Marxist Thought and the City

Marxist Thought and the City


Reviewed by Jose Francisco Vergara Perucich

First Published:

23 Feb 2018, 12:00 am

Book review: Marxist Thought and the City" class="title-link m-article-cta" target="_blank" rel="noopener">

Marxist Thought and the City

In 2002, Andy Merrifield published Metromarxism, an insightful analysis of Marxist thinkers whose work has reflected on issues related to the city. Naturally, Henri Lefebvre was the subject of one of the chapters in which Merrifield exposed how Lefebvre claimed that Marxists must turn their eyes to the urban. ‘Marxists, he insists, now have to focus as much on urbanism as industrialism, on streets as much as factories’ (Merrifield, 2002: 8). Lefebvre’s approach to Marx provided a set of inspirational methods for developing a radical critique of the urban processes under capitalism. Marxist Thought and the City, first published in French in 1972, explains why the urban deserves a more leading role in modern Marxist theory: urbanisation is a capitalist mode of production, and the analysis of the work of Marx and Engels needs to be resituated from the industrial to the urban society. One of the most exciting reflections that emerged from the reading of the book is how Lefebvre connects Marx and Engels to utopian thinking in urban studies. For Lefebvre, if a revolution is to overthrow capitalism it must be urban. It is in the process of the production of the space where the possibility of a radical transformation of society lies. Within the vast literature produced by Lefebvre, this book represents a deep breath of theoretical reflections before launching his most influential work, La production de l’espace (1974). In a way, Marxist Thought and the City presents a register of Lefebvre’s trajectory from Marx and Engels to a critical spatial analysis for constructing his masterpiece.


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