[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Thu Dec 7 15:40:46 MST 2006

> Who was this aimed at? Dogmatists who liked to suck all sorts of
> conclusions out of the "theory" instead of studying concrete
> conditions.

Theory is absolutely essential for any explanation. All I can do to
support this contention is to list some standard works in the
philosophy of science. If you wish, I'll do that. In the sciences,
theory and fact are not in opposition. The Humean attack on theory is
very parochial and, although for a while embraced by capitalist
ideology, it is no longer broadly held.

The alternative to the employment of theory is phenomenalism. Do you
seriously defend that position?

You are free, of course, to cast doubt on the consensus in the
scientific community that theory is necessarily present in any
explanation and that phenomenalism fails to explain anything, but you
can't just assert such an unconventional position without offering
some justification. You do not.

> The fetishization and reification of "the working class." The
> downgrading or negation of the questions of race/nationality and
> gender.

To claim that an adoption of the category "working class" is mere
superstition can always be true in principle, but it certainly isn't
true unless you defend that odd position. The term "working class" is
such a conventional one within and outside Marxist circles, and so you
are obliged to explain why you find it a fetish. If you only meant
that you believe its importance is exaggerated, that may be, but you
choose simply ignore my argument that tried to explain why it must be

Reification means to treat something abstract as being
material. Certainly Marxists (and others) don't see the working class
as being abstract. On what basis do you claim they do? To define the
working class in terms of shared empirical characteristics (an
empiricist definition) may be faulty (a subjectivist reduction), but
it is certainly not abstract.

I offered a non-empiricist definition of class based on a relation of
production. That is not abstract either, but involves what is called
an "unobservable" in the philosophy of science (a causal
relation). Some would only infer the relation of production
(empiricism); others would see it as real (scientific realism). But in
neither case, is the working class an abstraction (disconnected from

Or perhaps by "abstract" you mean that "class" is only inferred from
empirical data. But then so too is gender and race.

You can't just throw out a judgement that social distinctions such as
race and gender are more important or real than class without offering
any justification whatsoever. Merely your insisting that you see
evidence of the importance of gender and race distinctions (I
disregard the scientific consensus that there is no such thing as
"race") means nothing, for you offer no determinant relationship
between these distinctions and the behavior of the capitalist system
as a whole.

When you are challenged, I suggest your proper course would be to
offer some counter arguments and a justification for your position,
not just keep repeating it. I get the impression your position is a
moral one, not scientific.

Haines Brown

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