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Marx, Hayek,and Utopia

PUBLISHED REVIEWS

JOHN DAVENPORT, CANADIAN PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEWS 16, no. 7 (MARCH 1996):  141-43


Despite being critical of Sciabarra's treatment of Hayek's dialectical sensibility, and Sciabarra's critique of Wainright and Habermas, Davenport writes:

"This intriguing book crosses a gulf between two camps in social philosophy that rarely address one another. Sciabarra (also author of AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL) uses his broad knowledge of both libertarian and Marxist literature to argue that Marx and Hayek actually share some substantial common ground: they both employ a 'dialectical' (as opposed to 'dualistic') methodology that interprets human interaction as forming an entire social dynamic context extending beyond finite human understanding. As a result, Marx and Hayek become surprising allies against Sciabarra's real target: Cartesian 'constructivist rationalism' (35) and its attempts to impose 'utopian' solutions on evolving social contexts from an 'external' or transcendent perspective. 'Radical' theory, by contrast with utopianism, is dialectical, 'seeks a more integrated view of social reality' (3), and looks for immanent possibilities of change (118). . . .

"But this thesis . . . that Hayek's critique of constructivism is essentially 'dialectical' in a way comparable to Marx's critique of utopianism (6), is the most controversial aspect of this book . . . Hayek's . . . functionalist account of intrinsic interrelatedness is not dialectical in the Hegelian or Marxian senses. . . . In the final chapter, Sciabarra briefly evaluates the Frankfurt School tradition and considers Hilary Wainwright's and Jurgen Habermas's visions of radicalism as transformative democracy. This last chapter is especially important, because the whole book seems to be intended as a partially-sympathetic response to Habermas and Wainwright, pleading for today's New Left (a) to recognize Marx's own proto-Hayekian emphasis on spontaneous historical development; (b) to accept what is right in Hayek's analysis of the invisible hand and human rational limitations; and (c) to incorporate these themes in a new radical theory (120-1). Sciabarra even sees the possibility of a 'non-Marxist' (5) yet non-conservative 'libertarian radicalism' (50-1) -- though he does not explain what this could mean specifically. . .

"Overall, the book is based on an impressive diversity of research for its size (the 20-page bibliography is a valuable reference) . . . there is much to be learned from this book, and Sciabarra should be praised for forcing us to give up our comfortable caricatures of Marx and Hayek as figures in absolute `dualistic' opposition."

John Davenport, University of Notre Dame (now Fordham University)


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

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