[Marxism] Reminder

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Aug 12 15:18:35 MDT 2007

Angelus Novus wrote:
> So what does one do in the case of Robert Trivers, a
> noted sociobiologist *and* member of the Black Panther
> Party and confidant of Huey P. Newton?  Is Trivers
> "within Marxism" in his capacity as a Black Panther
> and "without Marxism" in his capacity as a scientist? 

You mean this guy:

For Trivers, conflict is more than just an evolutionary principle-it's a 
kind of personal credo. As a young man, he freely recalls, he fought 
bitterly with his father. In Jamaica, where he is carrying out a 
long-running research project on the link between childhood growth 
patterns and personality, he has been charged and acquitted for assault 
over a fistfight in a bar, and he spent 10 days in jail after an angry 
dispute over a hotel bill. He has practiced arnis, a Filipino martial 
art involving a machete, since a Jamaican man threatened to kill him, in 
what he describes as an extortion attempt. And his politics tend toward 
a sort of revolutionary vigilantism, in part a reflection of his brief 
membership in the Black Panthers and his close friendship with Huey 
Newton, who was godfather to one of Trivers's daughters


I'd say he has nothing to do with Marxism.

> Or how about Alfred Russell Wallace, an
> ultra-Darwinist concerning issues of biology, but also
> a socialist and passionate advocate of womens right to
> vote?

I have nothing against Darwinian theory. In fact I espouse it. 
Sociobiology, as you are probably aware, is a horse of a different color.

> I haven't followed Sayan's intervention on this issue
> one way or the other, as the idea for "genes" for
> capitalism strikes me as quite silly, but it is also
> quite silly to make ones attitude towards sociobiology
> a litmus test for "within" or "without" Marxism.

I really don't care what views people have on sociobiology but we really 
can't waste time here refuting Steven Pinker, E.O. Wilson and Jared 
Diamond here, other than when they are in the news. For example, when 
Diamond's "Collapse" came out, I wrote a series of articles refuting 
it--including one that explained his early sociobiologist approach in 
order to put his ideas into context.

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