[Marxism] A forwarded message on class--Thompson on class

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sun Dec 10 07:46:57 MST 2006

I wrote, "I think E.P. Thompson's resurrection of Marx's early ideas on
class is far superior and more practical than the 19th century 'scientific
socialist' (ie., social science pseudo-scientific model) assertion of an
objective reality of which people are generally unaware."

Haines replied, "but surely you have some reason for this judgement. If you
offered it elsewhere, I missed it."

Sorry.  Since someone else raised Thompson, I assumed we were familiar with
his approach.

E.P. Thompson left the CP but was still a Marxist when he wrote MAKING OF
THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS.  His understanding of class tries to provide an
explanation for the self-directed activities of working people.  This is
what good history does...and it's what historical materialism does quite
well, when used by someone who really knows the subject...the making of the
working class, in this case.

Western "social science" evolved from the need of capitalist institutions to
manage populations.  Its starting point is not what people are thinking or
desiring--which explains what the people are doing and why--but what
resources--and how much--need to be administered to who....  It is certainly
the practical approach for capitalist institutions, but impractical in terms
of understanding class and actions based on class.

Mark L.

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