Monday, August 28, 2006

'Marxist' muddles

Via Brad de Long come some words of Jeff Winetraub I would largely agree with:
my appreciation of Marx has only increased over the years--a process in no way diminished by my growing awareness of the limitations, errors, weaknesses, and even dangers of his thought and influence. .. The major complication was that for decades Marx and his thought were surrounded by a cult. At every level from students to professors and in between there seemed to be hordes of academic Marxists, semi-Marxists, neo-Marxists, Marxologists and the like (as well as non-academic Marxist scholars and intellectuals, such as Perry Anderson for most of this period), most of whom tended to assume that Marxism of one form or another had an exclusive lock on reality, and that no idea could be taken seriously until it had first been 'translated', however clumsily or implausibly, into Marxist (or pseudo-Marxist) idiom. I must admit that I sometimes found all this a bit irritating and distracting--and occasionally comic. And out in the larger world, of course, Marxism remained a major world religion with millions of followers. But then, sometime in the early 1990s, these hordes of academic & intellectual Marxists suddenly became almost extinct.
The cult lingers on in a few tiny circles. Class and Struggle in Australia makes some good points but it won't convince anybody who doesn't want to be convinced.


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