Marxism as science -Reply

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Tue Apr 18 16:56:26 MDT 1995

In re Analytical Marxism:

1. I don't view eclecticism as a vice, if that means learning from other

2. I agree about woods and trees, but lack of large-scale vision is not
something that even the narrowest AM can be accused of.

3. No doubt some AM view themselves as logic police, and AM do irrirate
the hell out of a lot of Marxists, but I don't view myself as any kind of
cop--just as a thinker and fighter. Let that irritate whom it will.


On Tue, 18 Apr 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> 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
> eclecticism.
> >>>>
> 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.
> Regards
> Chris Burford
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