Marxish: Resembling Marxist philosophy, but adapted for contemporary conditions.
The novelist and essayist Benjamin Kunkel introduces “Marxish” in the introduction to his new book, Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis:
The essays attempt no original contribution to Marxist, or what you might call Marxish, thought. They simply offer basic introductions, with some critical comments, to a handful of contemporary thinkers on the left…
Kyle Chayka, in a review of Kunkel’s book published in Pacific Standard*, likes “Marxish,” which he calls “a good way of referring to this next-generation critical political thought being put into practice by the left, a kind of functional Marxism”:
Marxish dumps Marx’s difficult teleology in which socialism inevitably triumphs over capitalism, or “capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation.” Instead, thinkers like Kunkel and his subjects are using Marxism as a tool to deconstruct and mitigate the destructive effects of capitalism as we see them occurring in the world today.
Kunkel doesn’t name his sources, but it’s clear he did not coin “Marxish.” Screening out usages like “Groucho Marx-ish eyebrows,” and mal-scanned instances of “Marxist” or “Marxism,” I found several earlier references. There’s the Marxish Academy in Seattle, a “startup anti-capitalist venture,” whose only blog post is dated February 2013. “Well, you have to admit, she is rather Marxish,”
There are three “marxish” (lower-case) references in Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past, by Patricia M. Pelley, published in 2002. Here’s the first one:
The ultimate origin of “Marxish” may be French marxisant: “tending toward Marxism” or, less neutrally, “faux-radical.” I found a citation in “Lecturing to the Lefties,” published in the October 11, 1991, issue of the Catholic Herald (UK):
[I]t seems to me the Marxist, or. I should say, in that useful French word Marxisant, or Marx-ish, influence runs pretty deep in academia.
Of course, ish has multiple meanings. As a suffix, it showed up earlier this year in anonymish, a descriptor for Wut, Secret, and other semi-anonymous apps; and it’s often used humorously (see Oaklandish).
I discovered “Marxish” via an Andrew Sullivan post titled “The New Marxishism.”
UPDATE: For more on the “rather promiscuous”spread of the ish suffix, see Gretchen McCulloch’s June 9 Lexicon Valley column, “Ish: How a Suffix Became a Word.”
* Pacific Standard is a newish magazine (founded 2008), with print and online editions, that publishes thoughtful essays and articles on science, culture, and society.