Re: [OPE] Are Regulation Theorists Marxists?

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Wed Aug 19 2009 - 06:17:41 EDT

Dave wrote:

"I'd say in general
that Marxism is a political philosophy . . . "

No doubt Marx has been an immensely influential social theorist, and his
insights have influenced folks in all manner of disciplines. A wide
spectrum of political thinkers, philosophers, activists and others have
contributed broadly to diverse developments in philosophy and social theory.

But Marx would have called himself a "man of science" and what he was doing
science. Engels called him that in referrring to the way he approached

So the issue is whether he founded a science, and if so, what are its
fundaments. I think his take home lesson is that the scientific study of
social life begins with forms of labor. If you look to the political
economy of it, then, I'm inclined to agree with Anders and Ian -- Marx
studied value and the forms of value and the labor theory of value made
value theory coherent.

A person can call themselves marxist because they are committed to the
emancipation of the oppressed, have been influenced by marx, are committed
to class struggle, etc., as Michael suggests.

What is at issue in Ian's point is whether there is a building block
approach to the scientific study of society that resembles the one thing
leads to another approach we're familiar with in the sciences of nature.
Probably its fair to say we have not had much of that, in either economics
or other dimensions of historical materialism. There are important
reasons -- the reproduction of capital requires the misrepresentation of
social life; it does not systematically require the misrepresentation of
nature. For Marx, the misrepresentation of the wage form was not exactly a
small thing: "it forms the basis . . . of all the mystifications of the
capitalist mode of production." Are we to take him seriously on that?

By the way, do people call themselves Marxian rather than Marxist for a


howard engelskirchen
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Zachariah" <>
To: <>; "Outline on Political Economy mailing list"
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] Are Regulation Theorists Marxists?

> Ian Wright wrote:
>> I can't answer your specific question, since I have yet to read
>> anything by the regulation school. But I'd argue that a litmus test
>> for a body of economic work to be classified as Marxist is acceptance
>> of the labor theory of value. This may seem blindingly obvious [...]
> I think this is incorrect. There are Marxist economists that either do not
> bother about the labour theory of value or have abandoned it. For
> instance, Robert Brenner or Prabhat Patnaik.
> Of course, rigid classifications are futile here. But I'd say in general
> that Marxism is a political philosophy that entails two things:
> subscribing to a materialist concept of history and applying this analysis
> in political advancement for the benefit of the oppressed.
> I haven't read sufficient material by the regulation theorists. But from
> what I can recall from Brenner and Glick's article on the topic is that
> this school has a historical-materialist framework although they are not
> necessarily Marxists.
> See:
> Robert Brenner and Mark Glick
> New Left Review I/188, July-August 1991
> <>
> //Dave Z
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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