[OPE-L:6284] Impact of Marx & Marx-critics on the "common people"

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 15 Mar 1998 15:39:24 -0500 (est)

Alejandro R wrote:

> "John Cassidy''s article ... [contains] a big mistake, attributing Marx''s
> theory an "internal inconsistency", something that many Marxists
> consider a "minor point", although it has an enormous impact on the
> common people."

And Andrew K then wrote:

> Yes!
> But do you really think anyone actually considers this a minor point?

I challenge this assertion that the charge of internal inconsistency,
usually made within the context of the "transformation problem", has had
an "enormous impact on the common people."

To begin with, how many (e.g. what percentage of?) workers have:

a) read anything by Marx?

b) (for those who have read anything by Marx), read anything more
than (the co-authored with Engels) _Communist Manifesto_?

c) the faintest idea what the "transformation problem" refers to?

d) heard or read about any charges of "internal inconsistency" by

It would seem to me that the concern and knowledge about the
"transformation problem" (and other charges of "internal inconsistency")
is _only_ known by a small percentage of intellectuals, economists, and
socialists. Indeed, I would say that if you were going to give a quiz to
economists, most economists wouldn't be able to state anything at all
about either the t.p. or other charges of "internal inconsistency".

The more powerful charge is not that Marx's theory is "internally
inconsistent" but that it is "out-dated" and therefore irrelevant.

Bourgeois critics of Marx point much more to such items as:

-- an increasing standard of living for most workers.

-- greater benefits for workers, including those provided by the state.

-- unionization and the extension of workers' rights.


-- repression in the former USSR

as evidence for how Marx is allegedly out-of-date. I.e. typically it is
claimed that Marx made certain "predictions" which have been "shown" to be
"false". Therefore, dismiss whatever he wrote.

*These* are charges that "ordinary people" have heard about.

In solidarity, Jerry