Heterodox Marxism in the US, Canada and Australia

Like "Western Marxism," the heterodox discussion on Marx in the USA developed in opposition to dogmatic "Marxism-Leninism," proposing as an alternative to it a reading of Marx's texts that is philosophical and humanist in the broadest sense.

The US debate on Marx was partly influenced by other internationally active currents, such as Trotskyism, Leninism and Maoism, but also by Critical Theory. It was also to some extent a continuation of a distinct US tradition, namely the so-called early phase of American Marxism. Moreover, there had developed in the US a distinct form of utopian socialism, which Marx, though familiar with French and British socialism, was hardly aware of. During the 20th century, it was mainly socialist groups and certain social movements, such as the civil rights movement and feminism, but also anarchism, which proved influential.

After the Second World War, following the disruption caused by the persecutions of the McCarthy period, the debate on Marx developed mainly in the context of the so-called New Left, which is comparable to the New Social Movements in Western Europe. A debate on Marx that is heterodox in the broadest sense is now occurring mainly at universities, in certain journals and at conferences.

British workers spread Marxism throughout Canada during the late 19th and early 20th century; it also spread in the ambit of the Socialist Party of Canada, founded in 1904. For a long time, the debate on Marx was closely tied to political parties. It was only in the 1970s that a vigorous debate on Marx emerged in Canada, within the context of the general renewal of post-Marx critique. Australia's development was similar to that of Canada in that a Labour Party had already been founded in 1891.

Anthologies of pertinent texts associated with so-called Humanist Marxism, as well as more recent debates, can be found, among other places, on the website of the Marxist-Humanist Initiative, whose most important exponent was probably Raya Dunayevskaya.

The heterodox debate on Marx was also influenced by Paul Mattick and Hal Draper. An overview of the leading journals can be found here.