Carrol Cox cbcox at
Fri Dec 11 11:26:50 PST 1998

Louis Proyect wrote:

> The average 15 year old starts smoking because
> of peer pressure and nothing else.

If I ever again have 6 months in a row unharried by clinical depression I want to take up in detail the rather fundamental issue *not* faced here, that of being clear of what is an explanation and what is merely a naming of what *needs* to be explained. "Peer Pressure," "Sectarianism," "Sexism," "Racism," "Liberalism," "Homophobia," "Ablism," "Stalinism," "Eurocentrism," "Trotskyism," "religious fundamentalism," are not (not) explanations, they are what need to be explained through historical (material) analysis.

The tendency is to see all these things as mystical entities which, after perhaps having some historical explanation in the past, now have "a life of their own." This is unhistorical.

This contrast between explanations that require explanation and actual explanations is what Marx was getting at in his differentiation of his critique of political economy from "vulgar economics."


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