[OPE-L] Marx V. Kliman: Contrasting Prefaces and Aims

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Sep 08 2007 - 05:58:27 EDT


Surely this is not quite fair to the TSSI school? Their argument is that Marx's economic analysis (or at least all its distinctive propositions), has been dismissed on the strength of a particular interpretation of it, according to which Marx's analysis is crucially inconsistent, and that, therefore, the whole architecture of his economic theory falls down. 

TSSI supporters then aim to show that this interpretation is false, and that a better interpretation exists which shows Marx to have been completely consistent. They see this as a prologue to developing Marx's analysis further - obviously, if the theory is dismissed and abandoned already (on spurious grounds) there is no chance that it will be developed further. So in order to develop the analysis, you first have to show its foundations are sound, in the most rigorous manner.  

The issue of dogmatism arises in Marxism in the first instance because of the potential conflicts between scientific inquiry and ideology. Dogma (δόγμα) refers to a belief that is authorative and not to be disputed. A scientist can always be open to considering new relevant evidence and arguments, engage in constructive doubt, and admit his ideas "could be proved wrong". He is trying to establish which ideas are most correct. 

But in order to accomplish anything politically or organisationally, you need certainty, a belief that you are right, you have to stick with your ideas, and try to realise them, regardless of what your critics and opponents say. To decide in order to act, it has to be either yea or nay. Moreover, you need a clear and definite doctrine or perspective which your supporters can easily understand, and which can provide a real orientation for what to do, a real basis for action. In a political organisation, you cannot regularly put into question again the very foundations of what you believe and do, because in that case, you disorient yourself and other people, you have no basis anymore for decisions, and accomplish nothing. So there's at least a potential conflict between science and ideology here. Ideology demands a definite answer, but science may not provide it.

Alls this is very clear e.g. when Lenin situated Marxism:

"The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression." http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/mar/x01.htm

Lenin subsequently goes the whole hog, and resolves the contradiction by saying that Marxism is "both a science and an ideology". Later Marxist-Leninists talked about Marxism as a "scientific ideology". But this requires a modification of Marx's thought. In the first place,.for Marx science and ideology were ultimately incompatible. Secondly, Marx's own thought does not satisfy all the criteria for a successful ideology, insofar as e.g. Marx rejected moralising, criticised ideological systems, offered no theory of justice, and said "you have to have you doubts about everything". Thirdly, Marx aimed precisely to unmask ideologies, the "dreams which people weave about themselves" arguing that they function to cover up with contradictions of practical life.


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