNY. He recently returned from a US Peace Council delegation to meet with the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament.

His many books, academic articles, chapters, and edited volumes handbooks focus on US imperialism, labor movements, and international migration.

His latest book is Migration as Economic Imperialism (Polity 2023), which focuses on Western financial imperialism and the oppression of the Global South.

His other books include Sanctions as War (Brill 2022) , Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class (Pluto 2016), and the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism (2014/2021).