Re: Keep Karl

Martin Cohen (mcohen@UCLA.EDU)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 19:06:43 -0700

Marx himself warned of the possibility of a vulgar communism that would
lower everyone to the degradated state of the worker instead of freeing the
worker. The failure of Soviet statism is not the same as the failure of
either socialism or communism. If there is a problem in using doctrinaire
Marxian theory in anthropology, it is when it is done without regard to all
of the ethnographic, sociological, and psychological information that has
been gathered since Marx wrote. Martin

> The recent discussions about whether it is unethical to use Marxist (or
>Marxian) types of analysis in anthropology are rather disturbing. The
>authority to tax is an "archist" principle not exclusively a "Communist"
>one. Those who reject such authority follow "anarchist" principles. A
>purist form of the market oriented economy (ala Ayn Rand) is anarchist at
>its heart, but Karl's dream was also a anarchist paradise. Many of the
>leftists in 1930's Spain and Pre-Soviet Russia were anarchists. The
>left-wing anarchists in Russia were executed or gulaged when the Soviet
>state came up. Those in Spain became the victims of the fascists.
> The problem with State socialism (as a 19th century Pope predicted)
>is that instead of ending the exploitation of the workers, it simply
>substituted exploiters. Terrible things have been done in the name of
>"socialism", but terrible things have been done in the name of "free"
>markets. (How about thugs shooting down striking workers? Or union
>organizers bieng lynched.) Market-type analyses and Marxian type analyses
>both have a place in anthropology. Engage ideas, do not silence them.
>Point out flaws in market or Marxian analysis, and offer a solution (not
>just a critique). Synthesis is preferable to censorship. As a discipline
>I think anthropology can forge a place in the world by offering
>challenging, insightful and reasoned discussion of issues clouded by
>emotions and intolerance.
>Jay Kotliar
>The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well
>as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets
>and to steal bread.
>-Anatole France, Crainquebille.