(OPE-L) Re [Jurriaan's] Papers

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 15:39:59 EDT

Hi Jurriaan:

> You might argue that mentioning papers I haven't even
> completed yet is a bit fraudulent of me to do,  <snip>

Not at all. I can appreciate satire -- providing I recognize it
as satire.

> Although I am very interested in Marx from the point of view
> of social science, I personally reject the very idea of "Marxism",
> because this transforms Marx's critical-scientific and philosophical
>  thought into an all-encompassing ideological system or cosmology,
> which stifles individuality and innovation and can lead people to try
> an impose ideological or political systems on others which disrespect
> or violate the real natures of those people. So I think you can be a
> socialist or communist etc. but being a "Marxist" typically causes
> attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable, and a form of thinking which
> is no different from religion, except that religious people normally
> exhibit  healthier forms of association. I accept though that this is a
> minority  viewpoint and that there are many self-styled "Marxists"
> who do  perfectly good research or pursue a successful politics with
> honorable  motives.

I will not quarrel with your refusal to be designated as a Marxist, but
will instead note that you go on to write (in the very next paragraph):

> As regards value-form theory, I think it offers some important insights
> but really I don't think it reflects what Marx really intended.

There's the (satirical?) rub, in my view.  It's easy enough to write that
one isn't  a Marxist.  It's quite another thing for those who have been
influenced  by Marx's writings and praxis to _not_ argue from authority.

*Even if* (for the sake of  discussion) it is the  case that VFT does not
 reflect "what Marx really intended", so what???

So what if a theoretical perspective does not proceed in the way in which
you or some others believe Marx "really intended" (as if that were an easy
matter to determine!!!)?   Why -- without resorting to "religion" -- should
this be viewed as a legitimate critique of a (in this case, VFT)

The issue shouldn't be whether one wants to call one's self  a Marxist,
a radical economist, or whatever.  The issue is whether one takes a
*genuinely* critical stance towards the subject matter.  To do the latter
requires that one move beyond a critique of political economy, the
marginalists, heterodox economists, and (even) Marxists of various
stripes and hues.   It requires that one subject *Marx's own writings*
to critique.

De omnibus dubitandum.

In solidarity, Jerry

>>> Value-form theory really suggests to me an inability to apply Marx's
research method and that it "Hegelianises" Marx's method in an erroneous,
idealist way. Marx suggested that inquiry must proceed both through an
empirical analysis of the facts and through criticism of the interpretation
of the facts by economists and social theorists. It was a question of
discovering the dialectics in the empirical material and in the evolution of
interpretations of that empirical material. Only then could the
subjectmatter be dialectically represented. However, what the value-form
theorists try to do is to derive and develop concepts and analyses from
Marx's value theory in a way which only provides a social phenomenology. The
result is that either the empirical analysis doesn't conform to Marx's
concepts, or that theorising is done which has no empirical content. But
that just suggests that Marx's theory cannot be applied to real experience.

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