ANALYTICAL MARXISM is an approach to Marxisttheory that was prominent amongst English-speaking philosophers and social scientists during the 1980s. It was mainly associated with the September Group of academics, so called because of their biennial September meetings to discuss common interests. Self-described as "Non-Bullshit Marxism", the group was characterized, in the words of David Miller , by "clear and rigorous thinking about questions that are usually blanketed by ideological fog." The most prominent members of the group were G. A. Cohen , John Roemer, Jon Elster, Adam Przeworski, Erik Olin Wright , Hillel Steiner, and Philippe van Parijs.
Members of this school seek to apply the techniques of analytic philosophy , along with tools of modern social science such as rational choice theory to the elucidation of the theories of Karl Marx and his successors. The best-known member of this school is Oxford University philosopher G.A. Cohen, whose _Karl Marx\'s Theory of History: A Defence _ (1978) helped start this school. In that book, Cohen attempted to apply the tools of logical and linguistic analysis to the elucidation and defense of Marx's materialist conception of history. Other prominent Analytical Marxists include the economist John Roemer, the social scientist Jon Elster, and the sociologist Erik Olin Wright. All these people have attempted to build upon Cohen's work by bringing to bear modern social science methods, such as rational choice theory, to supplement Cohen's use of analytic philosophical techniques in the interpretation of Marxian theory.
Cohen himself would later engage directly with Rawlsian political
philosophy in attempt to advance a socialist theory of justice that
stands in contrast to both traditional
* 1 Origin
* 2 Theory
* 2.1 Exploitation
* 2.2.1 Jon Elster * 2.2.2 Przeworski
* 2.3 Justice
* 3 Criticisms
* 3.1 Method * 3.2 History * 3.3 Justice and power
* 4 See also * 5 Notes * 6 References * 7 Bibliography * 8 External links
At the same time as Cohen was working on _Karl Marx's Theory of History_, American economist John Roemerwas employing neoclassical economics in order to try to defend the Marxistconcepts of exploitation and class . In his _A General Theory of Exploitation and Class _ (1982), Roemer employed rational choice and game theory in order to demonstrate how exploitation and class relations may arise in the development of a market for labour. Roemer would go on to reject the idea that the labour theory of value was necessary for explaining exploitation and class. Value was in principle capable of being explained in terms of any class of commodity inputs, such as oil, wheat, etc., rather than being exclusively explained by embodied labour power. Roemer was led to the conclusion that exploitation and class were thus generated not in the sphere of production but of market exchange. Significantly, as a purely technical category, exploitation did not always imply a moral wrong (see section Justice below).
RATIONAL CHOICE MARXISM
By the mid-1980s, "analytical Marxism" was being recognised as a
"paradigm ". The September group had been meeting for several years,
and a succession of texts by its members were published. Several of
these appeared under the imprint of Cambridge University Press's
series "Studies in
Elster's account was an exhaustive trawl through Marx's texts in
order to ascertain what could be salvaged out of
Przeworski's book uses rational choice and game theory in order to demonstrate that the revolutionary strategies adopted by socialists in the twentieth century were likely to fail, since it was in the rational interests of workers to strive for the reform of capitalism through the achievement of union recognition, improved wages and living conditions, rather than adopting the risky strategy of revolution. Przeworski's book is clearly influenced by economic explanations of political behaviour advanced by thinkers such as Anthony Downs(_ An Economic Theory of Democracy, 1957_) and Mancur Olson (_The Logic of Collective Action_, 1965).
The analytical (and rational choice) Marxists held a variety of
leftist political sympathies, ranging from communism to reformist
social democracy . Through the 1980s, most of them began to believe
The analytical Marxists, however, largely rejected this point of view. Led by G. A. Cohen(a moral philosopher by training), they argued that a Marxisttheory of justice had to focus on egalitarianism . For Cohen, this meant an engagement with moral and political philosophy in order to demonstrate the injustice of market exchange, and the construction of an appropriate egalitarian metric. This argument is pursued in Cohen's books, _Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality_ (1995) and _If You're an Egalitarian How Come You're So Rich?_ (2000b).
Cohen departs from previous Marxists by arguing that capitalism is a system characterised by unjust exploitation not because the labour of workers is "stolen" by employers, but because it is a system wherein "autonomy" is infringed and which results in a distribution of benefits and burdens that is unfair. In the traditional Marxist account, exploitation and injustice occur because non-workers appropriate the value produced by the labour of workers. This would be overcome in a socialist society where no class would own the means of production and be in a position to appropriate the value produced by labourers. Cohen argues that underpinning this account is the assumption that workers have "rights of self-ownership " over themselves and thus, should "own" what is produced by their labour. Because the worker is paid a wage less than the value he or she creates through work, the capitalist is said to extract a surplus-value from the worker's labour, and thus to steal part of what the worker produces, the time of the worker and the worker's powers.
Cohen argues that the concept of self-ownership is favourable to
Rawls's difference principle as it ensures "each person's rights over
his being and powers" - i.e. that one is treated as an end always and
never as a means - but also highlights that its centrality provides
for an area of common ground between the
Marxistaccount of justice
and the right-wing libertarianism of
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A number of critics argued that analytical
Analytical Marxism's non- Marxistcritics also raised methodological objections. Against Elster and the rational choice Marxists, Carver argued that methodological individualism was not the only form of valid explanation in the social sciences, that functionalism in the absence of micro-foundations could remain a convincing and fruitful mode of inquiry, and that rational choice and game theory were far from being universally accepted as sound or useful ways of modelling social institutions and processes.
Cohen's defence of a technological determinist interpretation of historical materialism was, in turn, quite widely criticised, even by analytical Marxists. Together with Andrew Levine, Wright argued that in attributing primacy to the productive forces (the development thesis), Cohen overlooked the role played by class actors in the transition between modes of production. For the authors, it was forms of class relations (the relations of production) that had primacy in terms of how the productive forces were employed and the extent to which they developed. It was not evident, they claimed, that the relations of production become "fetters" once the productive forces are capable of sustaining a different set of production relations. Likewise, Cornell political philosopher Richard W. Miller, while sympathetic with Cohen's analytical approach to Marxism, rejected Cohen's technological interpretation of historical materialism, to which he counterpoised with what he called a "mode of production" interpretation which placed greater emphasis on the role of class struggle in the transition from one mode of production to another. The Dutch philosopher Nicholas Vrousalis generalized Miller's critique, pointing out that Cohen's distinction between the material and social properties of society cannot be drawn as sharply as Cohen's materialism requires.
Other non- Marxistcritics argued that Cohen, in line with the Marxist tradition, underestimated the role played by the legal and political superstructure in shaping the character of the economic base. Finally, Cohen's anthropology was judged dubious: whether human beings adopt new and more productive technology is not a function of an ahistorical rationality, but depends on the extent to which these forms of technology are compatible with pre-existing beliefs and social practices. Cohen recognised and accepted some, though not all, of these criticisms in his _ History, Labour, and Freedom_ (1988).
Roemer's version of the cause of change in the mode of production as due to being inequitable rather than inefficient is also the source of criticism. One such criticism is that his argument relies of the legal ownership of production which is only present in later forms of class society rather than the social relations of production.
JUSTICE AND POWER
Many Marxists would argue that
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* ^ _A_ _B_
* ^ Levine, A. and Olin Writght, E., 1980. Rationality and Class
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* ^ Analytical Marxism:
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* Cohen, G. A. (2000a) _Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence
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* Cohen, G. A. (2000b) _If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So
Rich?_ Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00218-0
* Elster, J. (1985) _Making Sense of Marx_. Cambridge: Cambridge
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* Elster, J. (1986) _An Introduction to Karl Marx_. Cambridge:
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Justice, and History_. Ed. M. Cohen, T. Nagel, and T. Scanlon.
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* Levine, A. and Wright, E. O. (1980) 'Rationality and Class
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* Mayer, T. F. (1994) _Analytical Marxism_. Thousand Oaks,
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* Miller, D. (1996) _
London Review of Books_, October 31, 1996.
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History_, Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01413-2
* Przeworski, A. (1985) _Capitalism and Social Democracy_.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-26742-0
* Roberts, M. (1996) _Analytical Marxism: A Critique_. London:
Verso. ISBN 1-85984-855-9
* Roemer, J. (1982) _A General Theory of Exploitation and Class_.
Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-674-34440-5
* Roemer, J. (ed.) (1986) _Analytical Marxism_. Cambridge: Cambridge
* Tarrit, F. (2006) 'A Brief History, Scope and Peculiarities of
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* Van Parijs, P. (1993) _