Marxist Economics? /Lukacs
andy at dircon.co.uk
andy at dircon.co.uk
Fri Sep 23 20:32:52 MDT 1994
>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?
> Jeff Popke
That seems to be the score. I've only just joined the list, and joined it to get a
wide ranging discussion of all aspects of Marxist theory; but the discussion I've
seen seems to be exclusively concerned with Economics and the labour theory of
Not that there's anything wrong with the discussion as such - if nothing
else, Steve Keen's arguments needed to be responded to - but Jeff Popke's
suggestion that those participating should put the arguments in a wider context by
explaining their connection with Marx's method as a whole (ie. not the methodology
of Capital but his attitude to praxis) could spark off a wider debate.
Since this is my first posting, I'd better introduce myself. I'm a part-time
postgrad at Middlesex Uni, Philosophy Dept. writing a dissertation on _Ethics and
Action in Lukacs: 1916-1928_.
My interest is with the role - if any (prompt) - of ethics in Marxism.
Basically, the argument is that the *left ethic* of the pre-Marxist Lukacs, while
it meant that he could not translate his opposition to the reified world into a
practical programme, was incompatible with any kind of realpolitik. The marxist
Lukacs collapses this ethic into an argument that the Communist Party represents
the 'organised form of the class consciousness of the proletariat', and it is
through this theory that Lukacs performs an accomodation with Stalinism.
On top of this, Lukacs comes to accept a 'dialectic of evil' which, he
believes, justifies 'sin' if it serves the interest of revolution.
To cut a long story short, the question is whether it is possible to
combine an orientation on the class struggle and collective action with something
like a consistent personal ethic. The argument about ethics is, in turn,
connected with the question of whether a genuine praxis, in terms of a unity of
theory and practice, is even possible. Is it because Lukacs rejected ethics in
favour of 'praxis' that his praxis turned out to be a pseudo praxis - not a unity
of theory and practice but a subordination of theory to practice (the practice of
the Communist Party)? Would a real praxis, which requires ruthless criticism,
rather than the subordination of criticism in the interests of 'practical
concerns', be possible without adopting an ethical/moral position that sees *all*
the parties and institutions of capitalism - including worker's organisations
and parties - as susceptible to corruption and compromise, and thus, if you
My other interests are with the Western Marxist tradition after Lukacs,
especially the work of Adorno and Althusser. Anyone else out there want to debate
the basic moral/ontological positions of Marxism, rather than just its 'method'?
"My beautiful, pitiful century.
With an idiot's harsh and feeble grin
You look behind:
A beast, once supple,
Ponders its paw-marks in the sand."
Osip Mandelstam (1923)
"Daddy, take the Bannana.
Tomorrow is Sunday".
andy at .dircon.co.uk
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