[OPE-L] Gareth Stedman Jones

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Apr 06 2005 - 23:09:48 EDT

I heard Gareth Stedman Jones lecture today on Marx. There was very
superficial dismissal of Lukacs and Althusser (on whom he has
written), Marx's putative half hearted attempts at a deterministic
and economistic theory of  history, the auto destruction of Marx's
theory of history in GA Cohen's attempt to defend it.

Stedman Jones focused on the question of why Marx did not finish
Capital. I think he was saying that Marx could not find i. any real
limits to capital and ii. admit to himself that communism could not
possibly rival capital in its ceaseless productivity advances and the
creation of new needs. (I think Meghnad Desai has presented such
arguments much more rigorously.) Rather than admitting theoretical
defeat, Marx pretended that only pressing political struggle in
Russia prevented him from completing his work. Marx thus welcomed the
opportunity to lose himself in meaningless politics in a
precapitalist setting and in illicit sexual relations with his maid.
Moreover, Bohm Bawerk annihilated Marx's price value theory. That was
asserted, not argued.

Stedman Jones was most impressed with Marx's work on precapitalist
social formations, but he thinks this had the unfortunate consequence
of revealing to Marx how superior and perhaps unsurpassable market
society really is.

In his introduction to the new Penguin edition of the Communist
Manifesto, Stedman Jones seems to argue that Marx's idea communism is
best understood as a new form of religion, a hidden theological
solution to the conflicts that divided the Young Hegelians. Jacob
Stevens wrote a critical review in New Left Review of this 100pp.

I don't know the details of Stedman Jones' departure from the
editorial board of the New Left Review. I imagine there is a good
story here.


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