[Marxism] Latest issue of Science & Society (April 2006)

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Wed Apr 12 14:12:46 MDT 2006

The latest issue (April 2006) of the Marxist quarterly, Science & Society
features papers from a symposium that was held back in 2003 on the
twenty-fifth anniversary of G.A. Cohen's book, Karl Marx's Theory of
History: A Defence. These papers by David Laibman, Paul Nolan, Renzo
Llorente, Alex Callinocos, and Alan Carling explore varous aspects of the
interpretation of historical materialism that was put forth in Cohen's
book and what relevance it may have for contemporary Marxists. Some of
the writers like Carling and Nolan take up the issue of explanatory
mechanisms in the materialist theory of history, and they make the case
that Darwinian biology provides historical materialists with an
appropriate model as to how such mechanisms ought to be understood.
Carling, in particular, with his Thesis of Competitive Primacy, has long
been known as an advocate of a selectionist interpretation of historical
materialism, that models itself explicitly after Darwinian biology.
Carling recognizes that there is a certain kinship between his Darwinian
historical materialism and the memetics of Richard Dawkins and Dan
Dennett, but sees their work as limited by their failure to take on
Marxist insights.

Alex Callinicos' paper "G.A. Cohen and the Critique of Political
Economy," praises Cohen's KMTH but takes issue with Cohen's rejection of
the labor theory of value. In Callinocos' opinion, this rejection has
prevented Cohen from engaging recent work in Marxistpolitical economy
that builds directly on the labor theory of value, and so has undercut
the promise that his 1978 book had opened up for Marxists.

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