Anyone who wants to understand Adam Smith and more generally classical political economy he/she has to understand the meaning of what Marx says below:
'The Continental revolution of 1848-9 also had its reaction inEngland. Men who still claimed some scientific standing and aspired tobe something more than mere sophists and sycophants of the ruling classestried to harmonise the Political Economy of capital with the claims, nolonger to be ignored, of the proletariat. Hence a shallow syncretism ofwhich John Stuart Mill is the best representative. It is a declarationof bankruptcy by bourgeois economy, an event on which the great Russianscholar and critic, N. Tschernyschewsky, has thrown the light of a mastermind in his “Outlines of Political Economy according to Mill.”'
Marx indicates here to a turn in the history of political economy - a turn from being scietific to apology, from science to vulgarism. You can also read the short piece by Rosa Luxemburg 'Back to Adam Smith' ('Zürück auf Adam Smith').
Michael Perelman reads Adam Smith from a neoliberal point of view. The ideas we associate with neoliberalism were widespread in Marx's time. Think of Malthus' reading of Smith and in contarst to this Ricardo's reading of Smith. Marx followed critically Ricardo in reading Smith - that is as a scientist rather than as an apologist. Herbert Spencer and others in 'A Plea for Liberty' in 1891 followed followed Malthus. Neoliberals follow this line. Spencer is associated with 'social Darwinism' which has nothing to do with Darwin. Engels criticised Malthus as a social Darwinist. I criticise Neoliberals as social Darwinists.
Michael Perelman reads Smith as an apologist and criticise or believe to criticise this apologist view of Smith as the main view of Smith's. Of course Smith defended capitalism from historical point of view - not because he thinks this is the end of history but in the sense that capitalism is historically more advanced than feudal society. Therefore there is an apologist aspect in Smith's work. Neoliberals rely on this apologist aspect of Smith's. Ricardo and Marx relied on the scietific aspect of Smith's. I followed the latter.
Paul Cockshott's review of my book was a friendly reading. His allusion that I read Marx back into Smith is a widespread opinion. Similar claims are often made to Marxist Hegel scholars. But as Paul himself points out: Smith has a historical-materialist approach to society and political economy. I agree with Paul on that point. And I think he would agree with me that this is the main line of Smith thought. However, I go further: Smith is not just a historical metarialist but also a dialectician. This is not a new and an original claim of me. Hegel, Marx read Smith as a dialectician. In that respect they learned a lot from Smith, which is well documented in Hegel and Marx literature. Smith himself defines his philosophical approach as dialectical. If the pointing all that out is defined as a reading Marx back into Smith, well, I accept, I do that. But, remember, Marx himself states in Capital almost everything he says was there long before his Capital.
I like Michael Perelman's book. I totaly support the main line of his approach to more general questions of Political Economy and his critique of capitalism. I share his critique of neoliberalism. Our diffence concern our approach to the history of political economy in general and our approach to Smith in particular. It would have been better if he did not throw the baby out with the bath water.
From: Dave Zachariah <email@example.com>
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Mon, Nov 22, 2010 10:32 pm
Subject: Re: [OPE] The invisible handcuffs is about to appear
On 2010-11-22 21:25, Michael Perelman wrote:
> Absolutely. I like Dogan, but we have very different readings. His
> reading is very erudite, but different from mine.
I have yet to read his book. After reading Paul's review of it, it seems
to me that he is perhaps bending the stick too far.
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Received on Mon Nov 22 21:40:33 2010
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