[OPE-L:3162] Re: "orthodox" Marxism

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 06:06:12 -0700 (PDT)

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In ope-l 3158, Makoto wrote:

"I do not see any reason why Laibman should be called 'orthodox' or new
orthodox in particular in compariosn with the former Soviet orthodox

It isn't clear whether Makoto thinks this is happening, though it is
understandable if he does. But it is Laibman who is using "new orthodox
Marxist" as a derogatory term against others of us.

I quote from the paper Laibman presented at the EEA in March, entitled
"Rhetoric and Substance in Value Theory: An Appraisal of the New Orthodox

"... a retreat to the doctrines of the 19th century in pure and unadulterated

"The new orthodoxy in Marxist political economy ... asserts that Marx's
formulations, in both the theory of value and the analysis of capitalist
accumulation and crisis, are literally and completely correct; that Marx made
no errors, ...."

"In this paper, I examine the arguments of the new orthodox Marxists (NOMists)

"If the two equalities [of Ch. 9, Vol. III of _Capital_] are to hold in the
literal sense, then Marx must have been *right after all* in leaving the
elements of constant and variable capital untransformed ...."

"(It amuses me to hear Anwar Shaikh called a *neoRicardian*. This reminds me
of a cartoon from the 1960s, showing an old lady [sic--AJK] in tennis shoes,
demonstrating with a sign that reads: 'The John Birch Society is soft on
communism!' She is saying: 'What's the matter? Ain't you never seen an
extremist before?')"

"What messages emerge from this critique? ...
"[The m]ost important ... is the need to avoid dishonoring Marx by treating
him as a holy prophet. The not-yet-the-Messiah attitude --- asserting that
the entire 20th century is a wasteland, and that Marx will yet speak to us,
once we finally come to understand Him, and lead us out of the capitalist
morass --- is simply not helpful as we face real problems requiring creative

Emphases in original.

Since this thread has generated so much discussion, surprisingly to me, I'd be
very interested in hearing from others what they think of the passages above.

Andrew Kliman