is marxism just too abstract?

by Nathan Coombs

The following commentary is in response to a forum organized by The Commune and the Marxist-Humanist Initiative, held in London on July 5, 2010.  This involved a talk by Anne Jaclard, “You Can’t Change the Mode of Production with a Political Agenda,” followed by a talk by Andrew Kliman, “The Transformation of Capitalism into Communism in the Critique of the Gotha Program.” Both talks can be read here.

In 1965 Louis Althusser opened his famous paean For Marx with a withering reflection on French theoretical culture at the time. He bemoaned the fact that ‘we have spent the best part of our time in agitation when we would have been better employed in the defence of our right and duty to know’.[i] The result of which was ‘the stubborn, profound absence of any theoretical culture’; whereas, he claimed, ‘Marxism should not be simply a political doctrine, a ‘method’ of analysis and action, but also, over and above the rest, the theoretical domain of fundamental investigation’.[ii] For this task Althusser saw as indispensable the role of intellectuals committed to necessary theoretical work.

Plato: an 'abstract' proto-communist?

Continue reading “is marxism just too abstract?”


alternatives to capitalism: what happens after the revolution?

by Andrew Kliman
Marxist-Humanist Initiative

I.  Concretizing the Vision of a New Human Society

We live at a moment in which it is harder than ever to articulate a liberatory alternative to capitalism.  As we all know, the collapse of state-capitalist regimes that called themselves “Communist,” as well as the widespread failures of social democracy to remake society, have given rise to a widespread acceptance of Margaret Thatcher’s TINA – the belief that “there is no alternative.” Continue reading “alternatives to capitalism: what happens after the revolution?”

on the roots of the economic crisis and some proposed solutions

Andrew Kliman, author of Reclaiming Marx’s Capital, spoke at our London forum on ‘Causes and Implications of the Economic Crisis’ on Wednesday 8th July. For those who missed Andrew’s excellent talk, this article explains some of his positions on the crisis.

Some prominent radical economists and non-economists have denied that Marx’s theory of the tendential fall in the rate of profit helps to explain the current economic crisis. I want to begin by explaining why they dismiss this theory, and then argue, to the contrary, that the current crisis does have a lot to do with the tendential fall in the rate of profit as analyzed by Marx.


In the 1970s, as an outgrowth of the New Left, and because of the global economic crisis of that decade, there was a renewal of scholarship that attempted to reclaim Marx’s value theory and theories grounded in his value theory, such as his theory of the tendential fall in the rate of profit and his theory of capitalist economic crisis. But these efforts met with a strong reaction, in the form of a resurgent myth that Marx’s value theory and law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit had been proved internally inconsistent. It needs to be stressed that the resurgence of this myth of inconsistency came from within the Left; almost all of the critics of Marx’s value theory in this period, and ever since, have been Marxist or Sraffian economists. Continue reading “on the roots of the economic crisis and some proposed solutions”