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Reply to Paul Z's [OPE-L:2878]:
1) Of course, I agree that we only have so much time available and
have to make decisions about the most "productive" use of our
time and energy. Thus, as you suggest, time allocated for
scholarly activities must be considered in relationship to
possible other uses of time, such as time spent being politically
active. This, however, is not what is at issue here in this
2) I strongly agree that we need to move Marx's political economy
"FORWARD". Indeed, as you recall, that was the main consideration
that led to the creation of this list. On the other hand, the
task of moving forward beyond Marx pre-supposes a comprehension
of what went before us, including a understanding of Marx's
method. So, the task of moving forward also requires us to look
back and critique. This, however, is not what has been at
issue in the current exchange.
3) When you assert that we need not do "what Althusser did for
us" (i.e. consider the indluence of Hegel on Marx), you approach
our disagreement. Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of
Althusser's views on this subject, *no secondary source* can
serve as a substitute for the reading of the primary sources
by Marx and Hegel. This should be a simple issue that scholars
should be able to agree to. Similarly (by way of analogy), a
reading of Hollander on Smith can not serve as a substitute to
reading Smith if one wants to understand Smith. I wouldn't
have thought that this was a controversial position.
4) You said that my previous statement that condemning "those who
have attacked Marx without bothering to read Marx seriously"
was "too vague in its lack of class content". Then, let me
be less vague. I was thinking especially of those "scholars",
particularly in a university setting, who have attacked Marx
without bothering to seriously read Marx. I'm sure we can
think of examples at the different schools where we teach ....
This is not an acceptable standard for those who claim to
be scholars. I.e. the demands of scholarship require that one
read the sources that one claims to be an authority on. Thus,
if one were a philosopher giving a talk on the intellectual
relationship of Plato to Aristotle, one would be expected to
have read both Aristotle and Plato (as well as relevant
secondary sources). Similarly, if one was an economist who
was writing on the influence of Ricardo on J.S. Mill, one
should be expected to have read both Ricardo and J.S. Mill.
5) One would not expect that Guiliani or the [gusano] supporters
of Lazaro Gonzalez to have made a serious study of Marx.
And, of course, they don't claim that they have done so.
Thus, it is a non-issue ... at least in terms of this
exchange. However, to the extent that *anyone* claims to
know "what Marx meant", then a minimal standard -- from a
scholarly perspective -- should be that they should have
read Marx. If they have not read Marx but claim nonetheless
to be an authority on Marx, then whatever they have to say
on Marx can be discounted.
In solidarity, Jerry
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