The Economist shreds Marx

You may have already seen this Marx article in The Economist, Many online comments are critical of the article; "Yes his solutions were wrong but his analysis of capitalism is dead on." Have a wonderful weekend.

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The Economist evaluates Marx and Marxism periodically to reassure its audiences that they need not worry about reading or thinking about Marx. This is, as they tangentially admit, especially needed now that challenges, criticisms, and rejections of capitalism proliferate. But their treatment is childish. First, there is no one Marx or one Marxism. It is a tradition of thought that has spread across the globe across the last 150 years and interacted with a huge number of different societies at varying levels of development. The result is a collection of different interpretations. There is no single definition of "his analysis" or of "his solutions." Even passing familiarity with the Marxian tradition would preclude writing as The Economist does, but luckily for them they lack any such familiarity, and so can pontificate ignorantly.

To illustrate the point, socialists have disagreed about and debated what "solutions" Marx advocated since before he died in 1883. They have also disagreed about and debated what his analysis actually was. Did it, for example, rest on his labor theory of value or was it independent of that? Did profit rates tendentially decline and thus provoke crises or did they not? Is that a question to be answered theoretically or empirically? None of these centrally important debates - key to grasping the multiplicity of analyses and solutions which have contested within Marxism - are relevant to The Economist. Their article is perhaps designed to undermine interest in Mr Corbyn's manifesto and proposals, but as serious analysis it is useless.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-05-13 16:19:32 -0400
  • Christopher C Bergan
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-05-13 05:03:32 -0400