2 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
the SSA approach lies in its unique project: of analysing different phases of capitalism without subscribing to the rigid 'competitive capitalism-monopoly capitalism* dichotomy, of studying economic relations within a given political-cultural context without subscribing to traditional economic determinism, and of carrying out micro-level analysis without subscribing to methodological individualism.
It is in this last respect in particular that the school of Analytical Marxism (AM) differs sharply from the SSA approach. This school, the second one with which the current number is concerned, attempts to ground Marxism on methodological individualism. It criticises traditional Marxism as being functionalist, and seeks to locate at the centre of analysis intentional individuals exercising rational choice in the face of physical constraints, most importantly an initial endowment of resources. In this exercise of rational choice in the face of constraints, there are unintended consequences, and class follows as an unintended consequence of individual intentions and choices. Analytical Marxism differs from neo-classical economics in its emphasis on unintended consequences, and attacks the latter for its 'non-class* analysis. On the other hand, it seeks to build up Marxist categories from the same micro-foundations, i.e. the intentional, rational individual, which is the point of departure for neo-classical economics.
The third school of thought, represented by the journal Rethinking Marxism, in which the papers of our current number first appeared, is expressed in the articles themselves. This tendency is critical of both SSA and AM as being economic determinist. It charges Analytical Marxism of being no less functionalist than Traditional Marxism, but of smuggling in functionalism in a silent manner by having at its core an ahistoric, rational-intentional individual that in its multiplicity constitutes 'the economy'. It charges SSA's analysis of the exercise of power, with 'a prior fixing of agent behaviour on the basis of given "interests".' 'A necessary condition of the effort to conceive profit as the product of power is the reduction of economic agents to entities pursuing abstractly determinate interests.' The objectives of agents according to this view are themselves historically shaped, and in history 'all determination is mutual among all social processes.' To attribute to agents certain abstractly determinate economic interests amounts therefore to economic determinism. To what extent the positions of this school, argued here so cogently and forcefully, are compatible with any theorising that transcends the merely specific analyses of a sequence of 'legislated accidents, becomes however an important question, and is raised in their reply to criticisms by the SSA authors.
The tendencies discussed here neither exhaust the corpus of Marxist tendencies in the US, nor represent, necessarily, the dominant tendencies within it. But they do represent new and influential thinking, with which one may disagree, but which nevertheless is worth taking note of and reacting to.