[OPE-L:2525] Re: Marx & Darwin

From: Andrew_Kliman (Andrew_Kliman@email.msn.com)
Date: Wed Mar 15 2000 - 13:30:08 EST

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A reply to Ale's ope-l 2521.

First, while the myth that Marx wanted to dedicate Vol. I to Darwin is
pernicious, the myth that it was instead Vol. II that he wanted to
dedicate to Darwin adds on an appalling lack of scholarship. Engels says
clearly -- at the end of his Preface to that very volume! -- that Marx
repeatedly indicated that Vols. II and III were to be dedicated to his

Second, I agree with the following:

: I think that an appealing point to reasearch on is the particular
: that this version of Marx's theory has in "Marxian Economics". I think
: is made up, on the one hand, of a strong "Platonic element" and, on the
: other, of some sort of "crude Materialism" which is, perhaps, what you
: describing above.
: We can see the "Platonic element" in the opinion that Marx's economic
: theory is only a kind of general equilibrium theory (remember Walras
was a
: self-proclaimed Platonic) looking for metaphysical, atemporal, eternal
: equilibrium points. The "crude Materialism" element would be well
: by the "marxian-surplus" approach in which, for example, profit results
: from a physical, use-value, surplus, or "physical net product". So,
: "reproduction" is only the reproduction of use-values, eternally equal
: themselves, which can be reproduced even without human labor, yielding
: "profit". Profit seems to be a natural category.
: Perhaps someone better trained in Philosopy and History of Science can
: us about the sources of this sort of "paradigm". Is not a kind of XVIII
: century
: "materialism"? Is it "positivism"? How do you call that?

However, I'm not sure that the received version of Plato is true to the
original. I've been told that some Plato scholars deny that his theory
of forms posits them as immutable and timeless. But that is how Walras
read it. Also, while the vulgar materialism and atemporality
(ahistoricism) of "Marxian economics" does stem from and is grounded in
what I described as the evolutionist, scientistic, and positivist
character of traditional post-Marx Marxism, vulgar materialism and
ahistoricism aren't the only crucial features of evolutionism, scientism,
and positivism.

Ale asks me to "describe the main features of this version of Marx's
theory" if I have the time. I really don't and I'm not sure it is
something one could do in a post anyway. I was referring to standard
post-Marx Marxism, the Marxism that comes from the Second International,
which in turn has its roots in things like Engels' Anti-Duehring. I
would recommend that you read Dunayevskaya's Rosa Luxemburg, Women's
Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution on this, especially Part
III. To the usual conception of Marxism as a science of society, she
opposes the conception that Marx's own Marxism was a philosophy of
"revolution in permanence."

As I said, vulgar materialism and ahistoricism don't exhaust the issues;
a related but somewhat different one that Dunayevskaya deals with is the
linear evolutionism of post-Marx Marxism vs. the multilinearism of Marx's
Marxism. Linear evolutionism is ushered in with Engels' Origin of the
Family, rooted in the notion that social development (and struggle) is a
reflex of the expansion of physical surplus product, which in turn was
the ground of the post-Marx Marxist theory that every society has to pass
through fixed stages of development. As Dunayevskaya shows, Marx's
understanding of primitive communism and its dissolution was very
different from Engels'. Rather than saying the generation of a surplus
product was the cause of the dissolution of primitive communism, Marx
identifed primitive communism's INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS -- the nascent
class divisions within it -- as factors leading to its transformation
into class society. She also shows that Marx rejected the notion of
fixed stages of development. For instance, he said that Russia could
bypass capitalism and found socialism on the basis of the still-existing
Russian commune. This is thoroughly opposed to the doctrines that the
Communist Parties used to justify their disastrous
class-collaborationist, pro-capitalist, policies in the Third World.

Note how closely the current value-theoretic debate between simultaneists
and temporalists over surplus product vs. surplus-labor, technology vs.
social relations, as the driving element in capitalist development
parallels the difference between Engels and Marx.

Finally, I'm sorry but I don't know anything more about Margaret Fay.


Andrew Kliman

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