Orthodoxy

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Tue Feb 13 07:45:18 MST 1996


On Tue, 13 Feb 1996 glevy at acnet.pratt.edu wrote:
> 
> Since the time of Kautsky, I believe that the expression "orthodoxy" has 
> been used by those Marxists who wish to stress the [alleged] continuity of 
> the works of Marx, Engels, most of Kautsky (and some other German Social 
> Democrats like W. Liebnecht), Plekhanov, Lenin (and Trotskyists, of 
> course, include Trotsky; Maoists include Stalin and Mao, etc.). However, 
> regardless of its origins, I believe its continued use today is too 
> suggestive of dogmatism and religious interpretations of Marx and other 
> so-called "orthodox Marxists." It also fails to sufficiently identify the 
> discontinuities in thought among the "orthodox Marxists."
> 

Louis: In my mind, orthodox Marxism is not "Trotskyism", "Maoism" or any 
other current that tries to establish some sort of "revolutionary 
continuity". There is no such thing as "revolutionary continuity". This 
concept has lead to all sorts of dogmatic and sectarian dead-ends.

What is apparent, however, is that there are rather broad demarcations 
that can be made between Marxists who defend the primacy of class against 
a myriad on thinkers who deny it. This battle has been on-going for some 
decades now.

I include the following among those who have defended the primacy of class: 
Ralph Miliband, Leo Panitch, Ellen Meiksins Wood, David Harvey, 
Harry Magdoff, Alex Callinicos (no matter what differences I have with 
him over the nature of the former Soviet Union).

Those who attack the primacy of class: the Amherst school, Laclau/Mouffe, 
the Market Socialists, most of DSA, Deleuze/Guattari/Negri, etc. (By the 
way, I am not as knowledgable about these folks as I should be for the 
simple reason that in the limited time I have available to do research, I 
just don't want to spare the time to examinate every little attempt to 
"correct" Marxism that comes along. I just may go to my grave having 
never read "Gerry" Cohen, as Justin calls him. But, hey, that's just me...)


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