Saturday, June 17, 2006

Is Marx Still Relevant?

Is Marx still relevant? Via Normblog I see The (Online) Independent has asked this question of 9 commentators. That story is here.

I found the answers of Jack Straw (Leader of The House of Commons) and Alexei Sayle (Comedian and Writer) particularly insightful. Here is a sample from the article:

Question: Marx- Does He Still Matter?

Jack Straw Leader of The House of Commons:

"Karl Marx's legacy - not just for the Labour Party but for intellectual development - is his development of Hegel's more scientific approach to historical analysis and his elevation of the dialectical process. Both are, I think, enduring. Much of his analysis is accurate and his analytical tools are still respected by many historians.

His prescriptions were often widely off-beam, as we now know, and played down non-economic forces to a point where I think he made some grievous historical and political errors - for example, ignoring the role of nationalism and religion as political forces.
What we saw in 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet system, was that the Marxist-Leninist approach to running not only economies but also societies was unenduring. The point of Francis Fukuyama's book The End of History was not that history had ended but that we had reached a point of ideological hegemony which I think we probably had. So Marxist Leninism is not relevant in that respect but the analysis is still worth having".

Alexei Sayle Comedian and Writer:

"I think that the Marxist historical analysis is an accurate account of how society has developed. Although perhaps a little wide of the mark, it is definitely still relevant. When Marx spoke about the differences in society being based on economic structure he definitely had a point.

Marxism should be seen as a tool and therefore a method of analysing society and that can be relevant today. You can certainly be right-wing and still be a Marxist".

I recently posted some of my own thoughts on Marx here.