No, I don’t quite believe the title. But in Scopes I was a debater, and thus had to argue the position.
And a quick note that the homework-as-blog meme is spreading. Check out Adam of The Metropolis Times‘ essay on Francis Fukuyama and State Building.
Marxism is worthless from an early positivist perspective, a late positivist perspective, an interpretivist perspective, and a critical theory perspective. Lacking any bases in these, Marxism does not bring anything new to the table, and so can be safely discarded. Last, in a coup de grace, Marxism’s teleology is worthless.
The late positivist approach, summed in Karl Popper‘s writings, demands than theories be falsifiable. He specifically cited Marxism, along with Freudism and Adlerism, as examples of pseudo-sciences because though they are similar to science, they fail in one crucial respect: they aren’t falsifiable. No imaginary series of data could possibly refute Marx’s dialectical materialism, or any of other the faiths which attach themselves to him. Scientifically Marxism is worthless. Scientifically, from an early positivist approach, it is not to be studied.
But suppose we are generous, and accept that scientific theories may have unscientific components. After all, rational choice theory assumes purely economic motives for actions, and that is considered scientific. The Marxists may plead that even if they are not scientific in the Popperian sense, their words are at least as worth while at those of the rational choice theories. A nice story — if it was true. Rational choice theory, while it does not give us a purely scientific perspective, at least gives us a view that works. Rational choice has given us a mathematical notation system, geometrical visualization schemata, and other wonders that let us make real, measurable progress on problems. Compared to this, Marxism offers nothing — just more triple and quibble.
Here the Marxist may retreat farther. “Very well,” says he, “Marxism is not scientific according to Popper’s words, and it doesn’t provide as as much product as Rational Choice. But the interpretivists taught that reality is a social interpretation, and agreement is more important than petty facts.” The retreat of the Marxists must be becoming desperate because it is panicked. To fall back to interpretivism the Marxist must talk of agreement, but Marx’s philosophy is based on material disagreement — that’s what dialectical materialism means! Further, Marx thought that the social world was a product of the material world, as the superstructure is a product of the infrastructure. Yet interpretivism (which is derived from constructivism) teaches than the social world is a product of individuals, as is the material world.
Now the Marxist throws his rhetorical weapon into the bushes and full sprints out of site. Knowing his argument lacks validity — and thus use studying — any other way, he tries one last trick: critical theory. Here the Marxist feels at home, because critical theory is often propounded by Marxists. Perhaps they will provide him aid and comfort. No sooner has we walked through their inn’s door, however, than they stab him in the back. Critical Theory focuses on victory, on combining what should be (the political objective) with what is (factual truth). How can the critical theorists support the Marxist, however, as Marxism has produced not success but failure. By any political measure Marxism has not worked. Economically, socially — even in the comparatively humble task in supplanting realism in international politics — Marxism has not won. To critical theory, which uniquely focuses on the effects of theories, this is a fatal flaw. Wounded, the Marxist crawls out the door.
Now crawling dark in the night, the Marxist gives us, hoping his teleology will come through. Perhaps these are all temporary problems, and Final Communism will eventually win â€“ regardless of their logic. There is no guarantee of this, however. In the same way that energy in a system can rest at a â€œfalse vacuumâ€ — an energy state that it is effectively impossible to get lower than, because getting lower requires a gigantic burst of positive energy first, perhaps history will rest in a â€œfalse end.â€ This false end may be a state of minimum contradictions, but with such contradictions that they cannot be resolved into a more harmonic synthesis â€“ that instead, more contradictions would first have to be re-generated. The Marxist finally sees this and, being honest, admits there’s no use studying Marxism.