Marxism as science -Reply

Chris Burford cburford at
Tue Apr 18 23:15:08 MDT 1995

While I appreciate Justin's recent reflective contribution about Mao (I
think I agree that it would have been better if like Lenin he had
died just a few years after coming to power) I had already prepared an
arguably critical note on a previous thoughtful post by Justin, which
seems relevant again in the light of the latest post on Marxism as
Science referring to Analytical Marxism.

On Sat 15th April at 22:30 Justin posted an explanation of his
theoretical position on Marxism as a science. I appreciated the
absence of many quotes  and felt I  understood better how it is
located within the "Analytical Marxist" school. Clearly this is
an important contribution to the debate about the reconstruction
and re-application of Marxism, with a number of strengths.

A reservation I have is that it may be vulnerable to

The Analytical Marxist tendency in Marxist theory to which I
subscribe has been particularly interested in what Daniel Little
calls "the scientific Marx': reformulating the hypotheses
sharply, testesting them for logical coherence, and then for
empirical adequacy. <<<

and at the end:

>>>So whjat's the fuss? Let's get on wiuth the business of
debating which of the hypotheses will stand and how how they can
be formulated and applied to concrete cases.<<<

But it seems to me
the wood, the materialist and dialectical approach to the
struggles going on in front of our eyes, may be lost for an
examination of which of the trees are fine timber and which are
grub-ridden. The wood consists of trees but it is more important than the
total of individual trees.

It also seems to me that Analytical Marxists, may risk presenting
themselves to the rest of the movement as guardians
of logical rigour. Desirable though this is as an ingredient to
debate, I wonder if there is a risk of mutual frustration.

The task is large, and perhaps the typos reflect the
sense of haste. I do find them distracting beyond a certain point
though I hesitate to mention it (let s/he who is without typos
cast the first stone! )

Thanks for clarifying your position. I hope the feedback might
be of some use, positively or negatively. I look forward to
further thoughtful contributions.


Chris Burford

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