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Critique of G. A. Cohen

August 12th, 2009 · 1 Comment

A critique of G.A. Cohen, who has recently died, http://www.kent.ac.uk/secl/philosophy/articles/sayers/cohen.pdf

Cohen’s work was a great contribution, but it is a bit old by now, the eighties and before!

This is curious: the interest of Cohen et al.’s approach was its ‘analytical marxism’, i.e. the connection of analytic philosophy.
Now this critique brings back in the ‘dialectic’ that figures such as Cohen rightly saw as confusing the issue of Marxist theory.
But Cohen’s approach was fairly well critiqued decades ago, and I am not sure if Cohen hadn’t repudiated the whole game a while back.

Here’s the problem: neither dialectical or analytical marxism is going to do the trick: an entirely new approach to history is needed.
Let’s face it: historical materialism contains a powerful insight that never resulted in a viable theory.
That fact has to be faced. To suggest the dialectical malarkey all over again is a waste of time for many leftists who are unable to deal with the remains of the old old (old) left as it springs from classical marxism.

Armed with the eonic model I could rewrite Marx in a half-hour, a powerfully unpgraded historical theory that was useful and didn’t suffer the endless confusions that made Marx’s theory a dead letter at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The eonic model resolves many of the problems that plagued Marx’s work, and in the process creates a master theory that can do ‘world history’ in a coherent rendering that makes the transition between liberalism and its critique a seamless investigation.

Naturally, such a gesture is hopeless from the start. All the confused celebrities on the left, idiots with big names, will worship Marx and kill off dissent or novelty at its first appearance. These people are in the way of a new left at this point. It is impossible to even have a conversation with such people, or exchange an email. You are a true believer or you are gulag material (if the lightening ever struck twice and the Marx thugs (Leninists) came to power again.
The era of Roosevelt had an immense tide of leftist initiative breathing down his neck. At this point we have no such force.
Marx’s theory of history is a powerful gesture, but in the end it is not a theory at all, either with or without the dialectic.
In any case, Marxism has not shown itself superior to liberal philosophy of history, save in so far as it has embraced it to expose its contradictions.
As with the Marburg school of socialism, and the powerful critique of economic liberalism that it produced.
Finally, the stance of marxists currently is hopless confusion on the subject of Darwinism. Such people can never do historical theory and get it right.

Marx’s theory of history is rigged to make revolution the dynamic behind ‘big history’. That’s not theory, but propaganda, and you wouldn’t be able to get away with it twice, what to say of the first time.
In general, right wing critiques of Marx’s thinking (consider Main Currents of Marxism) are superior to leftist expositions, this due to the way in which leftist students of Marx are not taught to think, but to apply Marxist ideology.
A neutral standard is needed, not mad revolutionary adventurism.

Tags: 1848+ · Big History · Critique of Evolutionary Economy · Ultra Far Left

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