[Marxism] comment

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 2 15:07:50 MST 2016

I have snipped this from Michael Roberts' latest blog

*You see, I think we must start with Marx’s approach, which was to abstract
from reality the underlying essential (necessary) laws of capitalist motion
and then add back concrete features of capitalism to reach the immediate.
In only that way can we identify the causes of crises under capitalism (my

I have done so because Michael is circling around a problem that Roy
Bhaskar solved 40 years ago in his ground breaking *Realist Theory of
Science*. For Bhaskar the real could not be reduced to the Actual
(Events-what was realized) and within that category the Empirical (what is
experienced). So the Real contains  the Actual which in turn contains the
Experienced.  The Real consists of structures and mechanisms - tendencies
which might be actualized and some of which may be experienced.

One of the examples Bhaskar uses is water.  It contains within its atomic
structure the tendency to boil at 100C at sea level.  Even though that
tendency may not be actualized and the water never boil, the tendency is

What Michael is trying to do is to use the experienced to hypothesize about
the underlying mechanisms in the capitalist economy. He is not abstracting
from the Real he is trying to identify the Real.

Why haven't more Marxist economists caught up with Bhaskar's early work, me

Bhaskar, R. (2008). *A Realist Theory of Science*. London: Routledge.



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