Social Scientist. v 29, no. 328-329 (Sept-Oct 2000) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

The incorrectness of methodological individualism, which takes the individual agent as the starting point of analysis, and which characterises much of bourgeois social theory, especially in the realm of economics, does not arise from the mere empirical fact that in the actual social universe we see collective, or supra-individual, actors; it arises from two basic considerations: first, these collectives are qualitatively different from, and cannot be reduced to, mere "coalitions" of individuals; and, secondly, starting from the individual we can never explain a whole range of observed phenomena, not just historically significant ones such as social revolutions, but even such quotidienne ones as the existence of involuntary unemployment under capitalism. Indeed "mainstream" bourgeois economics is forced to deny the very existence of involuntary unemployment, while heterodox bourgeois writers who do recognise its existence are forced willy-nilly to fall back on some concept of a collective, distinct from "coalitions" of individuals, to explain this existence. Prabhat Patnaik in his article in the current number of Social Scientist sees this as a vindication of the Marxist approach to social analysis, an answer to the question: why should we at all be interested in the Marxist concept of class? He goes on to explore not only why class as a collective can not be replaced by any other concept of a collective, even in societies like ours, but also why class categories should be privileged over other categories.

Javeed Alam has for some time been engaged in a project of considerable importance, namely to rescue "modernity" from its exclusive association with a predatory capitalism, and to argue instead for a "modernity" freed of bourgeois encumbrances. As part of his argument he draws a distinction, between "entrenched modernity",



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