[OPE] question re published letters Engels

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Mon May 11 2009 - 17:31:38 EDT

BTW Professor Bapuji - my name is not "Jurrien", "Jurrian", or "Jurridian".
It is Jurriaan. Conceivably I could also call you "Professor Barpoo" but I
don't do that sort of thing because it goes against list protocol.

The problem with Charles Bettelheim is not that he wasn't a sincere and
intelligent communist, but that his "orthodox" socialist economics is almost
purely ideological and definitional description, a sort of unctious Maoist
moralism, and primarily concerned with the observable distribution of power.

Beyond generalities, he had technically very little new to say that can
solve any actual problems of the planned distribution and production of
resources, and in fact he showed remarkably little interest in engaging
intellectually with East European and Russian economists trying to deal with
real problems of economic development. How could he, having simply dismissed
the USSR as "state capitalism" (see Marcel van der Linden, Western Marxism
and the Soviet Union, translated by yours truly).

Personally I am inclined to regard Marxism as a "secular religion" (this
label was originally used by the French social critic Raymond Aron). This is
not necessarily a bad thing, insofar as Marxism just like any other religion
can pursue themes beneficial to humanity. Nor even is it necessarily
incompatible with science. It is just that the ideological faith, and not
scientific truth, is finally decisive, and that, particularly in the more
fundamentalist versions, every viewpoint which conflicts with the Marxist
categorization of reality is either rejected or denied.

The main consequence of this quasi-religious totalitarianism is that it
becomes extraordinarily difficult to learn anything new, because every
experience is assimilated to a set of prior axiomatic categories, which has
as its corollary, that it tends to become a mystery how anything could
change or be different.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the stunted debate about socialist
political economy. Although Marxists hate capitalism, they have almost
nothing to offer as an alternative, except slogans of workers control, state
socialism, and democratic participation, as if that will solve every
problem. The social democrat Alec Nove quite rightly pointed out that this
will not solve every problem, and in fact creates many new problems.

Once you are no longer over-impressed by the high priests of Marxism, and no
longer constrained by Marxist orthodoxy, it becomes possible to think again
for yourself in a creative way. There is room for your own ideas, because
Marxism isn't destroying them or suppressing them any longer, for the sake
of doctrinal fidelity.

Of course the New Marxist Exploiting Class tries to instill reverence for
the Marxist authority. But who wants to be the slave of the Marxist
exploiters? I don't. They can go to hell as far as I am concerned.



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