[OPE-L:7164] Re: fundamentalism

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Mon May 13 2002 - 21:43:14 EDT

Re Riccardo's [7l62]:

> if I remember well, the term Fundamentalists was used in Fine & 
> Harris Re-reading Capital with no overt dismissive tone - at least, 
> if you think that neo-Ricardian is not dismissive for Sraffians.
> However, I am in trouble with your answer, since I've always thought 
> that Fundamentalism implied that there were no theoretical or 
> analytical problems in Marx, so that the only thing to do for us 
> followers was to apply and develop for an historically more advanced 
> situation the original, 'fundamental', line of thought already there 
> in Capital.

For Fine and Harris "capital-logiciians" was understood to be 
synonymous with "fundamentalist".   Yet, no reason is offered for _why_
capital-logical interpretations should be deemed to be "fundamentalist".
Nor is there any reason to suppose that  "capital-logicians" are 
necessarily "fundamentalists" in the sense in which you describe above. 

While I wouldn't exactly say that by labeling capital-logical 
interpretations "fundamentalist", Fine and Harris are being dismissive, I 
will say that I think it is a  instance of   a) loaded terminology; and
b)  caricature.   While I think there are many good things about their
book,  it does seem to me that at times they caricature both
"Neo-Ricardians" and "Fundamentalists" so as to position themselves
as more "well-balanced" moderates in between these two "extremes". 
Consider:  "For Fundamentalists, the sphere of production is 
determinant. Indeed, it is the only sphere of economic activity that
they analyze in a consistent manner."  (p. l9)  Oh, really?  This is
a simplistic caricature (and therefore, a misrepresentation) of capital-
logical interpretations.  Yet, also consider:  "For Neo-Ricardians all
analysis of the capitalist economy takes place in the sphere of 
exchange and distribution" (Ibid).  Oh, really?   For authors who 
don't consider themselves to be either Sraffians or capital-logical
theorists, this makes a very nice and easy divide -- but it is less
than accurate as a representation of both traditions.  

I'm still not clear what the origin of  the expression Marxist 
"fundamentalism" is, but if  those who adhere to capital-logical
interpretations willingly accepted the title of "fundamentalist" that
others (such as Fine and Harris) have given them, then I think
it was  a serious mistake because of the other associations that
"fundamentalism" has that I referred to in [7l6l].   In any event, 
a couple of the "fundamentalists" that Fine and Harris critiqued
are on this list (David Y and Paul B) so they might be able to 
shed some light on the origin of this expression in terms of whether 
it was a designation that they came up with or one that was imposed 
upon them but later accepted willy-nilly by some. 

In solidarity, Jerry

PS:  At one point OPE-L member Anwar S also referred to his 
theories as  "fundamentalist" -- I'm not sure if he still does -- but very 
oddly  and curiously the F&H l979 book makes no reference to his

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