Marxist Economics?

Jonathan P. Beasley-Murray jpb8 at
Fri Sep 23 13:36:41 MDT 1994

On Fri, 23 Sep 1994, Jeff Popke wrote:

> Not to be obnoxious, but does anyone else feel like this has become the Marxist
> ECONOMICS list?  Have we forced Stephen Grossman and Louis Proyect from the
> list - who at least prompted interesting discussions of politics/praxis?

This seems a good question, and need not be seen as obnoxious.  (Though
please note some caveats at the end of this message.)  I wonder
why non-economists have tended to be relatively silent myself.  Much
"progressive" work in my discipline (more or less cultural studies) is
explicitly Marxist, or draws upon Marxism, but still seems quite content
to let the economics slide--and no one seems to mind too much.  What
exactly is the connection between this "Western Marxism" and Marxist
economics?  What about Kolakowski's blunt contention that "Karl Marx was
a German philosopher"?

Is this relative silence to say that Marxism is bankrupt in the
humanities?  It's my contention (as Steve Keen also pointed out, I
believe), that some (more or less unexamined) form of Marxism permeates
"oppositional thought," and that there are almost no competing ways of
thinking about class available.  Admittedly, much of this may be very
"lazy" Marxism, unconcerned with economics or not prepared to suggest that
the class struggle is a primary determinant of history.  In that sense it
is probably better described as part of the Marxist heritage than as
Marxist per se.  But still, when class is mentioned, *faute de mieux*,
Marx is usually invoked; as when terms such as "ideology" or "hegemony"
come into play.

Meanwhile, on this list, there is no reason why there cannot be parallel
economistic, some philosophical, some ideology-critique etc.--and there
is no reason why anyone should read every single post that comes through
on the list (I doubt that many do, as it is).  Hopefully--inevitably, I
would have thought--these discussions would cross-fertilate in various
ways.  As it is however, there is no reason why anyone can't bring up any
topic they want at any point.

Finally, though, some of Jeff's comments seem a little unfair to the
economists.  The debate between Gene Holland and Steve Keen was
primarily over the "critical" use of the LTV, and at Louis Proyect's
prompting, Steve tried to outline the political and historical
repercussions of his counter-theory.  Thus the economists are scarcely in
as much of a world of their own as it may appear--just few others have so
far dared to join the fray.

However, I would be interested in repeating my question as to how the LTV
debate might affect a politics *other* than class politics.  Maybe the
exchange between Doug and Fred on productive or non-productive labour may
bear on this, in as much as it has something to say on the labour of
"housewives", ideologues, publishers, politicians...

>                                   Jeff Popke


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at


More information about the Marxism mailing list