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Marx, Hayek,and Utopia


DAVID GORDON, THE MISES REVIEW 3, no. 3 (FALL 1997):  9-14


This excerpt posted by permission of The Mises Institute.

Gordon writes:  "Within MARX, HAYEK, AND UTOPIA lies a very good book struggling to escape. Chris Sciabarra has asked a penetrating question and brought to light important material in his pursuit of an answer to it. Unfortunately, he is enamored of an odd philosophical doctrine that he cannot refrain from discussing. This skews, but does not ruin, his presentation."

Gordon argues that Sciabarra views Marx and Hayek as allies in the critique of utopianism. Though "Sciabarra does not endorse Marx's response" to Hayek, Gordon argues that the author has not fully assessed "the cogency of the Marxist answer"; descriptions of Marx's "arrant nonsense" are not enough.

Gordon thinks Sciabarra's book offers a "valuable" discussion of socialist responses to Hayek, including that offered by Hilary Wainwright, "the wife of the world's most unintelligible philosopher, Roy Bhaskar."  He applauds Sciabarra's view that Hayek is fully opposed to atomism, but again, criticizes the author for merely posing the contrast, rather than fully engaging the Marxist view. Gordon suspects that though Sciabarra "does not tip his hand in the book," he is probably a Hayekian. But Gordon criticizes Sciabarra for saddling Hayek with the doctrine of internal relations. He maintains that the "ascription to Hayek [of internal relations] is an innovation," but that it is fundamentally mistaken.

Gordon's critique of internal relations, the view that "everything is essentially related to everything else," centers around his rejection of any notion that individuals are their social relations, rather than "influenced by their social relations." In Gordon's view, Hayek never succumbs to such internalism.

Still, Gordon thinks Sciabarra is "too good a scholar to ignore Hayek's defense of methodological individualism." He recommends Sciabarra as a "prolific author" who is "well worth reading." But he concludes with a question: Why should we celebrate Hayek, Marx, and Rand [as Sciabarra does in his AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL] on the basis of any ties they may have to "organic, dialectical" thinking?

Sciabarra Responds to Gordon and Others Click here to view the Author's response

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