"marxism", "dialectics" and "science" -Reply

James Devine JDevine at lmumail.lmu.edu
Mon Jun 26 13:52:59 MDT 1995

Lisa asks:
>>Can dialectics be explained so that it doesn't sound like
mumbo-jumbo, or its usefulness is demonstrated to me, or I can apply
it to concrete problems I wish to address? <<

On this, I recommend Lewotin and Lewin's book THE DIALECTICAL
BIOLOGIST, especially the last chapter.

>>Is the LTV flawed?  In what way?  What are the criteria for any
theory of value "working"?  In terms of achieving some goal?  Which

good question. I think the main flaw of the "labor theory of value"
(what the old Master called the "law of value") is that Marx never
explained what it was or what its goals were (and dressed it up in
some Hegelian mumbo-jumbo). Thus economists, who are trained in
price theory, think that it's a price theory, suggesting
mathematical formulas for cranking out predictions of what prices
would be in an imaginary equilibrium economy. (The fact that usual
formulations of the "LTV" fail to do this is why most economists
reject it.) A philosopher I know assumed it was an ethical theory,
saying that workers "should" get the full product of their labor.
Etc.  In my more-than-humble opinion, the "LTV" is a historical and
social theory, in addition to being an economic theory (Marx didn't
make these separations between academic disciplines). But that's
getting far afield.

>>That is why I call myself a student.  Not as a follower.  But in
the best sense of study, to examine alternatives, compare ideas,
gather information, to have reasonable support for the views I hold -
in order to make up my own mind about the answers to my questions.<<

I think this is right: we all are students, since no-one knows
everything. We have to be students, among other reasons because
the Left has messed up a lot in the past.

The political situation is really bad, with most oppositional
forces demobilized and demoralized.  But there's a positive side
to this: we don't _have to_ know everything for sure _right
now_. We can test our ideas and knowledge logically,
empirically, and in practice.  We can be students, rejecting
dogmatism in all its forms.

for socialism from below,

Jim Devine      jdevine at lmumail.lmu.edu
Los Angeles, CA (the city of emphysema)

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