[Marxism] Partisanship and Objectivity in Theoretical Work

Austin, Andrew austina at uwgb.edu
Thu Mar 16 14:01:20 MST 2006

Charles, My problem with this line of thinking is that it systematically
confuses objectivity with neutrality.  One can take sides and be
objective.  Neutrality, in contrast, is ideology.  Instead of yielding
objectivity, neutrality hides distortions of knowledge.  The ideologue
distorts theory to bring about or deny a process or outcome.  The
scientist employs theory for many purposes, but does so in an objective
fashion.  Too many so-called scientists are of course ideologues.  But
that is not what science should be (and ought concerns do not make one
an ideologue).  I don't believe that the meaning of the term ideology
has changed among Marxists.  Putting all this another way, if one means
by ideology "interested knowledge" then I understand the argument, but
believe that is to misuse the term ideology, at least as I understand
Marxists to use it.  I consider myself to be a partisan and a scientist.
I do not consider myself to be an ideologue.  Nor do I consider my work
to be ideological.  Others may disagree, of course.  Andrew

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of Charles Brown
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 2:49 PM
To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
Subject: [Marxism] Partisanship and Objectivity in Theoretical Work

I'm sure Cornforth knows this, but I think he is consciously using
"ideology" in a different way than Marx and Engels because of popular
usage at the time Cornforth wrote ( and today). It's like "idealism". We
lose its usage to refer to "inspired thinking to achieve noble aims"
when we adhere rigorously to the meaning "philosophical idealism. "

"Scientific" in the popular sense too often implies no partisanship, as
Cornforth discusses in the essay. For Marxists, the scientific turns
things-in-themselves into things-for-us. It is not a neutral process
relative to "us", humanity, the working class, and its struggle with the
bourgeoisie. "Ideology" popularly , nowadays, implies a partisan

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