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[Xmca-l] Re: Erratic Marxists
I often imagine people like Varolufakis skipping through the parts of
Capital not devoted to economic models, the way that the rest of us skip
through the economic modelling. On the evidence of his criticisms
("ommission" and "commission") of Marx, Varolufakis he has not seriously
read Marx's non-economic work or studied his career as a political
revolutionary. Only in that way could Varolufakis come up with his
erratisms, which really only reflect his own erratic reading practices.
How else could Varolufakis conclude that Marx did not take much interest in
the effect that his ideas had on the leaders of the workers' movement? Marx
saw bureaucratic practices in the working class movement and decried the
International being taken over by bureaucrats, college professors and
liberal do-gooders long before anyone else. The reason why nobody reads the
section of the Manifesto where he and Engels did this is simply that they
did it so effectively that hardly any of the people mentioned in it were
ever mentioned again. Or consider his struggle over the "Gotha Programmae"
or his fight with Lasalle, or (to take up Annalisa's notion of left wing
libertarians) with the Bakuninists. The criticism that he did not
personally take up the fight against Stalin himself is patently silly: when
Marx died, Stalin was exactly four years old, and the Soviet Union was more
than three decades in the future.
Varolufakis' s account of Marx's "error of commission" is even more silly:
it is simply a refusal to rise to the level of theory. Varolufakis deduces
from the incompleteness of a mathematical model (something which is really
inherent in the whole idea of a mathematical model) the futility of
mathematical models of labor in general and of Capital in particular.
Varolufakis really has to have a look at Andy's article on "Reading
Marx isn't in the business of explaining to capitalists how their own
system works. He is in the business of explaining to workers why it is not
true that strikes are just short term solutions bound to pull down the
workers' standard of living in the long run and why it is also not true
that strikes are permanent solutions that can lead to the elevation of
workers into the middle class. He has precisely the economic model required
to do this.
It's worth noting, perhaps, that Marx was not a working-class intellectual
himself. Even though he shared the conditions of life of some of the most
wretched members of the working class (and the infant mortality rate in his
family shows this), he also insisted on having servants and had his
daughters taught French and piano rather than a trade. But Marx's work was
one of the things that made working class intellectuals possible in the
social sciences in the first place (previously there were working class
intellectuals, but they were people like Michael Faraday, who got into the
hard sciences through reflecting on physical phenomena encountered in
manual labor). I think that is why people like Varolufakis are grateful to
him. But the rest of us have non-erratic reasons for gratitude.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
On 22 February 2015 at 03:56, Annalisa Aguilar <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hi mike and all and sundry types whether ideologues or nay! :)
> Yes, I found that quote that you pulled out to be a most poignant thought
> as well.
> What I respond to in Varolufakis's article, which I will have to learn how
> to pronounce properly (anyone know where the emphasis is?), is that he is
> transparent where he agrees and where he is critical with Marx. I find this
> to provide more access to what Marx said, and it enables me to engage a
> little better with the material because it removes the messiah from the
> man, even if his message may be listing to the prophetic.
> There is an apparent movement to completely erase progressive liberalism
> as ineffectual which is accomplished by grouping it all together with
> traditional conservatism and contain them all in an assorted box of
> chocolates called neo-liberalism, and from that containment there is a sway
> toward the fizzy pop of libertarianism, but there are, it seems, two kinds
> of libertarians ones who get there from the right (the tea party), and ones
> who get there from the left (Occupy).
> It is a fight for liberty, but not as we would think. It is a fight for
> The Brand of Liberty as the platform. The bizarre thing about this is, it
> is in every person's fiber to want liberty, so how the liberty-right and
> the liberty-left are to be distinguished is going to be an interesting
> Who owns the word "libertarian" anyway? Oddly to try to create a new word
> out of liberty might be "libertine," but that has too fleshy a sensation
> for most people's political sensibilities! What about libertitian?
> I've never heard of an erratic Marxist? Has anyone heard it before? When I
> search it, all that comes up is Varolufakis.
> Kind regards,