Marx, Hayek, and Utopia

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Fri Sep 8 13:21:16 MDT 1995

On Fri, 8 Sep 1995 glevy at wrote:
> The following book (authored by our own Chris S.) is now available in=20
> paperback:
> -- Chris Mathew Sciabarra _Marx, Hayek, and Utopia_, Albany, State=20
> University of New York Press, 1995 (178 pages with index; $19.95 pb).
> Excerpts from the back cover:
> "This book develops a critique of utopianism through a provocative=20
> comparison of the works of Karl Marx and F.A. Hayek, thus engaging two=20
> vastly different traditions in critical dialogue. By emphasizing the=20
> methodological and substantive similarities between Marxian and Hayekian=
> perspectives, it challenges each tradition's most precious assumptions =
> about the other. Through this comparative analysis, the book articulates=
> the crucial distinctions between utopian and radical theorizing.   =20
>   Sciabarra examines the dialectical method of social inquiry common to=
> both Marxian and Hayekian thought and argues that both Marx and Hayek=20
> rejected utopian theorizing because it internalizes an abstract,=20
> ahistorical, exaggerated sense of human possibility. The chief=20
> disagreement between Marx and Hayek, he shows, is not political but=20
> epistemological, reflecting their different assumptions about the limits=
> of reason."
>   Maybe we can get Chris to talk more about these issues. We just had a=
> rather long discussion about "socialist utopia" last month. What does=20
> Chris think about that discussion?
> Jerry

Honest!!  I know Jerry... but I DIDN'T SLIP HIM ANY MONEY to mention this=
=F9new SUNY release in their series on the Philosophy of the Social=20
Sciences.  But since we are on the subject, let me include comments from=20
two totally different people (re ideology), the Austrian economist Karen=20
Vaughn, and the Marxist, Bertell Ollman: =20

Karen Vaughn writes:  "Sciabarra argues that Hayek and Marx shared a=20
dialectic approach, an appreciation for the importance of context, and a=20
disdain for utopian thinking.  The major difference between Hayek and=20
Marx is 'epistemic' or rather in the assumptions they make about the=20
possible progress of human knowledge.  This is a most important thesis=20
that serves to illuminate the ideas of two great thinkers and serves to=20
underscore the importance of Hayek's philosophical message.  Few others=20
have even noted similarities between the structure of Hayek's and Marx's=20
thought, let alone engaged in such a detailed and enlightening comparison."

Bertell Ollman writes:  "MARX, HAYEK, AND UTOPIA is a shockingly original=
piece of work, closely and cleverly argued, skillfully organized, and=20
scholarly in the extreme -- Sciabarra knows the Marxist and Hayekian=20
literatures thoroughly.  It is a very tolerant work, open to and looking=20
for the strengths in both traditions.  It is certain to provoke a great=20
deal of thought among all its readers, no matter where they fit on the=20
ideological spectrum."

=09Now, why have I quoted these two promo pieces in such a shameless=20
display of self-advertising??  Simply put, I have a reputation on this=20
list for being the token libertarian who has respect for Marxism=20
nonetheless.  The above quotes are here if only to reassure my Marxist=20
colleagues that this book is not simply another "hatchet job" on Marx OR=20
Hayek, but a very real attempt to engage the two traditions in a=20
complementary fashion.  I'll no doubt be accused of "revisionism" by both=
left and right, but I do believe that each can learn something from the=20
other. Bertell, by the way, also supplied me with an endorsement (seen in=
this week's NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS) for my other new release, AYN=20
RAND:  THE RUSSIAN RADICAL (Penn State Press).  Truthfully, I've been=20
scarcer around these parts because=20
I've been inundated with book-related matters.  Thanks Jerry for noticing=
the book... and I'd be happy to elaborate, though I believe that we have=20
all touched upon many such issues here over the past year:  utopianism,=20
unintended consequences, the calculation debate, etc. =20

=09=09=09=09- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at

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