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Marxism that came under the influence of structuralism—with its emphasis on meaning as deriving from a system of differences—criticised Marxist humanism, as found, for example, in the work of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) and Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979). Humanist Marxism placed the epistemological figure of “man” at the heart in its framework of the analysis of society, without always seeing that this was an epistemological stance, preferring instead to believe in the intentions and the will of “actual” human beings.

At its height in the decade 1965 to 1975, structuralist Marxism, was no doubt strongest in France, possibly, in part, because of that nation's rationalist tradition. The specification of such clear chronological markers, however, implies that such a Marxism's day has passed. But as will be noted later, ...

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