[lbo-talk] Overrated writers

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Mon Apr 25 10:37:25 PDT 2011

On Mon, 25 Apr 2011 09:36:59 -0400 // ravi <ravi at platosbeard.org> writes:
> Wrote the below off-list to someone:
> I would have said much the same (Popper as more of a libertarian). I
> think perhaps those on the Marxist Left find his antagonism towards
> their guru the equivalent of a conservative position? Between
> Marxism and conservatism are a wide range of others, including
> old-fashioned liberalism. I mean, there is indeed a direct line
> linking Popper to Soros’s politics, isn’t there? In the linked
> piece, Eagleton himself differentiates between Burkean conservatism
> and the “unpolitical” (what one might call “knee jerk” in the USA)
> attitude he attributes to Naipaul: a "distaste for the political in
> favor of the customary, instinctual, and spontaneous.”.

Popper, for a good many years labeled himself as a social democrat. His biographer,Malachi Hacohen in *Karl Popper: The Formative Years, 1902-1945* makes the case that the anti-Marxism of *The Open Society and Its Enemies* was forged originally not within a cold war context but rather was forged within the context of the debates within the Austrian Social Democratic Party to which Popper had belonged, up to 1938, over to how best to meet the fascist threat, and that much of Popper's hostility towards Marxism was motivated by his conviction that the Austrian and German Social Democrats had been crippled in their struggle against the rise of fascism by the Marxism that was dominant within those parties. (Hacohen, himself, BTW considers Popper's assessments of Austro-Marxism to have been unduly harsh, pointing out the contributions that Otto Bauer and the others had made to the analysis of fascism).

Popper it should be noted, leaned towards to the Austrian Social Democrats' anti-Marxist wing, which championed the revisionism of Eduard Bernstein against the dominant Austro-Marxism. And indeed, much of Popper's take on Marxism and the case for reformism which one finds in *The Open Society* can be seen as being part derived from the arguments that had first been expressed by Bernstein many years earlier.

It turned out to be fortitious for Popper that the critique of Marxism which had originally been forged in the context of the debates of the Austrian Social Democrats turned out to especially useful for the cold warriors in waging ideological warfare against the Soviet Union.

Jim Farmelant http://independent.academia.edu/JimFarmelant www.foxymath.com Learn or Review Basic Math

> —ravi
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