[OPE-L:6534] Re: * poll: who has advanced political economy since Marx? *

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Feb 08 2002 - 07:19:40 EST

Re Andy B's:

> Jerry [6527] wrote,
> > So, in summary, there have been a number of material conditions which
> > conspired to retard the advancement of heterodox and Marxian political
> > economy. NONETHELESS,  a very major reason imo for that lack of progress
> > is (as I suggested previously) that so few Marxians have even attempted
> > extend our understanding of capitalism beyond Marx.
> I think Jerry's summary fills out a little bit my earlier statement that
> the separation of intellectual and manual labour, and more
> generally the perverse appearances of capitalism lie at the heart of
> the 'problem' re development of Marx. However, I disagree with the
> 'NONETHELESS' Jerry adds above. You cannot go beyond what
> you don't understand. The 'problem', from my perspective, is that
> Marx is little understood.

Brief questions:

1)   If the problem is as you say that "Marx is little understood", then:

      a) do you think you understand Marx? If you think you do, then
          why do you think you have developed that understanding when all
          but a handful of others by your reckoning have failed?

      b) if you are not sure you understand Marx, how do you know that
          so few others have understood him?

2) If Marx is so 'little understood' can at least part of the reason why
      be something with what and how he himself wrote?  How is it even
      conceivable that a writer who wrote clearly and without being self-
      contradictory can not be substantially understood 119 years after his
      death -- especially given the thousands of scholars who have poured
      over those writings?

3) Since you want to talk about how the perverse appearances of
     capitalism have affected the way in which Marxists conceive of that
     subject, wasn't Marx presented with  those same perverse appearances?
     Let us consider Marx's material conditions.  How is it possible that a
     'Young Hegelian' with a PhD turned revolutionary socialist who for most
     of his life was supported by  the charitable contributions of a
     wealthy revolutionary who was a capitalist (FE) could penetrate those
     appearances when all else  -- before and since -- have failed?

4) Could it be that Marx had a distinct advantage over Marxists in
    that he could create a theory without reference to a Marx-figure?
    That is, he showed  intellectual deference to no one. Can the
    same be said for the Marxists or don't they often (habitually even)
    defer to Marx?   Thus, perhaps it is the 'Specter of Marx' which
     haunts many Marxists and inhibits forward movement?  Perhaps you
     have then suggested a very good reason for _not_ studying Marx --
     after all, if so few have attained that understanding might it not be a
     Utopian quest -- a  search for the 'Revolutionary Holy Grail' so to

5) An idealistic thought experiment:

     You get a job as a TV script writer. You are asked to develop
      a plot along the following lines:

     Suppose that Marx came back from the grave and joined OPE-L
     (assuming he was recommended for membership, invited, and
      accepted). What do you think he would say to us now?  What do
     you think he would say to the suggestion that low these many years
     after his death we are still trying to understand wtf he said and can't
     attempt to move beyond his understanding until we come to appreciate
     that understanding?

     Sounds like an amusing plot for 'Mad TV', doesn't it?

In solidarity, Jerry

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