What is Open Marxism?

In answer to Quora question "What is Open Marxism?"

Thanks for the A2A.

My understanding of Open Marxism is pretty limited, but I'll give you my best shot.

Perhaps an oversimplified explanation would be that Open Marxism separates politics from economics, describing a "Marxism without the State," a way to achieve Marx's philosophical goals - and address his criticisms of capitalism - without relying on organized institutions of power. Instead, Open Marxism focusses on the transformative power (or "anti-power") of labor itself - as independent from capital, rather than dependent on it or in relationship to it. At first glance this may seem a little at odds with Marx's theory of history and the stages necessary to achieve a classless society, but at the same time it also seeks to correct a possible error Marx may have made. IMO this error could be the oversight of a persistently evident condition: that an abstracting and objectifying of human relations occurs in all institutions of power, in much the same way that it occurs in the capitalist means of production, and of course this includes the State. In capitalism, it occurs as the obscuring of the exploitation of workers (i.e. their alienation from the capital they produce), and the cult-like, irrational valuation of commodities ("fetishism"). While Marx often made comparisons between this characterization of fetishism and institutionalized religion, I'm not sure he recognized that it was the power structure of the institution itself - not a given belief or ideology - that generated the fetishism and walling off of human relationships (and walling off of workers from the fruits of their labor) that he so despised. In modern terms, we might describe both consumerism and institutionalized religion as orchestrated tribalistic groupthink, and clearly the same fetishistic characteristics also historically manifested in State communism (and are currently manifesting in cronyist, clientist State capitalism). Again, though, I would say it is the institutionalization of any ideology, with its formalized, hierarchical power relationships and self-protective (and self-perpetuating) structures, that becomes the most problematic. And this can happen with anything - with political institutions, monetary institutions, and revolutionary institutions; it is the institution that subordinates, obscures and exploits - regardless of the role of labor, and regardless of class struggle. Although this language is my own formulation (and what my own writing on political economy seeks to remedy), I also think this may be what Open Marxism speaks to from an autonomist perspective, where the transformative power of labor stands on its own, rather than only in juxtaposition to capital. In any case, although I'm not sure it's authors have expressed these ideas in exactly these terms, this might be one way to describe Open Marxism. Hopefully some other folks can contribute their answers to help clarify - and, if I am somehow projecting my own ideas onto this topic, perhaps they can correct my misconceptions. I would say, however, that in all I have read from its authors, it feels very much like an academic, dialectical discussion around Marxist fundamentals, recasting them in autonomist language that subordinates a theory of society to an efficacy of praxis.

My 2 cents.


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