Subject: [Marxism] Popper

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Fri Dec 31 19:40:54 MST 2004

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 23:49:34 +0000 "paul illich"
<paul_illich at> writes:
> >Scientific statements are not falsifiable statements, but fallible 
> >statements applying to a limited set of phenomena (they could be 
> wrong, and 
> >are in principle testable, even although we may not yet know how to 
> test 
> >them). A good book on this issue is Stefan Amsterdamski, Between 
> Experience 
> >and Metaphysics: Philosophical Problems of the Evolution of Science 
> (1975).
> >Jurriaan
> Popper's point was that Darwin's theory of evolution is not 
> testable,
> and thus, yes, not "science" per se. Evolution as a hypothesis was
> less in the firing line. The idea that falsifiability is the only 
> single
> defining feature of "science" would of course be nonsensical, but a 
> work
> such as Conjectures & Refutations covers vastly more ground than 
> mere
> falsifiability.
> This is not to say that Popper had some god-like overview that 
> cannot
> be question, any more than Marx did! But the lambasting he gets from 
> the
> left seems partially motivated by ire at Vol2 of the Open Society - 
> a book
> I believe to be seriously misjudged. 

Malachi Hacohen in his biography
*Karl Popper: The Formative Years, 1902-1945* makes
the case that the anti-Marxism of *The Open Society and
Its Enemies* was forged originally not within a cold war
context but rather was forged within the context of the 
debates within the Austrian Social Democratic Party to
which Popper had belonged, up to 1938,over to how 
best to meet the fascist threat, and that much of Popper's 
hostility towards Marxism was motivated by his conviction 
that the Austrian and German Social Democrats had been 
crippled in their struggle against
the rise of fascism by the Marxism that was dominant within
those parties.  (Hacohen, himself, BTW
considers Popper's assessments of Austro-Marxism to have been
unduly harsh, pointing out the contributions that Otto Bauer
and the others had made to the analysis of fascism).

Popper it should be noted, leaned towards to the Austrian
Social Democrats' anti-Marxist wing, which championed
the revisionism of Eduard Bernstein against the dominant
Austro-Marxism.  And indeed, much of Popper's take
on Marxism and the case for reformism which one
finds in *The Open Society* can be seen as being
part derived from the arguments that had first been
expressed by Bernstein many years earlier.

It turned out to be fortitious for Popper that the
critique of Marxism which had originally been
forged in the context of the debates of the
Austrian Social Democrats turned out to
especially useful for the cold warriors in
waging ideological warfare against the
Soviet Union.

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