Orthodoxy and working-class subjectivity

Marcus Strom MSTROM at nswtf.org.au
Tue Feb 13 15:04:24 MST 1996


For more light on the below debate, read Lukacs' article "What is 
orthodox marxism?" in 'History and Class Consciousness'.

I don't have it in front of me, but in that article, Lukacs argues 
that orthodoxy refers exclusively to *method*.

It's a good read.

> Hugh Rodwell wrote:
> > Why did you put quotes around 'Marxist orthodoxy', if you're not referring
> > to Stalinist orthodoxy plain and simple? Does 'Marxist orthodoxy' include
> > Lenin and Trotsky for you, <snip>
> "Marxist orthodoxy", I believe, has its origins in German Social Democracy 
> and, in particular, the [early] writings of Karl Kautsky. Lenin, Trotsky 
> and most of the Bolshevik leadership, I believe, considered themselves 
> "orthodox Marxists" as well (although, I don't have any quotes in front 
> of me). The original meaning of the term might be best understood as a 
> position that defended Marx's revolutionary politics against Bernstein 
> (and "evolutionary socialism") and reformist politics in general. I do, 
> though, believe it is a term that deserves to be in quotes. It is 
> surprising to me indeed that any Marxist would want to be considered 
> "orthodox" given the connotations that this term has. In a similar vein, 
> in the 1980's there was a grouping of Marxist economists who labelled 
> themselves "fundamentalists"? Now, why would a Marxist want to be called 
> a "fundamentalist"? (I wrote about these issues in a post in May called 
> "Ists, Ites, Ans, and Oids").
> Beyond that (reformism vs. revolutionary politics), what can we say that 
> "orthodoxy" means? A close, and dogmatic, adherence to the writings of 
> Marx? I don't think so. For instance, the crisis theories developed by 
> Kautsky, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Bukharin were not "orthodox" in the sense 
> that they followed Marx's writings closely (in general, they were either 
> underconsumptionist and/or disproportionality theories). On this point, 
> see Richard Day, _The 'Crisis' and the 'Crash'_ (New Left Books).

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