[lbo-talk] A gem of a speech from Zoellick on socialists, anarchists, and anti-globo protesters

andie nachgeborenen andie_nachgeborenen at yahoo.com
Wed May 30 15:58:52 PDT 2007

FWIW, I do not think this accords with the facts. If capitalist ideologues know anything about the world that fits with Marxism, it is largely because they have come to the same conclusions independently. A particularly blatant example of this is the work of the late neocon historian Norman F. Cantor, whose book Imagining the Law I recommend _extremely_ highly, both because of its historical materialist analysis and its refreshingly blunt jargon-free style, so unlike the usual turgid and clotted academic prose. Cantor has a pure, even fairly vulgar HM analysis, but he doesn't know it. He spends a moderate about of time sideswiping self-identified Marxists for not being HM enough, although that's not what he calls it.

Among economists, Marx is fairly little known. Paul Samuelson was probably the last heavy-hitting mainstream economist to pay serious scholarly attention to Marx, offering a pretty substantive and lengthy critique of value theory, but that was long ago. Mainstream econ departments have purged their Marxists, generally long ago, and one can find few if any scholars who work in what they call in econ "political economy" in major universities. (Yale hired John Roemer, but only after he pretty much gave up on whatever Marxism he had left, which wasn't that much to start with.) In olden days, Veblen read Marx sympathetically, but that was before the Russian Revolution. Keynes never read Marx and disdained to. Hayek and Mises offered a valuable critique of central planning, but show no signs of actual study of Marx or Marxism. I know of no evidence that Marx or Marxism is at all read among mainstream economists today.

I know that Marxism is not read in mainstream political science (the area of my social science PhD); my neocon world politics prof, a very lovely man, openly scoffed when he assigned us a bit of Lenin's Imperialism to read for completeness' sake, and was so taken aback by by vigorous defense of the tenability of Lenin's view, together with my operationalization of tests for its predictions, that he gave me the only A+ I ever got in grad school.

Sociology is a bit different; Marx is an Official Founding Father, one reads him in the standard class on Marx, Weber, and Durkheim' and it's almost respectable to be a sort of Marxist in sociology, but not if you want to be a Star. In anthropology some of the big names are or were Marxists, but I think that is also a while back, and anthropology isn't a big discipline for making ideological waves, not that it is lacking in ideological content, but the big bourgeoisie don't rely on it for policy the way they do economics and political science.

Philosophy, insofar as that matters, had a moment of semi-toleration for Marxism in some corners during the heyday of analytical Marxism, but both AM and that moment of toleration are long gone. Neither do the philosophical critics of Marxism do very well on balance. In an older generation Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, John Plamanetz (well, he was a political scientist) -- all English or Central European emigres to the UK, you will note! -- didn't embarrass themselves. In America the only real homegrown serious, i.e. worthwhile critic of Marxism and socialism that I can think of the relatively little known Scott Arnold at U Alabama. (His Karl Marx's Radical Critique of Capitalist Society is _excellent_.)

History has almost no Marxist heavy hitters anymore. Eugene Genovese, when he was a Marxist, was exiled to Rochester. Brenner scored at UCLA and got Perry Anderson a job -- but Anderson gets a pass because he's English and Brenner had to get a debate in early modern European history named after him. His big book on Merchants and Revolution has gone unread. In England, Christopher Hill could be Master of Balliol College Oxford and Eric Hobsbawm a sage at University College London, but that's England again, and again no one has replaced Hill, Hilton, Hobsbawm and Thompson.

Canada had a generation of important Marxist scholars, but most of them are dead or have changed colors, like the philosopher G.A. Cohen, who went to Oxford and also gave up on Marxism.

Even in France the former Marxist intellectuals have been obliterated for a generation, in Germany likewise.

As for anarchist thought, I know of almost nowhere where any ruling class type academicians have shown any knowledge of it, inverted or otherwise. I can name on the fingers of one hand the academic anarchists at major or important universities. (I mean the ones who study the stuff, I know a few more who advocate it while studying other things.)

--- "B." <docile_body at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Tayssir,
> I think elites, or especially their advisors, have a
> pretty good knowledge of anarchism or especially
> Marxism, very well. In fact, a lot of Marxists and
> anarchists have made this point repeatedly.
> UT Economics Prof. Harry Cleaver, an autonomist
> Marxist (author of _Reading Capital Politically_),
> writes specifically about how capitalist ideologues
> have used Marxism to their own advantage and
> mentions
> a long list of pro-cap theorists that have employed
> Marxist thought. They turn the formula upside down,
> as
> it were. Noam Chomsky has mentioned this as well --
> that the ruling class has learned more from Marxist
> thought, and probably understands it better, than
> working class folks, who are generally frightened
> away
> from it by the same people in elite positions who
> know
> it inside and out.
> Another example of elites using Marxism to their own
> ends I found in a used textbook I picked up, _The
> Labor Relations Process_ (by William H. Holley and
> Kenneth M. Jennings). It's audience is MBA types who
> will be in management positions after college. In
> this
> textbook I learned more about Marxism and the labor
> movement than almost any handbill I was given by
> Marxist or labor groups. Nuts and bolts stuff. In
> the
> text are extensive sections on the early militant
> CIO, the IWW, the Knights of Labor, how exactly
> folks
> can join a union, explained step-by-step, and how to
> legally stymie every worker attempt at doing so
> (without endorsing illegal tactics, though they are
> also discussed). The writers know their Marx and
> their
> labor history, alright.
> -B.
> Tayssir John Gabbour wrote:
> > I really suspect that many leaders understand
> anarchism. Maybe they
> > hadn't read anything serious on it, but I keep
> hearing the word
> > "anarchy" from them when they start considering
> some
> sufficiently
> > serious form of democracy.
> ___________________________________

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