[OPE-L:3158] Re: "orthodox" Marxism

mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp (mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp<"mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp")
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 00:37:57 -0700 (PDT)

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Jerry wrote in [OPE-L:3139]:

'(2) Who is "orthodox"? Well, I guess that depends on what historical
period you are talking about. After Marx's death, Engels was held to be
the representative of "orthodoxy" (irrespective of the theoretical
differences re political economy and "Marxism" between Marx and Engels).
On that last point, see "The 'Marx legend, or Engels, founder of Marxism"
in Joseph O'Malley and Keith Algozin ed. _Rubel on Karl Marx_ (Cambridge
University Press, 1981, pp. 15-25) for a controversial perspective. After
Engels's death, Kautsky (and the left wing of the German Social
Democrats) became the representative of "Orthodox Marxism". Later still,
Plekhanov and then Lenin were held to be the standard bearers for
"orthodox Marxism". After Lenin's death, Trotsky and Stalin (!) were held
to be the "orthodox Marxists" by some of their followers. So, what is
viewed as "orthodox" is very much subject to change and dispute

Basically I agree but for Trotsky after his forfeit. 'Orthodoxy' in Marxism
was, in my view, mostly connected with the political leading ideology,
theories, and the related doctorinairism in the center lines of the Second
and the Third International. Therefore, I agree with Jerry's statement,

'(3) I don't recall Rubin, Grossmann, Mattick, or Rosdolsky ever referring
to *themselves* as "orthodox Marxists" '.

However, when Jerry says as follows, he is not correct.
'(4) I suuppose that Uno might claim that he represented a certain orthodoxy
(but I'm not sure about that: Makoto, Mariko, and/or Iwao should correct me
if this is not accurate).'

Although Uno certainly always intended to follow what Marx intended to
achieve in political economy, he was often accused as reformist by
'orthodox' Marxists in Japan. Many of 'orthodox' Marxists were related with
JCP or its direct supporters. I assume that P.Sweezy's self-definition as an
independent socialist signifies a position similarly trying to keep a
distance from the Soviet 'orthodoxy'.

Thus, if we use the word in a limited historical cotext like 'Soviet
orthodox Marxism' the meaning is clear. A simple labelling sometimes causes
confusion and unnecessary ideological or emotional repulsion. I do not see
any reason why Laibman should be called 'orthodox' or new orthodox in
particular in compariosn with the former Soviet orthodox theorists.
Diffenrent theoretical positions among Marxists should be properly
designated in their contents.
For instance I feel it unfair when my (or Uno's) theory of labour-shortage
type of crisis theory is called neo-Ricardian. As Marx himself contains
different lines of theoretical thinking in many aspects, we had better try
not to exclude different theoretical interpretations and theoretical
attempts to complete Marxist theories among Marxists. A failure of Soviet
Marxism was its belief that it represented only one way of formulating
scientific theories by exluding all the other Marxists works as more or less
reformist. In the field of social science this attitude proved stelile and
not correct.
Let us try not to use unclear wording just 'orthodox', especially in the
current world after the fall of Soviet orthodoxy, but try to use more
accurate chracterization of mutual works!