City Research Online

'Open Marxism' against and beyond the 'Great Enclosure'? Reflections on How (Not) to Crack Capitalism

Susen, S. (2012). 'Open Marxism' against and beyond the 'Great Enclosure'? Reflections on How (Not) to Crack Capitalism. Journal of Classical Sociology, 12(2), pp. 281-331. doi: 10.1177/1468795x12443547


The main purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth discussion of John Holloway’s recent book, Crack Capitalism. To this end, the paper offers a detailed account of the key strengths and weaknesses of Holloway’s version of ‘open Marxism’. The analysis is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on six significant strengths of Crack Capitalism: (1) its insistence upon the importance of autonomous forms of agenda-setting for both individual and collective emancipation; (2) its emphasis on the ordinary constitution of social struggles; (3) its fine-grained interpretation of the socio-ontological conditions underlying human agency; (4) its processual conception of radical social transformation; (5) its recognition of the elastic, adaptable, and integrative power of capitalism; and (6) its proposal for an alternative critical theory, commonly known as ‘open Marxism’ or ‘autonomous Marxism’. The second part of the study examines the principal weaknesses of Crack Capitalism: (1) the counterproductive implications of the preponderance of negativity, owing to a one-sided concern with critique, cracks, and crises; (2) conceptual vagueness; (3) an overuse of poetic and metaphorical language; (4) the absence of a serious engagement with the question of normativity; (5) a lack of substantive evidence; (6) a residual economic reductionism; (7) a simplistic notion of gender; (8) the continuing presence of various problematic ‘isms’; (9) the misleading distinction between ‘doing’ and ‘labour’; (10) a reductive understanding of capitalism; (11) an unrealistic view of society; and (12) socio-ontological idealism

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Susen, S., 'Open Marxism' against and beyond the 'Great Enclosure'? Reflections on How (Not) to Crack Capitalism, Journal of Classical Sociology 12(2) pp. 281-331. Copyright © 2012 The Author. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Publisher Keywords: agency, capitalism, critical theory, economic reductionism, Holloway, idealism, labour, negativity, normativity, open Marxism, society
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of 16b. CRO (Accepted Version) Simon Susen (2012) ‘“Open Marxism” against & beyond the “Great Enclosure”’.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login