Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

ANALYTICAL MARXISM AND ITS WIDE (OR NARROW?) LEGACY

Le Donne Alessandro, University of Genoa

In 1978 Cohen’s book Karl Marx’s Theory of History gave rise to the Anglo-Saxon movement of Analytical Marxism and the foundation of the September Group, intended to interpret Marx according to what they defined the standard scientific criteria of the XX century; namely, analytical philosophy. After 20 years, the Group ended its task, concluding that Marxist economic theory is based on incorrect assumptions an makes no sense. However, something of Marx has remained in the thought of these scholars. The aim of the present paper is to discuss the two main directions taken after the dismissal of the Group. The first legacy of analytical Marxism is centred only on some normative aspects relating to moral issues and distributive justice, while the second one has its focus only on some empirical studies on class analysis. As a result, we illustrate how almost no explanatory power remains of both streams of Analytical Marxism and we investigate the reasons for their narrow legacies. We argue how they have neglected the importance of the economic theory and historical analysis, which, on the contrary, are the basis of Marxian analysis and epistemology. Recalling to his Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, a major concern of Marx is the creation of tools to analyse the “contradictions of material life”, trying to link the analytical and abstract part of the theories with the concrete as a totality comprising many determinations and relations. We show how Analytical Marxism ends up eliminating the most original elements of Marx's thought and tradition, wiping out its heuristic power, and reducing it to an anodyne description of societies in which there are groups with different interests, which the economic or political market does not always manage to compose.

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Keywords: Marx, Rational choice theory, Empiricisms, Analytical Philosophy.

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