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December 09, 2015


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Luis Enrique

I can see your Marxism has something to do with how you understand the economy, but I am not sure this has led you to suggest more than small tweaks to capitalism yourself (such as more worker control).

the obvious retort on centrism is that it's better to overestimate benefits of small tweaks to capitalism that to overestimate the benefits of large changes. In addition to admiring Marx's thinking you also admire Oakeshott - what would he say about that?

From Arse To Elbow


I'm not sure that worker control qualifies as a "small" tweak, unless you imagine that capitalism is the means of production itself rather than an ownership model (which would rather reinforce Chris's point about self-serving ideology).

As for Oakeshott, I suspect he would caution against under-estimating the value of not changing things, and under-valuing the cumulative asset of historical change.

Matt Moore

Chris - the only sense in which you are a Marxist is that you draw *relatively* more inspiration from Marx that others in similar positions. In absolute terms, you are far closer to Adam Smith's corpus (e.g. when including The Theory of Moral Sentiments) than Marx's revolutionary prospectus.

You yourself reject large parts of Marxian thought, and I doubt Marx himself would recognise your programme for change as an authentic implementation of his ideas.

So why do you call yourself a Marxist? Is it a label that used to apply more closely? In practical terms, it closes the ears of a large number of people who might otherwise be very interested in what you have to say (whether they are right to do so or not isn't relevant to my point, which is consequentialist). You might say it opens the ears of the far left to the virtues of markets as organising mechanisms, but I honestly doubt it.

If I had to characterise your position from scratch, I'd call you a behavioural institutionalist.


great post that reminded me of this https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/04/what-marx-really-meant/

Matt Moore: what would chris have to do to be a marxist in Marx's (hypothetical) eyes? espouse the labour theory of value? call for the abolition of markets? (actually curious, i don't fully understand how marxists identify themselves)

Matt Moore

Good question. It think it would be more along the lines of accepting his version of historical determinism: sequential periods of capitalist crisis that concentrate wealth ever more greatly, while immiserating the masses (in absolute, not relative, terms).

Smith also made the labour theory of value mistake, although in a less egregious form.

Luis Enrique


fair point, in fact I have previously asked Chris where on the continuum between "somewhat more worker controlled firms than we have now" and "100% worker controlled (and owned?)" he advocates. I agree only one end of that continuum can be called a small tweak.


Too late Chris, and too little (only because you are not in a position of power of course).
The workers are now so impoverished that they and the unemployed are going to become fascists. I doubt that there are many who have heard of Marx, and those that have probably associate his name with Stalinism.
I have no idea who said it first, but I agree......... "I'm outa here!"

An Alien Visitor

"I have previously asked Chris where on the continuum between "somewhat more worker controlled firms than we have now" and "100% worker controlled (and owned?)" he advocates"

It is such an idiot question on so many levels I doubt he bothered replying.

Chris is a Marxian because as he himself says, he raises Marxian questions, and rejects a number of reformist proscriptions to cure the ailments of capitalism.

When reading this site I see a middle class city boy spouting superficial Marxism, but Marxian nonetheless, and very enlightening it must be admitted. In fact you might just define Marxian as superficial Marxism. But I for one am glad someone is doing it.

Luis Enrique

oh do fuck off you tiresome stalker


I find these comments odd. Marx believed in the progress of human society and in the workers movement. Ergo it is not really possible to fix on a very narrow set of policies as "true marxism". Marxism must evolve with society.

The real problem with people like chris and other radicals or people who think they are radical lies in two areas, first a disdain for "statism" which seems to involve a reluctance to support actual political struggle to control the state and use it for good. And a related distance from the actual working class. May be actual trade unions and their officials are uninspiring and the State is usually on the enemy side but I think it is a mistake to be disdainful of the organisations which already exist. The state has a lot of power and I do not see any advantage to giving up the attempt to push it towards using that power for good.The fact there is no one exclusive route to progress requires you try them all, from workers coops to nationalised railway to redistributive welfare state to hippie commune. Blair has a lot about him of the con man. Now we know the sort of things he did as PM I find it hard to take him or his cronies seriously as representatives of the struggle for progress. Neither Fabian or Marxist can be happy with the sort of dreadful things he got up to with Straw.Conniving with dictators and corrupt corporations.


I used to be a Marxist, but I'm all right now. I too wonder why Chris still calls himself one. For me a Marxist does not necessarily believe what Matt Moore says (I'm not sure I ever did, at least in the blunt and dogmatic terms he uses), but must surely believe that the achievement of full communism is a practical possibility at least one day in the future – ie, that capitalist society could give way to a society without the state or markets or money.

If you give that up, then you may agree with much of what Marx says – what reasonable person wouldn't? – but what sense does it make to continue to insist that you are a "marxist"? Chris, as far as I can see, advocates a capitalist society, albeit one with improved institutions, changed ownership patterns, etc. Put it another way: what is the alternative to M-C-M'? It's not basic income, and it's not worker ownership. Is there one?

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