Episode 89: Four Open-Letter Authors Speak Truth to Historical Materialism

The co-hosts are joined by four authors who have recently written open letters to Historical Materialism:
Gabriel Donnelly, Ralph Keller, Seth Morris, and Vann Seawell. They explain why they have written to the journal to urge that it retract a paper, on Marx’s value theory, that is laden with misrepresentations and other falsehoods, and they criticize Historical Materialism’s refusal to retract the paper as well as its indifference to whether the content it publishes is true or false. Vann leads off the segment, laying out the basic issues and explaining why he has canceled his subscription to the journal. Other authors then detail some specific misrepresentations and inaccuracies in the paper, explain why they regard retraction as the appropriate remedy, and discuss the political implications of fighting for pro-truth politics against Historical Materialism’s “both sides” posture, among other issues.

During the segment, reference is made to Marxist-Humanist Initiative’s perspective on “Combatting ‘Post-Truth Politics,’ in Practice and in Theory,” as well as Andrew’s article that first called on Historical Materialism to retract the paper and his response after it refused to do so.

Plus current-events segment on the continuing “F-word” controversy. Brendan and Andrew discuss Jacobin author Daniel Bessner’s recent dismissal of “fascism” as a meaningless term and Jonathan Chait’s revelation of the self-interested “Left-First” agenda underlying that dismissal.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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March 17, 2023


  1. I wasn’t impressed with Bessner’s arguments when he appeared on “Left Reckening”. Defining Fascism as only the historical movements from 1930s doesn’t make sense, because even Italian and German Fascism are very different. His goal of making this argument to shift concern away from the right wing and towards liberals completely goes against my politics, because I believe in attacking the right first and foremost.

  2. Commenting again because I had forgot to include my question. What would you consider to be the differences between illiberal conservativism and fascism? How should we approach such movements and concepts?

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