Early commentary on 'Capital as Power'

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Early commentary on 'Capital as Power'

Postby dtcochrane » Fri May 22, 2009 6:31 pm

This is from Andrew Kliman, who has written a book length defence of the LToV.

http://marxisthumanistinitiative.org/20 ... economism/

Two leftist political scientists, Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, have a new book out entitled “Capital as Power: A study of order and creorder“ (London and New York: Routledge, 2009). I think I’ll disagree with a whole lot of what they say, but their scathing indictment of much “critical discourse” and anti-”economism” on the left (pp. 3-4) is right on the mark, in my view:

“many contemporary critics of capitalism seem to believe that they can challenge this social order without ever asking how it operates, let alone why.

“With some obvious exceptions, present-day leftists prefer to avoid ‘the economy’, and many are rather proud about it. To prioritize profit and accumulation, to theorize corporations and the stock market, to empirically research the gyrations of money and prices are all acts of narrow ‘economism’. To do these things is to fetishize the world, to conceal the cultural nuances of human consciousness, to prevent the critic from seeing the true political underpinnings of social affairs. Best to leave them to the dismal scientists.

“And, so, most self-respecting critics of capitalism remain happily ignorant of its ‘economics’, neoclassical as well as Marxist. They know little about the respective histories, questions and challenges of these theories, and they are oblivious to their triumphs, contradictions and failures. This innocence is certainly liberating. It allows critics to produce ‘critical discourse’ littered with cut-and-paste platitudes, ambiguities and often plain nonsense. Seldom do their ‘critiques’ tell us something important about the forces of contemporary capitalism, let alone about how these forces should be researched, understood and challenged.

“Most importantly, though, this stale context conditions students to stop asking ‘why?’”

Most of us in Marxist-Humanist Initiative coexisted, in a manner of speaking, with such currents for a long or very long time, and have only recently extricated ourselves from that environment. I think we need to go deeply into the factors that have caused “critical discourse” and anti-”economism” to became predominant on the Left, and to such a degree that they affected, and infected, an ostensibly Marxist-Humanist organization. But also, frankly, I think we need to examine the ways of speaking and categorizing to which we’ve become accustomed, which can give the impression that Marxist-Humanism has an affinity with, or even that it’s an instance of, such “critical discourse” and anti-”economism.” (After all, we do champion critique, and we’re anti-economist! :-) — but can we find a way to formulate this so that it doesn’t capitulate to regressive currents of thought?)
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