Re: [OPE] Marx on international relations

Date: Fri May 23 2008 - 03:30:09 EDT


many thanks for your thoughts. I agree of course with everything you say.
I think those fights between various disciplines are a necessary part of how universities are organised. They are power fights about how much gets paid and so on. It just shows that under the prevailing circumstances a scientific approach to totality is impossible. This reminds me of what Engels says about the difference between metaphysical and dialectical approach in *Socialism Utopic and Scientific*. Metaphysical approach isolates everything from its relations and process they are embedded in, whereas dialectics see them in their mutual relations and developments.


-----Original Message-----
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
Sent: Thu, 22 May 2008 14:26
Subject: RE: [OPE] Marx on international relations

> The question has another aspect we have to bear in mind. The question is not whether there is a new academic discipline is established on 

> international relations or not. If in an area there is to much material that requires special analysis - why should not be there a special discipline.

> ?The problem with bourgeois academics is that they take their single discipline for absolute. This must of course be criticized. 

Hi Dogan:


Well, the problem primarily concerns the artificial lines of demarcation and Balkanization 

between different areas of study. As you know, what was under the old heading of 'philosophy'

there is today a plethora of distinct disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

This is a creation, in large part, of academia.? It results in 'turf wars' of sorts on college

campuses and discourages what we now call 'inter-disciplinary' studies and cross-

disciplinary teaching and learning.?

This conception of distinct disciplines was antithetical, I believe, to the way in which

M&E looked at social subjects.? They studied, for instance, _political_ economy rather 

than just 'economics'.? We could quibble, I suppose, about when 'economics' was 

first introduced (Marx?said at one point that he would title his proposed?6-book-work 

"Economics") but the point is that the *political* was necessarily inter-related with the 

*economic*.?? In a similar way, Marx insisted that *history* (and, therefore, class) was an 

essential dimension?of political economy. 


This?Balkanization has long since become a reality and academics are

*forced* to specialize in a particular discipline.? But, I don't think we should make a virtue

out of a necessity and furthermore I think we should be heavily critical of mainstream 

economics for its myopic focus.? Because they view existing economic relations as 

natural and eternal, they also view them as "absolutes" which are necessary and not

subject to change. That is another aspect of their myopia - which should be confronted

not only theoretically but also with reference to social history.

> Curious enough this debate reminds me of the debate of 50s and 60s of the last century whether sociology is a science. 


Having known many sociologists, and having occasionally taught sociology?myself, 

I know that those debates are ongoing.? Furthermore sociologists and?social scientists

other than mainstream economists often bristle with indignation at the suggestion that 

"economics"? is somehow more of a "science" than these other disciplines. 


In solidarity, Jerry



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