Marx versus Marxism

Juan Inigo jinigo at
Thu Sep 8 15:35:28 MDT 1994

Chris Sciabarra presents Rand saying:

>". . . I chose the name `Objectivism' at a time when my
>philosophy was beginning to be known and some people were
>starting to call themselves `Randists.'"  Rand suggests a
>spiritual affinity with Marx on this issue.  She remembers
>that, upon hearing the "outrageous statements" made by some
>of his "Marxist" followers, Marx exclaimed:  "`But I am not a

On which basis could someone as Rand, who takes pride in what she calls 'my
philosophy', actually have any 'spiritual affinity' with Marx, who already
in 1844 had discovered that 'that which in general constitutes the essence
of philosophy' is to be 'the _alienation of man that knows itself_, or the
_alientated_ science _that thoughts itself_' (1884 Manuscripts, third
manuscript XXIII), let alone the eleventh thesis on Feuerbach?

Furthermore, maybe Rand has a poor memory, maybe she has a poor second-hand
reference, or maybe she just has a fantastic imagination that enables her
to introduce the '"outrageous statements" made by some of his "Marxist"
followers' and Marx's 'exclamation' as arising from the original source.
The true and only source of Marx directly saying he was not a Marxist is
Engel's letter to Konrad Schmidt dated Aug. 5, 1890:

'I will say the same that Marx used to concerning the French "Marxists" of
the late 70s: "All I know is that I am not a Marxist."'

Rand dresses up Engels-Marx's quotation so as to make Marx appear as
reacting against 'some of his "Marxist" followers' because they made
'"outrageous statements"'. So her pseudo-quotation implies that Marx has
nothing to say concerning the rest of his '"Marxists" followers,' but to
accept them as such. As Rand is a philosopher, she assumes that being
'Marxists' is the _natural_ form Marx's followers should have, and she
wants to have Marx himself saying it. She can only achieve such a result by
'rephrasing' Engels-Marx's quotation. On the contrary, from the original
quotation alone only the opposite conclusion can be reached: Marx doesn't
reject being a Marxist under these or that conditions, but he says he is
not a Marxist at all.

Marxists never cared much about Marx saying he was not one of them. Maybe
they believe he was just playing the modest guy, or that he considered his
'Marxist system' not completed enough to deserve that name, or that he was
showing his sense of humor, as Althusser preferes. Still, could someone who
discovered that 'the proper scientific method' results in 'the reproduction
of the concrete through the path of thought' (Grundrisse, pp. 21-22, Dietz
Verlag) conceive this _reproduction_ of reality as _his interpretation_ of
reality, and therefore, as a _philosophy_, an _ideology_, a political
_doctrine_ or a _theory_ named Marxism? Absolutely not (and not just
concerning the "outrageous statements" of some Marxists). This is a
question that Marxism must critically face.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at


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