(OPE-L) Re: On the Marxist theory of history

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri May 16 2003 - 09:10:23 EDT

On the Marxist theory of history (dialectical but EuroRe Rakesh's post Thursday, May 15:

Rakesh --  I found your post to be difficult reading. If I 
read it correctly, I understand your main claims to be
that the 'Marxist theory of history' is Eurocentric, 
supremacist and teleological and this has rendered it 
incapable of comprehending the specific structural 
characteristics of non-capitalist social formations and
their diversity.  This position needs to be drawn out more
by you, I think.

A couple of brief comments:

1) The Darwinian influence on Marx's conception of history
can be seen in his statement in the "Introduction" to the
_Grundrisse_ that "the anatomy of man is the key to the 
anatomy of the ape."   This is objectionable for a variety
of reasons.  Not only is it a misleading analogy, but I think
it is both bad anatomy and bad history.  History can not
be simply "read backwards" in a kind of reverse Darwinian
sequence.  If you mean more specifically that one can't
comprehend the characteristics of individual ancient and/or non-
European societies only by way of reference to "modern
society" as it historically developed as capitalism in 
Europe, then I agree with you. 

2) You suggest that there is a "suspect teleology" in the
Marxist philosophy of history to the extent that there are assertions
of an "inner drive for freedom" on the part of humanity.  I
think I agree with this as a criticism.  The concept of freedom,
like history itself, can not be "read backwards."  That is, 
"freedom" as a concept historically developed  in 
particular societies and it can not be legitimately be claimed
that all human societies historically have been "driven"
by this (relatively modern, culturally specific) goal.

In solidarity, Jerry

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