From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Perry Anderson (born 1938) is a Marxist intellectual and historian. He is Professor of History and Sociology at UCLA and an editor of the New Left Review. He is the brother of historian Benedict Anderson.
He was an influence on the New Left. He bore the brunt of the disapproval of E. P. Thompson in the latter's The Poverty of Theory, in a controversy during the late 1970s over the scientific Marxism of Louis Althusser, and the use of history and theory in the politics of the Left. In the mid-1960s, Thompson wrote an essay for the annual Socialist Register that rejected Anderson's view of aristocratic dominance of Britain's historical trajectory, as well as Anderson's seeming preference for continental European theorists over radical British traditions and empiricism. Anderson delivered two responses to Thompson's polemics, first in an essay in New Left Review (January-February 1966) called "Socialism and Pseudo-Empiricism" and then in a more conciliatory yet ambitious overview, Arguments within English Marxism (1980).
Anderson is the author of numerous books, including The Origins of Postmodernity (1998) and In the Tracks of Historical Materialism (1983). He has also provided explorations of European history and social development in the volumes Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (1974) and Lineages of the Absolutist State (1974).
While Anderson has faced many attacks in his native Britain for favoring continental European philosophers over British thinkers, he has not spared Western European Marxists from criticism; see his Considerations on Western Marxism (1976). Nevertheless, many of his assaults have been delivered against postmodernist currents in continental Europe. In the Tracks of Historical Materialism regards Paris as the new capital of intellectual reaction, quite at odds with others who treat postmodernism as a left heresy.
Anderson frequently contributes to the London Review of Books.
New Left Review
Editor of New Left Review from 1962-1982 and 2000-2003, he currently serves on this journal's editorial committee.
Works on Anderson
- Perry Anderson : the merciless laboratory of history by Gregory Elliott (1998)
- Perry Anderson, Marxism and the New Left by Paul Blackledge (2004)