Re: [OPE-L] Absolutes in Marxian Theory?

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Dec 31 2005 - 17:42:19 EST

> Today you react to Howard's defence of the truth or falsity of social
> theories by associating the notion of "absolute truth" with dogmatism.
> The particular examples are not very important, perhaps the overall
> pattern is. My question is: why not engage with the arguments and
> their merits, rather than associating some of the arguments with,
> undoubtedly politely expressed but nonetheless quite provocative,
> ad-hominen slurs? Please correct any wrong impression I may have
> got.


Indeed you do have the wrong impression.  I was simply offering
a different interpretation than that suggested by Howard to the
quote from Resnick & Wolff.  I  believe that quote can be understood
better when placed in the context of R&W's perspective.  You
undoubtedly know that they were influential in establishing  the
_Rethinking Marxism_  journal and planning RM conferences
(as indeed have Steve and Antonio).  If put it in _that_ context, then
I think that a desire to move beyond what they view as traditional ,
one-sided 'dogmatic' diamat interpretations of Marxism is at the very
core of their intellectual project.

What I try to understand is where a particular Marxian conception
comes from -- i.e. I try not only to grasp what people are saying but
also the context in which a particular perspective arises.  The reason I do
this is also to probe to see whether apparently divergent perspectives
have some common understandings and concerns.   I try to
sympathetically understand what Steve and Antonio are saying just
as I try to sympathetically understand what Howard and you are
saying.  Sometimes I may get it wrong, but I believe that I have
been engaging with the arguments and (contradicting myself) I believe
that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing that I have written in this
exchange which could be viewed as an "ad hominem slur."

>>  Can you (or anyone else on the list) make a theoretical claim
>>  about capitalism which is 'absolutely' true?
> For example, the high end of the income distribution follows a
> power-law.

Do you really believe that is ABSOLUTELY true?  Income
distribution (by definition?) is relative, not absolute. But I will
consider arguments to the contrary.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: I just received Howard's post but won't have time to read it
until 2006.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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