Social Scientist. v 12, no. 133 (June 1984) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

THE lead article of the number by Prabhat Patnaik argues that there has been a distinct change in the attitude of the so-called "professional economists" of the bourgeois world towards Karl Marx. A century ago,, Marx was persona non grata. Even as Das Kapital was being hailed as the "bible of the working class," the "professors" wrote tomes on political economy where Marx scarcely got a footnote reference; and if at all there was a reference it was invariably contemptuously dismissive. Today however "professional economists" not only have to take cognisance of Marx^ but are distinctly more respectful. The obverse side of this respect however is an attempt to assimilate Marx into this or that strand of petty-bourgeois or radical bourgeois theorising. Sy arbitrarily wrenching out particular bits of Marx's analysis, lumping these together with analyses of particular bourgeois economists, various eclectic theoretical tendencies are produced which claim to supercede Marx. This process of obfuscation of the specificity of Marx is aided by many who claim to be Marx'& followers but find it necessary to "improve" Marxism by borrowing from alien traditions. The net result is that while a century ago Marx was sought to be killed through neglect, now Marx faces the threat of being killed through kindness.

How did this change occur? The author accounts for this change by the disintegration of the dominant and unified structure of bourgeois theory that was built up after 1871 in implicit opposition to Marx. This^ process of disintegration, whose chief moments are recapitulated in the paper, not only aroused an interest in Marx's work but gave rise to a revival of several petty-bourgeois or radical bourgeois positions which had hitherto remained theoretically marginalised. While this awakening of interest in Marx's work is welcome, it is important for Marxists, according to the author, to demarcate Marx from these other tendencies, to fight against the dilution of Marx's scientific achievement, and to insist on the specificity of Marx's political economy. Wherein this specificity lies is-briefly touched upon in the paper, which we hope will generate a good deal of controversy.

Ashok Desai's paper has a wide scope and raises many more general questions than its title at first sight suggests. On many of these questions, moreover, he takes positions which differ sharply from commonly-held views. For instance, while accepting the importance of foreign capital in certain modem sectors, he considers some of the oft-quoted estimates of the magnitude of foreign control exaggerated. Like-wise he considers FERA to have been neither ineffectual, nor perversely promoting aa



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