Marx and the Marxists

2 January 2007 at 4:16 pm 5 comments

| Peter Klein |

The founders of social movements and schools of thought often try to distance themselves from their followers. (Or their later interpreters do this for them). Thus one can ask if Freud was a Freudian, Ricardo a Ricardian, Walras a Walrasian, Keynes a Keynesian (chapter 5 Keynesian? chapter 12 Keynesian?), and so on. Future scholars will no doubt debate whether Foss was really a Fossian (you have to wonder about some of his disciples).

Andrew Kliman is a True Marxist and argues, in his new book, that fellow Marxists have gone off track by accepting what Kliman calls “the myth of inconsistency.” In other words, contrary to both Marx’s critics and his disciples, there are no internal inconsistencies in Das Capital. “It had to be done,” states one dust-jacket endorsement: “someone has finally rescued Marx from the Marxists.” Bertell Ollman, perhaps today’s most famous living Marxist, says Kliman’s arguments “operate like a buzz saw clearing away the underbrush of misplaced criticisms that have kept the real Capital hidden from most of its potential readers.” Given how many college students have been forced to slog through at least one volume of Marx’s lengthy tome — with little or no exposure to Marx’s critics — it’s hard to believe that Marx’s true message has remained hidden for so long. Nonetheless, devotees of the secondary literature on Marx will surely wish to add this volume to their collections.

Update: Orthodox Freudians have long denied Carl Jung’s claim that Freud had an affair with his wife’s younger sister, but apparently he did after all. (Love the Herald-Tribune headline: “Hotel Log Hints at Desire That Freud Didn’t Repress.”

Update II: Andrew emails to say I didn’t get it quite right: “Actually, I’d be foolish to say that there aren’t inconsistencies in Capital, so I don’t.  My argument is restricted to the allegations of inconsistency that are extant.  Also, in regard to ‘True Marxist,’ which sounds a bit like Hoffer’s ‘True Believer,’ I point out several times in the book that “logically consistent” doesn’t mean correct or true.”

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Ephemera.

Pomo Periscope VII: Are We All Pomos Now? The Other O&M

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. K.  |  14 December 2011 at 5:12 am

    Does some Austrian economist, respond to the “modern” arguments of the Marxists? I know that we believe that Bohm-Bawerk finished the job, but i think it is wrong to ignore the “modern” Marxists and leave them space to spread the demagogue.

    I found out that some Nitzman and Bichler raised very interesting comments against their “empirical testing of LTV as scientific theory”.Of course, Paul Cockshot and Allin Cottrell tried to respond to this, but except their mathematicall equations and similar stuff, I think that their response is weak.
    What do you think about this (the first question and the second comment)?

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  14 December 2011 at 10:12 am

    David Gordon’s 1990 book Resurrecting Marx deals with the “analytical Marxists” G.A. Cohen, Jon Elster, and John Roemer.

  • 3. David Gordon  |  14 December 2011 at 11:55 am

    I don’t know of any Austrian economist who has responded to Kliman’s work. (Incidentally, Joe Salerno and Kliman both teach at Pace.) His work criticizes the neo-Ricardian interpreters of Marx, e.g., Ian Steedman, and the discussion of his book has largely been confined to the neo-Ricardians and their opponents

  • 4. K.  |  14 December 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Peter Klein: I’ve read Gordon’s book. Excellent, devastating critique of analytical Marxists. But Cockshot, Cottrell and others, are “hardcore” Marxists. The “real followers” that interpret Marx as “what he said, is what he meant” and this are the guys who are “proving” the “scientific” status of LTV.
    David Gordon: Yap, I’ve heard about that Kliman and Salerno are teaching on Pace. This is more intriging, because I am sure that Salerno heard about this guys and know their arguments (Cockshot and Cottrell). Why nobody is responding to them is little strange, because they are still arguing about the validity of LTV and are attacking the Bohm-Bawerks’s arguments. Is this mean that for the Austrians the debate is finished? I’ve read Bohm-Bawerk’s critique and I think that it is “the last word”, but I believe that it is not very good idea to let spare space for demagogues to be spread all over again.
    p.s. And I am very much aware that Austrian (as I consider myself, a young Austrian:)) have greater opponents right now (Keynes, Krugman, etc.), but, still … if somebody know about some Austrian that respond to Cockshot and Cottrell let me know.

  • 5. David Hoopes  |  15 December 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I think the link to Kliman’s (no longer) new book is broken. Here is the link to his book on his web site.

    Interesting that the first comments on this post are four years after the post. Must have taken time to sink in.

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