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June 26, 2005



Great post. I think you are right about the perennial value of many of marx's insights - I buy Elster's arguments on marx's methods - way too much functionalism for one thing - but much to learn


Me too - great post.

Marx's problem, it seems, was in his wish to be relevant and to change the world directly. So, we go from thinking about exploitation to the labour theory of value, or from historical materialism to forecasting the collapse of capitalism. OTOH, that was what got him his reputation.

Re the middle classes voting for Marx - most English 'Marxists' always seem to me to be liberals first, using Marx for intellectual coat-trailing. After all, given the evidence of the Communist 'experiment', a Marxist today could happily support the most brutal capitalist exploitation as the motor through which historical materialism is working to create a regime of freedom. But then, isn't that Right-libertarianism?


"Technical change leads to changes in the distribution of property and hence the nature of society": are you really claiming that this is original to Marx?

Angry Economist

I agree that Marx was more the social scientist than philosopher. But also, equally, Engels was the better social scientist than Marx surely? I always had the impression that Marx was the theorist and Engels was the scientist?

I think its no accident that Marxism became more refined and more sensible later on - Marx took a very dictatorial approach to his work and was often personally and professionally unwilling to debate ideas or cede to much argument or evidence.


"Engels was the scientist?" As in James Clerk Maxwell, do you mean, or as in Lysenko?

Angry Economist

Hmm I would personally go for James Clerk Maxwell as my definition of scientist, but am not sure if Engels would hold a light to him.

As for Lysenko, I am sure many management studies professors have modelled their careers on his philosophy of scientific discovery and explanation.

James Hamilton

Great post. Nice to read something about Marx written by someone who knows about the subject rather than one by someone who hates a few things and thinks that makes them a Marxist.

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