Two decades after 1989, when he was too hastily consigned to oblivion, Karl Marx has returned to the limelight. In the last few years he has not only received the attention of intellectuals, but has also been the focus of widespread interest prompted by the international financial crisis, as leading daily and weekly papers throughout the world have been discussing the contemporary relevance of his thought.

In this context of what has been called a ‘Marx renaissance,’ the present collection has two aims, reflected in corresponding sets of essays. The first is to offer new interpretations of some of Marx’s writings, showing his distance from certain dogmatic and economistic Marxisms of the 20th century, and suggesting the usefulness of his theories for analysis and critique of the contemporary world.

The second aim of this publication is to give scholars and political activists a global account of research on Marx during the last decade. Thanks to the rigorous work of ten authoritative international scholars of Marx, whom I thank for having patiently met my guidelines aimed at consistency of presentation, this special issue of Socialism and Democracy provides a unique survey of the reception of Marx’s work today –- from Hispanic America to the Anglophone World and from Europe to Asia –- based on the review of about 200 books on Marx; editions of the writings of Marx (and Engels); Marxist journals; university conferences and seminars; and political parties and social movements. What emerges is a fascinating picture of the different ways in which Marx is received, used, criticized, and, in some instances, misinterpreted.

I would like to thank Leo Panitch and George Comninel for the support they gave to the research underpinning this work. My special gratitude goes to Victor Wallis, the managing editor of Socialism and Democracy. Victor has participated not only as an author and sometime translator; he has given me valuable suggestions throughout the work; has helped me to revise all the texts; and has been a permanent source of ‘militant support’ during the eight months in which I’ve been working on this project. Thanks are due to him both from myself and from all the authors.

Finally, I dedicate this work to my friends Ernst Theodor Mohl and Patrick Camiller, masters of rigor and modesty.

Marcello Musto