Philosopher Meena Krishnamurthy (Michigan) challenges the standard Anglophone narrative that nothing of note happened in political philosophy between Mill and Rawls--at least initially, the challenge is to the idea that nothing happened in "analytic political philosophy" of note between these two giants of the genre. But later Professor Krishnamurthy drops the "analytic," leaving me a bit uncertain about the claim she is making.
The clearly correct claim she makes is that there was a lot of theorizing about questions of political and moral importance by Dubois, Ghandi, King, and others during this period; it is less clear, however, that the contributions of these writers were a contribution to "analytic political philosophy," at least as one might have thought that stylistic genre is defined with Mill and Rawls as reference points (she returns to this issue near the end of her essay). But once we drop "analytic," then it seems even more parochial to notice Dubois and Ghandi, say, but not to notice Lenin and Luckas and Adorno and Marcuse. Now the latter, of course, are all figures of note in the broadly Marxists tradition of political thought, ones that are heavily disfavored in both Anglophone philosophy and in Anglophone philosophy's recent cyber-romance with identity politics. (The only identities that count are those related to gender, race, and ethnicity.) Indeed, while many top 25 departments have made a significant faculty investment in philosophy of race in recent years, not a single one of these departments has appointed anyone working in the Marxian traditions during this same time period--and not because they already had large numbers of experts with primary appointments in philosophy on staff (the only ones I can think of are Peter Railton at Michigan, Tommie Shelby at Harvard, Elliott Sober at Wisconsin, Daniel Brudney at Chicago, Richard Miller at Cornell, and Allen Wood at Indiana--and most of these philosophers have not written on Marx in ages, let alone on the Frankfurt School or other figures in the 20th-century Marxian traditions).
ADDENDUM: Professor Krishnamurthy writes (and kindly gave me permission to share):
First, I would like to thank you for engaging with my post. Second, as a point of clarification, I was focusing on “analytic political philosophy” throughout the post. Third, I would agree that Marxism has been ignored by analytic political philosophy to some extent, though I would argue this it is less so than the thinkers I mentioned. And, of course, I would think that the mechanisms underlying this exclusion are different. I’d be curious to hear from those who are more familiar with Marx about what these mechanisms might be. Why would Marxists be excluded?
Parochialism plays a role in both cases, I suspect; the lack of interest in Marxism strikes me as more startling, though, in part because many of the theorists noted above were clearly working in philosophical idioms, if not the usual analytic ones. But I agree that different considerations probably explain the relative neglect in the different cases. As the recent investment in philosophy of race by leading PhD programs, noted above, shows, it is a lot easier to be working on DuBois than Adorno these days in Anglophone philosophy! (I am in favor of both; the obvious relevance of the Marxian tradition to recent real-world developments would be a good occasion for departments to invest as much in those areas too!)
ANOTHER: A young philosopher (currently on the job market) writes with an interesting observation:
The people [Prof. Krishnamurthy] mentions are, I think, "philosophical", and so reasonably subject to discussion in a philosophy class without too much trouble, but not philosophers, so it's not surprise they are not discussed - it takes a lot of work to transform them into forms easily dealt with by philosophical analysis as main subjects or texts, and then you have to ask why to do so. I mean, it's not that much different from the fact that very few political philosophy classes read Tocqueville, or Ben Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine, or Hobhouse, etc. (to take just a list of people who are included in the Cambridge History of Political Thought books.) So, I'm not sure that the sort of "parochialism" she has in mind is the clear explanation. (I should mention that I have read, enjoyed, and learned from not only Paine and Hobhouse, but also du Bois, etc. If we are going to complain about philosophers not reading or teaching du Bois, why not his teacher, Weber, who is also rarely taught in a political philosophy class?)