There might appear to be something inherently unscientific in the designation 'Marxist social science'. Following Whitehead's dictum that 'a science which hesitates to forget its founders is lost,' one could argue that Marxism - the valuable parts of Marxism - should simply merge with the mainstream of social science and lose its identity as a separate current. Indeed, there is much to be said for this view. In the confrontation between Marxist and non-Marxist social theory over the past century, some of the main Marxist tenets have been decisively refuted, while others have been absorbed into the shared framework of all social scientists. If these were the only consequences of that confrontation, there would perhaps be no point in referring to a specifically Marxist social science. I believe, however, that there remain elements of Marxist thought which, while valuable and important, are yet not sufficiently appreciated outside the Marxist camp - and I have to add, not always within that camp either. These elements include the dialectical method, the theory of exploitation, a theory relating class interest to state policy, and what one may refer to as a theory of endogenous belief formation. These do not form a fully coherent theory, but a loosely integrated whole, with much scope for further development.
LRB 16 June 1983 | PDF Download