[Marxism] Troubled Times

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Sun Nov 26 04:12:28 MST 2006

> Laibman likes much of what she writes, but his main problem with the
> book is the punch line for what I'm arguing here: she doesn't
> specify how the evolution of gender structures and relations
> intertwined with the evolution of those of class. Specifying those,
> and the same with national structures and relations, and all three
> together, is our task. 
> But we are not starting from scratch on this.

Andrew, I don't want to argue a case here, but only make a suggestion.

Gender, class and state are all structures in your view, and as such
are empirically defined factors that interact in subtle and often
obscure ways.

But perhaps the difficulty integrating these factors is not our lack
of skill or imagination, but our adherence to an empiricist view that
arguably has limited explanatory power. It is strange that we in the
social sciences are so completely unaware of developments in the
philosophy of science that it makes us look like quaint Victorians.

Specifically, class may differ from gender and state in that it is not
an empirical structure but a _process_ that arises from the relation
of a worker and the means of production, which in turn are social
forces. In other words, class is like a holograph in that the part
includes the whole. Such a conceptual unit is discussed in the
philosophy of science, but rarely in the social sciences. C.P. Snow's
The Two Cultures (1959) should be seen as an accusation.

If class explains how development is possible, then it surely becomes
the primary social category. This does not mean that in some
situations gender or the state may not be critical factors, even the
prevailing factor, but that can only be true in terms of a factor
analysis, not a systemic one; they don't explain the system, but only
its behavior in a particular conjuncture.

The same difficulty comes up when people object to what they assume to
be Marxism's economic reductionism, that in the last instance the
economy determines all else. This objection is based on a presumed
empiricism, in which the economy is seen as one factor among many.

Haines Brown KB1GRM

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