Dave re
JoT re Guevara re "Marx"

Just wanted to say I really have enjoyed browsing your rants. I was steered to your site by my son - a big D&D fan - and I couldn't be more pleased that this type of site is where he's choosing to spend his on-line time.

I did want to come to Guevara's defense, though, and challenge your response on two grounds. Firstly, Karl Marx does have many intellectual decendants in academia today - one of Marx's foremost contributions to modern scholarship is the notion that economic forces shape many aspects of society and are a driving force in history. Anytime you hear a scholar or a news analyst talk about OPEC policies in the 1970s being responsible for the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism or the like (as I read in the New York Times this week), you are hearing a Marxist perspective.

Secondly, perhaps you are just responding to Guevara's assertion that Marx's scholarship is "scientific," but I object to your dismissive attitude toward older scholarly work in the fields of economics and philosophy. We still read Plato, not just as a historical document, but because he framed the discourse on many of the great philosophical questions of all time, and still contributes to our understanding of these issues. It is we moderns who show our lack of sophistication when we try to fit the square peg of human individual and group behavior into the round hole of purely scientific analysis. Marx's work, as will be attested by any serious scholar who has really read him, is rigorous, insightful, creative, and influential. Is it strictly scientific? Perhaps not, but neither is most of the field of economics, and rightfully so.

In closing, I totally agree with your characterization of "The Communist Manifesto" - it is apocolyptic literature. Just keep in mind, as Guevara pointed out, that this is not really even a part of Marx's body of scholarly work - It's an incitement to political action. Marx was a genius when it comes to analysis of history and economics, but failed miserably in his attempts to predict the future. If macro-economics were truly a science, we might rightfully insist that a valid economic theory be capable of predicting the future, but since it is just a social science, we must be satisfied with 20-20 hindsight.

October 2003

You make a fine point. A visionary can be right about the big picture while wrong about the details. Freud, for example, advanced human self-understaning by helping us see how our thoughts and behavior arise from unconscious forces. But his specific theories and techniques are pretty bogus.

December 2003

responses to "Marx"