Friday, December 22, 2006

On "Marxism and the Left"

I tried to leave this as a comment on a Michael Greinecker post. But something must have gone wrong between the seat of my chair and my keyboard.

I was not inclined to argue about the first sentence, "I will not go into arguing what 'real' Marxism is or how well it is founded in the writings of Marx." Then I clicked on the links and saw they were all Analytical Marxists.

Anyways, why is the word "implicit" in the phrase "Concerning the implicit value judgements in Marxism"? Is it so that one can assert exploitation is a normative concept, despite explicit statements by Marxists and scholars of Marx otherwise? I don't disagree that an argument can be developed here.

I would think Marxist political parties around the world have by now developed views on ecology; on discrimination based on ethnic, gender, gender preferences, etc.; and on access issues. I assume the objection is whether such concerns can be coherently integrated into the theory Marxists use.

By the way, my reaction to Mankiw's comment on the core was also to think of John Roemer.

(You might want to fix the spelling of the post title.)

2 comments:

wali said...

"Anyways, why is the word "implicit" in the phrase "Concerning the implicit value judgements in Marxism"? Is it so that one can assert exploitation is a normative concept, despite explicit statements by Marxists and scholars of Marx otherwise?"

Note that the explicit statements by Marxists (and Marx) regarding exploitation do not rule out the claim that they contain value judgements, nor that they can have normative content. They only really reject the assertion that exploitation, within the ideological framework of the capitalist mode of production, is unjust. One can make value judgements and normative claims (albeit 'thin' ones) without making claims about justice. For example, I don't like it when people cough directly in my face (I think it is rude, and I think people ought not do it), but I wouldn't (nor do I need to) invoke an abstract theory of justice and call it 'unjust'.

Michael Greinecker said...

The links present writings from people that share at least parts of that criticism, they are not examples of the views I attack. I don't have anything against Analytical Marxism...

On the exploitation part: Considering that I first ciriticised the lack of any normative theory in Marxism, I think it is obvious that exploitation is not a normative concept. But I'm pretty sure that it is part of the ethos of many Marxists that exploitation is an example of what is wrong with capitalism. It certainly shows up in socialist propaganda in a normative way. I don't think anyone agreed with Marxism without having some ethical views on the issue (Schumpeter comes closest to a counterexample).

On the last issue: Many marxists are of the view that capitalism is highly inefficient and wasteful. This kinda covers the ecological ground. While I have no definite knowledge about it, I think there are still many Marxist parties who ignore gender issues completely. Others still see the family as the long arm of capitalism, but that's a view I don't think to be tenable.

Thanks for the response!