File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-21.060, message 8

Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 16:13:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Hayek?

On Sun, 19 Jan 1997, Justin Schwartz wrote:

> despises anyway. Of courese I do mean these things, but my primary example
> of technical Marxsim is Marx's Caoital. It is technical because it is
> long, erudite, difficult, and fearsomely inaccessible, depending as it
> does on Hegelian philosophy and English political economy and a knowledge
> of history and (one might add) classical literature that few
> interllectuals possess, much less ordinary workers. 

Louis: "The Marxist revolutionaries worked to make contact with workers in
a variety of ways, especially through legal adult education classes.
Krupskaya, who was a teacher in the Smolenskaya Sunday Evening School for
Adults over a three-year peroid, later commented, 'In those days the
Sunday Evening School offered an excellent opportunity for studying
everyday working-class life, labor conditions and the temper of the
masses.' Out of such contacts as these, radical workers study circles were
secretly organized. Krupskaya has given this account: 

'An intellectual would come to one of the study-circles and read the
workers a kind of lecture. A manuscript translation of Engels' The Origin
of the Family, Private Property and the State circulated among the circles
for a long time. Vladimir Ilyich read Marx's Capital to the workers and
explained it to them. He devoted the second half of his lesson to
questioning the workers about their work and conditions of labor, showing
them the bearing which their life had on the whole structure of society,
and telling them in what way the existing order could be changed. This
linking of theory with practice was a feature of Vladimir Ilyich's work in
the study-circles. Gradually other members of our circle adopted the same

(Paul LeBlanc, "Lenin and the Revolutionary Party", p. 21)

> Louis thinks I leave class struggle out of my Marxism because he hears by
> report, although the report is accurate, that Roemer and Cohen largely
> leave it out of theirs. But Louis hasn't read my stuff any more than he
> has read theirs. Some items:
> 1. In my A Future for Socialism in the USSR, Socialist Register 1991, my
> major publishedw ork on Soviet socialism, I give a class struggle analysis
> of the failure of perestroika, turning on the alignment of different
> classes and social groups towards Gorbachev's program. It's a good piece,
> btw, one of the relatively few analyses of perestroika while it was still
> ongoing that I think pretty much holds up. 

Louis: Yes, it is a good piece. What characterizes your thought in
general, Justin, is that you are like a bag of potatoes perched between
two stools as Adolfo used to put it. You call for class struggle in one
breath and then turn around and give credibility to the Hayekian critique
which is totally inconsistent with Marxism. You are roughly in the same
place as people like Brus and Laski, arguing for socialism but putting it
into a framework that would only destroy it--as took place all through
Eastern Europe. You are a bundle of contradictions. I only wish that you
had a better awareness of this. My contradictions are all psychological,
not political. I prefer this.

> Now, Louis sayts something interesting despute himself. He says, "Without
> the Hegelian dialectic you end up with left liberalism." Now in some ways
> I happy to be a left liberal as well as a revolutionary socialist. Left
> liberal ideals of constitutional democracy, individual rights, and equal
> justice under a rule of law are great things. Every Marxist should embrace
> them with fervor. 

Louis: "Constitutional democracy" is a misnomer. This is simply the
preferred method of rule of the bourgeoisie. What Marxists embrace with
fervor is true democracy. Left liberals hate true democracy. That is why
official left liberalism in the United States is in such crisis. It has
accomodated itself to Clinton in the most disgusting manner. Liberalism is
a term that has a historic origin. It is related to the emergence of free
market ideologues in the mid-nineteenth century. Marxists would be
well-advised to distinguish themselves from this current, since
neo-liberalism--which in a true sense is consistent with the liberalism of
Ricardo et al--is killing the planet and the people who live on it.

> As to the USSR, Louis cannot grasp the entent to which the Hayekian
> analysis of the Soviet economy, which is only part of the analysis of
> What Went Wrong in Soviet society, is dialectical. Indeed in Hayek's hands
> it is a class analysis: in The Road to Serfdom he argues that planning
> deficiencies necessarily produce bureaucratic dictatorship and systematic
> exploitation. I think there may be something to that, although given my

Louis: Uh, how is the Hayekian critique dialectical? Do I have to read his
damned book or will you try to explain this. Do you mean "dialectical" in
the sense of "complex" or "interesting"? I had a room-mate in Boston in
the early 1970s when I was in the SWP up there who loved to use the word
dialectical. He thought that the Rolling Stones were a very dialectical

> suspicion of claims of necessity I am more optimistic about the propect
> for democratic but desperately inefficient planning. But Louis is just
> wrong that the Hayekian analysis is nondialectical and abstracts from
> class. I bet he hasn't read hayek any more than he has read Roemer, Cohen,
> or me. The Hayekian analysis just a diffiferent dialectical and class
> analysis than the orthodox Trotskyist one that Louis learned in the SWP.
> It's better one, too.

Louis: Oh, god. I guess I will have to read Hayek. Does anybody have any
anti-nausea medicine that they can recommend. I used to read von Mises in
the National Review when I was in the Young Americans for Freedom in 1960.
This doesn't count?  Okay, Justin, I'll do it. Now you have to go see
"Beavis and Butthead Do America" and file your review with the list. This
is a fair exchange, no?

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