Intellectual study

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri Dec 29 07:37:56 MST 1995


On Fri, 29 Dec 1995 glevy at acnet.pratt.edu wrote:

> (5) If we say that the basic theory is "completed" and all we have to do 
> is understand that theory and apply it, that moves Marxism in the 
> direction of a religion and/or a technical trade. We would be doing Marx 
> et. al. a great injustice to treat their writings in such a menner.
> 

Louis: I do maintain that Marxist theory is complete. I find the 
ceaseless discussion about LTV and FROP that appears on this list and PEN-L, 
for example, to be utterly sterile, since it is *never* engaged with 
developments in the actual political economy. In the middle of one of our 
interminable "debates" about the falling rate of profit, Doug Henwood 
simply supplied figures that showed that the rate of profit had been 
falling. Some professor dismissed this as superficial empiricism. In 
fact, Doug Henwood has done more to advance Marxism in the pages of Left 
Business Observer than any of the professorial Marxologists who dominate 
these Internet lists.

In the latest LBO, there is an eye-opening article about the politics 
behind the effort to replace the CPI (consumer price index) with an index 
that supposedly favors inflation less. The drive to do this comes from 
Republicans who want people on Social Security to get less frequent and 
lower increases.

Doug read his Marx thoroughly earlier in his career and has set for 
himself the modest task of *applying* it to the political economy of the 
United States. (For subscription information, contact dhenwood at panix.com).

I also have a great deal of esteem for James O'Connor, the publisher and 
editor of "Capitalism Nature Socialism", a journal that synthesizes 
ecology and Marxist thought. Now does this journal "advance" Marxist 
theory? In one sense it does since it focuses attention on an area that 
has largely been ignored by Marxists: the environment. But Marx and 
Engels were certainly aware of the problem. Engels, in particular, wrote 
about the despoliation of the Italian Alps. However, they did not 
concentrate on it because it hadn't reached the sort of epidemic 
character as it has in more recent times. O'Connor has simply taken this 
thread and amplified it.

Does this make some people feel inadequate? Well, that's too bad. There 
will never be another Beethoven, or another Balzac. They were products of 
the ascendant bourgeois revolution. So, for that matter, was Marx. We 
have our job cut out for us, however. We should take Marxist theory and 
undertake the proletarian revolution. It is only with the proletarian 
revolution that a new generation of Beethovens and Balzacs will be created.


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